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Reducing alcohol craving

Nutrition in general


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(with recognition to the book PAPERBACK CLINIC, available from Andrew Saul, PhD,   23 Greenridge Crescent, Hamlin, NY 14464. Excerpt from )

"The spirit is indeed willing, but the flesh is weak."  Matthew 26:41 

An alcoholic is very likely to confirm this statement.  One reason why the body is weak is because of nutrient deficiencies. 

Another reason is because beverage alcohol is a slow acting poison. Other alcohols are immediate poisons.  If you add a carbon atom to drinking alcohol, you get C3 H7 OH (isopropyl or rubbing alcohol) which is toxic.  C H3 OH, or methanol, is found in windshield washer fluid and is just one carbon less than drinking alcohol... and again, is very toxic. 

But, like cigarettes, alcohol does lead to lung cancer.  And cancers of the mouth, esophagus, larynx, tongue, throat, and much of the rest of the body.  Hard-drinking, cigar-smoking Ulysses S. Grant died of a horrible throat cancer which is obscured by a large, carefully placed scarf in his later photographs. 

Many, many alcoholics have stopped using alcohol by the power of their wills alone.  If you are in A.A., it is with the help of the Power of a Will greater than yours.  If it works, do it. 

I've taught college courses in biology, health, and substance abuse inside two New York State prisons.  Quite a few members of my "captive audiences" have had drinking problems.  (Incidentally, many are studying to become certified as alcoholism counselors).  I believe more alcohol users and abusers could "work the steps" of A.A., or just plain stop drinking on their own, if they were optimally nourished.  If you drink too much, then you are not eating right.  Here's why: 

Alcohol is filling, so it displaces more nourishing foods in the diet. This causes malnutrition. 

Alcohol causes thiamin (vitamin B-1) deficiency in particular,  and a deficiency of many other nutrients as well. 

Alcohol destroys the liver and brain gradually, but profoundly.  This damage INCREASES the need for nutrients to repair these organs at a time when the drinker is eating fewer and fewer good foods. 


Which ones and how much of each?  I would recommend considering the following, based on the many works of Roger J. Williams, Ph.D.: 

1. VITAMIN C may be taken to the point of daily saturation, which is just below the amount causing diarrhea.  Vitamin C improves the metabolism of the toxic by-products of alcohol and, in large quantities, is a powerful antitoxin.  It has also been shown to be effective against hepatitis. (Smith, L. H., ed. Clinical Guide To The Use of Vitamin C, Life Sciences Press, Tacoma, WA, 1988) 

2. B-COMPLEX (50 milligrams [mg], 6 times daily)  Beverage alcohol (ethanol, C2 H5 OH) is a simple carbohydrate supplying lots of energy and no nutrition.  In this way it is a lot like sugar.  Excess consumption of either sugar or alcohol is well known to increase our need for the vitamins necessary for their metabolism, specifically the B-complex vitamins.  It is safest, easiest and cheapest to take the whole B-vitamin team together. 

The B-vitamins, including much-needed thiamin, help correct a bad diet and also help level out low blood sugar problems.  Hypoglycemia is often a factor in alcohol cravings.  The body wants simple, quick carbohydrate and we erroneously satisfy that craving with sugar... or booze.  Niacin (vitamin B-3) helps the body to calm down. The B-vitamins have been successfully used for decades by orthomolecular psychiatrists to relieve depression and psychoses.  Watch what they can do to relieve the D.T.'s.  Incidentally, you can create  the symptoms of delirium tremens in laboratory animals without alcohol just by inducing B-vitamin deficiency. 

3. CHROMIUM (200 to 400 mcg chromium polynicotinate or chromium picolinate daily)    Chromium, deficient in 90% of all healthy people, is almost certainly wanting in the   alcoholic's diet.  Chromium improves your body's sensitivity to insulin, so you can do more with less of it.  Remember that alcoholics consume huge amounts of simple carbohydrates.  The last thing an alcoholic's body needs would be insulin-resistant cells. 

4. L-GLUTAMINE (probably two or three grams daily)  This amino acid has been shown to improve brain function in alcoholics, resulting in improved sleep, decreased anxiety and a reduced craving for alcohol. 

 5. LECITHIN (2 to 5 tablespoons daily) Lecithin makes up one third of your brain by dry weight.  Lecithin also provides choline, which your body can make into the neurotransmitter acetylcholine.  As with L-Glutamine above, this produces a feeling of well being and self-control so wanting in most alcoholics.

Additionally, lecithin is lipotrophic, which means it can help move fats about in the body.  The fatty liver condition so common with alcoholics is likely to improve with lecithin supplementation. 

6. Controlled VEGETABLE JUICE FASTING has been successfully used to clear out   fatty livers, too.  Juice fasting, along with large amounts of the B-vitamins and vitamin C, may be a real long-term help with cirrhosis of the liver.  The liver can regenerate to a considerable extent;  Max Gerson, M.D. says that it takes about 18 months to do so.  It is no surprise, then, that the Gerson Therapy focuses on the liver and on raw vegetable juice therapy for it.

