I experienced hands going numb about 2 years ago, shortly after being diagnosed with T2 Diabetes. I saw a neurologist for that, who felt that it's related to lifting weights without gloves or prior near carpal tunnel symptoms (not diagnosed with it, however), not diabetic neuropathy. He advised me to get hand-straigheners for sleeping at night (I didn't-- too inconvenient).
Since then, about a year later, I was diagnosed with autoimmunity (Sjogren's) and I started on a gluten-free, casein-free, and dairy-free diet: did not completely implement being nighshade-free (kept hot pepper sauces) and egg-free. I experienced siginficant improvements: my eyes and throat didn't become as dry as before, and the hands going numb happened less frequently.
Recently, however, I started bringing some dairy back. Heavy cream and sour cream immediately got my hands going numb at night regularly. I cut that out. Then I brought some Lindt's 85% and 90% dark chocolates. At most I consume 10-20g per day. Yet that seems to be enough to trigger hand numbness.
Has anyone experienced dairy causing hand numbness at night? Perhaps the solution is to pernamently cut out dairy and also explore cutting out all nightshades and eggs?
Of course, this may have nothing to do with autoimmunity -- it could just be the remnant of my near carpal tunnel from years ago (I used to be a wordprocessor for 10 years). So perhaps it's worth asking people with autoimmunity who're treating themselves with food avoidance.
asked byNamby_Pamby (5147)
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on March 03, 2012
at 04:40 PM
I've got peripheral neuropathy--and experience numbness, hot & cold de-sensitivity (enough that I can burn myself and not know it!), and tingliness in my hands (and sometimes my legs). Eating the wrong foods DEFINITELY exacerbates the problem. From the last 9 months of research I've done, which has been informative but still leaves me largely in the dark on what's going on (maybe because I'm not a scientist? or just have years more of learning to do), here's a rough list of "facts" that I've gathered. (DISCLAIMER: My expression of what I have learned may be less than beautiful. I'm working on writing a well-cited blog post for you and me, but until then, here's what I've got. Bear with me and take all these statements with a grain of salt since I'm putting all of this together from memory, even in the case where I can point you to a link.)
- Neuropathy & nervous system disorders have been linked to a vitamin B deficiency (especially B12, or cobalamin) (see Chris Kresser on B12 deficiencies)
- An important factor in the development of neurological diseases (and autoimmune diseases in general!!) seems to be damage to myelin sheathing -- you can read about this even on wikipedia
- Vitamin B12 is needed to both build and repair myelin sheathing
- Supplementing with very high doses of vitamin B12 (especially sublingually or via shot at the Dr's office) can help patients with nervous system disorders show short term improvement (the B vitamins are water soluble, meaning we can't store them in fat for later use, which is why the improvement is only short term)
- Vitamin B12 is found ONLY in animal products
- Improper digestion can be a cause of vitamin B12 deficiency, especially when the diet seems to suggest adequate B12 intake. Pernicious anemia is also linked to B12 deficiency (?) -- Chris Kresser talks about why we can be deficient in B12 even when we eat lots of it (see link above)
- Digestion starts in the mouth (with saliva--that's why they tell us to chew well)
- The majority of vitamin B and B12 digestion (linked to our body's ability to then absorb it) takes place in the stomach (can't cite this one... just remember reading it)
- Low stomach acid (HCl) causes us to be unable to properly digest our foods, resulting in malabsorption. If you don't have enough stomach acid then you can't make chyme, and if you can't make chyme then the rest of your digestive system can't do its job either (see Balanced Bites on HCl)
- Nutritional absorption also takes place in the intestines (obviously)
- Inflammation in and damage to the intestines interferes with our ability to absorb nutrients
- Gluten (especially the protein gliadin?) & dairy (and especially casein?) have been linked to inflammation of (and damage to) our intestines
- Foods containing antinutrients (i.e., grains, legumes, nuts, potatoes, etc.) can also cause inflammation in the intestines and also malapsorption (see Chris Kresser's post entitled "Don't Eat Toxins")
- Omega 6 causes inflammation while Omega 3 alleviates it; we should shoot for a 1:1 ratio
I've put together these 14 rough statements (again, i've been reading about this for about 9 months -- and can certainly polish up my language and understanding of all this stuff) all to say:
You may have a vitamin B deficiency. This might be because your digestive system isn't working properly. The dairy, soy, and legumes may be causing inflammation, further inhibiting your body's ability to absorb vitamin B, causing you to experience the nervous-system-disorder-like symptoms in your hands. You might want to focus on finding ways to reduce inflammation and improve your body's ability to digest the (good! and anti-inflammatory) foods that you're eating.
