In dealing with the chemical imbalances that are both a cause of substance abuse and a result of long-term substance addiction, nutritional therapy can be helpful in several ways.
Food and Addiction
Radiant Recovery (radiantrecovery.com/resourcecenter/alcdrug.html)
This site was developed by Kathleen DesMaisons, PhD., the author of Potatoes not Prozac which charts the relationship between sugar addiction and alcoholism. It includes resources related to substances addiction plus an online program to help people deal with sugar addiction. There is also an online forum and a series of Internet-based two-week classes for $24.95 each which deal with various aspects of addiction including brain chemistry. Out-patient treatment based on this approach is also available in Albuquerque (call 505 345-3737 for further information).
Intravenous Amino Acids
Agora Regeneration Clinics (agoraforlife.net)
Based in Vancouver, BC, this outpatient program focuses on biochemical detoxification of the body and brain. It includes Amino Acid IV Therapy, a Naturopathic physical work-up, infrared sauna detoxification, auricular acupuncture, massage therapy and the Agora For Life Program which deals with the emotional and mental aspects of addiction. The 10 day intensive program costs $14,000 (plus GST) and the 5 day intensive costs $17,500 (plus GST). Both program fees include the Agora for Life Aftercare program.
Mind and Body Works (formerly NORA clinic) (mindandbodyworks.org)
Ten day drug and alcohol treatment program using amino acid IV therapy, also known as Neurotransmitter Restoration (NTR). This outpatient program utilizes a consciousness-based approach to counseling and classes along with other supportive therapies including acupuncture, massage and Chinese herbs.
Nutritional Supplements, Vitamins and Herbs
This web site is dedicated to helping people manage their addiction to opiate pain killers. It offers an organic herbal/vitamin supplement designed to help relieve withdrawal symptoms, a blog on opiate addiction and the top ten reasons to stop taking pain killers.
Nutritional supplements such as herbs, amino acids (see chart
below), vitamins and other nutrients restore the proper biochemical
balance in the brain. These supplements are specified,
according to your addiction, in an excellent book written
by Charles Gant, MD, PhD, who has helped over 7,500 patients
with his innovative nutritional program designed to help people
addicted to drugs, alcohol, nicotine, or pain medication. The book, End Your Addiction Now: The
Proven Nutritional Supplement Program That Can Set You Free
by Charles Gant and Greg Lewis, published by Warner Books,
2002, can be purchased at amazon.com.
Nutrition supplements, vitamins and herbs can be purchased
online through various web sites such as Whole Health Products
at www.wholehealthproducts.com, Integrative Therapeutics at
and Vitamin Shoppe at www.vitaminshoppe.com.
In addition, eliminating certain substances such as sugars
and simple starches and increasing protein intake can help
to rebalance brain chemistry. Good nutrition can also
help heal damage to the body caused by the depletion of nutrients
common in substance abuse.
Natural Highs by Hyla Cass M.D.
and Patrick Holford published by Avery Books/Penguin Putnam
in 2002 can be purchased at amazon.com.
This book usefully reviews and gives specific doses of herbs,
amino acids, nutritional supplements and foods that help a
person have a sharp mind and feel happy, calm, energetic and
connected to people. The main tips from this book including
specific doses of herbs and amino acids can be found at cassmd.com/books/naturalhighs/.
Another helpful book which has benefited many people with
its nutritional advice is Seven Weeks
To Sobriety: The Proven Program to Fight Alcoholism Through
Nutrition by Joan Mathew Larson Ph.D. This book
can also be purchased at amazon.com.
To Find a Nutritionist:
American Dietetic Association (eatright.org)
Some people may decide to work directly with a nutritionist. The American Dietetic Association (ADA) web site can help you locate a nutritionist. The ADA is the nation's largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. Their web site provides a "Find a Dietitian" feature locating dietitians in the United States by zip code. Descriptions include areas of practice or specialty for each dietitian.
Some people may decide to work directly with a nutritionist.
The American Dietetic Association (ADA) web site at eatright.org can help you locate a nutritionist. The ADA is the nation's
largest organization of food and nutrition professionals.
Their web site provides a "Find a Dietitian" feature
locating dietitians in the United States by zip code. Descriptions
include areas of practice or specialty for each dietitian.
Another important area of the use of nutrition in recovery
and relapse prevention is the addition of appropriate amino
acids that serve as the building blocks for powerful chemicals
in the brain called neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters,
including epinephrine and norepinephrine, GABA, serotonin
and dopamine, are closely tied to addiction behavior.
With the use of various amino acids, brain chemistry can be
changed to help normalize and restore deficiencies in the
neurotransmitters that spur cravings that can lead to addiction
AMINO ACID NUTRITION THERAPY
Restored Brain Chemical
Addictive Substance Abuse
Amino Acid Deficiency Symptoms
Expected Behavior Change
|D-Phenylalanine or DL-Phenylalanine
|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
|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
||Sweets, Alcohol, Starch, Ecstasy, Marijuana,
||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)
||Valium, Alcohol, Marijuana, Tobacco,
||Feeling of being stressed-out. Nervous.
Tense muscles. Trouble relaxing.
||Promotes calmness. Promotes relaxation.
||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
|Note: To assist in amino-acid
nutritional therapy, the use of a multi-vitamin/mineral
formula is recommended. Many vitamins and minerals serve
as co-factors in neurotransmitter synthesis. They also
serve to restore general balance, vitality and well-being
to the Reward Deficiency Syndrome (RSD) patient who typically
is in a state of poor nutritional health (see paragraph
above chart for explanation of RSD).
This chart was originally published in the following article.
Blum K, Ross J, Reuben C, Gastelu D, Miller DK. "Nutritional
Gene Therapy: Natural Healing in Recovery. Counselor Magazine, January/February, 2001