Archive for February, 2011

Natural Healing for Alcoholics

As you can imagine, alcoholics have several nutritional deficiencies in their bodies. According to Mark A. Stengler, NMD with Stengler Center for Integrative Medicine, he believes that nutritional approaches to treat alcoholism are vastly underrated but very effective in the alcohol recovery process.

The Problems

A study was done by the late Abram Hoffer, MD, PhD, one of the pioneers in the use of vitamins to treat psychiatric disorders and coauthor with Andrew W. Saul, PhD, of The Vitamin Cure for Alcoholism, testing the blood sugar levels of more than 300 alcoholics. Like you can assume, none were normal. The people in the study were pre-diabetic, diabetic or hypoglycemic. Cravings for sugar and carb-rich foods become more pronounced when a person’s blood sugar is imbalanced. Foods rich in sugar and carbs raise blood sugar fast, but the body’s insulin response lowers the blood sugar and creates a roller coaster effect, which simulates an addiction and withdrawal cycle. In turn, this rise and fall intensifies alcohol cravings.

Alcohol also tears the lining of your stomach. It lowers digestion and absorption of B vitamins and other nutrients, which leaves the stomach vulnerable to inflammation.

The Solutions

Similar to the solution for weight gain, the key to success for people with alcoholism is to follow healthy dietary guidelines with the combination of the right supplements.

The recommended diet contains fresh foods, healthy proteins and high fiber vegetables. These foods help to stabilize blood sugar swings. When people make the switch to a healthier diet, it is not uncommon to have withdrawal symptoms like sweet cravings.

Below are the supplements that can help. Side effects are noted. These supplements can all be taken indefinitely, according to Stengler, which is helpful because alcoholism is a lifelong illness.

  • B-complex. A high-potency B-complex vitamin can help restore normal liver function and ease alcohol cravings. By high potency, I mean a B-50 complex, which delivers 50 milligrams (mg) each of vitamins B-1, B-2 and B-3, or a multivitamin with at least 50 milligrams (mg) each of these vitamins.
  • Vitamin B-1. Alcoholics often are deficient in this vitamin because it gets used up breaking down alcohol, sugars and carbohydrates. Take 100 mg of vitamin B-1 daily (in addition to the B-complex mentioned at left).
  • Vitamin B-3 (niacin). High doses of vitamin B-3, or niacin, are helpful in reducing alcohol cravings, stabilizing mood and reducing the effects of alcohol toxicity on the brain. Start with 500 mg three times daily, and work up to 1,000 mg three times daily. Note: Niacin can cause intense facial flushing that lasts for about one hour. If you take vitamin B-3, have your liver enzymes monitored. Enzymes can be elevated, an indication of inflammation.
  • Vitamin C. Healthy brains have high concentrations of vitamin C, which might alter the activity of opiate receptors in the brain and reduce interest in drugs, including alcohol. Take 3,000 mg to 5,000 mg daily in divided doses. If this amount results in stomach upset or diarrhea, cut back the dosage.
  • Kudzu. A Harvard Medical School study found that the herb kudzu (Pueraria lobata) decreased the desire to consume alcohol. The effect was rapid — within 90 minutes of taking kudzu extract capsules. Take 1,000 mg three times daily.
  • Silymarin. This antioxidant is the active ingredient in extracts of the herb milk thistle. It improves blood sugar and liver function, both of which may be impaired after long-term alcohol abuse. Take 100 mg to 300 mg daily.
  • N-acetylcysteine (NAC). This is one of the most promising supplements for alcoholism. Several human studies have found that it reduces the desire for cocaine in those who are addicted to the drug, and animal studies suggest that it may have a similar benefit in countering the desire for alcohol. Try 1,000 mg to 2,000 mg daily.