Keep experimenting with which foods do and don't cause you to have a flare up. Seems like your body is providing strong biofeedback that it doesn't like dairy and chocolate. For the record, I've realized I'm highly allergic to soy -- and either I'm also allergic to chocolate, or the "traces" of soy in my 100% cocoa bars are enough to cause symptoms.
on May 17, 2011
at 11:21 PM
It is probably a soft tissue tension/trigger point problem with your neck/chest/arm. A good massage therapist or neuromuscular therapist can help you out of this no problem. It was probably there years ago when you had the "carpal tunnel" episode and has just stayed subclinical since then. Look up Thoracic Outlet Syndrome and compare your symptoms. Yes inflammatory foods play a part in pain syndromes but posture, movement patterns, and tension are primary. I'd bet that you have Forward head Posture and rounded shoulders and a tight chest. All of these things can be helped quickly by a bodyworker who knows what they are doing. It is what I do day-in and day-out.
on May 17, 2011
at 08:34 PM
I have auto-immune issues as well Hashimoto's, psoriasis, etc... Dairy for me is tricky. I can eat a fair amount of cheese without doing too much noticeable damage. Mostly I get lethargic and feel weak. Milk just wrecks me so I avoid it all costs. Eggs are 50/50 i enjoy them but occasionally they set me off and I feel like crap for 4 or 5 hours afterward. I am currently cutting them out. Nightshades (peppers) I seem to be fine with and frankly couldn't see eating without them.
As far as numbness goes I do experience that from time to to time but I just assumed it was due to me sleeping on my side. I would be interested to know if that is a common side effect of gluten / dairy intolerance as well.
Auto-immunity is a bitch... It really can only be treated holistically and identifying the triggers that set you off, vary widely from person to person.
on May 18, 2011
at 01:07 AM
My hands have been going numb at night too, the only difference I have made has been adding dark chocolate and potatoes. Either one of those could be the culprit or it could be something else entirely.
on May 17, 2011
at 10:52 PM
Just my novice opinion, but I have autoimmune issues and developed asthma in January that the allergist told me that I'd need to stay on full dose Pulmicort for, and instructed me not to adjust my dose (he knew I had a history of underdosing myself because of my dislike for meds). So, because of the asthma, because I did not want steroids (I felt that I had enough problems without adding that into the mix), and because of other autoimmune symptoms I had been having, I decided to go paleo in March. One of the things that I cut out was hot sauce, not for any major reason other than I had a slight suspicion that it triggered my asthma. I stopped taking the Pulmicort about two weeks later, as an experiment, and haven't had one asthma attack since... UNTIL I had a cheat meal the other night of chicken wings (breaded and fried in crap oil, I'm sure) with hot sauce! So, I'd try eliminating the hot sauce, for me, it definitely gave me an inflammatory response, albeit in my lungs, not hands, but it may be worth cutting out to see if there's any improvement.
on May 17, 2011
at 09:20 PM
I actually experienced the same symptoms (hand tingling/numbness) for years...and didn't know what caused them till I went paleo.
I went paleo about 2 months ago. Any time I cheat with wheat + chocolate combo (read: donut) it comes back with a vengeance.
I don't have the symptoms with dairy, I have different issues with that.
It might be aggressive inflammatory symptoms. I keep my hand tingling numbness away by avoiding those combos. I can have chocolate, I just have to avoid the rest of the stuff.
I know that for a while I went chocolate free, and as much as it sucks, it is possible. I also have symptoms of inflammation with eating potatoes and such. No tingling, but my throat swelling is annoying. As is the post-nasal drip with dairy.
You might try an aggressive fish oil supplementation program (.5-1g per 10 pounds of bodyweight --> calculator here: http://whole9life.com/fish-oil/ ), cutting out the dairy, nightshades, sugar, and chocolate. If you do try chocolate after a 15-20 day period, you might want to track down an organic type with no added oils, soy, and minimal sugar.
I know I've talked to you about it before. Have you read Robb Wolf's book 'the paleo solution'? He recommends no dairy, grains, legumes, and if you have auto immune issues you want to cut out the nuts and eggs too. Yes, that includes nightshades, as much as that sucks. Try it for 30 days. You can at least figure out if it works or not.
