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Alcohol abuse

  • 1. Alcohol has been used as a special and sacred celebratory beverage over many centuries. Most native cultures have had fermented drinks for their rituals and ceremonies. This custom continues with traditions and celebrations of all kinds.for weddings, anniversaries, dates, ballgames, flying, and harvest fairs. Alcohol does help to relax the body and mind and calm the inhibitions. However, many people feel the need to celebrate daily (might be called partying or escaping). Excesses over time lead to problems, yet occasional wildness may free the soul.

    "Reduce excesses, but not excessively."


    NOTE: If you are concerned about your drinking habits, consider keeping a "drink diary" for the next month. Write down when, how much, and in what circumstances you drink. How does it make you feel immediately and the morning after? Honestly look at how drinking affects your life. There are many healthy ways to celebrate life! Playing sports does this, as can drumming and dancing with your friends. While we used to have rituals, now people get drunk to deal with life, and then get in their "deadly" autos risking lives on their way. And many also use painkillers and other drugs to deal with their daily lives, which further affects their abilities. Or they overuse their credit cards and mismanage their lives and have their families suffer. Realize that drug problems of all kinds are diseases, and should be dealt with as such.

    2. In evaluating how alcohol affects your life, look at the following issues: Do you drink more when you're sad or upset about something? Do you mainly drink in social situations with friends? Does alcohol help you express yourself? How can you address these emotional issues without relying on drinking? Can you say NO when the time is not right for your personal imbibing? Healthy use would be a social drink or two with preparation before and balance after in terms of hydration (alcohol is dehydrating) with water and the right nutrients.

    3. Consider the negative effects alcohol might be having on your health. Is drinking aggravating an existing condition, such as obesity, digestive problems, joint pains, or depression? Do hangovers affect your performance at work, or keep you from things that you want to do?

    Alcohol irritates the liver and the intestinal lining; it also lowers immunity, dehydrates the body, and impairs judgment and performance, as in operating machinery and driving a car. It also alters healthful participation in relationships. Alcohol is the number one cause of traffic fatalities, especially of innocent people.

    What is your awareness and responsibility for your own body as an example to self, loved ones and friends?

    4. Alcohol may have some positive attributes as well. Doctors may recommend it to reduce heart disease risks, as it helps raise the good HDL cholesterol. However, it also raises total cholesterol and has more negative effects such that health conscious practitioners would not recommend regular consumption. Alcohol is also addictive. Thus, it takes some work, both physically and emotionally, to heal from this potentially destructive habit. For example, a liver transplant, if you could get it, is quite costly and painful.

    5. In terms of reducing your alcohol consumption, if you notice that you tend to drink at certain times of the day, plan other activities, such as exercising, during that time period. Consider ordering water or other natural drinks in restaurants, and during social occasions. Take a break for a couple days; if this is very difficult, you likely have a problem and help may be necessary. Contact your doctor, counselor, or look up the AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) chapter in your area. Know that it is usually difficult to give up something; it's better to add something healthful, like walking and breathing. It also helps to talk to others who have recovered from their addictions and see what they did with their extra energy; helping others often helps you as well.

    6. To take a break or break your habit, there are many things you can do nutritionally. Give your body plenty of support. In regards to diet, first begin with drinking 6–8 glasses of water a day to help flush toxins. Avoid sugary and fried foods. Don't substitute other addictive substances, such as caffeine or nicotine, for alcohol. Eat plenty of wholesome foods–fresh fruits and vegetables, grains and legumes, nuts and seeds, and fish–for the nutrients and fiber they provide. This helps with body support and elimination. A detoxifying diet very high in fruits, vegetables, and fresh juices can be very helpful in changing habits and cleansing the body.

    7. Supplements are helpful during alcohol use and during detoxification. (See my book, The Detox Diet, for more specifics with a complete chapter on Alcohol Detoxification.) Definitely use the antioxidant nutrients such as vitamins C and E, betacarotene, plus zinc and selenium. The B-vitamins are also very important to alcohol metabolism as well as nervous system support. The amino acid L-glutamine (500–1,000 mg three times daily) may help reduce cravings for alcohol and sugar. Calcium and magnesium help to calm the nervous system and reduce withdrawal. Flaxseed oil or olive oil also helps the body tissues. Taking in a tablespoon of oil before you drink may also slow the absorption of alcohol. Packets of Emergen-C or Power Paks with a full glass or two of water are very helpful to prevent hangovers and reduce dehydration. These supplements are also helpful during alcohol detoxification.

