Chronic pain affect millions of people world-wide, with high rates of inflammatory and preventative conditions. Simple nutrient supplementation, either alone or in adjunct with commonly prescribed pharmaceutical analgesic agents, show real potential in reducing pain and improving quality of life.
From 1950, vitamin B12 has been considered an effective analgesic in some countries. With multiple roles in the human body, B12 is consistently showing promise in the treatment of many chronic diseases and conditions.
A 2013 review article discussed the outcomes of methylcobalamin (MeCo) in pain conditions from diabetic neuropathy, trigeminal and glossopharyngeal neuralgia, low back and neck pain and subacute herpatic neuralgia.
MeCo is one of the active forms of vitamin B12 and contains a methyl group. It is required for the metabolism of homocysteine to methionine in the methylation cycle.
MeCo has the ability to improve motor and sensory conduction, paraesthesia, burning and neuropathic pain in diabetic patients where medications, including dolantin and carbamazepine, are not effective. Improvements were noted between 4-12 weeks (dose dependant) upon administration either orally, or via intramuscular or intrathescal injection.
MeCo showed reduced pain in glossopharyngeal and trigeminal neuralgia when combined with gabapentin or tramadol, in-turn increasing quality of life, relationships, mood and emotions.
High dose MeCo improves diabetic neuropathy and nerve conduction in human patients, streptozotocin-diabetic rats or experimental acrylamide neuropathy, with long-term administration aiding in myelin regeneration. The regeneration of myelin improves nerve conduction velocity and neuronal function, and assists in the regeneration of injured nerves in vivo through the advancement of radioactive leucine into the protein fraction of crushed sciatic nerves.
While more research is needed in MeCo administration in low back and neck pain, there is plenty of evidence to suggest its benefits in many chronic pain conditions. Dosage and length of time in the administration of MeCo should be based on practitioner knowledge, current evidence and clinical outcomes for patients, being mindful of side effects, particularly in patients with genetic defects associated with methylation disturbances.
- Zhang M, Han W, Hu S, et al. Methylcobalamin: a potential vitamin of pain killer. Neural Plast 2013;2013:424651 [Full Text]