I realize that food tastes good, and certain types of it are more attractive than others. But if you have an auto-immune disease, it would be easier to cut out almost everything, and then start rotating through the list of possible 'bad' stuff after 30 days of cleaning out your system. Then you can figure out what works, and keep that diet.
on May 08, 2017
at 08:19 PM
Yes I have the same problem, numbness in my hands and in my tights when i eat or drink milk or any dairy products.
on March 26, 2016
at 11:49 PM
I am definitely convinced that certain foods cause numbness and tingling. If you suspect the same, please let me tell you my story. I was diagnosed with CTS 35 years ago (Carpal Tunnel Syndrome). The right wrist was much worse than the left. I tried vitamin B6 therapy for years with only minimal improvment. At a doctors recommendation I tried using wrist supports at night to keep the wrists straight.... it helped very little. Mainly because it is treating the symptom, not the cause. After 15 years of misery (It was really bad at times. Sleeping became a trial by fire, and aching pain, and super stiff and painful fingers when I would wake up in an agony. And this was after only three or four hours. Sitting up on the edge of the bed or standing up for a bit would relieve the pain somewhat). When it was really bad I would also develop a lump under my right armpit. It was like I had an egg under there, and it hurt and ached constantly, especially when my arm was at my side. When I first got out of bed in the morning was when it was the worst. Holding my hands up to do anything would cause my hands to ache furiously. Lowering them down to my side was the only way to get some relief.
15 years ago I finally got brave, and desperate enough, that I had CTS release surgery on the right wrist. My CTS was improved for a few months, but after a few months went by, the numbness and tingling came back with a vengeance and the lump under my armpit returned. It was very disappointing to say the least. Many more years went by. I figured I just had to endure the pain. While sleeping I would hang my arms over the edge of the bed, one at a time, to alleviate the pain. Eventually I resorted to sleeping upright by propping myself up with pillows. It felt strange to sleep semi-prone, but at least the pain was substantially reduced and I could get just enough sleep to survive.
CTS is an inflammation disorder, like all other disorders that millions of people suffer from. By means of internet searches I discovered that all disease is the result of chronic inflammation that goes untreated. Inflammation is the bodies natural response to problems within itself.
Hopefully what you will learn from what I am about to relate to you will help many of you to find the solution to reducing, if not even eliminating almost all of your hand pain (or wherever your pain or inflammation appears. It can vary from one person to the next) . Our immune system is what causes a protective response to various "triggers" (the body produces histamines to fight off what it perceives as a threat to our health. Histamines cause inflammation and pain and heat in the affected area) and the response is referred to as an alergic reaction. The typical reactions are itching, hives, rashes, runny nose, puffy eyes, anaphylaxis etc. What "we" are experiencing may not be an allergic reaction in the traditional sense, but it is a reaction nonetheless. It is referred to as a "Food Sensitivity." Our reactions to certain triggers (Foods or other various substances) may be headaches, nausea, diarrhea, stomach pain, body aches and pains, swelling, tingling in the hands, feet, arms, legs etc. For many years I endured regular headaches, numb fingers and thumbs, and the older I got the worse it became until it was like searing hot pain and constant aching. The pain and numbness always increased when I laid down to sleep, which really baffled me. I also started having bouts of tendonitus and more recently bursitis. I began to wonder where this was all going to end. How could I continue working to support my family when I was in so much pain that I couldn't even get a decent nights sleep anymore, not to mention that even mundane and ordinary everyday tasks were becoming more and more difficult. We depend on our hands for almost everything we need to do. With this condition, CTS, the more you use your hands, the more the pain intensifies.
Many years ago I began wondering if it was possible that it was something that I was eating that might be causing my symptoms. I could find nothing that indicated this hypothesis. But I just knew that there had to be a logical reason for why my body was reacting the way it was. Recently I finally discovered that some foods were actually making my condition worse. Namely: Tomatoes and peppers.