    8. Herbs may also be useful at supporting the body and preventing some of the ill effects of alcohol use. Ones that cleanse the liver include milk thistle and dandelion root. Chamomile and licorice root can help with gastric distress. Skullcap, valerian root, and other tranquilizing herbs are useful during alcohol withdrawal. There are many herbs that help with alcohol detoxification. Again, see more about this in The Detox Diet book.

    9. Acupuncture and massage therapy may be quite helpful when one is going through the stress of changing habits. Acupuncture detoxification has become quite popular; talk to your local acupuncturist to discuss this. Exercise, walks in Nature, saunas and steams are helpful to clear alcohol from your system and during detoxification.

    10. Other Alcohol Issues:The process of fermentation uses yeast with fruits or grains, and the consumption of sugars and fermented products makes us more susceptible to Candida yeast problems. Many current and past alcoholics have yeast conditions, and this affects their digestion, energy, and moods. Another issue of alcohol drinks relates to the use of chemicals in manufacture, plus sulfites in wines, to which many folks have sensitivities.

    • Organic drinks are best, especially compared to chemical treated substances. Chemicals harm Nature's creatures, our water supply, and the air for generations to come. With so many choices, we can really do harm to our world and ourselves by supporting the wrong products.
    • Common Sense is the rule: Do not drink and drive! We have clearly established that, after so much loss of life and financial destruction and high insurance rates. Now folks can't simply smoke anywhere they please and contaminate the rest of our lungs. We have laws now that protect others from us, but how can we protect ourselves? The answer is “only with wise choices.” Why do you drink? Ask yourself and begin to know what you are really aiming at a bit of relief, a mind vacation, a bill-paying hiatus, a chance to become less inhibited so you and your partner can dance the love dance without encroachment by daily responsibilities? Yes, a bit of alcohol might inhibit your inhibitions and can be an aphrodisiac to life. Please consume alcohol wisely, especially during any periods of celebration or coping with worldly and personal stresses. There are many healthier ways to relate to these situations. Be wise and live a long, healthy life.
  • Effective, Life Changing Nutrition

    We're a nation of addicts to be sure. Whether it's coffee, caffeine, sugar, or even the Internet, we're hooked. But alcohol seems to be everywhere we look. Ordering a drink with dinner or checking out the best happy hour menus in town is the new norm.

    In fact, according to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, in 2014, 71 percent of people reported having had a drink during the past year and 56.9 percent during the past month.

    But for some, "5 o'clock somewhere" turns into a life-threatening problem and the serious issue of alcoholism presents itself. A truly upsetting statistic from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention found that approximately 88,000 people each year die from excessive alcohol use. That number should be zero.

    Alcohol Rehabilitation
    Any program focusing on helping people recover from alcoholism and regain their life merits respect. However, many of these programs focus solely on the emotional and psychological aspects of alcoholism. While these are certainly important, it's missing the sizeable portion of the puzzle that is the biochemical roots of this addictive behavior and providing a true detox—both mentally and physically.

    Don't Trade One Addition For Another
    When nutrition is overlooked on the road to recovery, one addiction might be swapped in for the previous. For instance, you could begin to have a soda in place of an alcoholic drink, quickly becoming addicted to caffeine and creating the habit of reaching for a lesser evil—soda—instead of creating new, healthy habits.

    In this situation, though you no longer drink alcohol, your body chemistry is still totally out of whack. Cravings for alcohol and the resulting mood swings and depression are likely to remain. In truth, you can claim to have overcome addiction only when you are no longer dependent upon ANY harmful substance.

    Real recovery is about nourishing your body, freeing it from dependency upon drugs and other damaging substances— including sugar and caffeine—that can be addictive. The negative mental state that gives rise to chemical dependency is itself brought on largely by nutritional deficiency, which is then deepened with drugs. Drug therapy for drug addiction may mask symptoms, but it doesn't correct their cause.

    Restoring And Recovering
    An amazingly effective approach to drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers around, you guessed it—nutrition. Specifically chosen vitamins, minerals, amino acids and herbs, along with a balanced, wholesome diet sets a path to long term recovery.

    Coupled with addiction counseling, this is a healing holistic protocol that helps ease withdrawal symptoms and eliminate cravings. Using nutrition as a key to take back charge of your life can help you or a loved one kick the habit, whether the addictive substance is alcohol, nicotine, sugar, caffeine, prescription drugs, heroin or crystal meth.

