Cochrane Summaries

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Vitamin B for treating disorders of the peripheral nerves

Ang CD, Alviar MJM, Dans AL, Bautista-Velez GGP, Villaruz-Sulit MVC, Tan JJ, Co HU, Bautista MRM, Roxas AA
Published Online: 
8 October 2008

Peripheral neuropathy is a disorder of the peripheral nerves resulting from different causes, such as diabetes mellitus and alcoholism, leading to pain, numbness or weakness of the limbs and other problems. Vitamin B is commonly used to treat peripheral neuropathy but it is not clear if it helps. This review of 13 trials on diabetic and alcoholic peripheral neuropathy with a total of 741 participants showed only one study that suggested possible short-term benefit from eight-week treatment with benfotiamine (a derivative of vitamin B1) with slightly greater improvement in vibration perception threshold compared to placebo. Vitamin B complex when given in a higher dose administered for four weeks was more efficacious than a lower dose in reducing pain and other clinical problems based on another study. Two to eight weeks of treatment with vitamin B was less efficacious than alpha-lipoic acid, cilostazol or cytidine triphosphate in short-term improvement of clinical and nerve test findings. All these findings require confirmation in larger studies before they can be accepted as definite. Vitamin B is generally well-tolerated with only a few reports of mild side effects.