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Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, July 1, 2005

Treatment Protocol for Alcoholism

A Message from Abram Hoffer, M.D., Ph.D.:

"Ever since I met Bill W, the cofounder of Alcoholics Anonymous and we became close friends, I have had a personal interest in the treatment of alcoholism. Bill taught that there were three components to the treatment of alcoholism: spiritual, mental and medical. AA provided a spiritual home for alcoholics that many could not find anywhere else and helped them sustain abstinence. But for many AA alone was not enough; not everyone in AA had achieved a comfortable sobriety. Bill recognized that the other two components were important. When he heard of our use of niacin for treating alcoholics, he became very enthusiastic about it because niacin gave these unfortunate patients immense relief from their chronic depression and other physical and mental complaints.

"Niacin is the most important single treatment for alcoholism, and it is one of the most reliable treatments. And it is safe, much safer than any of the modern psychiatric drugs. Niacin does not work as well when alcoholics are still drinking but in a few cases it has decreased the intake of alcohol until they were abstinent. This conclusion is based on the work my colleagues and I have done since 1953.

"I know of many alcoholics who did not want to stop drinking, but did agree to take niacin. Over the years, they gradually were able to reduce their intake until they brought it under control. Some alcoholics can even become social drinkers on a very small scale. I have not found many who could. But I think that if started on the program very early, many more could achieve normalcy. I suspect that treatment centers using those ideas will be made available one day, and will be much more successful than the standard treatment today. This all too often still consists of dumping them into hospitals and letting them dry out, with severe pain and suffering. When they are discharged, most go right back to the alcohol, the most dangerous and widely used street drug available without a prescription.

"Orthomolecular treatment is the treatment of choice. The following protocol for alcoholism outlines the importance of the nutritional factors that have been shown to be very successful on treating this condition. The treatment can be used alone but is best combined with dietary advice and additional nutrients."

The late Dr. Roger Williams, a chemistry professor at the University of Texas and former president of the American Chemical Society, also wrote extensively on the alcoholism.[1] Dr. Williams recommended large doses of vitamins and an amino acid called L-glutamine.

What should the alcoholic do to help stop drinking and return his or her body to normal functioning? Supply the following nutrients to the body:

  1. Vitamin C to saturation (on the order of 10,000 to 20,000 mg per day and more). High doses of vitamin C chemically neutralize the toxic breakdown products of alcohol metabolism. Vitamin C also increases the liver's ability to reverse the fatty build-up so common in alcoholics.

    To titrate to saturation, take 1000 mg of vitamin C every hour. When saturation is reached, there will be a single episode of diarrhea; then reduce the dosage to 1000 mg every four hours.

  2. A B50-complex tablet (comprising 50 mg of each of the major B-vitamins, 6 times daily).

  3. L-Glutamine (2000 or 3000 mg). L-Glutamine is an amino acid that decreases physiological cravings for alcohol. It is one the two primary energy providers that burn glycogen to provide fuel to the brain and stimulates many neurofunctions. L- Glutamine is naturally produced in the liver and kidneys. Alcohol harms the kidneys and liver, thus supplementation is vital (concurrently reducing cravings for sugar and alcohol).

  4. Lecithin (2 to 4 tablespoons daily). Provides inositol and choline, related to the B-complex. Lecithin also helps mobilize fats out of the liver.

  5. Chromium (at least 200 to perhaps 400 mcg chromium polynicotinate daily). Chromium greatly reduces carbohydrate mis-metabolism, and greatly helps control blood sugar levels. Many, if not most, alcoholics are hypoglycemic.

  6. A good high-potency multi-vitamin, multi-mineral supplement as well, containing magnesium (400 mg) and the antioxidants carotene and d-alpha tocopherol.

In summary, the alcoholic’s body needs the proper nutrients in adequate quantities to return to normal metabolic functioning. The above nutrients are safe, effective, inexpensive and available from discount stores or health food stores without prescription.

There is not even one death per year from vitamins. Pharmaceutical drugs, properly prescribed and taken as directed, kill over 100,000 Americans annually. Hospital errors kill still more.

Most illness is due fundamentally to malnutrition. This not only includes the chronic diseases, but also viral and bacterial acute illness, which are greatly aggravated by inadequate nutrition.

Supplements are not the problem; they are the solution. Malnutrition is the problem.

What is Orthomolecular Medicine?

Linus Pauling defined orthomolecular medicine as "the treatment of disease by the provision of the optimum molecular environment, especially the optimum concentrations of substances normally present in the human body." Orthomolecular medicine uses safe, effective nutritional therapy to fight illness. For more information: http://www.orthomolecular.org

Take the Orthomolecular Quiz at http://www.orthomolecular.org/quiz/index.shtml

The peer-reviewed Orthomolecular Medicine News Service is a non-profit and non-commercial informational resource.

Editorial Review Board:
Abram Hoffer, M.D., Ph.D.
Harold D. Foster, Ph.D.
Bradford Weeks, M.D.
Carolyn Dean, M.D. N.D.
Eric Patterson, M.D.

Andrew W. Saul, Ph.D., contact person. Email: omns@orthomolecular.org

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References

[1] Williams, RJ, Roach, MK, "Impaired and inadequate glucose metabolism in the brain as an underlying cause of alcoholism--an hypothesis.", Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1966 August; 56(2): 566-571. http://www.pubmedcentral.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=224410

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