    There are many substances that can help break addiction.

    Your Healthy Road
    Below are my suggestions for the most effective program. Do note that since there are over ten nutrient suggestions, you may wish to select those that are most appropriate for your condition and symptoms that you exhibit.

    High Protein, High Fat Diet
    First and foremost, choose a high protein/high fat diet combined with specific amino acids that help to repair nerve synapse damage and provide a natural energy boost. Paleo, ketogenic and Fat Flush, we're looking at you!

    This approach is designed to increase blood and oxygen supply to the brain, stabilize blood sugar, and provide antioxidant protection.

    Eliminate all sugars, soft drinks, processed carbs and reduce fruit consumption to two servings of low-fructose fruits per day (like berries).

    Daily Exercise
    Engage in 30 to 40 minutes daily to properly oxygenate the system with a combination that includes weight-bearing, stretching and cardiovascular activity.

    Although I recommend that caffeine in the form of coffee drinking be relegated to one to two cups daily, I do recommend the use of coffee for a coffee enema to detoxify the body. The caffeine in the coffee stimulates the liver and colon and, absorbed into the portal system, coffee can help flush out the bile in the liver, lightening its toxic load.

    The same results are not achieved by drinking coffee, due to chemical changes that occur in the stomach. To prepare the enema, boil four heaping tablespoons of ground coffee in two cups of water for ten minutes. Dilute with cold water to make 1½ to 2 quarts, and adjust the temperature as needed. Pour into an enema bag.

    Nutrient Supplementation

    In addition to a daily multi-vitamin and mineral supplement, also focusing on the following elements will supply the basis for rebuilding an exhausted but over-stimulated body.

    Adrenal Extract
    Adrenal extract combats adrenal exhaustion caused by drugs, medications, caffeine, and alcohol. This kind of exhaustion is characterized by low blood sugar, fatigue, lethargy, depression, irritability, inability to concentrate, weakness, and poor appetite. I like a product that contains at least 30–100 mg of adrenal cortex.

    B Complex
    A yeast-free methylated B complex vitamin contains a team that works together to help combat depression, fatigue, and weakness, and to defend the body against the ravages of stress. I like at least 50 mg once or twice per day to help rebuild the nerves.

    Dimethylglycine (DMG)
    Dimethylglycine (DMG) is an amino acid derivative that improves oxygen utilization at the cellular level, combats fatigue, and increase endurance. Start with 250 to 500 mg daily in the morning.

    Gotu Kola
    Gotu kola is an herb that has sedative properties. It's also a tonic herb that can strengthen and energize the brain. Research recommends 50 to 250 mg per day.

    L-Cysteine, a sulfur-containing amino acid, helps destroy harmful chemicals in the body, such as acetylaldehyde and the free radicals produced by smoking, drinking, and the body's everyday metabolic processes. It protects the body against the effects of radiation, heavy metals, and other harmful substances. I recommend 600 mg daily.

    L-Glutamine is the only amino acid substance, other than glucose, that can serve as fuel for the brain. This amino acid helps improve intelligence, fight fatigue and depression, and control cravings for sugar and alcohol. Can be taken between meals as instant brain fuel or before meals for instant energy. I like three grams of L-Glutamine power at least three times per day.

    Lecithin is a nutrient derived from non-GMO soy that contains choline from which the neurotransmitter acetylcholine is derived. Acetylcholine is responsible for nerve transmission, and it regulates the activity of the muscles, and is required for memory, appetite, sexual behavior, and the ability to sleep. I suggest two TBSP of powdered lecithin granules per day in smoothies or sprinkled on salads.

    Magnesium helps eliminate muscle cramping and twitching. It is known to be a natural tranquilizer and muscle relaxant. I suggest 400 to 1200 mg magnesium per day.

    Passiflora (passionflower) is sedative herb. One type of passionflower—Giant Granadilla—has been found to contain serotonin. It helps to calm the body by promoting transmission of subtle nerve impulses, and is useful in combating insomnia, nervous tension, fatigue, and muscle spasms. I suggest 90 mg daily.

    The amino acid phenylalanine is a precursor of tyrosine. It creates a natural feeling of wellbeing, aids in overcoming depression, increases mental alertness, improves memory, and helps suppress appetite. 500 to 1500 mg three times a day is the ideal amount especially for pain control.

    The mineral selenium is an antioxidant that protects against free radicals. Its presence is required to activate vitamin E. Take 250 mcg daily.

