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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.

Predisposing Factors

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

Early Stages

After short periods of abstinence, the following withdrawal symptoms may appear:

IrritabilitySelf-destructive tendencies
Profuse sweatingEasily frustrated state of mind
Dependence on othersUnexplained poor personal hygiene
HeadachesSecretive behavior
IrritabilityHiding of alcoholic beverages
Lack of self-esteemInability to explain traumatic injuries
VomitingFeelings of guilt
Constant use of mouthwash or perfumed products

Late Stages

Susceptibility to infectionJaundice
Abdominal distressSpider telangiectasia
Epigastric distressAscites
Any ulcer symptomsCardiomyopathy
HematemesisOrganic brain damage
Alcoholic hepatitisGrand mal seizures
Husky voiceWernike-Korsakoff syndrome
GastritisOther drugs abuses
Acute pancreatitisFatty liverCirrhosis (10% of all alcoholics develop this condition)
Malnutrition and other nutritional deficienciesDelirium tremens (DTs), the most serious form of alcoholic withdrawal syndrome

Nutritional Supplements

Structure & Function: Nutrients for Brain Support

General Supplements

Beta carotene*
Magnesium 300 - 600 mg
Niacin 50 - 200 mg
Selenium 100 - 300 mcg
Thiamine 25 - 100 mg
Vitamin B-Complex hi-potency
Vitamin C1,000 - 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.

Dietary Considerations

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 AVitamin B-12
RiboflavinVitamin C
NiacinVitamin D
Folic acidManganese
Vitamin B-6Zinc

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.

Homeopathic Remedy

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)

Treatment Schedule

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.

Herbal Approaches


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

DepressionOrganic brain damage
Drug abusePancreatitis
EdemaSeizures (Epilepsy)
HepatitisWernike-korsakoff syndrome



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