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July 22, 2015

Susan Callahan, Contributing Columnist

Peripheral neuropathy is a innocuous name for an almost
unbearable condition. With peripheral neuropathy, your
nerve endings degenerate, causing a pain that in extreme
cases literally feels like you are on fire, hence the name
"man on fire" syndrome.

Since you have nerve endings all over your body,
peripheral neuropathy can occur almost anywhere on your
body. However, the most common places that it occurs are
your arms, hands, legs and feet.  In your hands, the pain
of peripheral neuropathy sometimes  follows the outline of
a glove.

One of the most common causes of peripheral neuropathy
is diabetes. Uncontrolled sugar molecules , jagged in their
cellular architecture, attack nerves and cause cell death or
pain. Because of the growing incidence of diabetes in the
United States and other developed Western countries, the
incidence of peripheral neuropathy is also on the rise.

At the genetic level, people who have one particular gene
are at increased risk for peripheral neuropathy, a 2011
study has found. Scientists from Yale University, examining
28 patients with peripheral neuropathy from unexplained
causes, identified the SCNA9 gene as the likely culprit.

Common Causes of Man on Fire Syndrome

Besides genetics and diabetes, other causes of peripheral
neuropathy include the following:

Alcohol. Long-term chronic alcohol abuse can cause
painful nerve damage of peripheral neuropathy, according
to many studies, including a 2008 study from the
University of California at San Francisco and a 2012 study
from the University Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences of
Panjab University, India. Unfortunately, the pain gets
worse with withdrawal from alcohol.

Metals in your Diet. Certain foods contain metal
concentrations which can cause nerve damage. Mercury in
seafood, excess iron, zinc and other metals all have been
implicated in studies on peripheral neuropathy.

Environmental Toxins. As of today, there are 80,000
toxins registered with the Environmental Protection
Agency A full 1000 of these toxins have proven
“neurotoxic potential”, meaning they can damage your
nerves, nervous system and brains of animals, and 201 are
known to be toxic to the nervous systems of humans,
according to a 2014 study by researchers from the
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

The list of these environmental toxins includes  
organophosphates, carbon disulfide, pyridoxine (also
known as Vitamin B6), hexacarbons and acrylamide.

Fried Potatoes. Let’s focus on one of these toxins --
acrylamide. Acrylamide, according to the National Cancer
Institute, can be produced if you cook vegetables
containing the natural amino acid asparagine.

How you cook the vegetables is the trick. Frying
vegetables at high temperatures in the presence of sugars
can convert the asparagine to acrylamide.

White potatoes convert the asparagine to acrylamide
particularly well.  Better to boil them.

Dietary Deficiencies.  Vitamin B 12 deficiency is
associated with peripheral neuropathy, many studies have
found, including a 2015 study from Indiana University
Health Riley Hospital for Children. Other studies, such as a
2015 study from  Yokohama City University Graduate
School of Medicine in Japan, have found that folate
deficiency can trigger neuropathy pain.

Remedies That Protect Against "Man on Fire" Syndrome

Omega 3 Blocks Peripheral Neuropathy

Omega-3 fatty acids appear to provide a protection against
neuropathy, scientists have discovered.  In 2012, scientists
put omega-3 supplementation to the test by studying a
group of 67 breast cancer patients taking a drug called

Paclitaxel often causes painful peripheral neuropathy. 30
of the patients were given omega-3 supplements and 27
patients were not. After 30 days of treatment, the
scientists from Tehran University Medical found that 70%
of those who took omega-3 supplement did not develop
peripheral neuropathy, while 40% of those who did not
take omega-3 developed neuropathy.

Omega 3 fatty acids --  eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and
docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) -- are essential fatty acids
which your body cannot produce and which are found
mainly in oily fish such as salmon, tuna, halibut and
sardines. Certain nuts  such as walnuts and flax seeds
contain compounds which your body converts to the
omega-3 fatty acids..

The dosage used in the study was 640 milligrams,
consisting of 54% EPA and 10% EPA.

Vitamin B6 Prevents Peripheral Neuropathy

Vitamin B6 is well-known as a remedy that can prevent
peripheral neuropathy. In fact, doctors often recommend
that people take Vitamin B6 prior to undergoing
treatments or taking certain drugs which are known to
cause peripheral neuropathy.

Making sure that your body is not deficient in any of the B
Vitamins can help stop the burning pain of peripheral
neuropathy, according to the 2012 study from Panjab
University which studied alcohol-induced neuropathy.

Men generally need more Vitamin B6 than women. Adult
women who are not pregnant need 1.3 milligrams, while
men need up to 1.7 milligrams. Easy does it , however; do
not exceed 100 milligrams of Vitamin B6 per day or you
can actually trigger the very condition you are trying to
remedy. That’s right, excessive amounts of Vitamin B6 can
cause peripheral neuropathy.

Foods rich in Vitamin B6 include organ meats (liver),
poultry and fish as well as green leafy vegetables. You are
unlikely to reach Vitamin B6 unless you take supplements.

Turkey is your “go to” food for Vitamin B6. According to
the US Department of Agriculture, a single portion of raw
turkey breast meat contains 9.8 milligrams of Vitamin B6,
more than 50% of what a man needs all day.

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Eating fish rich in omega 3 fatty acids can block the
pain of peripheral neuropathy, so-called "Man on
Fire" syndrome
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