I came across the importance of using a specific form of B1 in diabetic patients to prevent neuropathy many years ago now and have been advising it since then. Some experts even think that diabetes could be a ‘thiamine deficiency state’ condition, it is that important. However, you need to use the synthetic, fat soluble benfotiamine form of B1, not the normal water soluble form. It has a much more powerful protective and treatment effect for the neuropathic complications of diabetes and, as you’ll see, does a lot more than that, not least helping you control blood sugar levels.
So I was pleased to see a recent piece in the Natural Medicine Journal about it:
It’s a bit (well, a lot!) technical, but maybe useful to show your GPs. The article concludes:
Benfotiamine, a highly bioactive thiamine derivative, blocks the pathological impact of these complication-causing pathways and activates TK by tenfold compared to thiamine. Benfotiamine has also been shown to diminish the intensity of the symptoms of diabetic polyneuropathy. Thiamine deficiency is a well-established cause of polyneuropathy. These facts suggest a strong interrelationship between thiamine deficiency and the polyneuropathy of diabetes.
There is also a useful, though much older, piece here from Life Extension – cursor down to the diabetes bit:
The dosage seems to be a bit fluid but most research seems to suggest around 200-400mg per day gets results. I would start with a low dose of eg. 150mg per day (I tend to recommend this one) and see how your symptoms respond. The Life Extension piece gives some more insight into dosing.
The research on this has been advancing over the past few years and some experts are now recommending you combine the benfotiamine with alpha lipoic acid as an antioxidant. Clinical trials show it is itself very useful for reducing neuropathy symptoms. You can get combined products such as this, but I like to give them separately if possible using R+ lipoic acid which is more expensive, but is much better absorbed by the body and therefore seems to be more effective.
Do bear in mind that the B1 can naturally help you control insulin and blood sugar so manage this with your GP – it is not unusual to need much less medication when on it otherwise you can get hypos, so start low and build up with your GP’s monitoring please.
Also useful might be this thread on diabetes.co.uk where users give lots of links to info and discuss how they use it.
If you are diabetic and at risk of developing neuropathic complications, consider this as a prevention strategy. If you already have nerve damage, consider it to help repair and prevent further problems. Either way, I so hope it helps!