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NERVES IN THE HUMAN BODY

 

Their functions and natural remedies for damaged or malfunctioning nerves.

 

 The nervous system in the human body

The nerves in the body are the highways along which all the organs, glands and tissues in the body communicate with the brain and the brain then sends the appropriate messages to other organs, glands and tissues to carry out specific instructions according to the messages it has received. This makes the nerves a vital carriageway that, when damaged or malfunctioning, can affect every process within the human body. Nerves are bundles of axons and each axon is wrapped in a connective tissue sheath called the endoneurium. The endoneurium (also called endoneurial channel, endoneurial sheath, endoneurial tube or Henle's sheath) is a layer of delicate connective tissue around the myelin sheath of each myelinated nerve fibre.

The 12 pairs of cranial nerves in the brain

The cranial nerves are 12 pairs of nerves that pass through small holes at the base of the skull. These nerves are responsible for carrying information and connecting the brain to different parts of the body such as the glands, motors, muscles, organs and sensory organs.

The 12 cranial nerves and their functions

  • I Olfactory (smell)

  • II Optic (sight)

  • III Oculomotor (moves eyelid and eyeball and adjusts the pupil and lens of the eye)

  • IV Trochlear (moves the eyeballs)

  • V Trigeminal (facial muscles incl. ...

  • VI Abducent (moves the eyeballs)

  • VII Intermediate (facial expressions, taste, tears, saliva)

  • VIII Vestibulocochlear (auditory)

  • IX Glossopharyngeal (swallowing saliva, taste)

  • X Vagus (multiple functions of all organs except the adrenal and thyroid glands)

  • XI Accessory (moving head and shoulders and swallowing)

  • XII Hypoglossal (tongue muscles, speech and swallowing)

The vagus nerve

The vagus nerve system

The vagus nerve, or the pneumogastric nerve, is the tenth cranial nerve and supplies parasympathetic information to control the heart, lungs and digestive tract as well as many other bodily functions and organs. It is also sometimes called the X cranial nerve or 10th cranial nerve. It is the most important and longest cranial nerve and contains motor and sensory fibres and connects the brainstem to the body. It allows the brain to monitor and receive information about several of the body's different functions and runs from the brain, through the face and thorax via multiple organs down to the colon.

Organs connected to the vagus nerve

  • Brain

  • Eyes

  • Ears

  • Nose

  • Tongue

  • Sinuses

  • Oesophagus

  • Lungs

  • Heart

  • Spleen

  • Stomach

  • Liver

  • Gall bladder

  • Small intestines

  • Kidneys

  • Large intestines (colon)

Functions of the vagus nerve

 

In the brain: Gut microbes can produce hormones and neurotransmitters that are identical to those produced by humans such as acetylcholine, gamma-aminobutyric acid, histamine, melatonin and serotonin. It appears that by doing this, the gut microbiome has strategic evolutionary importance by modulating stress responses and influencing behaviours that impact the survival of its host species. The vagus nerve is responsible for transporting these hormones and neurotransmitters to the brain. It has been scientifically proven that this will have an impact upon mood and other psychological aspects of the mind and, therefore, an imbalance of intestinal flora or a malfunctioning vagus nerve can have an adverse effect upon mental health and lead to addiction, anxiety, insomnia, depression  and other neurological disorders.

 

In the ears: helps to tune into human speech. Vagus nerve stimulation can help people with tinnitus because of its connection to the ear.

In the eyes: Helps release tears.

In the heart: Helps to control heart rate and blood pressure.

In the tongue: Helps control taste and saliva.

In the gut: By releasing intrinsic factor, the vagus nerve helps with the absorption of vitamin B12. It also stimulates the release of histamine by stomach cells, which helps to release stomach acids and digestive juices and it controls food flow. Low stomach acidity can be a vagus nerve problem.

In the gallbladder: Helps to release bile, which helps to expel toxins and break down fat.

In the liver and pancreas: Helps to control blood glucose balance.

In the small intestines: controls the pyloric valve which allows partially digested food into the intestines from the stomach and stops bile from flowing back into the stomach from the small intestines (bile reflux)..

In the colon: controls the ileocecal valve at the entrance to the large intestines to allow chime (digested food) to enter the colon and stops faecal matter from washing back into the small intestines from the colon. The vagus nerve also controls both mucous production and colon flow. Because the vagus nerve is so important for increasing gut flow (motility), vagus malfunctions can increase the risk of developing irritable bowel syndrome which is a result of a slower flow.

Satiety and relaxation following a meal are partly caused by activation of the vagus nerve’s transmission to the brain in response to food intake. Oxytocin is an anti-inflammatory, anti-stress hormone produced by the hypothalamus and secreted by the pituitary gland.  When the intestines begin to digest fat, they secrete cholecystokinin (CCK) which travels along the vagus nerve to the brain where it stimulates the release of oxytocin. Oxytocin then travels back down to the stomach, causing its walls to contract creating a feeling of being full.

