The Cure for Addictions ~ Nutrition vs. Anonymous Groups

Written by: Rebecca Baird

This article explores addiction and how most addictions are caused by biological imbalances. There is much research on the causes of addiction, but at this time the most widely used prescription for addictions is the different “Anonymous” groups; Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous, Marijuana Anonymous, and a host of others are all trying to solve the problem of addiction from a 12 step program perspective. There is scientific proof that the cause of addiction is more than just behavioral and is biological. Research has shown that L-Glutamine, GABA (gabapentin), and proper nutrition is instrumental in helping patients become free of addictions to drugs, alcohol, cigarettes and any other substances, within a three week period of time.

Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous, Marijuana Anonymous, and a host of others are all noble attempts to cure addiction from a 12 step program perspective, but the fact is that there is scientific proof that the cause of addiction is more than just behavioral and is in fact biological. By looking at the effects of these biological imbalances in an addict and adding proper nutrients, the cravings for the addictive substance can be completely halted. This comes from research studies done by Julia Ross (2008) and many other psychologists and physicians in the specific field of addiction. The substance abuse and addictions studied include alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, speed, opiates, tobacco, and prescription drugs (p. 3).

Historically, anonymous groups have been the only option for substance abusers to turn to. This has worked for some, but the majority of people who have trouble with substance abuse go from one substance to another to try to take care of their cravings. Alcohol and drug treatment centers, such as the one in San Francisco where Ross (2008) practiced, who use anonymous groups and prescription drugs to curb the substance abuse, find that 80% to 90% of all clients would relapse back into their addiction. Most alcoholics and drug users will substitute the addictive substance with sweets and refined foods because, as Ross points out, “sugar is almost identical to alcohol biochemically. Both are highly refined, simple carbohydrates and are instantly absorbed… skyrocketing blood sugar levels and temporarily raise potent mood chemicals in the brain” (p. 6-7).

Chastain (2006) states that the pharmacological approach to the treatment of alcoholism are the drugs Disulfiram, Naltrexone, Acamprosate, Tiapride, and Naranjo which have  serious side effects including “nausea, vomiting, pounding in the chest, decrease in blood pressure,” sedation, sleeplessness, excessive sweating, tremor, headache, and Disulfiram has been known to produce hepatitis (p. 333). This study also showed the effects of alcohol on the protein molecules in the brain; alcohol has a detrimental effect on neurotransmitter activity in the brain (Chastain). Head (2006) shows that the use of traditional medicine, used to alleviate problems caused by addictions, only mask the symptoms and at times actually cause addiction to the medication used to help stop the initial addiction. Many of these pharmaceutical drugs are used to increase serotonin in the brain which has been noted is depleted in most addiction patients (p. 321).

A study done by Blum et al. (1990) illustrates that experimentation done on humans and animals prove that nutrient deficiencies can be the cause of addiction and hinder the recovery of addicts (p.12). These deficiencies have caused a deficit in the neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine, and GABA (Blum et al.). Serotonin, as stated by Fusar-Poli et al. (2007), has been implicated in a wide variety of functions such as mood, anxiety, sleep, aggression, and sexual and cognitive functions (p. 31). As study done by Kapus et al. (2008) showed that anxiety disorders, in mice and in humans, are caused by a lack of serotonin in the brain. The use of GABA can lead to a safer therapeutic approach to anxiety disorders than the use of narcotic approaches or sedatives (p. 239). A study done by Markus et al. (2008) showed that serotonin levels increased with the use of tryptophan which elevated overall mood and sense of well being in the study group. A study done by Fusar-Poli et al (2007) showed that tryptophan is the precursor to serotonin and the lack of tryptophan has noticeable effects on serotonin levels in the brain (pp. 31-44).

Nutritional supplement which Ross (2008) suggests would increase serotonin levels in the brain include L-tryptophan, 5-HTP, St. Johns Wort, Melatonin and vitamin B6 (p.3). Blum et al. (1990) established similar results in their study which stated that supplementation of the amino acid L-tryptophan converts to serotonin in the brain (p. 12). Markus et al. (2008) also concluded that the use of tryptophan sources were advantageous to the availability of essential amino acids to brain chemistry (p. 107). Fusar-Poli et al. (2007) also concurred that the lack of tryptophan had a significant lowered effect in the brain activity which is normally present in happy individuals (p. 33).

