Alcoholism is a psychological, sociological and medical problem related to the abuse of ethyl alcohol. It is a state characterized by a physical and/or mental dependence on alcoholic consumption. Because the term alcoholism encompasses such diverse meanings, it is best described by two definitions:
1. Sociologically, alcoholism is the drinking of alcohol to an extent which surpasses the community's social drinking standards and which interferes with the drinker's health, interpersonal relations, and/or means of earning a livelihood.
2. Medically, alcoholism is simply the addiction to alcohol: in this case, it is characterized by abnormal tolerance and physical dependence. This disease can shorten an individual's life by 10 to 12 years and can affect every body part. It is more common in men than in women.
Treatment for alcoholism first involves the individual's desire to stop drinking. Then, psychological or medical attention may be helpful.
There is no known direct cause of alcoholism at this time.
Alcoholics tend to have one alcoholic parent. It is unknown, however, whether this trait is passed on due to biochemical or genetic abnormalities, or as a result of environmental pressures.
Signs & Symptoms
After short periods of abstinence, the following withdrawal symptoms may appear:
Jitters Depression Irritability Self-destructive tendencies Profuse sweating Easily frustrated state of mind Nausea Aggressiveness Dependence on others Unexplained poor personal hygiene Headaches Secretive behavior Irritability Hiding of alcoholic beverages Lack of self-esteem Inability to explain traumatic injuries Vomiting Feelings of guilt Constant use of mouthwash or perfumed products
Susceptibility to infection Jaundice Abdominal distress Spider telangiectasia Epigastric distress Ascites Belching Edema Any ulcer symptoms Cardiomyopathy Hematemesis Organic brain damage Alcoholic hepatitis Grand mal seizures Husky voice Wernike-Korsakoff syndrome Gastritis Other drugs abuses Acute pancreatitis Fatty liver Cirrhosis (10% of all alcoholics develop this condition) Malnutrition and other nutritional deficiencies Delirium tremens (DTs), the most serious form of alcoholic withdrawal syndrome
Structure & Function: Nutrients for Brain Support
Adult Beta carotene* DHEA* EPO* Lecithin* Magnesium 300 - 600 mg Niacin 50 - 200 mg Phosphatidylserine* Selenium 100 - 300 mcg Thiamine 25 - 100 mg Vitamin B-Complex hi-potency Vitamin C 1,000 - 4,000 mg Zinc 20 - 40 mg
*Please refer to the respective topic for specific nutrient amounts.
In a recent study, Beta Carotene was used. Most forms of antioxidants have been tested. The latest is Pycnogenol™, another new and powerful antioxidant is primarily hormonal: melatonin. The new hormone supplement, DHEA is also being tried.
One old favorite, Evening Primrose Oil (EPO) is also finding new uses, in fetal alcohol syndrome.
Another product is enjoying a renaissance because of progress with vegetable sources (soy) and refinement: lecithin and phosphatidylserine and phosphatidylcholine. These may be helpful regarding alcoholism as well as the long term consequence: cirrhosis of the liver.
The liver seems to benefit from an old herbal remedy, which is now mostly used in processed form: milk thistle (silymarin).
As a simple "home remedy" honey (or fructose) will help metabolize any alcohol that's still in your system. Research shows that fructose can speed alcohol metabolism by 25 percent. (Duke)
All amounts are in addition to those supplements having a Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA). Due to individual needs, one must always be aware of a possible undetermined effect when taking nutritional supplements. If any disturbances from the use of a particular supplement should occur, stop its use immediately and seek the care of a qualified health care professional.
Nutritional management of the alcoholic is impossible until there is a cessation of alcohol consumption and a commitment to an alcohol and drug-free existence. The alcoholic may exhibit symptoms of anorexia, nausea, protein malnutrition, and vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
Depending on the severity and chronicity of the alcoholism, liver dysfunction, hepatitis, jaundice, cirrhosis and/or alcoholic encephalopathy may be present.
The following diets are often prescribed, depending upon the specific symptoms experienced:
Dietary Goals Diet
Protein Enriched Diet
Low Protein Diet
If the liver has sustained little damage from drinking, a Dietary Goals Diet, with vitamin supplements, can be prescribed. In alcoholic liver disease, provided there is no development of encephalopathy, a Protein Enriched Diet is prescribed to provide extra dietary protein necessary for the regenerative processes of the liver.
