Nutraceuticals and chemotherapy induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN): a systematic review

Clin Nutr. 2013 Dec;32(6):888-93. doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2013.04.007. Epub 2013 Apr 13.


Chemotherapy induced peripheral neuropathy [CIPN] is a common significant and debilitating side effect resulting from the administration of neurotoxic chemotherapeutic agents. These pharmaco-chemotherapeutics can include taxanes, vinca alkaloids and others. Moderate to severe CIPN significantly decreases the quality of life and physical abilities of cancer patients and current pharmacotherapy for CIPN e.g. Amifostine and antidepressants have had limited efficacy and may themselves induce adverse side effects. To determine the potential use of nutraceuticals i.e. vitamin E, acetyl-L-carnitine, glutamine, glutathione, vitamin B6, omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, calcium, alpha lipoic acid and n-acetyl cysteine as adjuvants in cancer treatments a systematic literature review was conducted. Revised clinical studies comprised of randomized clinical trials that investigated the anti-CIPN effect of nutraceuticals as the adjuvant intervention in patients administered chemotherapy. Twenty-four studies were assessed on methodological quality and limitations identified. Studies were mixed in their recommendations for nutraceuticals. Currently no agent has shown solid beneficial evidence to be recommended for the treatment or prophylaxis of CIPN. The standard of care for CIPN includes dose reduction and/or discontinuation of chemotherapy treatment. The management of CIPN remains an important challenge and future studies are warranted before recommendations for the use of supplements can be made.

Keywords: CIPN; Chemotherapy induced peripheral neuropathy; Nutraceuticals; Vitamins.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcarnitine / therapeutic use
  • Acetylcysteine / therapeutic use
  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects*
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / therapeutic use
  • Glutamine / therapeutic use
  • Glutathione / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / chemically induced
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / therapy*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Thioctic Acid / therapeutic use
  • Trace Elements / therapeutic use
  • Vitamins / therapeutic use


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Trace Elements
  • Vitamins
  • Glutamine
  • Acetylcarnitine
  • Thioctic Acid
  • Glutathione
  • Acetylcysteine