Supplementation with L-tryptophan, 5-HTP, St. Johns Wort, Melatonin, and Vitamin B-6 is just one way to increase serotonin levels in the brain to bring about recovery from addictions. Diet can play a major role in raising serotonin levels as well. According to Ross (1999) whole food carbohydrates can raise serotonin levels in the brain and give the needed nutrients to fuel the body (p. 291). Ross (2008) states that food items which naturally raise serotonin levels are 25-30 grams of good quality protein per meal; this includes eggs, chicken, cottage cheese, and red meat. Low starch green, yellow, red, and purple vegetables, avocados, olive oil, coconut milk, coconut oil, nuts and seeds, fruit, squash, beans, potatoes, rice and corn. The foods to avoid are sweets, white flour products, caffeine, sugar substitutes, and fried foods (p.1). Diet alone can raise serotonin levels, but studies have shown that serotonin will also rise naturally after doing moderate exercise outdoors (Ross, 1999, p. 217).

Fusar-Poli et al. (2007) points out that psychological problems stem from depletion, or low levels, of essential chemicals in the brain. These psychological problems can manifest themselves as depression, anxiety disorders, sleep disorders, aggressive behaviors, and lack of sexual and cognitive functions (p. 31). The chemicals which control these functions are serotonin, endorphins, dopamine, norepinephrine, gamma-amino-butyric acid (GABA), and opioid systems in the brain.

The addition of essential amino acid supplementation is highly useful in alleviating these psychological problems, which are the symptoms of low levels of essential chemicals in the brain. One study done by Pålsson et al. (2007) showed that the amino acid L-arginine could have therapeutic effects on the cognitive dysfunctions in schizophrenia. The study shows that these amino acids could be used to alleviate the problems associated with drug use and schizophrenia (p. 9-15). Also, in this study, L-lysine was shown to protect mice from the effects of PCP. The study done by Blum et al. (1990) showed that the amino acids L-phenylalanine and L-tyrosine convert to dopamine and norepinephrine; and L-glutamine converts to GABA (p. 12). A study done by Porter et al. (2007) showed the positive effects of the amino acid tryptophan on cortisol in saliva. The participants in the study were elderly individuals who had recently recovered from depression and healthy elderly. The study was done using two amino acid mixtures; one which contained tryptophan and one which did not contain tryptophan. The study showed a definite difference in the positive effects of tryptophan on depression (p. 71-75).

Nutrition therapy is an emerging successful alternative to traditional substance abuse therapy and offers people suffering from substance abuse real and lasting relief from the substance abuse prison. The detoxification process can be painful and cause many substance abusers to think twice about going through the pain of quitting. According to Chastain (2006) “Excessive glutamate activity, during withdrawal, contributes to cell death and thus frequent withdrawal may lead to irreversible alcoholic brain damage.” It is also interesting to note that “chronic alcohol use leads to reduced brain levels of endorphin, which contribute to the negative emotional states that accompany alcoholic withdrawal” (p. 330, 332).This is where nutrition therapy comes into play in the form of several essential amino acids.

A study done by Crokford, White, and Campbell (2001) showed that supplementing with GABA was instrumental in helping the patient become free of the addiction to benzodiazepine, as well as cigarettes and any other substances, within a three week period of time. The result also showed that using GABA left no withdrawal symptoms as the patient went off the addictive substances. Crokford et al. goes on to state that “It has been reported that GABA is helpful in the management of pain syndromes, anxiety, and alcohol withdrawal” (p. 287). A study done by Gass and Olive (2008) shows that treating cocaine use by supplementing with the amino acid L-cysteine can reduce cravings, withdrawals, and relapse in patients. The study also showed that after a four week period of time the results showed that L-cysteine was still instrumental in reducing or alleviating all cravings and withdrawals in these patients (pp. 218-265).

According to Head (2006) the use of Alpha-lipoic acid, amino acids acetyl-L-carnitine, L-arginine, L-glutamine, taurine, N-acetylcysteine and other supplements are instrumental in the alleviation of addictions, are typically without side effects, and address nutrient deficiencies, oxidative stress, and other etiologieal factors (pp. 294-329). A study done by Roberts (2005), shows the effectiveness of GABA on addictions; specifically cocaine addiction. The positive results from this study have prompted studies on humans to see if GABA has the same positive effect on lessening or completely alleviating the cravings and withdrawals associated with addictions (p. 18-20). In studies done by Ross (2008) all addictions were alleviated by the use of supplemental L-tryptophan, L-tyrosine, GABA, DL-phenalanine, and L-glutamine. The specific use of L-glutamine has shown significant results in alleviating cravings of addictive substances (p. 3).