In the spleen: Reduces inflammation throughout the body by releasing acetylcholine.

In the kidneys: Promotes general kidney function and helps with glucose control. It also increases blood flow, which improves blood filtration. It also releases dopamine in the kidneys, which helps excrete sodium and, hence, lowers the blood pressure.

In the cervix, uterus and vagina: the vagus nerve helps to control fertility and orgasms in women. Nerves from the mammary glands, uterus and skin, especially the chest, connect directly the vagus nerve and  vagal signals stimulate the brain's reward, emotion and memory systems, causing the release of oxytocin, as well as dopamine and opioids.

Nerves involved in orgasms

  • Hypogastric nerve transmits messages from the uterus and the cervix in women and from the prostate in men.

  • Pelvic nerve transmits messages from the vagina and cervix in women and from the rectum in both sexes.

  • Pudendal nerve transmits messages from the clitoris in women and from the scrotum and penis in men.

  • Vagus nerve transmits messages from the cervix, uterus and vagina in women.

NOTE: Because the vagus nerve bypasses the spinal chord, women with spinal injuries can still have orgasms through stimulation of the vagus nerve.

 

Disorders of the nervous system

Any health condition that ends with 'itis' means it is inflammatory. Pain and inflammation messages are sent to the brain via the nerves and, when nerves are damaged or pinched, the pain can become unbearable as those that have suffered with sciatica and back pain know well. The eyes and mouth have particularly sensitive nerves to protect them from damage as anyone with toothache or mouth ulcers or a foreign object  in the eye will know.

Some microbes, such as the herpes virus, hides in the nerves as it knows the immune system cannot attack it there. However, if the immune system becomes confused, as can happen with leaky gut syndrome, it may then attack any tissues including parts of the nervous system and cause inflammation and pain. Leaky gut can be caused by allergies to certain foods that irritate the intestinal lining. Undigested proteins from ingested foods can then escape through the wall into the blood stream.

The immune system then attacks these foreign invading complete proteins as it only recognises broken down proteins (amino acids) and, because these complete proteins are similar to those that are naturally found in the body, the immune system then begins to attacks the body's own protein cells causing inflammation and pain. This is often misdiagnosed as something else such as an infection which is then often treated with antibiotics which then causes even further destruction as the gut microbe balance is also altered. Lab-produced antibiotics kill indiscriminately and so wipe out the body's commensal (freindly) microbiome too. The domino effect result of this is nutritional deficiencies because the microbes that naturally reside in the human guts produce many nutrients as well as hormones and neurotransmitters that are required for normal bodily process to function correctly.

Many unfathomable conditions, such as chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia and a host of neurological disorders, that the medical profession cannot find the root cause of, may simply be a case of an allergy causing a leaky gut and then, consequently, the pain and inflammation that ensues but this causational avenue is rarely investigated.

Neuralgia

 

The term neuralgia refers to a combination of two words "neuro" meaning relating to nerves and "algesia" meaning sensitivity to pain. Normally, pain is triggered by the stimulation of pain receptors but in the case of neuralgia, pain occurs without excitation of these receptors and is instead caused by an abnormal change in the structure or function of the nerves.

 

There are two main types of neuralgia which are categorised according to the location of the pain:

  1. Central neuralgia: describes neuralgia originating in the spinal cord or brain. This is a severely painful situation caused when the ninth cranial nerve is impacted due to swelling of the surrounding blood vessels.

  2. Peripheral neuropathy: This refers to neuralgia originating in the peripheral nervous system. In many cases, if it is caused by an underlying condition that can be treated or resolved, peripheral neuropathy symptoms improve with time.

Nerve damage and pain can result from various factors. Peripheral neuropathy is a result of nerve damage, often causes weakness, numbness and pain, usually in the hands and feet, but it may also occur in other areas of the body. The pain is like a tingling and burning sensation and the sufferer may feel like they are walking on cobblestones if it is located in the feet. It can result from problems such as traumatic injuries.

Some of the most common examples of neuralgia include:

  • Atypical trigeminal neuralgia:Characterised by an aching and burning in the cheeks, sinuses, forehead, jaws, eye area and temples along with a persistent headache and, occasionally, an electric shock-like sensation. Unlike typical neuralgia, this neuralgia can also be felt across the scalp and neck.

  • Glossopharyngeal neuralgia: A rare disorder that causes repeated pain in the tonsil and surrounding area of the throat and back of the tongue due to a disorder of the glossopharyngeal nerve.

  • Occipital neuralgia: Also sometimes called Arnold's neuralgia. In this condition, damage to the lesser and greater optical nerves causes pain or reduced sensation in the neck, back of the head area and behind the eyes.

  • Postherpetic neuralgia: Which arises as a result of herpes varicella virus and follows a herpes zoster outbreak. This condition causes a variable degree of pain which may range from mild to severe and can be felt as a burning or stabbing sensation.

