People generally equate withdrawal symptoms to drugs such as heroin or cocaine, but alcohol is just as addictive as prescription or street drugs, and ‘going on the wagon’ from liquor can be every bit as difficult as ‘going cold turkey’ from heroin. Like illegal drug use, alcohol causes changes in the brain and body that can be difficult to overcome.
The body rightly identifies alcohol as a poison and will try to process or metabolize it as quickly as possible before it can do much harm. Those who consume alcohol slowly will generally feel a buzz or mild euphoria as the body metabolizes it. However, when alcohol is consumed rapidly, the system is overwhelmed and the person will become drunk.
Women are much more susceptible to the effects of alcohol than are men and will become inebriated more quickly than their male counterparts. However, even moderate drinking will eventually cause damage to the liver resulting in alcoholic hepatitis or cirrhosis. Drinking also causes damage to the frontal lobe of the brain, and large quantities of alcohol will affect the heart.
Like so many other drugs, alcohol interferes with the normal release of neurotransmitters in the brain. Depending on how long and heavily the person has been drinking, symptoms of withdrawal from alcohol can include minor problems such as sweating and nausea, right up to delirium tremens, seizures, and even death. Some recovering alcoholics will need to be under a doctor’s care, but many will be able to detox at home using natural remedies.
Natural Alcohol Detox
In order to begin living an alcohol-free life, it’s necessary to perform a detoxification to rid your body of the residual effects of the alcohol. Withdrawal symptoms generally begin within 12 hours after the last glass of the preferred beverage was taken. Like withdrawal from illegal drugs, detoxing from alcohol with take both determination and some planning to make the process as easy to get through as possible.
- Alcohol disrupts the body’s absorption of B vitamins, and it has been found that supplements of these vitamins, especially B3 can help detoxify the body and reduce withdrawal symptoms. Other vitamins that can aid with detoxification are Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and Vitamin B6. Using beta carotene instead of Vitamin A is considered to be a much safer path to detox as the body will only convert the amount of A needed from the carotene rather than simply absorbing it all (which can damage the liver) as will happen if a Vitamin A supplement is taken.
- A change in diet is one of the best ways to help detoxify from alcohol. Studies have actually shown that poor diet choices, including junk foods, actually make people crave alcohol. In addition to blatantly junky foods high in salt and fat, peanut butter and beverages that contain a lot of caffeine also make it more difficult to detox. Fresh fruits and a reduction in sugary foods also speed along the detox process. Lean meats and eggs will provide high quality protein needed to rebuild damaged tissues.
- Herbal remedies for alcohol detox are still being investigated, but several herbal products have shown promise in helping alcoholics to rid their body of traces of alcohol. Milk thistle, angelica, and kudzu are all good at decreasing the craving that will inevitably develop for alcohol.
- It’s a good idea to drink more fluids than usual while detoxing. Water is good, of course, but it’s best to alternate with unsweetened fruit juices and vegetable juice to help maintain the proper electrolyte balance in the body.
- For those who begin to feel fidgety, exercise will help to work toxins out and will stimulate the release of endorphins, which will help to elevate mood. Walking is an excellent way to exercise, but various exercise routines can be done right in the home.
Anyone starting on a natural alcohol detox should also be able to depend upon the support of family and/or friends. Giving up an alcohol addiction is difficult, but with some help from natural remedies and family members, it can be done.
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