Here is how I discovered this fact. I got tired of making sandwiches for my lunches that I took to work. So for one week I took anything that was left over in the fridge, instead of making sandwiches that often had red or yellow peppers and tomatoe slices in them. (I had already quit drinking coffee and other beverages, years ago, that had caffeine in them because I already knew caffeine was bad for CTS. It depletes the vitamin B6 in your body and also causes an inflammatory response). I couldn’t believe it but the numbness and firey pain and aching in my wrists begin to subside within a few days. I knew I was on to something, "Finally!" In years past when I had eaten large quantities of red or yellow peppers I experienced severe pain in my finger joints. So I already knew that I had an issue with them. But strangely I kept eating them, but in moderation. They tasted good, and besides, I thought: "Peppers are good for you... aren't they"? I had heard many years previous that people with arthritis could not eat peppers and so I begin to wonder what was in Peppers that caused this severe reaction. I knew that peppers were part of the nightshade family of vegetables. So I googled “nightshade vegetables”, found the "greenmedinfo" website and learned that millions of people are sensitive to what are known as “Alkaloid compounds” which are present in all night shade vegetables (it turns out that caffeine is an alkaloid compound too [Other less known alkaloid compounds found in coffee are "Trigonelline" and "Theobromine", but in lower concentrations than Caffeine. This explains, finally, why even decaffeinated coffee still caused a reaction in me], nicotine and morphine are alkaloids too. It turns out that the plants they come from are in the Nightshade family too) The website I had found contained a complete list of these vegetables, and other plants, and shockingly, some berries also have these compounds in them too. ie. blue berries, (I had been eating a lot of them) huckle berries, goji berries and ashwaganda berries. A doctor had written the article and he recommended that you carry out what is called an "Elimination Diet" whereby you remove offending foods from your diet for up to 3 months and see whether or not your condition improves. You then reintroduce the foods back into your diet one at a time and see if the symptoms reappear, then removing them again if you notice a bad reaction to it. Well, I will tell you, I was already a believer and then some. The reduction of my painful symptoms was so pronounced that I already knew I was on the right track. "All PEPPERS" are taboo, both sweet and hot, this includes cayanne pepper and paprika. But not black pepper - peppercorns are not from a nightshade plant.
Obviously this meant that life altering changes in my diet were going to be necessary. But despite the difficulty of making these changes I willingly did it so that I could be pain free. FINALLY! After 35 years of suffering I am now finding answers to my search for pain relief.
Now, I have to warn you that you will find professional opinions on websites that will try to debunk the efficacy of making these changes in your diet or that food is even the possible culprit. They will go on extensively about you needing chiropractic treatments, scans, MRI's, and nerves being pinched because of compressed discs and vertebrae being out of alignment etc etc. Granted that in some cases this may be the cause of pain in some people. But if you haven't been in an accident or experienced some kind of an injury, you may well be just suffering from a "Food Sensitivity" PERIOD!
But you have to remember that many medical professionals do not want us to find these relationships between health and illness, because, either they personally do not want to believe how simple the solution is, or they have a financial interest at stake in keeping you in the dark. Generally, their primary interest and training is in prescribing pharmaceuticals. Most doctors recieve very little or no dietary training. So the onus is on you to prove to yourself whether or not making these changes will benefit you personally. Make it a two week or one month challenge to see if it makes a difference for you or not. You be the judge, and not someone else. What have you got to lose?
After you have attained a measure of relief you need to be vigilant about keeping track of what you eat. I recommend that you keep a daily food diary so that when your symptoms flair up you can go back and check to discover what you may have eaten that triggered your inflammation response.
I also discovered that I am sensitive to milk (like millions of others). In my case it is because of the protiens in milk (casein and whey) and some other milk products like yogurt, sweetened condensed milk, coffee creamers/whiteners, ice cream etc. For others it may be the lactic acid that is the trigger. Many people are glutin intolerant (Celiac's disease) It varies greatly but is common to many. Hint-become a label reader.
NOTE! If you have never heard of something becoming "Denatured", then you should read about it on Wikipedia if you would like to know why some dairy products will not bother you, but milk does. It has everything to do with the unfolding of proteins when subjected to external forces such as "heat", "enzymes", or "acid" etc. When a protein becomes unfolded it no longer carries out it's normal funtions when ingested. Therefore some cheeses and most breads will not cause a reaction because the protiens have been "altered", or "Denatured".
It is somewhat challenging to eliminate all foods that you may be sensitive to because so many processed foods have inflammation causing ingredients or compounds in them. You would also benefit from knowing what foods and seasonings are good for you. I recommend that you research the health benefits of Turmeric also. Many clinical studies have been done that prove it's amazing anti-inflammatory properties.
Like me, you will have to become an astute label reader and start eating more whole foods and less processed foods and avoiding foods that have alkaloid compounds and milk protiens in them.
Some of you may also be sensitive to "Sulphites." ie- dried fruit. Soy beans are a common allergen too. I just discovered two weeks ago that I react badly to soy beans. It took 10 days for the pain to subside. Ouch! It's a pain trying to discover and eliminate all the things we are sensitive to, but not nearly as painful as the pain that we may be experiencing. [ when I say sensitive, I mean that all these various compounds that I am sensitive to, cause my hands to begin manifesting the same symptoms, that is, numbness and tingling in my hands, and the increased size of the lump under my armpit.] The lump under my armpit is caused by the inflammation of a lymph node that exists there. There are dozens of lymph nodes throughout the body.] I usually experience more headaches too. Years of chronic inflammation can not be good for our physiology.