  • Trigeminal neuralgia: Where pain originating from the trigeminal nerve causes intense facial pain that may be felt as an electric shock sensation, a shooting pain or a burning, crushing or pressing feeling.

Causes of nerve pain and inflammation

  • Alcohol abuse : Excessive consumption can kill off the nerve endings in the feet causing peripheral neuropathy which can spread from the feet up the legs and lead to incontinence and other debilitating malfunctions.

  • A poor unbalanced diet.

  • Bacterial infections

  • Bone or spinal disorders

  • Cancer

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome is due to compression of the median nerve as it travels through the wrist at the carpal tunnel. The main symptoms are pain, numbness and tingling, in the thumb, index finger, middle finger and the thumb side of the ring finger.

  • Chemotherapy: Some chemicals used can damage the nervous system and cause great pain.

  • Diabetes: is the number one cause of peripheral neuropathy, since up to half of all diabetics will experience nerve damage.

  • Food allergies

  • Heavy metals can replace the minerals and trace elements that are required in the body causing even further problems in a world when minerals in foods are being reduced by intense farming techniques and removed by the heavy refining and processing of food. Minerals are required as cofactors for thousands of other nutrients and are used in all bodily processes including those involving the brain and nerves.

  • Immune system disorders: Autoimmune conditions such as coeliac disease, non-coeliac gluten sensitivity and gluten ataxia have also been linked with peripheral neuropathy. Peripheral neuropathy is one of the most common non-digestive symptoms of coeliac disease and sometimes an individual will have no noticeable gastrointestinal symptoms of coeliac disease, but instead have mainly peripheral neuropathy and other neurological symptoms. See Food allergies

  • Injury or surgery: This link will take you to the natural remedies to repair the body after surgery or injury.

  • Intense exercise uses up many important nutrients, especially the B-complex vitamins, their co-factors and minerals which can lead to deficiencies. See Sports nutrition

  • Kidney failure

  • Lupus: Anxiety, depression, headaches, numbness, personality changes, seizures, tingling, vision problems and other nervous system disorders can be caused by lupus.

  • Lyme disease

  • Medications: Antibiotics and many other medications and recreational drugs block B vitamins and vital co-factors from being absorbed.

  • Metabolic problems

  • Mineral deficiencies

  • Multiple sclerosis (MS) affects the nerves in the brain and spinal cord, which causes problems with muscle movement, balance and vision.

  • Obesity

  • Parkinson's disease

  • Repetitive strain syndrome

  • Shingles: Some can be affected by nerve pain after a shingles attack.

  • Statin drugs

  • Stress uses up many nutrients, especially the B-group vitamins, their co-factors and minerals.

  • Thyroid disorders

  • Viruses such as herpes and HIV.

  • Vitamin B6 supplements: Supplements are not advised, unless blood tests show a deficiency, as excessive consumption of vitamin B6 can cause abnormal heart rhythms, acne, breast enlargement and/or soreness, decreased muscle tone, drowsiness, headaches and nausea, heartburn and loss of appetite, stomach upset, ulcerative colitis and other severe allergic reactions. It is also possible that excessive amounts taken by pregnant women can cause  teratogenic effects on a growing embryo, which causes the loss of sensation and eventual neuropathy.

  • Vitamin B 12 deficiency: Vitamin B12 is vital for the formation of the myelin sheath that protects nerves and therefore, a lack of it can lead to pain and inflammation of the nerves.

Finding out the cause and then making the necessary adjustments to lifestyle is the way to eliminate pain and inflammation without medication. Any illness that ends with “itis” is an inflammatory disease and inflammation can trap and pinch nerves causing excruciating pain and so foods that help to reduce inflammation in the body should be consumed.

Sciatica

Sciatica is when the nerve running from the spine down the back of the thigh becomes pinched. It can happen for a variety of reasons and cause great pain and disability due to inflammation. One way to cure sciatica is to have someone strong and taller than you stand back to back with you. Then link arms and allow them to gently lift you backwards over their back while you remain relaxed and limp and then they should gently bounce you on their spine. This can release the trapped nerve and provide instant and permanent relief.

NOTE: This will only work for those that have managed to get the nerve pinched within the spinal discs. It will not work if the pinched nerve is due to something like a cyst or tumour. If it is due to an injury this should not be attempted.

Sciatica solution

Click to enlarge

Hot and cold treatment can relieve inflammation. Use a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a towel and place over the area of pain for 15 minutes then replace with hot water bottle wrapped in a towel for a further 15 minutes. Alternate these treatments a few times during the day to bring down inflammation.

Other remedies can be found below.

Natural anti-inflammatory and nerve protective foods

  • Algae and seaweed contain many powerful anti-inflammatory compounds as well as the minerals often lacking in land-based food crops.

  • Asparagus has many nutrients that can help to reduce pain and inflammation.

