5 Natural Products to Help with Addiction
Dealing with a drug or alcohol addiction feels like an uphill battle. It’s an overwhelming situation for addicts, alcoholics, and their families. Going away to rehab for a month or more isn’t always an option, either. But some people can find success working through these issues at home with the support of family and friends. Thankfully, there are vitamins and supplements available to help someone deal with addiction and withdrawals. So today I’m going to talk a bit about some natural options that may help someone with alcoholism and addiction.
[First, I want to say that getting treatment from a medical doctor is very important in safely getting help for alcohol or drug addiction. Make sure you talk to your doctor before taking any medicines or supplements, especially because some of these mix poorly with prescription antidepressants. Furthermore, some people require medically supervised detox and doing a home detox can be harmful or fatal.]
1. Multi Vitamin – Potassium, Magnesium & Iron
Quite often, when a person is abusing substances, nutrition suffers. It’s not uncommon for addicts and alcoholics to have low levels of important nutrients, so getting started on a good multivitamin is a great start to help with addiction.
Potassium, magnesium and iron are especially helpful in fighting addiction. Iron deficiency causes tiredness and sluggishness, so restoring iron levels will give more energy.
Magnesium helps with restless leg syndrome, which happens sometimes when someone is withdrawing from certain drugs (8).
Potassium is important for the heart, blood pressure, muscle strength, and kidney health. Most Americans don’t get enough potassium in general, and it is quickly depleted if someone has diarrhea, which is a common symptom of withdrawal from some drugs (10).
2. Fish Oil
Fish oil has a lot of health benefits. It’s available as a capsule, or it’s easy to get just by eating more fish. Fish oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids which help with numerous functions in the body. One thing it can help with is joint pain and discomfort. It actually can slow down the progression of arthritis if taken regularly (13).
So anyone who misused substances due to joint pain will benefit from fish oil. Fish oil is also good for skin, hair, and nails. While it may sound superficial, feeling and looking healthier can actually help boost someone’s motivation to stay away from drugs and alcohol.
One of the most important benefits of fish oil is that it contains the fatty acids that our brain uses. One study in Australia found that taking EPA (which is found in large quantities in fish oil) worked just as well as fluoxetine (Prozac) for helping depression (5).
L-Tyrosine, also called Tyrosine, is an amino acid. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, hormones, and other molecules in the body. You can think of an amino acid as a chain link, and a protein as the actual chain. L-Tyrosine is one of the amino acids necessary for the body to build neurotransmitters.
The neurotransmitters most commonly known by name are serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. These are directly connected to brain function and affect depression and anxiety. So L-Tyrosine is necessary for the brain to build important neurotransmitters that regulate depression and anxiety symptoms.
Furthermore, studies have shown that L-Tyrosine improves memory and reaction time (17). A study by the US military also found that L-Tyrosine helps people under severe stress think more clearly (6). Those first few weeks off of drugs and alcohol are a stressful time and clear thinking can help someone stay on track in addiction recovery.
4. B Vitamin Complex
Vitamin B actually consists of eight different vitamins. So B vitamin complex is just a pill that’s a mix of all eight of these vitamins. They work together to produce energy and build neurochemicals, amongst other things (7). Unfortunately, ongoing alcohol consumption is associated with B-complex vitamin deficiency. It’s important to fix this deficiency because a B vitamin deficiency increases alcohol cravings (14). Furthermore, the individual B vitamins are important on their own.
Vitamin B1, also called Thiamin or Thiamine, is often low in people who are dependent on alcohol. Thiamin deficiency can cause confusion, memory loss, heart problems, and muscle weakness (12). It has been directly linked to neurological problems and brain damage in alcoholics (9).
Riboflavin is vitamin B2 and affects liver health. Long term riboflavin deficiency also contributes to anemia (11). Vitamin B6 includes pyridoxine which plays an important role in how the body makes neurotransmitters (2). Vitamin B9 is often called folate or folic acid and is used to treat anemia and the low energy that accompanies it. Folic acid may also affect depression and anxiety (4). Finally, vitamin B12 deficiency can contribute to tiredness, weakness, depression, and anxiety (15).
5. Milk Thistle
Milk thistle is actually a plant that has been used as a medicine for thousands of years (3). Milk thistle is the name of the whole plant but the medicine is concentrated in the seeds. The key ingredient in milk thistle seeds is called Silymarin. It’s one of the most scientifically studied natural supplements of our time (1).