Many websites have useful information. Google everything and do KEY word searches until you find and learn what you need to know about certain ingredients and what chemical compounds are in foods. Wikipedia is a good souce of accurate scientific information. Understanding what inflammation disorders are and their causes is a good start. All disease is the result of inflammation that has become chronic. Left unchecked and untreated we eventually develop a symptom or illness of one sort or another because of inflammation. Learning what causes inflammation in us is the answer to reducing pain and disease in the body. I will provide some of the sites that were instrumental in educating myself as to the source of my symptomatic pain. I wrote them out at the bottom, but without the normal Internet prefix or suffix. (Not allowed yet)
When you learn what “Alkaloid Compounds” are, what foods and others sources contain them, and how they affect the body, you will be on your way to better health and much less pain. Alkaloids are bitter tasting toxins that plants produce to defend themselves from predation from insects and animals. But commonly cause inflammation in us when we ingest them.
Many of you described your pain and symptoms in such a way that it could have been me who was making those statements. So I am certain that many of you will benefit from what you have learned. My only hope is that you do find relief from your symptoms because I know how life changing it has been for me. Good health to you all.
It explains the link-between-nightshades-chronic-pain-and-inflammation
And don't forget to use Wikipedia too.
PS: I have recently become much more interested in an all plant-based diet because of the evidence that has been presented in various documentary films proving that most disease can be prevented or even averted by not consuming animal protein. If you are interested too, check out "Pure Plant Nation" or "Forks over Knives" or "Cowspiracy" or "Food Matters". Very interesting and enlightening I must say. I'm gradually reducing animal protein in my diet, especially red meat.
on December 02, 2014
at 02:26 AM
NIGHTSHADES (even black pepper and trace amounts of paprika) are the source of numb hands and painful soles of feet for me.
on October 03, 2013
at 01:03 PM
if you have any nerve related health issues avoid dairy gluten too much sugar and carbs. avoid also caffeine alcohol and smoking. All of these foods make nerve pain and inflammation worse.
on March 16, 2013
at 04:54 PM
I experience hand numbness accompanied by pain when I eat glutten.
on March 04, 2012
at 01:42 AM
Skip the chiro, google "feldenkrais", & practice some mindful novel movements. Motion is lotion. Use the money you saved on chiro to buy some more healthy food.
on March 04, 2012
at 01:10 AM
There is no scientific evidence that vertebrae "sublux". Chiro's always find a subluxed back when you visit, I wonder why?$ Plenty of pain free people around with crooked backs.
on July 19, 2011
at 01:32 PM
Dairy causes the numbing and tingling, but I also get it when I have PMS, cornstarch ( which is found in MANY medications and supplements, or drink wine (sulfites). These symptoms all started 5 years ago when I had a post-viral syndrome which also included some other very frightening symptoms. While most went away, the neuropathies continue to resurface with above. My nutritionist is convinced that corn can be a real issue for B bloodtypes. My problems are with cornstarch, corn syrup -- any derivative or more concentrated form. Actual corn doesn't seem to cause the problems (but is likely not good either in more subtle ways).
on June 21, 2011
at 02:22 AM
I have had this problem also... toes sometimes tingling/numb in the am and fingers going numb.
After reading this I am wondering if it is poor circulation:
Around the time the numbness in my extremities started I also started getting severe nocturnal leg cramps and sometimes pinching cramps when walking briskly (my electolyte levels were tested at this time and were normal).
I have always consumed dairy and never have had any reaction to it as far as I can tell...although before Paleo it was always low fat. Don has recently switched from high fat/lowish carb to low fat/high carb Paleo...Not saying I agree with this: I don't really know what to think at this point and am pretty confused! However, I am trying less fat as an experiment to see if it helps as I am desperate to stop the cramping (and the numbness, while not painful is disturbing)!
on June 20, 2011
at 08:31 PM
I have had off an on tingling and numbness in my right hand and foot off and on for several months.
After logging my diet and onset of symptoms I figured out that both dairy and chocolate seemed to be triggering me- this makes sense since both are common gluten cross reactors and I am celiac!
If you want to know more about gluten cross reactors check out Dr O'Bryans article (PDF) about gluten cross reactivity and common cross reactive foods. Good info.
on May 17, 2011
at 10:17 PM
If you are feeling numbness and tingling it's almost certainly a vertebral subluxation issue and you need to see a chiropractor. I would suggest a gonstead chiro aa they are the most effective, uninvasive, specific, natural type and many gonstead wellness chiros subscribe to evolutionary diet styles. A number of the paleo physicians network drs are chiros. The tissues around the joint are inflammed (like spraining an ankle) so it would make sense that eliminating gluten etc would alleviate symptoms but it will likely come back unless it's corrected with reg chiropractic care.