  • Beetroot contains betalains that are powerful anti-inflammatory agents.

  • Cashew nuts are very rich in important minerals and vitamins including vitamin B17 and other compounds that protect the heart and nerves. One small handful should be consumed every three days. NOTE: Pre-salted cashews should be avoided especially by those with high blood pressure. If salt is required then use Himalayan pink salt crystals or unrefined sea salt on unsalted cashews.

  • Cherries: The Morello or ‘sour’ cherry (Prunus cerasus) has been proven to reduce pain and inflammation.

  • Cinnamon and ginger powder, in tea or added to recipes, can be used to relieve chronic inflammatory pain.

  • Citrus peel: The zest of citrus fruits such as lemons, lime, oranges and tangerines can provide pain relief as they contain anti-inflammatory bioflavonoids. Use the grated zest of half a lemon on meals as this is where the compounds are concentrated.

  • Courgette are rich in zinc that contributes to normal physiological functions, participates in the production of sex hormones, protects mitochondria against oxidative stress and promotes healthy skin and proper wound-healing.

  • Garlic and ginger, consumed daily, can help improve circulation which can help to provide nutrients to the nerves.

  • Gooseberries provide 297 mg of potassium in a 4oz serving which is critical for human health, because it promotes normal function of nerve cells, muscles and heart.

  • Green-lipped mussel extract helps to alleviate pain by reducing inflammation.

  • Green tea has been found to work in synergy with other herbs to promote excellent anti-oxidant activities. These herbs include grape seed or ginkgo biloba. Because green tea works best when complemented with other low doses of herbs, researchers suggest this also prevents any potential side effects arising from high doses of a single herb. Adding lemon juice to green tea increases it’s beneficial effects tenfold. Try adding any of the other herbal remedies listed here to a pot of green tea to provide an even more powerful remedy

  • Flaxseeds are rich in alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a type of omega-3 fatty acid, that is useful in treating inflammatory conditions.

  • Hempseeds are a highly nutritional super food which has powerful anti-inflammatory properties and healthy oils and can relieve the pain and inflammation better than fish oils when consumed regularly every day. They are one of the rare foods that contain the correct ratio of anti-inflammatory omega-3 to inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids. Most foods contain too much omega-6 fatty acids.

  • Kelp is known to contain compounds that nourish the sensory nerves, brain membranes, also spinal cord and brain tissue.

  • Maqui berry is a Chilean 'super fruit' which contains the highest amount of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds than any other known natural food. Regular consumption can alleviate pain and inflammation.

  • Mulberries strengthen the nervous system

  • Nettles: Scientists have proved that certain compounds in nettles reduce the amount of inflammatory substances in the body and interfere in the transmission of pain signals. Nettles can be taken as a tea by steeping leaves for 20 minutes then strained and sipped or simmered and consumed as a vegetable similar to spinach.

  • Oat straw is known to have powerful nerve protective compounds

  • Oily fish: The omega-3 and omega-7 fatty acids in oily fish can help to reduce nerve damage and repair any that exists.

  • Pomegranates and pomegranate juice can help to alleviate pain by reducing inflammation.

  • Prickly pear is the only plant to contain 24 of the known betalains, which are potent anti-inflammatory agents.

  • Raw juice therapy can alleviate symptoms of arthritis and other bone and joint disorders such as gout. The best organic foods to blend and consume are: beetroot, carrot, cucumber, ginger, grapes, grapefruit, orange, pineapple, sour apple, sour (Morello) cherries, lemon, lettuce and spinach. NOTE: Avoid grapefruit if taking medications.

  • Radishes, rocket and mustard and all other peppery tasting leaves and vegetables have powerful antibacterial and relaxant properties which can resolve some types of nerve pain.

  • Sour cherries: Pain relief can be gained from consuming sour cherries.

  • Watercress is rich in minerals and vitamins which can help address any nutritional imbalances.

  • Watermelon reduces inflammation due to its citrulline content.

NOTE: Grapefruit and some nutritional yeasts, especially brewer’s yeast, can interact with medications. Those who are on Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitor antidepressants (MAOIs) medication are especially at risk. See Medication dangers

Yeast products and mushrooms are also best avoided by those carrying the herpes virus as it can induce an attack.

Natural anti-inflammatory herbal remedies

  • Aloe vera

  • Abuta

  • Arnica is a yellow daisy-like member of the sunflower family with the active components of sesquiterpene lactones and flavonoids which are known to reduce inflammation and ease pain.

  • Basil tea three times a day can reduce pain and inflammation.

  • Bdellium gum closely related to frankincense and myrrh, can reduce tissue inflammation.

  • Burdock root

  • Cat's claw has compounds that have been proven to have powerful anti-inflammatory and pain relieving properties.

