Monday, July 30, 2007

Some supplements I wouldn't want to do without

As more information comes in on supplements, it's becoming clear that the most optimal way to get all the vitamins and nutrients we need is from our food. If you're eating a varied, mostly plant-based and organic diet, your body will most likey obtain the vital ingredients for health and well-being.

There are, however, some supplements I've discovered along my path that can help with specific and oftentimes temporary problems that may be experienced in recovery. I'll list them below, what they help with, and why. Please! I want to hear about what helps you.

Glutamine - Glutamine is an amino acid that can stop alcohol cravings dead in their tracks. Heavy alcohol use can block the uptake of amino acids and neurotransmitters, so fewer receptors are filled. This can create cravings, anxiety, depression and all-around unstable moods. The following is taken from

Glutamine improves the immune system's ability to manufacture white blood cells that in turn fight infection. Supplementing your body with nutrients such as Glutamine assists the body in resisting outside assaults from pathogenic micro-organisms (unfriendly bacteria).

Glutamine is the major component in making essential neuro-transmitters.(21) Research has demonstrated improvements in memory retention, cognitive ability, and problem solving when Glutamine was supplemented in the diet. Glutamine enables the body to maintain constant blood sugar levels.(22) This state of steady blood sugar balance is necessary for optimal brain function since the brain utilizes glucose (blood sugar) as a primary source of fuel in addition to oxygen.

When the brain has adequate glucose to draw on, muscle stores of glucose are preserved. When an individual does not eat enough complex carbohydrates to replace energy needs, the body will liberate, or breakdown, stored sugars from the muscle to feed the brain. The net result is a tired, weak and stressed individual.

It's my opinion, and that's all it is folks, that glutamine is so beneficial to alcoholics in recovery, especially early recovery, due to its blood sugar balancing effects.

B-vitamins - B-vitamins are excellent stress reducers. All B-vitmains are essential, but for alcoholics B-6 may be the most beneficial. From "Seven Weeks to Sobriety" by Joan Matthews Larson, Ph.D.: (Order from link at bottom of page.)

Pyridoxine (vitamin B-6) is needed for formation of fifty different enzymes and is essential for the metabolism of all the amino acids and their conversion into neurotransmitters. We also need B-6 to maintain a stable immune system. Deficiencies are common among alcoholics. Symptons include anxiety, nervousness and depression.

Calcium-Magnesium - This is the good sleep supplement. Also from "Seven Weeks to Sobriety":

Alcoholics excrete great amounts of both calcium and magnesium in their urine: twenty minutes after drinking one ounce of alcohol, urinary calcium ouptut increases by 100 precent, magnesium by 167 percent. During detoxification, inadequate calcium levels can cause painful leg cramps, insomnia, nervousness, slow reflexes and emotional instability. A magnesium deficiency interferes with your ability to sleep and can make you irritable, depressed and dizzy.

Milk Thistle

From the University of Maryland Medical Center:

Milk thistle ( Silybum marianum ) has been used since Greco-Roman times as an herbal remedy for a variety of ailments, particularly liver problems. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries physicians in the United States used milk thistle seeds to relieve congestion of the liver, spleen, and kidneys. Today, several scientific studies suggest that active substances in milk thistle (particularly silymarin) protect the liver from damage caused by viruses, toxins, alcohol, and certain drugs such as acetaminophen (a common over the counter medication used for headaches and pain; acetaminophen, also called paracetamol, can cause liver damage if taken in large quantities or by people who drink alcohol regularly.)

Many professional herbalists recommend milk thistle extract for the prevention and/or treatment of various liver disorders including viral hepatitis, fatty liver associated with long term alcohol use, and liver damage from drugs and industrial toxins such as carbon tetrachloride.

If you drink like I did, your liver is wanting some serious support in repairing the damage done. Mother Earth has given us this wonderful herb for just that purpose. I love Milk Thistle!

As an alcoholic and a human being, you won't do yourself any harm by taking additional Vitamins C and E and the mineral potassium. I considered putting recommended doses in, but the recommendations vary so much, I'll leave it up to you to so some research for yourself. You're not gonna OD on any of this stuff!


jennifergg said...

My plan, for the upcoming months, is to take better care of MYSELF. Thank you for sharing these resources!!!

Angela said...

Thank you for stopping by, Jennifer!

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claud said...

Yes, the liver support has turned out to be very important to me -- affecting everything from digestion to hormone balancing. It's huge for people in recovery!!!

This is getting cooler all the time, A.