Saturday, October 2, 2010

Benfotiamine: The New European Treatment for Diabetic Neuropathy

German and Hungarian scientists have found a new use for an old vitamin in treating diabetic neuropathy. A form of vitamin B-1 (thiamin), known as benfotiamine, is being used to reverse the enzymatic changes in nerve tissue caused by chronically high blood sugar levels.

Benfotiamine is a synthetic form of vitamin B-1 that is especially well absorbed. Once it gets into the bloodstream, it is converted back into the same form of vitamin B-1 that is provided by food, but in a way that "alkalizes" the cells that have the enzymes to process it. Benfotiamine increases the activity of a transketolase enzyme, which in turn decreases that activity of a glyceraldehyde enzyme that is responsible for the process of glycation, the process of accumulating sugar from the bloodstream when blood sugar levels are high. European studies of the vitamin find that it can reduce glycation levels by 40 per cent. This slows down, or maybe even eliminates, the diabetic damage to the eyes, nerves, and kidneys, all organs which have the enzymes needed to transform the supplement into the vitamin.

There have been two clinical trials that have found that benfotiamine reduces the symptoms of diabetic neuropathy. The best dosage seems to be 400 mg a day. There are no interactions with any prescription drugs, and no known side effects. And since benfotiamine activates a group of enzymes known as the transketolases, it's likely that there will be future research into this supplement as a way of reducing the risk of cancer for people who have type 2 diabetes.

Selected Reference:

Winkler G, Kempler P. [Pathomechanism of diabetic neuropathy: background of the pathogenesis-oriented therapy] Orv Hetil. 2010 Jun 13;151(24):971-81.

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