  • Coriander

  • Dandelion

  • Devil's claw

  • Dong quai

  • Evening primrose: Research has shown that the gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) found in the seeds of the evening primrose plant can help prevent, and in some cases even reverse, the nerve damage (neuropathy) so commonly seen with diabetes.

  • False unicorn

  • Fennel

  • Feverfew is an effective for treating migraines. It reduces inflammation, which takes pressure off the nerves and can help prevent migraines entirely.

  • Frankincense

  • Gingko biloba

  • Ginseng has analgesic and anti-inflammatory activity similar to ibuprofen.

  • Holy basil

  • Hops

  • Lavender oil

  • Linden

  • Motherwort

  • Nutmeg

  • Oatstraw

  • Peppermint

  • Periwinkle

  • Rosemary

  • Senega root

  • Scutellaria (skullcap) soothes the entire nervous system. The suggested dosage is fifteen drops of tincture in a glass of water three to six times a day or as needed for pain.

  • St. John’s wort is twice as effective as ibuprofen as an anti-inflammatory pain-killer.

  • White willow bark: Concentrated willow extract is effective in reducing pain and inflammation. Willow bark tea is known as the "original herbal aspirin" and this is not surprising because acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin) was originally discovered and made from an extract of willow bark.

  • Ylang ylang strengthens the nervous system and repairs any damage, reduces stress on the nerves and protects them from developing a number of nervous disorders.

NOTE: Essential oils and rosemary are not suitable for pregnant or breast feeding women.

Spices with anti-inflammatory properties

  • Allspice

  • Chilli pepper: is known for its capsaicin content which is scientifically proven to be effective in inhibiting pain transmission and inflammation. It actually reduces the concentration of a substance which the nerve cells use for the transmission of pain signals. Chilli is rich in salicylate compounds which make it excellent in delivering analgesic effects.

  • Cinnamon

  • Cumin contains a powerful anti-inflammatory ingredient curcumin which, as two long term studies have shown, can reduce pain and inflammation.

  • Nutmeg

  • Paprika

  • Peppercorns

  • Turmeric

CAUTION: Many herbs and spices are powerful and can react with medications. Always check before taking at the same time as any drugs. Grapefruit also contains components that can cause problems with medications.

How to use herbs and spices

Infusions (teas)

Infusions are a simple way of extracting the active principles of herbs through the action of hot water. The preparation of infusions is similar to way tea is prepared. This method is used to extract the volatile components of the dried or green aerial parts of herbs and plants like flowers and leaves. Infusions may use single herbs or a blend of herbs, vegetables, fruits and spices and are drunk hot or cold. Certainly this is the most common and cheap method of extracting the medicinal compounds of herbs.

Tinctures

Most of the volatile components of medicinal plants and herbs are soluble in alcohol. By immersing dried or fresh parts of plants in alcohol, the active principles are easily extracted at concentrations that exceed those that can be achieved by infusion or decoction. Highly concentrate solutions that will last for one to two years are a convenient way to store and use medicinal plants constituents.

Ideally tinctures should be made using pure ethyl alcohol distilled from cereals. However, since this product is not available to the public, good Vodka with 45-35% alcohol can be used. The extraction is fairly quick. A 50% mixture of herbs and alcohol kept in a tightly closed jar will hold a tincture ready for use at the prescribed dosage. Never use methyl alcohol, methylated spirits, isopropyl alcohol or any other kind of unknown spirit to make tinctures.

Nutrients that can reduce pain and inflammation

IMPORTANT NOTE: Supplements are not advised, unless blood tests show a deficiency, as excessive consumption of any one nutrient can cause imbalances of others and many cannot even be absorbed by the body or are not of the strengths required.. One example is vitamin B6 which can can cause abnormal heart rhythms, acne, breast enlargement and/or soreness, decreased muscle tone, drowsiness, headaches and nausea, heartburn and loss of appetite, stomach upset, ulcerative colitis and other severe allergic reactions. It is also possible that excessive amounts taken by pregnant women can cause  teratogenic effects on a growing embryo, which causes the loss of sensation and eventual neuropathy. Always consume the natural foods rich in these elements rather than supplements.

A combination of foods rich in vitamins B1, B6 and B12 has proved useful for preventing pain and reducing the amount of anti-inflammatory medications needed to control pain.

Follow the blue links below to find the highest natural food sources of each nutrient.

  • Alpha lipoic acid is a powerful antioxidant which can treat peripheral nerve degeneration caused by diabetes. It is a sulphur containing fatty acid that works as an antioxidant in both water and fatty tissue, enabling it to enter all parts of the nerve cell and protect it from the damage caused by peripheral neuropathy.

  • Anthocyanins are bioflavonoids that exhibit powerful anti-inflammatory activity, and do it as well as drugs for the same purposes, without negative side effects.

  • Cephalin: also known as kephalin or phosphatidylethanolamine (PE), is an important phospholipid that makes up cell membranes and organelle membranes and is abundant in the brain, spinal cord and other nervous tissues. It is thought to play a main role in keeping the nervous system intact and healthy because of its multitude of functions and its significant contribution to neural tissues.