    Tryptophan helps to offset depression by increasing levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin. It has an anti-anxiety effect and helps combat insomnia. 5HTP is the precursor to tryptophan and 400 mg can be taken once daily before bed.

    Tyrosine is an amino acid that's derived from phenylalanine, and is involved in the manufacture of adrenaline, noradrenaline, dopamine, and thyroid hormones. It also helps overcome depression, increase mental alertness, and improve memory.

    In a cocaine-detoxification program conducted at Columbia University in New York, investigators reported that 75 to 80 percent of those treated with tyrosine were able to stop cocaine use completely or decrease their use by at least 50 percent. I suggest up to 1,000 mg a day.

    Vitamin C
    Vitamin C is an important antioxidant that offsets free-radical damage and helps preserve the antioxidant nutrient vitamin E. It plays a key role in the production of neurotransmitters in the brain, helps soothe anxiety and insomnia, and supports the adrenal glands. I suggest 3 g of time-released vitamin C daily.

    Vitamin E
    Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that facilitates oxygen utilization, calms the nervous system, and restores function of a damaged liver. The recommended daily dosage is 400 IU.

    Keep in mind that one size doesn't fit all. The bottom line is that it's imperative that you couple addiction counseling with a healing diet and supplements to restore your body, mind and spirit.

  • What Your Father Never Told You

    Ask the average American man what his greatest health concerns will be as he ages, and his answer would likely be drawn from a familiar list: heart disease, prostatic hyperplasia, prostate cancer, osteoarthritis, erectile dysfunction. Few would list osteoporosis, the degenerative skeletal condition that is generally considered a “woman’s disease.” Most would be surprised to learn that the prevalence of male osteoporosis is close to that of prostate cancer; about 20 percent of the 10 million Americans with osteoporosis are men. Men account for over a quarter of all osteoporotic fractures annually. It is estimated about 25 percent of men will suffer an osteoporotic fracture in their lifetime, more than the estimated 16 percent that will be diagnosed with prostate cancer. Yet, male osteoporosis remains a relatively over looked condition that is poorly understood amongst men. For example, on the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) only one percent of male survey takers over 65 reported they had osteoporosis; bone mineral density (BMD) testing revealed that four times as many actually had the disease. In this article, we will briefly discuss the progression of male osteoporosis, its specific risk factors, and potential treatments.

    What is Osteoporosis?
    Osteoporosis describes a condition of improperly or incompletely crystallized bone tissue. This results from an imbalance in bone remodeling. Remodeling is a critical process in bone metabolism that involves the removal (resorption) of older bone tissue and its replacement with an equivalent amount of pristine bone at the same site. Remodeling becomes an important mechanism for repairing damage from repeated stress on the skeleton, and is vital for removing older bone tissue, which has lost its resilience. Resorption also serves as a means for releasing calcium or phosphorous when there is a dietary deficiency. Bone remodeling continues in such a fashion that most of the adult skeleton can be replaced about once per decade.

    The maintenance of a static density and mass of bone depends on the balance of bone synthesis by bone-building cells (osteoblasts) and bone-resorbing cells (osteoclasts). Equivalent levels of activity by both cellular processes allows for consistent bone remodeling and the optimization of the bone’s physical properties. A shift of this equilibrium towards synthesis adds new bone; a shift towards resorption results in net bone loss. If bone resorption were to progress unchecked, or if the bone formation process were somehow hindered, then bone would begin to lose minerals, leaving porous bone matrix. The less-dense “spongy” bone (trabecular bone) that predominates in the wrist, spine, and hip becomes thinner and weaker, with less mechanical strength and a higher probability of fracture.

    For practical purposes osteoporosis is defined as bone mineral density (BMD) of more than 2.5 standard deviations below the mean for a 30 year old individual of the same sex and ethnicity (called the T-score), which translates to a bone mass approximately >30 percent less than average. A pre-osteoporotic state of low bone mass (traditionally referred to as osteopenia), describes a BMD that ranges 10 – 30 percent below average and has some increased risk of fracture. The most common osteoporotic fractures are those of the spine (27 percent of all fractures); common non-vertebral fractures occur at the wrist (19 percent), hip (14 percent) and pelvis (7 percent). These fragility fractures are responsible for decreased quality of life due to pain and loss of mobility. Hip fractures are especially problematic; they increase the risk of additional hip or vertebral fractures by over two-fold, and about half of patients experiencing hip fracture will experience long-term loss of mobility. Hip and vertebral fractures also carry an increased risk of mortality, especially in men. Within six months of a hip fracture, the mortality rate is about 10 – 20 percent; about one-third of men will die within a year of hip fracture. Loss of independence is also more likely in men who survive hip fractures than in women.

