Supplements for neuropathy, retinopathy, cancer and migraine reduction

Photo by Nataliya Vaitkevich on

Adapted from Medscape 17 Nov 20, 13 June 21, 20 June 2022 and 26 July 22

Vitamin D

Vitamin D deficiency was significantly associated with an increase in sight threatening diabetic retinopathy (STDR). There was no association seen between vitamin D deficiency and non- sight threatening diabetic retinopathy (NSTDR).

UK researchers conducted a meta-analysis of 12 studies which had enrolled over 9 thousand patients who had type one and type two diabetes who did not have diabetic retinopathy.

Vitamin D deficiency was significantly associated with an increased risk of STDR (OR 1.8 95%)

My comment: For UK residents, particularly in Scotland, it is a good idea to supplement with vitamin D and vitamin K2 at least over our long winter if not all year round. There are many articles about this in previous blog posts which you can search for.


A short- term study of just over 100 patients was undertaken to see if the addition of melatonin to prescribed pregabalin for painful diabetic neuropathy made any difference compared to placebo plus pregabalin.

The groups were split evenly and 6mg of melatonin was tested over an eight -week period compared to an identical placebo.

Sleep improved in both groups but more so with melatonin. Pain also improved for each group and again this was more so in the melatonin group.

On the other hand day- time sleepiness was more pronounced for the melatonin group as was transient dizziness. More patients discontinued in the melatonin group compared to placebo.

My comment: In the UK melatonin is only available on prescription and except for ADHD patients, usually children, it is only given short term to those who have insomnia mainly due to expense. It is available cheaply and widely in supermarkets and pharmacies in the USA and Canada however. For sufferers of painful diabetic neuropathy who live in North America there doesn’t seem much to lose by a trial of treatment. Apart from aiding sleep, which has a host of benefits on its own, Melatonin is an important anti-oxidant. The authors of the study Shokri M et al have not offered an explanation of how they think the melatonin works to reduce pain in the excerpt in Medscape. The full report is at: Shokri M et al, Adjuvant use of melatonin for relieving symptoms of painful diabetic neuropathy: results of a randomised, double blinded, controlled trial. Eur J Clin Pharmacol. 2021 Jun 13.


Patients treated with ginger reported significantly less pain, nausea and vomiting compared to placebo in a meta-analysis of 13 RCTs.

Ginger has already been found to improve the pain of osteoarthritis, period pain and muscle pain but had previously given conflicting results regarding migraine.

227 patients were analysed. There were no side effects from the ginger compared to placebo.

My comments: Again, what would you have to lose by trying this if you are a migraine sufferer?

Resistant starch

There is a familial condition called Lynch Syndrome where there is a genetic susceptibility to bowel and other cancers. Recently it has been found that apart from aspirin, resistant starch supplements reduce bowel cancer in this population if taken long term.

Resistant starch is found in oats, breakfast cereal, cooked and cooled pasta or rice, peas and beans and some other starchy foods.

Lead author John Mathers, professor of human nutrition at Newcastle University explains that although resistant starch is a carbohydrate, it is not absorbed in the small intestine and ferments in your large intestine, thereby giving your gut bacteria a good feed. He thinks that it works to reduce bowel cancer by changing the gut bacteria metabolism of bile acids to reduce the kind that damage DNA and eventually cause cancer.

The CAPP2 trial has been following almost one thousand Lynch Syndrome people for between ten and twenty years. They have been taking over this time either: placebo or aspirin or resistant starch. The resistant starch dose is the daily equivalent of eating one unripe banana.

At the end of the first two years there was no difference in effect between the placebo and resistant starch groups on bowel cancer, but cancers in other parts of the body were reduced by 60% in the resistant starch group. The reduced cancers were in the upper gut and included oesophageal, gastric, biliary, pancreatic and duodenal cancers.

Aspirin meanwhile reduced bowel cancer rates by 50% and there was no effect in the placebo group.

Professor Burn said, 30g daily of resistant starch appears to have a substantial effect in Lynch syndrome on non- colorectal cancers and Aspirin works to reduce bowel cancer.

My comments: I wondered if there were resistant starch supplements available but didn’t find any. Eating the sorts of food recommended gave me terrible wind and I gave up!

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