  • Bromelain: Foods containing proteolytic enzymes such as bromelain (pineapple) and papain found in papaya (Carica papaya) and mountain papaya (Vasconcellea cundinamarcensis can help heal minor injuries because they are anti-inflammatory and capable of being absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract. Bromelain and papain can help reduce pain and swelling and promote faster healing in people with a variety of painful conditions.

  • Chalcones have been found to stimulate the production of Nerve Growth Factor (NGF), which is synthesised in minute amounts in the body and is essential in the development and survival of certain neurons (nerve cells) in the peripheral and central nervous system.

  • Choline helps to metabolise fats, transmit nerve impulses and preserve the myelin sheaths protecting the nerves.

  • Cysteine detoxifies the body by helping it produce glutathione. Deficiency is relatively uncommon, but may be seen in vegetarians with low intake of the plant foods containing methionine and cysteine. Low cysteine levels may reduce one's ability to prevent free radical damage and may result in impaired function of the immune system and neurodegenerative diseases, including multiple sclerosis (MS), amylotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's disease) and Alzheimer's disease.

  • Lecithin is used to produce choline, which helps to metabolise fats, transmit nerve impulses and preserve the myelin sheaths protecting the nerves.

  • Omega-3 fatty acids: Linolenic acid, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) fatty acids are among the most documented in nutrition research. However, a fourth key fatty acid, docosapentaenoic acid (DPA) has recently been shown to play probably the most powerful role in key health outcomes. They all provide nourishment for the nerves and have anti-inflammatory properties.

  • Serine is an important amino acid for the proper functioning of the brain and nervous system.

  • Vitamin B1

  • Vitamin B6 deficiency can aggravate or even cause neuropathic pain.

  • Vitamin B8 (inositol) acts as an analgesic for pain control. Deficiency can be caused by alcohol and coffee which block absorption of inositol. Antibiotics and many other medications and recreational drugs block B vitamins and vital co-factors like inositol from being absorbed. Stress and intense exercise uses up all nutrients (especially the B-group vitamins and their co-factors)

  • Vitamin B9

  • Vitamin B 12

  • Vitamin C

  • Vitamin D

  • Vitamin E: When consuming foods rich in vitamin C it is important to balance them with the equal amount of foods rich in vitamin E. This is because they have opposite effects upon certain minerals in the body. Vitamin C reduces manganese and zinc levels whilst vitamin E increases them and vitamin C increases iron levels whilst vitamin E reduces them. Therefore they must be consumed in equal amounts. Vitamin E also promotes faster healing and a reduction of scar tissue.

Vitamin B 12

A major function of vitamin B12 involves its participation in the development of nerve cells. A coating which encloses the nerves, called the myelin sheath, forms less successfully whenever B12 is deficient. Although the vitamin plays an indirect role in this process, consumption of foods rich in vitamin B12 has been shown to be effective in relieving pain and other symptoms in a variety of nervous system disorders.

Highest sources of vitamin B12 in micrograms per 100 grams

  • Clams 98.9 μg

  • Liver 83.1 μg

  • Barley grass juice 80 μg

  • Nori seaweed 63.6 μg

  • Octopus 36 μg

  • Caviar/fish eggs 20.0 μg

  • Ashitaba (dried powder) 17.0 μg

  • Herring 13.7 μg

  • Tuna fish 10.9 μg

  • Crab 10.4 μg

  • Mackerel 8.7 μg

  • Lean grass fed beef 8.2 μg

  • Duck eggs, goose eggs, rabbit 6 μg

  • Crayfish, pork heart, rainbow trout 5 μg

  • Shiitake mushrooms 4.8 μg

  • Lobster 4 μg

  • Lamb, venison 3.7 μg

  • Swiss Cheese 3.3 μg

  • Salmon 3.2 μg

  • Whey powder 2.37 μg

  • Golden chanterelle mushrooms 2 μg

  • Tuna 1.9 μg

  • Halibut 1.2 μg

  • Chicken egg 1.1 μg

  • Chicken, turkey 1.0 μg

  • Anchovies 0.9 μg

  • Ashitaba leaves 0.4 μg

NOTE: One μg is one microgram. The daily recommended amount for an averagely active adult is 2.4 μg daily.

The importance of minerals in the diet

Only traces of many minerals are required by the body but due to today's farming and food processing techniques much of the mineral content has been lost. Minerals are something many people do not consider as essential as protein or vitamins but they are absolutely vital for many cellular processes. Although the body can store minerals, it cannot manufacture them so consuming a wide range of coloured natural foods can help replenish stores that may be lost.