Stengler recommends that his patients who are struggling with alcoholism to take these supplements and participate in an established recovery program. Spiritual support is also recommended. Patients who have been sober after following Stengler;s treatment plan say that they make the decision no to drink each day. By reducing cravings, a healthy diet and supplements can make that decision a little bit easier.

Mark A. Stengler, NMD, is a naturopathic medical doctor and leading authority on the practice of alternative and integrated medicine. Dr. Stengler is editor of the Bottom Line Natural Healing newsletter, author of The Natural Physician’s Healing Therapies (Bottom Line Books), founder and medical director of the Stengler Center for Integrative Medicine in Encinitas, California, and adjunct associate clinical professor at the National College of Natural Medicine in Portland, Oregon. To learn more about his work, visit



The Dangers of New Fad Drugs

We’ve recently shared with you some information related to the new fad drugs that are currently legal. With more kids ending up in the emergency room, there are more and more details surfacing about danger of these drugs.

In our recent article Rub-a-dub-dub, Drugs in my tub? We told you a little bit about the latest fad drug, bath salt, which has been banned in Europe and is now getting the attention of teens in America. Recent articles say that this drug is much worse than the other fad drug, fake marijuana, K2 or Spice.

According to Dr. J Ward Donovan, central Pennsylvania’s go-to doctor for emergency room physicians on poison questions, since November he has averaged a call a day about bath salt or “synthetic cocaine.” Donovan says that synthetic cocaine is really a synthetic amphetamine like product, meaning its chemical makeup is more similar to meth.

Unfortunately blogs and internet message boards talk about the legal substitute for cocaine becoming all the rage. Being high on fake cocaine has some similarity to the high from smoking synthetic marijuana. The difference, Donovan said, is this: A mild reaction to bath salt is comparable to a bad trip of K2.

Bath salts also come with side effects like delusion, confusion, violence, agitation, high blood pressure, sweating and fast heart rate. According to Donovan, there is one upswing. You can’t get addicted to it.

Rust Payne, spokesman for the federal Drug Enforcement Agency says, “We’re hearing a lot of reports. Poison centers, emergency rooms… The same trends among teens.”

Like synthetic marijuana, bath salts are being sold in head shops. The powdery white substance is priced by the gram and looks like cocaine.

Both synthetic marijuana and bath salts are extremely dangerous. Be smart. Just because something isn’t illegal doesn’t mean it is harmless. There are a lot of unsafe substances out there. These new fad drugs are just two examples.

Tips for Parents from

Get Educated: Learn as much as you can.

Have the Talk: Let them know that you know.

Be Specific: Tell your kids what you see and how you feel about it.

Don’t Make Excuses: You’re not helping if you make excuses for why they miss school or family functions if you suspect drug use.

Remain Calm: Don’t get mad, or start accusing. Be firm, but loving.

Electronic Cigarettes, Will it Catch On or Stay a Fad?

Did you see the crazy episode of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, when a dinner party guest was smoking an electronic cigarette? Since then, electronic cigarettes have become a hot topic with bloggers and the FDA. So what is the appeal and benefit of electronic cigarettes?

Currently the FDA is appealing the initial ruling by U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon. The judge’s decision gives the FDA no authority to regulate or stop electronic-cigarette makers Smoking Everywhere Inc. and NJoy from entering the country.

The FDA’s fight is to ensure these electronic cigarette companies, with products that contain tobacco, are marketing their products correctly and not as a safer alternative to traditional tobacco.

ECigarette is the only alternative to smoking tobacco cigarettes that addresses your habit of having something in your hand and in your mouth without containing tobacco or nicotine.

From our research it seems that most electronic cigarettes are being marketed as a safer alternative even though some still contain nicotine. These electronic cigarette websites still have this warning label in small print at the bottom of the webpage:

Warning: Nicotine is highly addictive. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat,  cure, or mitigate any 
disease or condition. You must be over the age of 18 to buy and/or use this product with a nicotine option. If 
you have a demonstrated allergy or sensitivity o nicotine or any combination of inhalants, if you are pregnant or 
breast feeding, or if you have heart disease, diabetes, high bold pressure, asthma, consult your physician 
before using this product.

