April 11, 2006

Botox, Ginkgo may relieve diabetic nerve pain

By Karla Gale

SAN DIEGO (Reuters Health) - Injections of botulinum toxin
A relieve pain in an animal model of diabetic neuropathy,
according to research reported at the American Academy of
Neurology's annual meeting in San Diego.

Diabetic neuropathy is a term used for the nerve damage
that occurs in people with diabetes and that often leads to
pain, numbness, or tingling in the feet and hands.

Five days after scientists injected the paw pad of rats
with diabetic neuropathy with botulinum toxin A, the animals
became less sensitive to pain, as demonstrated by reductions in
flinches and shaking of the injected paw, compared with
diabetic rats treated with saline. The effect lasted for 15

Dr. Zdravko Lackovic, from Zagreb University in Croatia and
colleagues believe this is the first demonstration that a
single shot of botulinum toxin might have a long-lasting
pain-relieving effect in diabetic neuropathy. Botulinum toxin A
is commonly known as Botox, although the product goes by
several brand names.

A second presentation at the meeting hints that a
combination of Ginkgo biloba extract and folate reduces
symptoms of diabetic neuropathy.

For their research, Dr. Susanne Koeppen, from the
University of Essen in Germany, and colleagues randomly
assigned 60 diabetic patients with neuropathy to Ginkgo biloba
extract, folate, both agents, or placebo.

"We found out that all three active treatments were
superior to placebo, with the best effect seen with the
combination of folate and Ginkgo biloba extract," told Reuters

"I think it is important to know that even a short
treatment period can have an effect on neuropathic symptoms,"
she added, even though there were no changes in
electrophysiologic tests.