In conclusion, this paper has shown that there is scientific proof that the cause of addiction is more than just behavioral and is in fact biological. By looking at the studies and the conclusions of the studies, the effects of these biological imbalances in an addict and by adding proper nutrients, the cravings for the addictive substance can be completely halted. The lack of proper nutrition may be just the beginning of the reason for addiction. The social, psychological, and economic reasons which people give for their substance abuse should be studied to see if there is a correlation between these factors and substance abuse. There should also be more research done on the effects of long term use of amino acid therapy, but as it stands now there are no know side effects to the use of amino acids as a tool in nutritional addiction therapy.


Blum, K., Rassner, M., & Payne, J E (August 1990). Neuro-nutrient therapy for compulsive disease: rationale and clinical evidence. (physiological aspects of alcoholism).  Addiction & Recovery, 10, n2. p. 12(5). Retrieved September 11, 2010, from Academic OneFile via Gale:

Chastain, G. (2006). Alcohol, Neurotransmitter Systems, and Behavior. The Journal of General Psychology, 133(4), 329-35. Doi: 10.3200/GENP.133.4.329-335

Crockford, D., White, W., & Campbell, B. (2001). Gabapentin use in benzodiazepine dependence and detoxification. Canadian Journal Of Psychiatry. Revue Canadienne De Psychiatrie, 46(3), 287. Retrieved from MEDLINE with Full Text database.

Fusar-Poli, P., Allen, P., Lee, F., Surguladze, S., Tunstall, N., Y Fu, C. H., Brammer, M. J.,  Cleare, A. J., & McGuire, P. K. (2007). Modulation of neural response to happy and sad faces by acute tryptophan depletion. Psychopharmacology, 193(1), 31-44.  Retrieved August 23, 2010, from ProQuest Psychology Journals. (Document ID: 1290835021).

Gass, J., & Olive, M. (2008). Glutamatergic substrates of drug addiction and alcoholism. Biochemical Pharmacology, 75(1), 218-265. doi:10.1016/j.bcp.2007.06.039.

Head, K. (2006). Peripheral Neuropathy: Pathogenic Mechanisms and Alternative Therapies. Alternative Medicine Review, 11(4), 294-329. Retrieved from Academic Search Complete database.

Kapus, G., Gacsályi, I., Vegh, M., Kompagne, H., Hegedus, E., Leveleki, C., Hársing, L., Barkóczy, J., Bilkei-gorzó, A., & Lévay, G. (2008). Antagonism of AMPA receptors produces anxiolytic-like behavior in rodents: Effects of GYKI 52466 and its novel analogues. Psychopharmacology, 198(2), 231-41.  Retrieved August 23, 2010, from

Markus, C., Firk, C., Gerhardt, C., Kloek, J., & Smolders, G.. (2008). Effect of different tryptophan sources on amino acids availability to the brain and mood in healthy volunteers. Psychopharmacology, 201(1), 107-14.  Retrieved August 23, 2010, from ProQuest Psychology Journals. (Document ID: 1579240641).

Pålsson, E., Fejgin, K., Wass, C., Engel, J., Svensson, L., & Klamer, D. (2007). The amino acid l-lysine blocks the disruptive effect of phencyclidine on prepulse inhibition in mice. Psychopharmacology, 192(1), 9-15. doi:10.1007/s00213-006-0683-x.

Porter, R. J., Gallagher, P., & O’Brien, J. T. (2007). Effects of rapid tryptophan depletion on salivary cortisol in older people recovered from depression, and the healthy elderly. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 21(1), 71-75.  Retrieved August 23, 2010, from ProQuest Psychology Journals. (Document ID: 1268367181).

Roberts, D. (2005). Preclinical evidence for GABA.sub.B agonists as a pharmacotherapy for cocaine addiction. Physiology & Behavior, 86(1/2), 18-20. doi:10.1016/j.physbeh.2005.06.017.

Ross, J. (1999). The diet cure. Penguin Publishers, New York, NY.

