It doesn’t matter what your addiction is, drinking, drugs, gambling or even social media, natural treatment goals are similar across the board; to address any physical damage done, to nourish and protect the brain and increase the brain chemicals that are often lacking such as GABA (gamma aminobutyric acid) which calms our nervous system down and dopamine which offers a sense of reward in life. Often serotonin is also low, particularly if alcohol is the drug of choice as people often self medicate depression with addiction and alcohol in itself is a depressant and hence the cycle continues. Of course life experiences have huge potential to trigger addictions therefore a good psychologist is an ideal partner in the treatment of addiction.
Physiologically though there are a raft of natural treatment options for treatment of addiction. To raise GABA, dopamine and serotonin the amino acids glutamine, tyrosine and tryptophan provide the precursors to these neurotransmitters and nutrients such as zinc, vitamin B6 and folate act as co-factors. GABA can be prescribed as a supplement. Herbally, much can be done to support an addictive soul; with herbs such as St John’s wort and Saffron to lift the mood, Kava to raise GABA and Ginkgo Biloba for dopamine. The herb turmeric, alongside omega three fatty acids from fish and krill oils reduce any inflammation in the brain and the antioxidant n-acetylcysteine (NAC) is key to rehabilitating an addicted brain.
The consequences of addiction such as low stress tolerance also require attention as this can then contribute to the addiction and the adrenals are particularly exhausted by the amphetamine drugs. The B vitamins (particularly B5), adaptogen herbs such as withania and the ginsengs and tonics such rehmannia and licorice help strengthen coping skills and rehabilitate the adrenals. Liver regeneration and gut healing also contribute to more holistic and sustainable treatment outcomes.
The genetic anomaly pyroluria commonly tests positive in clients with addiction. This metabolic syndrome causes a depletion in zinc and vitamin B6 and corresponding copper dominance. The lack of key nutrients, essential for mental health, and high copper, which is highly stimulatory to the adrenals, is a perfect storm for the development of addiction and therefore demands treatment.