Pantothenic Acid: A New Combination For Treating Polyneuropathy
It is possible to get peripheral neuropathy or polyneuropathy from a nutritional deficiency. There are several deficiencies that can ultimately cause polyneuropathy and it can be difficult to identify the actual cause of why the person has polyneuropathy.
In polyneuropathy, several nerves in the body become inflamed, resulting in parasthesias (tingling sensations), decreased sensitivity to pain, decreased sensitivity to temperature, and burning pain in the areas of the body affected by the damaged nerves. Neuropathies usually affect the long fibers of the body first. This means that the symptoms are more common in the feet and travel up to the higher nerves in the legs. The fingers can be involved with progression up to the shoulders, particularly with B12 deficiency.
Types of Neuropathy
There are several nutritional deficiencies and substances that can cause polyneuropathy. These are some reason why a person might develop a polyneuropathy, including the following:
• Alcohol neuropathy
This is a type of neuropathy that is more common in alcoholics. The main symptoms include paresthesias that start in the feet and hands, progressing up to the more proximal parts of the body (up to the shoulder and up to the thighs). The affected person has problems involving things like walking and climbing steps. Sometimes, the person afflicted has gastrointestinal problems, incontinence of stool and urine, and abnormal sweating patterns because the autonomic nervous system has become involved. Brain changes, such as Wernicke encephalopathy can occur along with the polyneuropathy.
• Vitamin B1 Deficiency
This is also called thiamine deficiency. Common symptoms involve burning pain, particularly in the feet, although it can occur in the hands as well. Weakness of the distal muscles can also occur. Most people with this type of polyneuropathy develop fatigue first, followed by decreased nerve sensation, burning pain, and a sense of heaviness in the legs. The muscles can begin to whither if the deficiency isn’t treated properly. It can become so serious that the individual suffers from paralysis.
• Niacin Deficiency
This is also called vitamin B3 deficiency or pellagra. The main symptoms are skin rashes, dementia, and diarrhea. Peripheral neuropathy can result from this type of deficiency and central nervous symptom symptoms can develop, including seizures, insomnia, depression, tremor, hearing loss, dizziness, polyneuropathy of the fingers, tenderness of the muscles, and numbness of the feet and hands (that progresses up to the knees, hips and thighs). An unusual symptom of vitamin B3 deficiency is a need to plunge into cold water.
• Pyridoxine Excess or Deficiency
Pyridoxine is also called vitamin B6. A deficiency of this vitamin must be considered any time a person has a polyneuropathy involving the sensory aspect of the nervous system. The main symptoms include numbness and parasthesias of the feet that goes up to involve more and more of the legs as the disease goes unchecked. The hands can also be similarly affected. When a person develops B6 deficiency, besides the polyneuropathy, there can be inflammation of the eyes and tongue, decreased consciousness, vomiting, seizures, low lymphocyte count, anemia and anorexia. If vitamin B6 is taken in excess, neuropathy can also occur within a month of taking too much vitamin B6.
• Cyanocobalamin Deficiency
Cyanocobalamin is also called vitamin B12. B12 deficiency is usually caused by pernicious anemia but a few cases are from a lack of chloride. Paresthesias can develop suddenly if the person has surgery in which nitrous oxide was used. The nerve most affected is the spinal cord so there can be paresthesias and numbness in other body areas. Typical symptoms involve paresthesias of the toes that travels up to the feet and legs, although the fingers can also be affected. If the disease is left untreated, there can be spasticity of the muscles and weakness of the muscles. Deficiency of vitamin B12 can affect the brain, resulting in depression, delusions, disorientation, and psychosis. Anemia also results from having this type of deficiency. If the disease is left untreated, there can be difficulties walking, followed by spasticity and contractures of the leg muscles, and paralysis of the legs.
• Pantothenic acid deficiency
People with a deficiency in pantothenic acid begin by developing burning pain and a “pins and needles” sensation of the feet, difficulty walking, and an increase in reflex tone. Later findings include fatigue, psychiatric problems, weakness of the muscles, tiredness, and apathy. In one study, 28 out of 33 patients who were initially treated for their peripheral neuropathy with alpha-lipoic acid had an improvement in their symptoms after adding pantothenic acid to the treatment regimen.
Deficiencies in Pantothenic Acid
When pantothenic acid is the cause of the polyneuropathy, this is also called vitamin B5 deficiency. It can also be referred to as a deficiency in pantothenyl alcohol or a deficiency of chick antidermatitis factor.
Pantothenic acid is a B vitamin (vitamin B5). It helps control cellular energy production. Pantothenic acid Is vital to the production of several hormones in the body and in the energy produced by the cells. People need pantothenic acid for the proper functioning of the nerves, muscle health, and the proper function of the GI tract.
Pantothenic acid is considered an important part of coenzyme A, which is important in cholesterol, triglyceride, and fatty acid metabolism. It is also important in the adrenal gland production of cortisol and related compounds, as well as the synthesis of myoglobin (from the muscles), and hemoglobin.
Pantothenic acid is used medically anytime there is a known deficiency of pantothenic acid. People with pantothenic acid deficiency have polyneuropathy, among other symptoms. It is rare to become deficient in pantothenic acid but it can be found in third world countries as a part of deficiencies of protein and other nutrients. It is also used in patients suffering from paralytic ileus, in which there is a slowing of peristalsis in the gut. Diabetics who are suffering from diabetic neuropathy can also be treated with pantothenic acid, with good results.
In order to treat pantothenic acid deficiency, one needs to take pantothenic acid. The dietary reference intake (DRI) for pantothenic acid is 5 milligrams in adults, 6 milligrams in pregnancy, and 7 milligrams if a woman is breastfeeding.
Good sources of pantothenic acid include beef liver, dried yeast, peanut butter, chicken livers, mushrooms, lobster, soy beans, and broccoli. Eating these food sources of pantothenic acid or taking a pantothenic acid supplement can be good treatments for polyneuropathy.
Can pantothenic acid supplementation help with diabetic neuropathy? Evidence points to the fact that deficiencies in pantothenic acid can negatively impact the symptoms of diabetic neuropathy so that pain and numbness may be able to be managed by taking in more pantothenic acid in the diet or by taking supplements.
- Pantothenic Acid. http://healthcare.utah.edu/healthlibrary/related/doc.php type=19&id=vitaminb-5.
- Nutritional Neuropathy Clinical Presentation. http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1171558-clinical.