Ross, J. (2008). Presentation given on Neuro-nutrient Therapy: 21st century treatment for addictive disorders. San Diego, Ca.


Creamy Italian Dressing

From the kitchen of:

Rebecca Baird

This creamy Italian dressing is awesome and easy to make!

Place the following ingredients in a blender:

1 cup cottage cheese

1 teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

½ teaspoon oregano

½ teaspoon basil

½ teaspoon parsley

1 tablespoon chopped onion

1 clove fresh garlic

the juice of one small lemon

1 tablespoon honey

Puree all of these ingredients together until smooth; while the blender is still going, pour in about ¼ cup of rice vinegar (or red wine vinegar) and blend well. For extra nutrition add 1/4 cup of chia seeds. Taste and re-season as needed. Enjoy!

More frightening information on soy…..

More disturbing information on the results of consuming soy have surfaced from Dr. Mercola. Please read his most recent article on the effects of soy.

Amino Acids Therapy “Study” ≈ Continued

Written by: Rebecca Baird, August 24, 2010

I have little to report from the past few weeks concerning the amino acid therapy. One thing that I found noteworthy was the fact that when I took a day off from my amino acids I noticed a marked decline in my overall homeostasis. I began having muscle spasms in my legs and feet, which I had not had for several weeks, and had trouble concentrating and focusing. This clearly spoke volumes to me. It is good sometimes to see if the steps one is taking are actually making a difference and this was proven by the results after only one day of amino deficiency. Obviously my diet is not yet able to provide me with an adequate supply of amino acids. I will work on incorporating more food items which have complete amino acid composition.

One other thing that I think is noteworthy is the onset of major hot flashes which have been controlled by the supplements St. Johns Wort and Wild Yam. I thank God for such supplements. I had a feeling that I was entering menopause, but was reluctant to take strategic measures until this last week. St. Johns Wort is a life saver; this is no exaggeration. I don’t know how many of you have ever experienced a hot flash, but the feeling is extremely irritating; it is somewhat reminiscent of when I was pregnant and felt hot all the time. So, with that problem under control, I feel much better and more able to concentrate and focus.

This week also opened a new chapter in my educational journey as I began my Masters Degree program. I am very excited about the coming months and the new information I am going to learn about health counseling and psychology. I am hoping to be able to continue writing and sharing some of my educational experiences along the way.

Until next time….

What is Propylene Glycol?

Written by: Rebecca Baird, August 17, 2010

The question “what is propylene glycol” came up when my husband was reading the ingredients on a bottle of  Solarcaine Cool Aloe Burn Relief Formula. My answer was, “I am not sure, but Kelly said it was bad for you years ago, so it must be bad.” Kelly, my daughter, had studied about cosmetic ingredients and the effects they have on the skin and body and found that propylene glycol was one of the major offenders in many skin care products. In order to more comprehensively answer the question I decided to do some research.

My research brought me first to an article by author Brian Adamson who has written many medical journals and medical training materials. He has done extensive research on ingredients contained in our skin care products and has defined many of the toxic outcomes of these products. Propylene glycol is just one of the many ingredients which he has researched and found that propylene glycol is “A cosmetic form of mineral oil found in automatic brake and hydraulic fluid and industrial antifreeze. In the skin and hair, propylene glycol works as a humescent, which causes retention of moisture content of skin or cosmetic products by preventing the escape of moisture or water. The Material Safety Data Sheet warns users to avoid skin contact with propylene glycol as this strong skin irritant can cause liver abnormalities and kidney damage.” I decided to go to the actual Material Safety Data Sheet to see what it had to say; this was what it said about skin contact, “Skin Contact: In case of contact, immediately flush skin with plenty of water. Cover the irritated skin with an emollient. Remove contaminated clothing and shoes. Cold water may be used. Wash clothing before reuse. Thoroughly clean shoes before reuse. Get medical attention.” In another hazardous materials sheet I found that propylene glycol “May cause reproductive and fetal effects. Laboratory experiments have resulted in mutagenic effects.”

Some of the cosmetics which propylene glycol can be found in are:

Styling Mousse
Cleansing Cream
Skin Cream
Bubble Bath
Baby Powder
After Shave
Baby Wipes

It is also found in:
Tire sealant
Rubber cleaner
Stain removers
Fabric softener
Wallpaper stripper

The best way to protect you and your family from harmful chemicals is to read the ingredient labels on the products and do some research to find out what exactly those ingredients are and how they may affect your health.

