Chemotherapy-Induced Neuropathy

Chemotherapy-Induced Neuropathy

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Chemotherapy-Induced Neuropathy

Dear Annie,

I have neuropathy in my hands and feet because of chemotherapy treatments for ovarian cancer.  It is quit uncomfortable.  My Dr prescribed Duloxetine for the pain and tingling but it only helps a little.  Can you help?

Thank you for reaching out. I’m sorry to hear that your uncomfortable.  Unfortunately, neuropathy, especially in the hands and feet, is a common and lingering side effect of chemotherapy.  It’s called  Chemotherapy-Induced Peripheral Neuropathy (CIPN).  Yes, natural therapies can help.

First, let’s take a look at what CIPN is and how it can manifest. Then we can explore natural options to help ease your suffering.

About Chemotherapy-Induced Peripheral Neuropathy (CIPN)

The chemicals used as treatments to kill cancerous cells, also effect normal, non-cancerous cells.  

After treatment, nerve cells, especially those in the hands and feet, have difficulty reproducing normally.  They have trouble taking in nutrients, creating energy and communicating with other cells in the body.  Because nerve cells are altered, they are not easily nourished, tending to break down and become damaged more easily.  The result is inflammation and pain.

CIPN nerve damage is most often caused by chemotherapy and radiation therapy.  But can also be caused by surgery and noncancer-related toxic overload.


Odd feelings usually start with the fingers and toes and then progress upward and inward.   Symptoms may include:

  • Feelings of pain and numbness, especially to the extremities
  • Feelings of tingling or pins and needles
  • Pain, burning and numbness
  • Difficulty with fine motor skills (like writing or picking things up)
  • Muscle weakness
  • Decreased sensation especially in arms and legs. 
  • Increased sensitivity to touch, temperature, and pressure

Natural therapies

The path to natural solutions for CIPN is likely to be a multi-level approach.  One that could include herbs, nutritional supplementation, physical movement (like yoga therapy or exercise) and lifestyle changes.

Decrease Pain, Discomfort and Cellular Inflammation associated with Chemotherapy-Induced Neuropathy

Several herbs can help relieve nerve pain.  Some are used internally, some externally.  If your recovering from Cancer treatment or are taking prescription medications, I recommend talking to a qualified herbalist before taking herbs. An herbalist will be able to tell you which herbs are appropriate for you, which are likely to interact with your medication. 

That said, some of my favorite herbs to help relieve nerve pain include Cayenne (Capsicum annum), Kava Kava (Piper methysticum), St John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum), CBD (Cannabis sativa), and Black Cumin, also called Black Seed Oil (Nigella sativa).

Cayenne (Capsicum annum)

Cayenne applied externally is my go-to for reducing nerve pain. I don’t know how many times I have recommended it, and not once has it brought disappointment.  It’s quick, easy, and most people have it in their cupboard.  Just remember to was your hands before touching your face or other sensitive areas.

To use cayenne externally, add about 1 teaspoon of powdered cayenne into 8 to 12 oz of your favorite lotion (more or less cayenne based on your needs and personal preference.) Then apply it to your feet and hands or anywhere your experiencing pain.

St John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum)

St. John’s Wort is a longer lasting solution.  A trophorestorative for the nervous system, it helps restore, nourish, and heal nerve cells and the nervous system. The oil applied externally helps reduce or alleviate nerve pain of all kinds. I like to add Cayenne powder to the dark red oil of St. John’s Wort, then apply it to painful areas in a smooth stroking motion.

A bit of warning about using St. John’s Wort internally. This herb is the poster child for herbal/drug interactions. If you are taking prescription medications, contact your doctor or a qualified herbalist to see if it is safe for you to use internally.  

When purchasing St. John’s Wort in any form, look for a deep red color, indicating the highest level of healing constituents.

Black Cumin/Black Seed Oil (Nigella sativa)

Numerous studies have shown that the N. sativa seed is beneficial to nervous system disorders including neurotoxicity, which is probably the main cause for CIPN.

The Fatty oil contained in the seeds reduces cellular inflammation, helps lower or block pain stimulus, and protects against cellular oxidation.

Black Cumin oil can be taken internally or externally.  One study showed a significant pain reduction when the oil was applied externally to hands and feet.  

One of the best things about Black Cumin is that it has no reported side effects. Yet has broad reaching therapeutic indications for those suffering with or recovering from cancer.  Pretty darned cool!

Next – Repair and Revitalize the Nervous System

Reducing pain and uncomfortable sensations is very important.  It is the first step.  Next time we’ll take a look at how to repair and revitalize nerve cells and the nervous system.

Contact Annie to find out more about how to reduce the lingering side effects of cancer treatment.

Further Reading on Chemotherapy-Induced Neuropathy

Thank you for reading.  I hope this was helpful for you. I would love to hear about your experiences.  Please use the contact form to shoot me a message.  I am excited to hear from you.

Thank you





The statements and ideas presented here are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or condition. They have not been evaluated by the FDA. All ideas presented are for the sole purpose of education. To help you take control of your own health. If you have a health concern or condition, consult a physician. We suggest that you always consult a medical doctor before modifying your diet, using any new product, drug, supplement, or doing any new exercises.

These statements and products have not been evaluated by the FDA. They are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or condition. If you have a health concern or condition, consult a physician. Always consult a medical doctor before modifying your diet, using any new product, drug, supplement, or doing any new exercises.

Herbs taken for health purposes should be treated with the same care as medicine. Herbal remedies are no substitute for a healthy diet and lifestyle. If you are serious about good health, you’ll want to combine diet, exercise, herbals, a good relationship with your doctor and a generally healthy lifestyle. No one of these will do it alone.

This information is designed to be used as part of a complete health plan. No products are intended to replace your doctor’s care, or to supersede any of his/her advice or prescriptions.


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