Silymarin is very good for the liver. It helps the liver function better, and the liver is the main organ that detoxifies the body. Milk thistle is also proven to prevent further damage to the liver from both alcoholic cirrhosis and Hepatitis C (16). Both of these liver diseases are associated with abuse of various substances.
These items listed above are just some of the natural supplements that can help with addiction. Some of them improve physical health, decrease pain, and lessen withdrawal symptoms. Others are incredibly important to energy levels, neurotransmitter production, and can help treat depression and anxiety. With adequate social and medical support, it is possible to use natural products that benefit the mind and body to help with an addiction.
Remember to always consult a doctor before starting a new medicine or vitamin. But with your doctor’s help, you can make your own plan to treat addiction, help with withdrawals, and naturally improve mental health.
Kaye is in recovery for drug addiction and other mental illness. She usually blogs for Never Alone Recovery, which helps addicts and families find the right rehab treatment for their situation. She strongly believes in a holistic approach to health, and uses her own experience with mental illness and addiction to help others in the same situation.
If you are interested in learning more about addiction or if you have made it your goal to be a caregiver or counselor for addiction problems make sure you get the best education you can. If you need help and advice with writing essays and term papers about addiction make sure you check on line from reputable sources that can provide you with the best up to date information.
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2. B Vitamins that ACTUALLY Work for Anxiety. (2018, October 26). Retrieved June 19, 2019, from https://www.calmclinic.com/blog/calm-clinic-review-b-vitamins
3. Federico, A., Dallio, M., & Loguercio, C. (2017). Silymarin/Silybin and Chronic Liver Disease: A Marriage of Many Years. Molecules (Basel, Switzerland), 22(2), 191. doi:10.3390/molecules22020191
4. Folate – Fact Sheet for Professionals. (2018, October 4). National Institute of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. Retrieved June 20, 2019, from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Folate-HealthProfessional/
5. Jazayeri, S., Tehrani-Doost, M., Keshavarz, S. A., Hosseini, M., Djazayery, A., Amini, H., . . . Peet, M. (2008). Comparison of Therapeutic Effects of Omega-3 Fatty Acid Eicosapentaenoic Acid and Fluoxetine, Separately and in Combination, in Major Depressive Disorder [Abstract]. Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 42(3), 192-198. doi:10.1080/00048670701827275; https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00048670701827275
6. Jongkees, B. J., Hommel, B., Kühn, S., & Colzato, L. S. (2015). Effect of tyrosine supplementation on clinical and healthy populations under stress or cognitive demands—A review [Abstract]. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 70, 50-57. doi:10.1016/j.jpsychires.2015.08.014
7. Kennedy D. O. (2016). B Vitamins and the Brain: Mechanisms, Dose and Efficacy–A
Review. Nutrients, 8(2), 68. doi:10.3390/nu8020068; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26828517
8. Magdolna Hornyak, Ulrich Voderholzer, Fritz Hohagen, Mathias Berger, Dieter Riemann. Magnesium Therapy for Periodic Leg Movements-related Insomnia and Restless Legs Syndrome: An Open Pilot Study,.Sleep, Volume 21, Issue 5, August 1998, Pages 501–505. https://doi.org/10.1093/sleep/21.5.501
9. Martin, P., MD, Singleton, C., Ph.D., & Hiller-Sturmhofel, S., Ph.D. (2003). The Role of Thiamine Deficiency in Alcoholic Brain Disease. Alcohol Research & Health, 27(2), 134-142. Retrieved from https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh27-2/134-142.htm.
10. Potassium – Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. (2019, March 5). National Institute of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. Retrieved June 20, 2019, from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Potassium-HealthProfessional/
11. Riboflavin – Fact Sheet for Consumers. (2016, February 17). National Institutes of Health; Office of Dietary Supplements. Retrieved June 19, 2019, from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Riboflavin-Consumer/
12. Thiamin – Fact Sheet for Consumers. (2016, April 13). National Institutes of Health; Office of Dietary Supplements. Retrieved June 19, 2019, from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Thiamin-Consumer/
13. University of Bristol. (2011, October 18). Omega-3 fatty acids shown to prevent or slow progression of osteoarthritis. ScienceDaily. Retrieved June 20, 2019 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111017111600.htm