What is the scoop on soy?

Written by: Rebecca Baird, August 11, 2010
Soy has been viewed by many health professionals and registered dietitians as the ultimate protein source for nutritional health, but new research is showing that this assumption may be far from the truth. According to the American Heart Association, supplementing the diet with soy protein has no significant benefit. According to the American Cancer Society “soy protein could increase cancer risk in ways that are not yet understood. Phytochemicals, naturally occurring plant chemicals (isoflavones) that are present in soy, may affect the way cancer cells grow. ..Soy might act in the same way as estrogens to increase the growth of estrogen-responsive cancers, such as breast or endometrial cancer.”

The results of studies concerning the link between soy consumption and male infertility have been interesting and revealing as well. A study done in 2005 by Dr. Lynn Fraser and her team of UK scientists revealed that isoflavones (genistein) could damage human sperm. At a conference in Copenhagen Dr. Fraser pointed out that, “she had carried out previous research on mouse sperm that suggested similar findings, and that tests on human sperm had proved it was 10 to 100 times more sensitive to (isflavones) genistein. ‘Human sperm are responding to very low concentrations – well within the amounts that have been measured in people’s blood’, she said. The findings might suggest that women who eat soya-based products and legumes should change their diet… prior to conception.” Soy beans contain pytoestrogens which is a natural defense mechanism for the plant. Pytoestrogens when consumed by predators, limit a herbivores reproduction. Thus, the predator’s population decreases and more plants prosper. So it makes sense that human sperm (and the reproductive system) would be adversely affected by the consumption of soy products. A study published in Environmental Health Perspectives states that, “diverse animals such as cattle, mice, and quail have been shown to suffer reproductive failure due to dietary phytoestrogens.”

Some studies show that fermented soy foods are the only foods which will not contribute to health problems but will in fact promote health. In Asia, the traditional fermented soy foods are considered to have more health promoting benefits when consumed in moderate amounts than the super-processed soy products that are consumed in the West. For example, a study (1) of the culturing method involved in the production of the Japanese traditional food miso, came to the conclusion that the culturing process itself led to a “lower number of cancers per animal” and a “lower growth rate of cancer compared to controls.” The researchers also indicated that it was not the presence of any specific nutrient that was cultured along with the soyabean paste but rather the cultured soy medium itself that was responsible for the health benefits associated with miso consumption.

(1) Baggott JE, Ha T, Vaughn WH et al. Effect of miso and NaCl on DMBA-induced rat mammary tumors. Nutr Cancer 1990; 14(2): 103-9.

Amino Acids Therapy “Study” ≈ Week 6

Written by: Rebecca Baird, August 5, 2010

This week was perhaps the most productive thus far. I have more energy to do what I want and need to do, less pain, better memory and learning capabilities, and generally have an overall feeling of wellbeing and calmness. I am amazed at the amount of housework I can do without feeling drained. It had been so long since I felt good enough to do normal activities that I had forgotten how much I really love being super active. Before beginning the amino acid therapy I would be able to be active one day, but the next day (and sometimes for 2 or 3 days after) I would feel muscle soreness and physically exhausted. Those days are gone and I am so thankful!

The week also brought with it a realization that we really don’t have many markets in the area where we can buy non-toxic meats. What I mean is that lately every time I buy meat, especially chicken breasts, (frozen or fresh) the entire family suffers symptoms of some sort of food poisoning. The symptoms resemble that of salmonella, but because we take the meat directly from the refrigerator/freezer to the heated pan, and we have been trained professionally in the safe handling of meat, the contamination seems like it would have to be coming from the processing plant. I am looking for a way to limit meat consumption in order to eliminate food borne illnesses. I have looked into organic meats but the cost is incredible and would bankrupt us in a short period of time. There are alternatives to meat consumption and I plan on finding the best way to receive all of the nutrition needed with very little meat. I will keep you posted on the new recipes as I continue my quest.

This week also brought with it some new studies which I am very interested in. The most significant information was that from researching the work of Dr. Johanna Budwig and her proven cure, yes I said cure, for cancer. Dr. Budwig’s treatment is simple and the success rate is astounding. I have more research to do on this subject and will keep you posted.