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
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 substance 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
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 $9,800 (plus GST) and the 15 day intensive costs $13,500 (plus GST). Both program fees include the Agora for Life Aftercare program.
Nutritional Supplements, Vitamins and Herbs
Nutritional supplements such as herbs, amino acids (see chart below), vitamins and other nutrients restore the proper biochemical balance in the brain.
Books on Nutrition
End Your Addiction Now: The Proven Nutritional Supplement Program That Can Set You Free by Charles Gant and Greg Lewis, published by Square One (2009) can be purchased at amazon.com. 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.
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:
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
Some people may decide to work directly with a nutritionist. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics web site can help you locate a nutritionist. This is the nation's largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. Click on the red Find an Expert button at the top of the page to locate dietitians in the United States by zip code. Descriptions include areas of practice or specialty for each dietitian.
AMINO ACID NUTRITION THERAPY
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 and relapse.
|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.|
|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