Can Inosine Repair Nerve Damage?

By: Byron J. Richards, Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist

Cutting edge research has identified an enzyme, Mst3b, that is essential for regenerating damaged axons (nerve fibers) in both the peripheral and central nervous systems.  The research shows that Mst3B is stimulated by inosine1, opening the door for a simple nutritional strategy to help regenerate nerve health.  Earlier animal research on inosine indicates that it can help repair nerve damage2 following a stroke.

Inosine has been thought of in the B vitamin family, although it is not technically a vitamin because your body can synthesize it.  It is a basic component of cells and participates in the synthesis of energy.
Several decades ago it went through a period of body builder hype as it was widely promoted that Russian bodybuilders used it to help build muscle.  Several studies done on inosine found no evidence of effectiveness in this regard.

Inosine is naturally formed as a result of purine metabolism.  Purines fix nitrogen for use as basic building blocks of RNA and DNA.  As inosine is formed it goes on to participate in the synthesis of ATP (cellular energy).  Since inosine is readily formed as a byproduct of purine metabolism, we do not typically think of it as a needed dietary supplement.

About 15 years ago a woman doctor (whose name I don’t remember) gave a presentation at our clinical nutritionist yearly convention.  She reported that inosine was one of the most effective supplements to control hot flashes.  I then tried it with a number of women and found she was correct.  I then added inosine to my Female Plus product, a dietary supplement used by menstruating women of all ages and especially to help offset struggles with menopausal transition.

My operating theory is that a hot flash represents an acute energy shortage.  At the time of such a demand, the quick energy-boosting properties of inosine seem to help a great deal.  I know of no human studies with inosine for hot flashes.  Its use in this regard is based on anecdotal reports and hands on experience.

The new study of nerve health raises the possibility that a lack of inosine production could contribute to poor nerve health and an inability to make new nerve cells required for optimal mental performance. 

We are now entering a renaissance in our understanding of nerve health, brain cell function, synaptic rejuvenation, and enhanced human ability.  There are many nutrients now shown to help improve the flexibility, plasticity, and health of your brain.  In this context inosine may be a specific nutrient for nerve axon rejuvenation, assisting neurons to make repairs – including repairs from injury. 

It could be that fatigue and general wear and tear from stress also involve a deficiency of inosine.  It could be that an acute injury or trauma to nerves significantly increases the need for inosine to facilitate repair.  How effective a dietary supplement of inosine for general nerve health or the repair of nerves remains to be seen.  However, it is a low cost approach with no adverse side effects – so worth a try by anyone looking for options.

Referenced Studies:
  1. ^ Inosine Stimulates the Repair of Nerves  Nature Neuroscience  Barbara Lorber, Mariko L Howe, Larry I Benowitz & Nina Irwin.
  2. ^ Inosine and Stroke Recovery  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.  Peng Chen, David E. Goldberg, Bryan Kolb, Marc Lanser, and Larry I. Benowitz.

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