This is as important for those that are unwell or taking medications as it is for those that do strenuous exercise or sports. Minerals are lost through perspiration and many drugs (including alcohol) block the absorption and manufacture of the nutrients which help absorption of minerals or cause the body to lose minerals in the urine. For example alcohol causes the body to expel zinc in the urine. See Sports nutrition

  • Caesium, like potassium, enters cells and helps to maintain a balance of electrical charges between the inside and the outside of cells so that cells can perform tasks that depend on those electrical charges. Muscle and nerve cells require changing electrical charges in order to function properly.

  • Cobalt: Together with vitamin B12, cobalt can promote a healthy nervous system, lower the blood pressure and help to support the myelin sheaf which is the greasy cover that protects the nerves.

  • Colloidal silver may help nerves regenerate and studies in Hungary found specific silver receptors on human nerve tissue.

  • Gold is a good electrical conductor and there are many reports which state that gold increases the ability of each cell to conduct better electrical impulses which is especially important for nerve cells.

  • Magnesium is involved in releasing energy from the diet and is involved in a good functioning nervous system and muscles.

  • Manganese aids in the coordination of nerve impulses and muscular actions.

  • Potassium regulates bodily fluids and prevents dehydration and is important as an alkalising agent in keeping a proper acid-alkaline balance in the blood and tissues. It also helps to maintain a balance of electrical charges between the inside and the outside of cells. Muscle and nerve cells require changing electrical charges in order to function properly.

  • Silica has a powerful influence on the absorption of minerals required by the body. It enhances the function of boron, calcium, iron, magnesium and potassium.

  • Sulphur is critical to many of the body's biological processes and without adequate sulphur glucose metabolism is inhibited and this can lead to metabolic syndrome, low energy levels, weight gain and muscle, nerve and skeletal disorders which can cause inflammation and pain.

  • Tin: Natural foods rich in tin can relieve pain and inflammation. NOTE: Tin may interact with iron and copper, particularly in the gut, and so inhibit absorption of these elements so foods containing tin should be consumed separately to foods rich in iron and copper.

  • Zinc can help alleviate pain and inflammation and help the body to heal faster from any damage.

See the Minerals page for highest natural sources of all the essential minerals required by the body.

More tips to reduce inflammation and pain

  • Avoid acid forming foods from the nightshade family which can increase painful inflammation. Foods such as aubergine, bell peppers, tomatoes and white potatoes.

  • Avoid coffee and all other drinks containing caffeine.

  • Avoid Sweeteners and E number additives contained in diet drinks and processed foods such as MSG as this can increase inflammation.

  • Consume six different colours of fruits and vegetables everyday. See Nature's Colour Codes

  • Light non weight-bearing exercise such as swimming, cycling and yoga are very useful in treating peripheral neuropathy.

  • Only consume fruit and vegetables if they are organic because of the risk of pesticides, herbicides and fungicides that can increased inflammation.

  • Purchase a  powerful (minimum 900 watt) blender and start drinking raw juices through out the day. The best natural foods to juice are: beetroot, carrot, cucumber, grapefruit, lemon, lettuce, pineapple, sour apple, sour cherry and spinach.

  • Reduce meat intake and consume more oily fish and 1000 mg of krill oil daily.

  • Replace sugar with pure raw honey and sweet fruits.

  • Replace table salt with natural unrefined coarse sea salt, Himalayan pink salt crystals, algae and seaweed flakes or spices.

  • Try to reduce calorific intake and increase energy output until the body has reached its ideal weight. Excessive body fat can place pressure on nerves and cause inflammation.

Prebiotic and probiotic foods can help with digestion and colon issues and help the commensal (friendly) bacteria the reside in the intestines which in turn can help resolve many conditions causing inflammation and pain.

Prebiotic foods that fee the beneficial bacteria

  • Agave

  • Apples

  • Asparagus

  • Banana

  • Beans

  • Bran

  • Broccoli

  • Burdock root

  • Cabbage

  • Cauliflower

  • Celeriac

  • Chicory root

  • Cocoa (raw)

  • Coconut flesh

  • Dandelion root

  • Elecampane

  • Elephant foot yam

  • Garlic

  • Jerusalem artichoke

  • Jicama root
  • Kale

  • Leeks

  • Lentils

  • Mashua

  • Mugwort

  • Oats

  • Onions

  • Parsnips

  • Peas

  • Radish

  • Rampion

  • Salsify

  • Turnip

  • Swede

  • Sweet potato

  • Whole grains

  • Yacon root

  • Yams

Probiotic foods that contain the beneficial bacteria required

  • Brine pickles (eggs, fruit, nuts, seeds and vegetables that have been fermented by lactic acid bacteria)

  • Kefir (fermented milk drink)

  • Kimchi (a fermented, spicy Korean side dish)

  • Kombucha (fermented black or green Asian tea)

  • Miso (a Japanese fermented seasoning made with soya beans, salt and a type of fungus called koji)

  • Sauerkraut (finely shredded cabbage that has been fermented by lactic acid bacteria)

  • Tempeh (fermented soya beans)

  • Yoghurt (plain with live cultures)

Nature cures recipe to reduce pain and inflammation

This highly nutritious meals will not only reduce inflammation and pain but will also provide all the essential phytochemicals and minerals to correct the balance of nutrients in the body to aid with healing. If consumed at least once a week it will also prevent further damage and infections. Any ingredient from the anti-inflammatory food, herb and spice list may be added to this meal for additional pain relief.