7.  A HIGH POTENCY DAILY MULTIVITAMIN AND MULTIMINERAL supplement is needed as well.  It should carotene, an antioxidant and safe form of vitamin A.  400 to 800 IU of vitamin E, 50 mcg of selenium, and 50 to 100 mg of zinc gluconate or zinc monomethionine would also be desirable. 

8. A DIET OF GOOD VEGETARIAN FOOD and plenty of fresh vegetable juices is important.  A vegetarian (or even a nearly-vegetarian) diet effortlessly ensures better health.  More fiber and complex carbohydrates; less fat and sugar. No junk food! 

I have seen this program work.  I've personally observed how charitably dispensed vitamin supplements help street people.  I've seen just wheat germ (a modest source of B-vitamins, among other good things) help those in prison.  I've also worked with financially well-off alcoholics, and supplements help them, too.  Booze and malnutrition have no respect for bank accounts. 

Remember: many people want to stop drinking but can't UNLESS THEY HAVE THE BODILY STRENGTH TO DO IT.  Since alcohol hurts the body, we have to first fight back with vitamins, and then we can reach our highest goals.  Don't tell someone to stop drinking; EMPOWER them to stop drinking.  Studies confirm it: good eating stops bad drinking. 

(L) Glutamine

(With recognition to 

Scientifically speaking, glutamine is one of the 20 amino acids formed by the human body. Glutamine is considered a non-essential amino acid because it can be derived from glutamic acid, another member of the amino acid family. Both glutamine and glutamic acid can be found in protein-rich foods such as beans, red meat, nuts and fish. The body uses glutamine to improve mental function, control blood sugar levels and maintain muscle mass, among other applications.

As a supplement, glutamine is seen as both a 'brain food' and a muscle mass enhancer for body builders. Physicians have been known to use glutamine for the treatment of alcoholism, mild depression and muscle-wasting conditions such as Huntington's disease. Glutamine is actually the most common free-form amino acid found floating in muscle tissues. During times of stress, the body may draw glutamine away from the muscles in order to bolster the immune system or prevent blood sugar reactions. This is why many bodybuilders and other proponents of supplements often add daily doses of glutamine to maintain good muscle health.

The average diet provides anywhere from 5 to 8 grams of glutamine a day. It would not be unusual for bodybuilders in training to boost this level to 10 grams or more with glutamine supplements. Others who need to control blood sugar levels may also benefit from additional glutamine. Some non-scientific studies suggest that glutamine may also help improve mental function, because the body naturally uses glutamine to transport nitrogen to the brain and nervous system.

The human body does require a daily intake of glutamine, so the use of supplements is not generally seen as harmful or unnecessary. Higher doses of glutamine may cause unpleasant side effects such as diarrhea, but most healthy bodies can safely assimilate the excess amino acid. Supplemental glutamine simply remains suspended in muscle tissue unless drawn away for other uses by the body. Some people also discover that elevated glutamine levels reduce their desire for sweets or between-meal snacks.

Other research:


The following is from 

Research has shown that L-Glutamine, in a dose of 500 mg. four times daily, decreases the craving for alcohol. This amino acid is now commonly used in alcoholism clinics.

L-Glutamine has been used, with great success in fighting other types of cravings and addictions. In a controlled study a group of Alcoholics were supplemented with L-Glutamine without their knowledge (L-Glutamine is odorless.) A reduction in alcohol consumption was seen in 77% of the cases.

(From  dated March 2005)

If there were a vitamin or other pill that reliably decreased cravings for alcohol in everyone who needed help, the scientist who discovered the effect probably would win a Nobel Prize. Over the years, a number of substances have been credited with reducing alcoholic cravings. A few may help some people, but none of them works for everyone:

bulletB vitamins:Research has suggested that alcoholic cravings are due to a deficiency in B vitamins and that supplements may lessen the desire to drink. But these findings, most of which are more than 20 years old, haven’t been substantiated over time. Still, because alcohol abuse does deplete B vitamins in general and thiamine in particular, I recommend taking a B-complex vitamin supplement plus extra thiamine (100 mgs).
bulletL-glutamine: Research in both animals and humans suggests that this amino acid can reduce both cravings and the anxiety that accompanies alcohol withdrawal. The study in humans was done in 1957. Participants took either a placebo or one gram of L-glutamine in divided doses, with meals. Results were published in the Quarterly Journal of Studies on Alcohol.
bulletKudzu: Extracts from the root of this weed (pueraria lobata), which is pervasive and invasive in the southern United States, have been recommended as a treatment for alcoholic cravings. Kudzu is widely used for this purpose by traditional practitioners in China, and some animal studies have shown that it decreases the desire for alcohol. Results of a pilot study in humans published in the February 2000 issue of the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine showed that doses smaller than those used in the studies in China failed to help alcoholics abstain from drinking.
bulletNaltrexone: This drug (brand names: ReVia, Depade) reduces the desire for alcohol after you stop drinking. Naltrexone works by blocking the parts of the brain that sense pleasure in response to alcohol. Unlike Antabuse (disulfiram), sometimes used to treat alcoholism, naltrexone doesn’t make you sick if you drink alcohol while you’re taking it. The drug usually is prescribed temporarily (for 12 weeks or more) to help recovering alcoholics deal with cravings after they’ve stopped drinking.




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