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General characteristics

General characteristics

The definition of alcoholism is a compulsive and uncontrollable dependency on alcohol. In spite of the negative effects on the physical, emotional and social aspects of their life, the individual feels unable to break the destructive and addictive cycle of drinking.
There is growing evidence that alcoholism is a result of imbalanced and/or deficient neurotransmitters in the reward pathway of the brain, not by weakness of will or character flaws. These deficiencies are attributed to poor diet, hypothyroidism, food allergies, hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar), environmental toxins and emotional or physical trauma.
Alcoholism is extremely complex as an illness and has many components (emotional, behavioural, physical, social, psychological) that need to be acknowledged and successfully dealt with in order to fully and completely recover. It is not simply a matter of will power.  is an excellent site written by a fully recovered alcoholic packed with interesting information and practical help. I highly recommend it.

Diet and lifestyle

Diet and lifestyle

Recent scientific research is producing very interesting data concerning the nature of alcoholism. Much evidence is pointing to the fact that alcoholism is, in part, a kind of nutritional disorder.

Alcoholics are often very deficient in key vitamins and minerals with hypoglycaemia and other hormonal imbalances prevalent. The symptoms of hypoglycaemia are virtually identical with those of alcoholism - irritability, depression, anxiety, aggressiveness, fatigue and insomnia, confusion, restlessness, thirst, nervousness and a craving for simple sugars.

Some people have found that adopting an anti-candida type diet can help significantly as many alcoholics suffer from chronic candida.

Many alcoholics begin to loose their appetite for food and rely instead on quick fix simple sugar or high carbohydrate food, exacerbating the hypoglycaemic cycle.

The main goal of dietary changes is to supply the body with all the essential nutrients and eliminate foods which will perpetuate the hypoglcaemic negative loop. You can get an idea of a balanced diet by reading the 'healthy eating' article in the 'natural healing' section of this site.

Eliminate all simple sugars from the diet such as sugar itself and any food containing it, eg. biscuits, cakes, sweets, puddings, sugary breakfast cereals, chocolates, high sugar drinks etc.

Cut right down on wheat and any food containing wheat eg. pasta, bread, pies and pastries. This goes for starchy foods such as potatoes and white rice too. Craving sweet things or carbs is a sign that your body is hunting for its sugar fix. Just be aware of the hypoglycaemic loop ( see 'blood sugar(low)' in the 'common ailments' section of this site) and follow a hypoglycaemic diet.

Cut right back on coffee as this has a mood enhancing effect and can trigger cravings.

Have a bowl of muesli for breakfast containg high complex carbohydrate grains like oats and quinoa and nuts, seeds and a small amount of dried fruit.

Drink plenty of water and herbal teas throughout the day to remain hydrated and beat the need to 'quench your thirst'.

Eat as many salads, soups and cooked vegetables as you can throughout the day at regular meal times.

Be aware that fruit is very high in natural sugars and may need to be kept to a minimum. Apples would be a good choice as they are high in minerals and are cleansing too.

Gentle and regular exercise will be of great benefit to both the body and mind, walking, yoga and swimming will all help you to feel calmer yet more energised and in control.

Perhaps most importantly of all.....Get Help!.....don't suffer in silence as most alcoholics relapse regularly. Seek out the company of those who understand what you are going through. Withdrawl symptoms from alcohol can be alarming and dangerous so always have the support of your GP or health practitioner.

Useful herbs

Useful herbs

Kudzu root (Pueraria lobata) has been in use in Asia for many years as a herb to help break the craving for alcohol. It is not known for sure how it works but one suggestion is that it increases the level of alcohol in the blood making people feel more drunk on less alcohol. Studies have shown that people who had taken kudzu and were then given access to alcohol consumed much less than those that hadn't taken kudzu or had recieved a placebo.
St johns wort is helpful for strengthening the nervous system, easing depression and also reduces the desire for alcohol if taken regularly.
Milk thistle seeds (whole or as a powder) and holy thistle herb can help to improve the functioning and health of the liver. They protects the liver and aid in its regeneration from cirrhosis and other alcohol related liver problems.
All the bitter herbs will help to increase the appetite, stimulate liver secretions (thereby cleansing it) and reduce sugar cravings. Useful bitters include dandelion root, artichoke leaf, gentian, angelica root, centaury, hops, wormwood, holy thistle and chamomile. Mix several or all of these tinctures in equal quantities in a 100ml bottle and take a half to 1 teaspoon of this before meals.
Violet leaf tea can help to protect the liver aginst alcohol induced damage.
Evening primrose oil will help to improve brain function whilst going through withdraw.
Valerian and other nerve tonics like skullcap, oats, st johns wort and vervain can be used to help the body and mind to relax and be more balanced emotionally, especially when undergoing the rollercoster of coming off alcohol. Valerian, hops and passion flowers are especially useful to ensure a good nights sleep. Use up to 2 teaspoons of these herbs in a mix an hour before bed.
Reishi mushroom protects the liver against the effects of alcoholism.  It will also provide many trace nutrients and help kill off candida overgrowth.
Pau d'arco tea each day will keep candida overgrowth in check.
Ashwagandha and gotu kola both have revitalsing and strengthening effects on the brain and nervous system. They will calm anxiety but also alleviate depression leaving you more balanced emotionally and physically.

Natural healing

Natural healing

If alcoholism is severe, it is advisable to reduce your alcohol intake gradually overtime to avoid withdrawl symptoms. Dilute drinks with water or lemonade for example and drink water in between drinks.
A tablespoon of vegetable glycerine in a tall glass of water with meals will satisfy the urge for sugar or carbs without having sugars detrimental effect on the body. Glycerine is not recognised by the pancreas as sugar so does not stimulate the pancreas to produce excess insulin. The blood sugar levels remain steady as it is converted slowly into energy by the liver and is an excellent source of energy. Always dilute glycerine as it can have a dehydrating effect if regularly used neat. It is also safe for diabetics.
Good quality supplements of vitamin B complex
Vitamins A, C and E
Magnesium, zinc, selenium
Stop smoking as this apparently increases the urge for alcohol.
Avoid pubs and bars or social situations where you would normally drink until you are able to say no to alcohol.
This excellent site Alternatives for Alcoholism is written by former alcoholic Cynthia Perkins and is full of extremely wise and useful information and advice on alcoholism and how to fully recover from it.

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