top of page
Touch is essential for quality of life; keep it youthful
Touch, or the tactile system, provide essential sensory input for our interaction with our environment and other living beings. It is thought to be important for developing good relationships by triggering oxytocin, the natural antidepressant serotonin, and the pleasure neurotransmitter dopamine. The vagus nerve, which is intricately linked to our empathetic response, is also activated by touch. The nervous system is slowed, or calmed, by the impulses sent by the sensation of touch.
Touch is made up of multiple different sensations that are transmitted to the brain via specific skin neurons. Pressure, temperature, light, vibration, pain, and other sensations are all assigned to different receptors in the skin and are all part of the touch sense. Touch isn't only a sense for interacting with the world; it also appears to be crucial to a person's health. Touch, for example, has been shown to transmit compassion from one person to another. Human decision-making can also be influenced by touch. Touching something with a texture can influence a person's decisions, and texture can be related with abstract concepts.
Pain, temperature, pressure, vibration, and bodily position are all sensed through touch. Nerve endings (receptors) sense these feelings in the skin, muscles, tendons, joints, and internal organs. Some receptors provide information to the brain about the position and health of internal organs. Though you may be unaware of it, this information aids in the detection of changes (for example, the pain of appendicitis). The type and amount of touch sensations are interpreted by your brain. It can also classify an experience as pleasant (such being comfortably warm), unpleasant (like being too hot), or neutral (such as being aware that you are touching something).
How the sense of touch can change with aging
Sensations may diminish or change as we age. Because their skin is thinner, older adults can become more sensitive to light touches. Reduced blood supply to the nerve terminals, the spinal cord, or the brain can induce these alterations. Nerve impulses are transmitted from the spinal cord to the brain, which interprets them. Changes in sensation can also be caused by health issues, such as a lack of specific nutrients. Sensation changes can be caused by brain surgery, brain disorders, confusion, and nerve damage from injury or long-term (chronic) conditions like diabetes. The symptoms of altered feeling/sensation may differ depending on the reason. It might be difficult to detect the difference between cool and cold, as well as hot and warm, when temperature sensitivity is reduced. This raises the risk of frostbite, hypothermia (very low body temperature), and burn injuries.
When the ability to sense vibration, touch, and pressure is impaired, it raises the risk of injuries such as pressure ulcers (skin sores that develop when pressure cuts off blood supply to the area). Many people's pain sensitivity decreases after the age of 50. You may feel and recognize pain, but you are unaware about it. When you are hurt, for example, you may not realize how serious the injury is since the pain does not bother you. Because of your diminished capacity to perceive where your body is in relation to the floor, you may have difficulty walking and keeping balance. This raises your chances of falling, which is a typical problem among the elderly.
Peripheral neuropathy is a common aging-related degenerative disorder that interferes with daily activities and leads to increased risk of falls and injury in the elderly. Does peripheral neuropathy get worse with age? If left untreated, the numbness, tingling, and burning caused by peripheral neuropathy will get worse over time. The damaged nerves will continue to send confusing messages to the brain more frequently until the spinal cord gets so used to sending the signals, it will continue to do it on its own.
Supplements that counteract peripheral neuropathy
Vitamins B-1, B-6, and B-12 have been found to be especially beneficial for treating neuropathy. Vitamin B-1, also known as thiamine, helps to reduce pain and inflammation and vitamin B-6 preserves the covering on nerve endings. B vitamins are useful in treating neuropathy since they support a generally healthy nervous system function. Peripheral neuropathy is sometimes caused by a vitamin B deficiency.
Alpha-lipoic acid is an antioxidant that may be useful in treating neuropathy caused by diabetes or cancer treatment. Alpha-lipoic acid may lower blood sugar levels, improve nerve function, and relieve neuropathy-induced symptoms in the legs and arms such as: pain, itching, tingling, prickling, numbness and burning. It can be taken in supplement form or administered intravenously. Alpha-lipoic acid has been shown to have a positive effect on nerve conduction and to reduce neuropathic symptoms.
Acetyl-L-carnitine is an amino acid and antioxidant that may boost energy levels, create healthy nerve cells, and reduce pain in people with neuropathy. You can take it as a supplement. Studies have shown that acetyl-L-carnitine can significantly improve chemotherapy-induced peripheral sensory neuropathy and
N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) is a supplement form of cysteine which is an amino acid with powerful antioxidant activity. Its many medicinal uses include treating neuropathy-related pain and reducing inflammation. NAC isn’t found naturally in foods, but cysteine is in most high protein foods. A study showed that NAC may be useful in treating diabetic neuropathy. It reduced neuropathic pain and improved motor coordination. Its antioxidant properties improved nerve damage from oxidative stress and apoptosis, or cell death.
Curcumin is a yellow phenolic component isolated from the roots of plant Curcuma longa (turmeric), and is widely used in China and India for medicinal purposes. Curcumin is known for its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and pain-relieving properties. It may help to relieve numbness and tingling in hands and feet. A study found that curcumin reduced chemotherapy-induced neuropathy. It had a positive effect on pain, inflammation, and functional loss. Antioxidant and calcium levels were significantly improved upon curcumin administration.
Fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acids which have been shown to provide many health benefits and possess anti-inflammatory activity. It is useful in treating neuropathy due to its anti-inflammatory effects and its ability to repair damaged nerves. It also helps to relieve muscle soreness and pain. Studies have shown that fish oil can slow progression and reversible diabetic neuropathy. Its anti-inflammatory properties are useful in reducing pain and discomfort. Its neuroprotective effects can help stimulate neuron growth.
bottom of page