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Something From Nothing: A Skeptic’s Odyssey of Untreatable Foot Pain

“There is Nothing More We Can Do”

Nothing is more defeating in life than a doctor saying there is nothing more we can do for you, but that’s what they told my mom. So, for the last 20 years of he life, she was plagued with peripheral neuropathy of her feet. Eventually her symptoms gradually spread from her feet to her lower legs. She described her feet as having an unrelenting pins and needles sensation. No one found any treatment that gave her any relief. As she grew older, not feeling her lower legs and feet interfered with her balance and ability to walk. It was heartbreaking to watch her loss of vitality because of her feet.

Not long after her passing, I developed symptoms in an area on the bottom of my right foot about the size of a half dollar. At first it was very itchy to the point of driving mad when my shoe was on. Later the itching was replaced with a change in sensation to pin and needles and occasional itching. I saw many physicians and no one had any ideas about to how to treat it. Eventually over the time the sensations spread to both feet. Suddenly I now had pain with exercise on the elliptical trainer or walking. The worst was horseback riding, where the stirrup would dig into my feet causing unusual painful sensations. On the dismount I didn’t get much feedback from my foot when I landed and I worried about falling. “There is nothing more we can do,” all the doctors told me. I knew how this would turn out and wasn’t blindly going to accept my mom’s destiny. So I looked beyond conventional medicine’s nothing and found what turned out to be something: supplements.


Study Of One

I had heard from a number sources alpha lipoic acid and a super B complex high in B1, B6 and B12 might help reduce the pain and discomfort of peripheral neuropathy. But as a clinician, I knew I had some work to do before I began my “study of one”.

My first stop was seeing with my internist. I asked her to review my current list of chief medical conditions and all my current medications and supplements. “Do you see anything here that would prevent me from adding ALA and a Super B Complex to my daily supplements and medications?” I asked. “No” she said and cleared me to begin using the Super B Complex and Alpha Lipoic Acid.

The next stop was find these supplements in capsule form.began to look for the supplements in capsule form. This was important because years ago at a medical conference I had heard several physicians point out that sometimes tablets are not absorbed in the gut because they are compressed too tightly together. At the time, the example they talked about was magnesium. They had recommended taking supplements in a capsule form when you can find it for better absorption. The good news was that I found ALA in capsule form. The not so good news I had to settle for Super B in a tablet form. Even better, both supplements had the right manufacture’s pedigree. What do I mean?


How Do You Define Success?

The biggest problem with supplements is that they are not regulated by the FDA. That’s right. Not regulated. Then how do you know if the supplements you are buying don’t have the actual ingredients as stated. You don’t. The best you can is find supplements with a CL or a UPS mark on the bottle, that indicates they have been independently tested for actual ingredients. You’ll quickly discover that’s not always possible. In my case, I was able to locate a brand of Super B Complex with a UPS label but not the Alpha Lipoic Acid. With my doctor’s tepid blessing and the best versions of the supplements I could find, I was ready to begin my study of one. But before I took a single capsule or tablet, I need to answer one critical question about the study: How long do I take the ALA and B6 before I declare the study a success or a failure?

The answer depends on what body systems you are treating. I knew that neurological issues having to do with nerve function typically take a long time to develop and even longer to respond to treatment. I decided to try it for 6 to 12 months. My plan was 100 mg of Alpha Lipoic Acid and one tablet of a Super B complex daily. I would start “low and go slow” which is the approach we use in clinical medicine medicine when introducing a new medication. With that, I began the study but with low expectations.


The Unexpected Minor Miracle

The supplements approach didn’t feel like much of a something and I feared it too would turn out to be just another nothing. So much for jumping to conclusions without the facts. The supplements were something on the scale of a minor miracle.Here’s what happened.

Within the first 6 weeks, the symptoms improved gradually first disappearing from my left foot and parts of the bottom of my right foot. Yes, neurological reversal of symptoms that by seven months had gotten rid of the tingling, burning, hurting and itching of the stubborn area on the outer mid bottom of my right foot And it has continued to stay that way as long as I stay on the the supplements.

I am profoundly grateful. I found perfect solution that was simple and affordable. I only wish my mother could have had a chance to if it would work for her.


“Skeptic’s Protocol” For Using Supplements  

For those of you who are considering a non-conventional treatment for symptoms that haven’t resolved with conventional medicine, start with your physician. Ask if there are any supplements that might be helpful. Physicians are beginning to educate themselves about the uses of supplements for some medical conditions. I have found several of my physicians to be helpful. Or you can research it on your own. I recommend looking at quality sites like Mayo Clinic, WEB MD, Dr Weil and other physician or medical centers of excellence. I would avoid sites that sell the supplements as there is a conflict of interest in recommending a supplement that is for sale by the same source. And remember: You never know when nothing will become something with patience and an open mind.

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