Alcoholic liver disease accompanied by encephalopathy should be treated with a Low Protein Diet. Encephalopathy signals the liver is unable to clear toxic amines from the system; additional dietary protein would cause further production of amino acids and amines, which the liver could not clear from the system. Advanced cases of encephalopathy require that proteins be withheld completely from the diet.
The following vitamins and/or minerals may be lacking in the alcoholic, and should be supplemented in the treatment plan:
Vitamin A Vitamin B-12 Riboflavin Vitamin C Niacin Vitamin D Thiamine Magnesium Folic acid Manganese Vitamin B-6 Zinc
Antihistamines should not be taken with alcohol as they can cause increased sedation.
The diuretic Triamterene should be used with caution by an alcoholic as it is a folic acid antagonist and may deplete the alcoholic's meager stores of folacin.
1.* Alcohol nosode - ethanol diluted homeopathically to 30X or higher
2. Asarum europaeum - 6X to 30C
3.* Quercus glandium spiritus - low potency best at 3X
4.* Carboneum sulphuratum - 1X to 30C - best at low potency (2- 6X)
Doses cited are to be administered on a 3X daily schedule, unless otherwise indicated. Dose usually continued for 2 weeks. Liquid preparations usually use 8-10 drops per dose. Solid preps are usually 3 pellets per dose. Children use 1/2 dose.
X = 1 to 10 dilution - weak (triturition)
C = 1 to 100 dilution - weak (potency)
M = 1 to 1 million dilution (very strong)
X or C underlined means it is most useful potency
Asterisk (*) = Primary remedy. Means most necessary remedy. There may be more than one remedy - if so, use all of them.
Boericke, D.E., 1988. Homeopathic Materia Medica.
Coulter, C.R., 1986. Portraits of Homeopathic Medicines.
Kent, J.T., 1989. Repertory of the Homeopathic Materia Medica.
Koehler, G., 1989. Handbook of Homeopathy.
Shingale, J.N., 1992. Bedside Prescriber.
Smith, Trevor, 1989. Homeopathic Medicine.
Ullman, Dana, 1991. The One Minute (or so) Healer.
Milk Thistle (Silymarin)
Note: The misdirected use of an herb can produce severely adverse effects, especially in combination with prescription drugs. This Herbal information is for educational purposes and is not intended as a replacement for medical advice.
Cayenne is reputed to ease stomach discomfort and headache.
Milk Thistle detoxifies and supports liver function.
Ginkgo seeds (not leaves or extrracts!) are peanut-sized seeds at Asian markets, although the FDA has not approved them as food. The Japanese have long served these to prevent drunkenness and hangover. (Duke) In fact, animal studies suggest that ginkgo seeds help the body clear alcohol from the blood.
Canini, F: Use of silymarin in the treatment of alcoholic hepatic steatosis. Clin. Ther. 1985, 114:307-314.
Deak, G et al., Immunomodulator effect of silymarin therapy in chronic alcoholic liver diseases. Orv. Hetil. 1990, 131: 1,291-1,292, 1,295-1,296.
Keung WM et al., Potentiation of the bioavailability of daidzin by an extract of Radix puerariae. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 1996 Apr, 93:9, 4284-8.
Lin RC et al., Isoflavonoid compounds extracted from Pueraria lobata suppress alcohol preference in a pharmacogenetic rat model of alcoholism. Alcohol Clin Exp Res, 1996 Jun, 20:4, 659-63.
Spivey, A: Sobering Effects from the Lowly Kudzu. Endeavors Magazine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, April 1996.
Aromatherapy - Essential Oils
Juniper Essence, Pepper Essence, Rose Essence, Rosemary Essence.
Related Health Conditions
Cardiomyopathy Jaundice Cirrhosis Malnutrition Depression Organic brain damage Drug abuse Pancreatitis Edema Seizures (Epilepsy) Gastritis Ulcers Headaches Vomiting Hepatitis Wernike-korsakoff syndrome
Alpers, D.H., R.E. Clouse, & W.F. Stenson. 1983. Manual of Nutritional Therapeutics. Little, Brown, and Company, Boston. 457
Beeson, P.B. & Mc Dermott, W. eds. 1975. Textbook of Medicine. 14th ed. Saunders Pub. Co., Philadelphia. 1892 pp.
Bland, Jeffrey. Nutraerobics. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1983.
Bland, Jeffrey. Medical Applications of Clinical Nutrition. New Canaan, Conn.: Keats, 1983.