Ingredients

Method

  • Lightly stir fry mushrooms, broccoli tops, garlic and spring onions in the rapeseed oil.

  • Place in a large bowl and add all other ingredients and mix well adding some olive oil if too dry.

  • Keep in the refrigerator and consume within three days.

  • Plain natural yoghurt can also be added to make a more creamy dish.

NOTE:  If suffering from diverticulitis, nuts and seeds should be avoided but steeping nuts and seeds in hot water for 30 minutes then straining and drinking as a tea provides a way to ingest their nutrients. Adding honey, herbs, spices and lemon juice to the tea can provide more essential nutrients and improve the taste.

Dessert, breakfast or snack

Berries (red, blue and black), sour cherries, ginger and cinnamon with plain live probiotic yoghurt.

See more nutritious recipes: Nature Cures Healthy Recipes

Blending

 

To make it easier to consume a wider range purchase a minimum 900 watt blender and puree your selection of different coloured fruit, steamed vegetables, legumes, herbs and spices in a blender as potage soups and juices. Add organic probiotic live yoghurt for a creamy effect. Blending and juicing are a way to gain high nutrition with less bulk in the daily diet. See Nature Cures Raw Juice Therapy for more information and recipes.

 

When vegetables and fruits are first chopped they should be left aside for 10 minutes for beneficial chemical reactions to take place. Then they should eaten raw or lightly steamed and consumed straight away because they begin to lose nutritional value after this. Pre-packed chopped fruit and vegetables have very little nutritional value compared to freshly prepared natural food.

 

Cleansing

 

Through stools, urine, tears and sweat the body rids itself of toxins that would otherwise build up and lead to sickness and disease. Fevers and skin eruptions are actually a natural part of the cleansing process and should not be suppressed. Cleansing allows the body to restore balance and occurs when imbalance is too great and threatens health and life. Ingesting live organic natural plant foods encourages this process. Visit Cleanse and Detoxify to find out which natural foods can help the body clean itself inside and out.

 

Sprouting

 

To gain a wide selection of essential nutrients in small portions of sprouts try growing your own in a jam jar with just a daily rinse of water. Visit the Nature Cures Sprouting page to find out how to grow beans, seeds, whole grains and legumes.

 

Teas

 

 

External remedies

Aloe vera, bicarbonate of soda, coconut oil and tea tree oil: If the feet are affected by peripheral neuropathy, any wounds or blisters must be taken care of well as infection can set in very easily. Daily soaking them in a bowl of warm water and any of these ingredients  is beneficial and will kill off any bacterial or fungal infections.

 

Epsom salts contain magnesium which can be absorbed by the skin if added to a warm bath which can reduce inflammation.

 

Use mineral bath crystals or powdered kelp seaweed for a relaxing bath. Add some drops of tea tree oil

 

Camphor oil: can make the blood vessels contract and thereby reduce pressure on the nerves. The cooling and penetrating effects of camphor oil make it an anti-inflammatory and sedative agent which is very helpful in curing nearly all types of inflammation.

 

Nettles: Some studies claimed that topical application of nettle leaf onto the painful area significantly helps in reducing the intensity of pain experienced by the sufferer.

 

Compresses and poultices using any of the above mentioned herbs and spices can provide pain relief as can adding them to a hot bath.

 

Poultices and compresses

There are various types of poultices that can be used to treat a wide variety of complaints from acne, arthritis and respiratory conditions to bruises and sprains. Some people advocate the use of porridge, carrot, bread, milk, potatoes, clay, cabbage and herbal poultices and many use poultices as a home remedy for their horses' ailments. A poultice will also help ease out anything that's embedded under the skin such as wood or metal splinters and can also bring boils or abscesses to the surface and draw out bee sting poison.

A homemade poultice is made by mashing herbs, plant material or another substance with warm water or natural oils to make a paste. Pure pressed coconut oil is especially good to use. The paste can be applied directly to the skin and covered with a piece of clean cloth. If the herb used is potent such as onion, garlic, ginger, mustard, etc., it is advisable to place a layer of thin cloth between the skin and the herb. The cloth can then be covered with plastic wrap to hold in the moisture. The poultice should be changed every 3 to 4 hours or more if it dries out. Then the area should be washed with soap and dried thoroughly and left uncovered.

A compress is used the same way but usually warm liquids are applied to the cloth instead of raw cold substances. Tinctures or herbal infusions are great for compresses.

Related articles

"Nature cures not the physician..." Hippocrates 460 BC

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