    Primary and Secondary Causes of Osteoporosis in Men
    Primary osteoporosis is the cumulative loss of bone mass with age, as one experiences changes in sex hormone levels. Although men do not usually experience a sudden decrease in sex hormone production as do women during menopause, levels of testosterone in men begin to decrease as early as age 30, and can drop at a rate of 0.8 percent per year. Testosterone, one of the main androgens in men, is responsible for regulating not only secondary sexual characteristics, but also body composition, including lean body mass and bone mineral density. Like estrogen, testosterone signals osteoblasts to build new bone, while inhibiting the bone-resorption by osteoclasts. Androgens also stimulate the mineralization of bone, and indirectly stimulate the mechanical loading of bone (the stress on the skeleton, as experienced during exercise, that increases the synthesis of new bone). Low testosterone levels, not surprisingly, are associated with increased prevalence of osteoporosis and greater fracture incidence (particularly of the hip) in older men. Testosterone is also a source of estrogens in men (by conversion through the activity of the enzyme aromatase); low estrogen levels in men are also associated with lower bone mass.

    As is the case for women, low body weight, smoking, Caucasian race, limitations in physical activity, and history of previous fractures are also risk factors for primary osteoporosis in men. Inadequate calcium consumption, increased calcium excretion, and insufficient serum vitamin D levels are additional well-established risk factors for primary osteoporosis. Other dietary risk factors, such as soft drink consumption, low phosphorus, and high dietary acid load are beginning to gain more attention for their ability to push bone metabolism towards resorption in women; it is not unreasonable to expect these factors may present risks in men as well.

    Secondary osteoporosis results from specific medical conditions, diseases, or medication use. Although less common in women (20–30 percent of cases), secondary osteoporosis may account for over half of the cases in men. Frailty fractures or low BMD in younger and middle-aged men can be indicative of this disease. Most causes of secondary osteoporosis are similar between the sexes, and include endocrine disorders (diabetes and hyperthyroidism), gastrointestinal disorders that interfere with nutrient absorption (bariatric surgery has emerged as a condition which may double fracture risk), chronic inflammatory diseases (such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus), and certain medications (particularly glucocorticoids and immunosuppressive drugs). Male hypogonadism (sudden drops in androgen levels) is a major risk factor for secondary osteoporosis, likely through the mechanisms mentioned above. Hypogonadism is a common side effect of the androgen-deprivation therapies that are the mainstay of prostate cancer treatments, and can result in significant bone loss. Alcohol abuse may be a more prevalent risk factor for decreased BMD in men than in women; low bone mass is common in men who seek medical help for alcohol abuse. Moderate alcohol consumption (perhaps up to 29 g/day; there is not a real definition for “moderate”), however, has been associated with a healthy BMD in multiple studies.

    Treatment of Osteoporosis in Men
    Despite its prevalence, osteoporosis in men has been relatively overlooked by researchers; therefore, most of our understanding of the disease has been derived from studies of the disease in women. Accordingly, studies of osteoporosis treatments in men are smaller and fewer in number than those in women. Calcium and vitamin D supplementation, often in conjunction with bisphosphonate drugs, has been the standard protocol for treatments of primary and secondary (hypogonadal men or those on androgen-deprivation therapy) osteoporosis. Testosterone supplementation therapy has been proven effective at increasing BMD in hypogonadal men, but requires consistent monitoring for increases in hormone-related cancer risk. Nutritional and lifestyle modifications (such as increased exercise and smoking cessation) are important practices for lowering fracture risk. It is unclear whether the bone-promoting activities, other well-characterized nutrients (such as the K vitamins, potassium, or trace minerals like silicon, boron, and manganese) will be as effective in men as they have been in women; this is certainly an important area for future scientific study.

    Osteoporosis in men, although surprisingly common, is a frequently overlooked consequence of the aging process. It shares many of the same causes and risk factors as it does the condition in women. Secondary causes of osteoporosis (particularly prostate cancer therapies and alcohol abuse) are a more common cause of the disease in men, and require additional considerations for their successful management. It is hoped as male osteoporosis becomes more recognized and better understood amongst practitioners and patients, research into its causes and effective treatment will increase accordingly.