Chen, M. F. et al.: Effect of Ascorbic Acid on Plasma Alcohol Clearance. Journal of The American College of Nutrition, 1990;9(3):185-189.
Chicago Dietetic Association & South Suburban Dietetic Association of Cook & Will counties. 1981. Manual of Clinical Dietetics. W.B. Saunders Co., Philadephia.
Eagles, J.A. & M.N. Randall. 1980. Handbook of Normal and Therapeutic Nutrition. Raven Press, New York. 323 pp.
Editorial: Dietary Supplements Recommended in Alcohol Drinkers. Osteopathic Medical News, June 1990:8.
Editorial: Alcohol Health and Research World, 1989;13:207-210.
Gloria L et al., Nutritional deficiencies in chronic alcoholics: relation to dietary intake and alcohol consumption. Am J Gastroenterol, 1997 Mar, 92:3, 485-9.
Hamilton, H. K. ed. 1982. Professional Guide To Diseases Intermed Communications Inc. Pub, Springfield, Massachusetts. 1323 pp.
Hui, Y. H. 1983. Human nutrition and diet therapy. Wadsworth, Inc; Belmont, California. 1039 pp.
Isselbacher, K.J. & R.D. Adams. 1980. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 9th ed. McGraw Hill Book Co pub, N Y. 2073 pp.
Jensen-K & Gluud-C.: The Mallory body: theories on development and pathological significance (Part 2 of a literature survey). Hepatology. 1994 Nov; 20(5): 1330-42.
Kirschmann, J.D. 1990. Nutrition Almanac: Nutrition Search. McGrew-Hill: New York.
Lieber-CS.: Mechanisms of ethanol-drug-nutrition interactions. J-Toxicol-Clin-Toxicol. 1994; 32(6): 631-81.
Leonard, B.E. Possible Relationship Between Thiamine, Carnitine, Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids, and the Neuro- toxicity of Alcohol. Alcohol And Alcoholism, 19 (1984).
Majumdar, S.K., G.K. Shaw & A.D. Thompson. Serum Zinc, Magnesium, and Calcium Status in the Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome. Drug And Alcohol Dependency, 12 (1983).
Mandel, P., M. Ledig and J.R. M'Paria. Ethanol and Neuronal Metabolism. Pharmacol. Biochem. Behav., 13 (1980).
Mezey, E. 1982. Liver disease and protein needs. Ann Rev Of Nutri, 2.
Murray, M.T., & J.E. Pizzorno. 1991. Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine. Rocklin, Ca; Prima Publishing.
Nicolas JM et al., Brain impairment in well-nourished chronic alcoholics is related to ethanol intake. Ann Neurol, 1997 May, 41:5, 590-8.
Pennington, J. 1978. Nutritional Diet Therapy. Bull Publishing Co., Palo Alto, Ca. 106 pp.
Sankaran-H et al: Induction of malnutrition in chronic alcoholism: role of gastric emptying. Med-Hypotheses. 1994 Feb; 42(2): 124-8.
Sarin SK et al., Dietary and nutritional abnormalities in alcoholic liver disease: a comparison with chronic alcoholics without liver disease [see comments]. Am J Gastroenterol, 1997 May, 92:5, 777-83.
Saul, R.F. & J.B. Selhorst. Downbeat Nystagmus with Magnesium Depletion. Archives Of Neurology, 38 (1981).
Schwab, R. A. and Powers, R. D. : Prevalence of Folate Deficiency in Emergency Room Department Patients With Alcohol-Related Illness or Injury. American Journal of Emergency Medicine, 1992;10:203-207.
Simopoulos AP: Genetic variation and nutrition. Biomed Environ Sci, 1996 Sep, 9:2-3, 124-9.
Takahashi, K. Alcoholism and Thiamine Deficiency Neuropathy. No To Shinkei, 36 (1984).
Thuluvath-PJ & Triger-DR. : Evaluation of nutritional status by using anthropometry in adults with alcoholic and nonalcoholic liver disease.. Am-J-Clin-Nutr. 1994 Aug; 60(2): 269-73.
Vannucchi H et al., Assessment of zinc nutritional status of pellagra patients. Alcohol Alcohol, 1995 May, 30:3, 297-302.
Walji, Hasnain. 1994. Alcohol, Smoking & Tranquillisers -. Hodder Headline Plc. 1993, London.