When someone quits using drugs and/or alcohol, the cravings may seem unbearable in the beginning. Proper nutrition and hydration are vital for restoring health and improving the chance of long term recovery. There is evidence that alcohol and drug cravings can be lessened with the right diet and nutrients. It has been shown that people that suffer with alcohol abuse crave alcohol when their blood sugar drops. Eating a sugary snack will give a quick fix, but eating complex carbohydrates such as a piece of fruit or some cheese and crackers will keep the blood sugar level at a more even level. Essential amino acids are negatively affected by substance abuse. Replenishing the body of these is of utmost importance to feel better and beat cravings.
The chart below shows what amino acids in the body are effected by substance abuse.
|Supplemental Ingredient||Restored Brain Chemical||Addictive Substance Abuse||Amino Acid Deficiency Symptoms||Expected Behavior Change|
|D-Phenylalanine or DL-Phenylalanine||Enkephalins
|Heroin, Alcohol, Marijuana, Sweets, Starches, Chocolate, Tobacco||Most Reward Deficiency Syndrome (RDS) conditions sensitive to physical or emotional pain. Crave comfort and pleasure. Desire certain food or drugs.||Reward stimulation. Anti-craving. Mild anti-depression. Mild improved energy and focus. D-Phenylalanine promotes pain relief, increases pleasure.|
|L-Phenylalanine or L-Tyrosine||Norepinephrine
|Caffeine, Speed, Cocaine, Marijuana, Aspartame, Chocolate, Alcohol, Tobacco, Sweets, Starches||Most Reward Deficiency Syndrome (RDS) conditions. Depression, low energy. Lack of focus and concentration. Attention-deficit disorder.||Reward stimulation. Anti-craving. Anti-depression. Increased energy. Improved mental focus.|
|L-Tryptophan or 5 hydroxytryptophan (5HTP)||Serotonin||Sweets, Alcohol, Starch, Ecstasy, Marijuana, Chocolate, Tobacco||Low self-esteem. Obsessive/compulsive behaviors. Irritability or rage. Sleep problems. Afternoon or evening cravings. Negativity. Heat intolerance. Fibromyalgia, SAD (winter blues).||Anti-craving. Anti-depression. Anti-insomnia. Improved appetite control. Improvement in all mood and other serotonin deficiency symptoms.|
|GABA (Gamma-amino butyric acid)||GABA||Valium, Alcohol, Marijuana, Tobacco, Sweets, Starches||Feeling of being stressed-out. Nervous. Tense muscles. Trouble relaxing.||Promotes calmness. Promotes relaxation.|
|L-Glutamine||GABA (mild enhancement)
Fuel source for entire brain
|Sweets, Starches, Alcohol||Stress. Mood swings. Hypoglycemia.||Anti-craving, anti-stress. Levels blood sugar and mood. GABA (mild enhancement). Fuel source for entire brain.|
Let’s take a look at each of these amino acids. D-phenylaline properties were first researched and confirmed in the 1980’s in trials conducted by the Chicago Medical School.
Motivated by the need to assist the medical staff in reducing doses of opiate medications, Dr. Ehrenpreis and other researchers found the usefulness in this amino acid for chronic pain management. This is readily available in health food stores and pharmacies. The recommended dose is 1000-2000mg., three times a day.
L-phenylalanine is an essential amino acid that the body uses to make L-tyrosine and other transmitters in the brain such as dopamine, epinephrine, serotonin, and norepinephrine. It is found in foods such as eggs, dairy products, meats, fish, soybeans, and the artificial sweetener aspartame. Daily consumption should be at least 30 mg.
Tryptophan is another essential amino acid in the human body. It is found mostly in milk, meats, eggs, yogurt, poultry, fish, peanuts, and bananas. L-tryptophan can be found as a drug/supplement in health food stores. It is used as a precursor of serotonin, an important neurotransmitter in the brain.
GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) is also an essential amino acid. It is a natural calming and anti-epileptic agent. GABA helps our bodies make endorphins, the chemicals that make is feel happy. Having sufficient amounts of this in our bodies make us feel relaxed and happy. It increases the alpha waves in our brain that are linked to clear thinking and good focus. Having a deficiency of GABA is linked to feeling anxious, depressed, tense, and nervous.
In addiction to replacing the above amino acids to bring the body back to a healthy balance, there are also other natural remedies to help curb cravings. The most effective herbal remedies for drug and alcohol cravings are listed below:
Not only is cayenne pepper known to cure intense alcohol cravings, it also helps with anxiety and irritability that comes along with detox. It can be continued to be used after the detox period and after the cravings cease because it is a great remedy in curing stomach problems that occur due to excessive alcohol intake.
Dandelion is a cleansing herb that helps with alcohol withdrawal symptoms. It may be consumed as tea by putting one ounce of dandelion herb in boiling water. For the best results, use up to three times a day steeping 3 to 5 mg of the dried roots.
Evening primrose is excellent for reducing cravings. It may be used as an oil, or taken in gel tablet form.
Goldenseal has a bitter taste and antiviral properties. It is known to curb alcohol cravings.
Kava kava is an herbal supplement proven to reduce cravings and anxiety. South Pacific Islanders have been known to use Kava Kava to induce sedation and hypnotic effects. It can be taken in pill form or as an herbal tea.
Kudzu is a wild vine which contains daidzin, a chemical that has been shown to reduce alcohol cravings. The standard dose is use of kudzu root 30 to 150 mg. It can be taken in the form of tea, or the tincture can be used in warm water three to five times a day.
Milk thistle is also known as silybum marianum, and is well known to help reduce alcohol cravings. Its active ingredient, silymarin, helps treat liver disease due to alcohol abuse. Silymarin cleanses liver poisons and toxins.
Passion flower is another great aid in the withdraw period as it helps in anxiety disorders due to drug and alcohol abuse.
Skullcap is another important herbal remedy on the list. It helps reduce alcohol cravings and relieves tension and anxiety.
St. John’s Wort
St. John’s Wort is an herbal antidepressant. It contains a chemical called hyperforin which is directly responsible for reducing the intake of alcohol. St. John’s Wort is also used to overcome depression.
Valerian root is an herbal supplement used to reduce restlessness and anxiety. Valerian root effects the brain in the same manner as Valium, binding to the same receptors.
Vitamin B, along with many other vitamins and minerals are often stripped from the body from drug and/or alcohol abuse. The B vitamins are responsible for stabilizing the nervous system. Taking B1, B3, B6, and B12 at double or triple doses will aid in getting the nervous system back on track, therefore helping to reduce cravings. There is no worry about taking too much of vitamin B, as it is water soluble. Water soluble vitamins and minerals do not store in our body. If too much is ingested, it simply washes out in our urine.
There are many herbal supplements and natural remedies to reduce cravings and get the body back in balance. The ones listed above can be used in any combination. Staying hydrated and eating a healthy, balanced diet is also very important because the body may crave alcohol when blood sugar dips low or when you are thirsty. Drug cravings may be intensified when the body is tired and in need of an “uplift.” Keeping your body properly fed and hydrated, and using some of the supplements listed will go a long way in your new life in recovery!
For more information about Twin Lakes Recovery Center, please contact us anytime at (877) 958-0778. We’re here to help.