Although, these electronic cigarettes do eliminate the dangers of second-hand smoke so you can smoke around others without causing ill effects.

Electronic cigarettes emit a virtually odorless vapor that simulates actual smoke, but dissipates quickly in the air. This enables smokers to smoke these electronic cigarettes in places where regular cigarettes are prohibited. One website even advertised that you can smoke these cigarettes in bed and not bother your partner.

Actress, Katherine Heigl, recently appeared on David Letterman and smoked an electronic cigarette raving about the benefits. Watch the video here.

Do you think this electronic cigarette fad will catch on or fizzle out?

Top Signs that Point to Prescription Drug Abuse

If you are worried about a friend or loved one abusing prescription drugs, you aren’t alone. The use and abuse of prescription drugs has amplified in the last 20 years.

According to the Center for Disease Control, narcotic prescription use rose 1,000 percent in the U.S. between 1990 and 2009. As well, nationally we experienced a 500 percent increase in the number of prescription narcotic-related deaths.

Psychiatrist and author, Stephen Seager, wrote an article on the dangers of abusing prescription health meds. In this article he states, in an effort to treat pain more effectively and with the advent of may newer forms of opiod (narcotic) pain relievers – Oxycontin, Lortab, Methadone, Percodan, Percocet, Tramadol, Fentanyl – millions of Americans now take these medications on a regular basis for a wide range of diagnoses. While generally meant for short-term use, opiate pain medications have slowly been used for longer periods and for many ailments previously untreated with narcotics. While some benefit has been noted, an unfortunate, tragic consequence ensued.

We find ourselves in the midst of what the U.S. government and many state health agencies have called an accelerating “epidemic of prescription drug misuse, addiction and overdose.” This new narcotic epidemic seems to be almost the exclusive province of middle-age and older people. The number of narcotic overdose cases peaks in the 34-54 age group, while the total number of people who overdose in their 60s, 70s and 80s has doubed in the past five years. Before you or some one you love becomes a statistic, be aware of the seven sure signs of narcotic addiction and impending problems.

• Has a trusted loved one or family member expressed concern about your prescription opiate use?

• Do you have more than one doctor who prescribes the same medication? Or multiple prescriptions from multiple providers?

• Do you have medications secretly hidden in more than one location around your home?

• Have you taken these medications on a regular basis for more than two weeks? Or a month?

• Do these medications help you to function? Have you returned to work? If not, why? What tasks do the medications help you to perform? If you cannot answer these questions and you continue taking opiates, this is a very dangerous sign.

• Take a step back and look at your life since you began taking opiate medications. Are things getting better or worse? Have bad things begun to happen? Lose your job? Wreck your car? Divorce? Arrest?

• Last, and most importantly, have you ever been admitted to a hospital, for any reason, due to prescription drug use?

Solutions to the national prescription opiate problem are elusive and multi-factorial. But two issues stand out. Doctors give these medications too liberally, for longer periods than are warranted and for pain issues that might better be treated by other modalities. But patients ask for these medications specifically and often insist upon them. More education on both parts seems to be in order.

If these medications are part of your life or the life of someone about whom you care, take a look at the issue of opiate use. Be honest. Talk with your family. Talk with your doctor. Ask if there aren’t other less dangerous medications that might also be effective. Ask if there are other treatment options — physical therapy, acupuncture, support groups — which might allow you to talk a lower dose of narcotic medications or perhaps wean off them entirely. And, equally importantly, discuss whether a formal drug detox and rehabilitation program might be needed.

Stephen Seager is a psychiatrist and author of “The God Gene: The Promise of Prometheus.” Please click here for more information.

Possible Addition to the K2 Legislation in Texas

This was on the news on KHOU Channel 11 in Houston, TX this week.

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