Neuropathy in Autonomic Nerves
Neuropathy comes in many forms, with peripheral neuropathy being the most noticeable, due to detectable experiences like pain and numbness. Meanwhile, autonomic neuropathy and its symptoms are less easily recognized. Since autonomic neuropathy affects the autonomic nervous system, which controls unconscious body systems, vital bodily functions like heart beat and blood pressure can be negatively impacted (Dinsmoor, 2003). Overall, damage to the automatic and peripheral nervous systems, as experienced with neuropathy, can affect the cardiovascular system, leading to orthostatic hypotension (Redman, 2000). When an individual moves from sitting to standing, the legs’ blood vessels constrict as a means of stabilizing blood pressure (Dinsmoor, 2003). In contrast, individuals experiencing orthostatic hypotension, have blood vessels that do not constrict, causing blood pressure to decrease and an uncomfortable pooling of blood in the legs (Dinsmoor, 2003). Symptoms of orthostatic hypotension include tiredness, weakness, faintness, and aches (Redman, 2000).
Pharmacological Treatments & Butcher’s Broom
Speaking to a healthcare professional about improving poor blood circulation, as a symptom of neuropathy, will encourage discussions of reducing cardiovascular risk factors through actions like light exercise, diet maintenance, quitting smoking, and blood pressure control (Dinsmoor, 2003). Blood pressure treatments range from non-pharmacological controls, like temperature regulation and compression stockings, to drug therapies in critical cases (Redman, 2000). Over sixty medications treat orthostatic hypotension but unfortunately pharmacological treatment is often inconsistent and limited in benefits, usually making medicated intervention a last effort (Redman, 2000, as cited in Senard and Montastruc, 1996). As every individuals’ experience with neuropathy and pain management differs, so too is that of orthostatic hypotension. Beyond the above mentioned non-pharmacological and drug therapy treatment options, is an increasingly researched herbal treatment: the plant Ruscus Aculeatus or Butcher’s Broom.
About Butcher’s Broom
Growing about three feet tall, Butcher’s Broom is an evergreen bush with bright red berries, small pale flowers, and leaflike branches (Balch, 2002). Although used for a variety of health conditions, the plant’s anti-inflammatory and cleansing properties support blood circulation, especially to the lower limbs, making it particularly useful in treating orthostatic hypotension (Balch, 2002). Butcher’s Broom improves blood pressure by limiting the pooling of blood in limbs, while promoting protective effects on cardiovascular tissues, capillaries, and smooth muscle (Redman, 2000). The majority of research on Butcher’s Broom highlighting these cardiovascular benefits has been conducted by German-speaking European communities, as their explorations of homeopathic medicine are some of the most developed today (Redman, 2000). Their research encourages further awareness and study, while showing Butcher’s Broom to be an effective, safe, and reasonably priced natural treatment for orthostatic hypotension (Redman, 2000).
It is important to consult your healthcare professional on the possible drug interactions between Butcher’s Broom and existing medications, as well as establishing your recommended dosage. Higher doses can negatively impact the cardiovascular system and its functioning, as well as cause vomiting and lowered nerve strength (Balch, 2002). Butcher’s Broom is available at a fraction of the cost of many orthostatic hypotension drug therapies (Redman, 2000). It is available most often over-the-counter as a supplement at many pharmacies and health food stores, such as Wal-Mart and Planet Organic. Although there is no orthostatic hypotension treatment that is known to be a complete cure, the benefits of Butcher’s Broom appear promising. Ultimately, Butcher’s Broom supplements may be an efficacious, safe, and low-priced natural therapy for improving poor blood circulation that is a symptom of your neuropathy.
References Balch, P. A. (2002). Prescription for herbal healing. Penguin. Retrieved from https://books.google.ca/books?hl=en&lr=&id=ZuWcxtk0wRQC&oi=fnd&pg=PR6&dq=herbal+healing+butcher+broom&ots=HYK3Xl0AH5&sig=4jhvgx0QPjP5qR_QoiCevzwUILY#v=onepage&q=butcher%20broom&f=false Dinsmoor, R. S. (2003). The Forgotten Nerves. Countdown, 24(4), 25. Butcher’s Broom Case Report Redman, D. A. (2000). Ruscus aculeatus (butcher's broom) as a potential treatment for orthostatic hypotension, with a case report. Journal Of Alternative And Complementary Medicine (New York, N.Y.), 6(6), 539-549.
Lisa-Marie McLennan is a University of Calgary graduate, holding her Bachelor of Arts: English Literature major & Psychology minor. Also see: http://calgaryneuropathy.com/about-us/ to learn more about Lisa Marie.