Breaking the Habit
Given unlimited access to cocaine, monkeys want this powerful drug more than sex or food, even when they are starving! Human addicts can become just as driven, and then anyone or everything else becomes less important. They will lie, steal, cheat or sell anything to buy this expensive drug. Not all addictive substances control a person’s mind as completely as cocaine, but all addictions can be difficult to overcome.
What causes addiction? In the early ’70s scientists explored the reason for addiction and discovered that the brain, spine and intestines contain cells with natural receptor sites for morphine-like substances. They also learned that the body produced its own morphine-like substances called endorphins. Endorphins help us feel good! These same receptor sites can also be triggered by certain chemicals, including natural chemicals found in some plants.
How do you know when you’re hooked? Well, when you sense an unnatural craving for something, and you get withdrawal symptoms without it, you’re addicted. Don’t confuse addiction with normal, healthy hunger cravings, however. These are simply signals from our brain telling us that certain nutrients are low. Also, enjoying a pleasurable activity is not an addiction.
This issue is focused on overcoming substance abuse. Specifically, it focuses on natural helps for breaking addictions to cigarettes, alcohol and drugs. Please keep in mind however, that these are not the only substances people can misuse. Millions of Americans are addicted to caffeine (coffee and cola drinks), chocolate, sugar and even certain foods. Addictions can also involve behaviors such as viewing pornography. Some people are even addicted to exercise because of the endorphins which are released under strenuous activity. So before we get into heavy judgment against those who abuse the substances mentioned in this newsletter, we need to recognize that any of us could become addicts of sorts.
If we make our own “feel good” chemicals, why do people search for artificial highs from addictive substances? Researchers have found several reasons:
Physical addiction: With low amounts of natural endorphins produced by the body, a person would feel the need for artificial stimulation in order to cope with the stresses of his life, or just to feel like living.
Psychological addiction: A belief or emotional need to take a substance, especially from depression or other need to escape the status quo.
Functional addiction: Gradual adaptation of the body to small amounts (like codeine nasal drops or even sugar) that increases the body’s demand for larger amounts to prevent the misery of withdrawal symptoms.
The bottom line, however, is that we can become “high” by making our own endorphins, without the need for chemical dependance. So, by learning to care for our bodies in a positive way, we can learn to feel good without depending on an outside substance for our happiness.
Specific Helps to Conquering Addictions
The next three pages contain specific suggestions that may help in overcoming addictions to cigarettes, alcohol and drugs. This information represents a mere introduction to the topic. You may wish to consult other resources for additional aids. For serious cases of addiction, especially to drugs, professional help may be required.
In addition to the specific recommendations which follow, here are a few general suggestions. First, since the person’s ability to make his or her own endorphins may be limited, a general health program is a good place to start. Eating fresh foods, taking supplements like vitamin A, B-complex, C, and minerals like magnesium plus a multi-mineral/vitamin supplement like Super Supplemental may help the addict feel better. Second, withdrawal from any substance can often be eased by encouraging the liver, kidneys, bowels and skin to eliminate the poison from the body more quickly. Thus, a general cleanse is helpful for most people. Lastly, since addiction often involves unresolved emotional issues, love, prayer and support of friends or family are essential.
Believe it or not, tobacco can actually be a useful medicinal herb for certain purposes. It is also a natural insecticide.
Furthermore, evidence suggests that it was not seriously harmful when used in the manner that Native Americans did.
Cigarette smoking, however, has been shown to shorten life-span and increase the risk of certain diseases, especially lung cancer. However, pipe and cigar smokers don’t appear to suffer the health risks, so we’ll focus on cigarettes.
Natural Helps for Quitting
Although some people have managed to quit cold turkey, they are the exception, not the rule. Here’s some suggestions which may benefit everyone else.
- First, you decide on a workable schedule of cutting down your smoking on a day-to-day- or week-to-week basis. It’s best to begin your program when major stress times are over.
- Certain habits take awhile to fade, like holding a cigarette. Chose something else to hold, instead. Invent substitute rituals for going to the store to buy a pack, feeling it in your hand, and lighting up.
- Ask your friends and family to support your goals. Keep away from others who are smoking.
- Reward yourself every day you meet your goal. Take the money you save by not smoking and treat yourself to something that’s good for you, whether it be some entertainment or a healthy treat.
- Snack on carrots, sunflower seeds or similar low-calorie snacks.
- Say good-bye to all the smoking accessories that remind you of your old habit.
- Exercise to help keep your weight even, build your lungs and eliminate some of the poisons from your system. It’s also relaxing to the nerves. Exercise encourages your body to make endorphins, natural compounds that make you feel good without the bad side-effects of drugs such as nicotine.
Supplements that Help
Along with this general program, there are some specific supplements that can make a big difference in how you feel, and how soon you overcome your addiction. Smokers have been found to be low in vitamins A, C and E. In addition, they also tend to be low in zinc and selenium. Try these nutrients singularly or use a multivitamin like Super Supplemental. Large doses four or five times the normal RDA may be needed for a short period.
To help clean the blood, eat greens and take a chlorophyll supplement along with six-eight glasses of pure water each day.
Tobacco Detox is a homeopathic remedy which may help to ease withdrawal symptoms and promote more rapid detoxification. Take 10-15 drops under the tongue every hour or two, or whenever you feel the urge to light up.
Nutri-Calm in company with licorice root can help restore battered adrenal glands due to smoking. Since smoking is a nervous habit, herbs which calm the nerves can make dropping the habit a lot easier. Chamomile, lobelia and St. John’s wort have all been used to make quitting easier, the latter being found together in the Lobelia/St. John’ s Wort Combination.
Lobelia contains lobeline, which activates the same receptor sites as nicotine. This compound lessens withdrawal symptoms and is not habit forming. It also calms anxiety. St. John’s Wort, now famous as an antidepressant, is very soothing to an irritated nervous system, especially during withdrawal symptoms.
- About 17 million Americans try to quit smoking every year.
Children of smokers have more respIratory
problems, ear infections, asthma and pneumonia.
- There are over 300 poisons in tobacco smoke, including arsenic, cyanide, and formaldehyde.
- The average smoker draws $400 more a year than other workers in health care costs.
- Workers who smoke have an absentee rate of 30-40% more than nonsmokers.
- Smoking seems to encourage genetic mutation in smokers twice as often as nonsmokers. The risk increased to three times when alcohol was included.
By far, the majority of alcoholics are married, employed, and in their twenties. Only a small percentage are
the derelict-types we usually think of.
A moderate amount of alcohol taken occasionally may not be harmful for many people. In fact, research suggests that a small amount of dry red wine may actually be beneficial to digestion and health. However, alcohol does have proven harmful effects when taken in large amounts.
Alcohol alters the body’s temperature regulatory system, allowing the body to more easily freeze in cold weather or rise in the heat of summer. As alcohol drives water out of brain cells, thinking is impaired. The sex organs are adversely affected, and women tend to become masculinized as the alcohol elevates testosterone levels. Pregnant alcoholics can bear deformed or mentally retarded offspring.
Alcohol impairs judgment and a car driven by a person under its effects often becomes a lethal weapon. At least half the murders and a third of all suicides can be traced to the influence of alcohol. The list goes on and on. Just remember that there is a tendency to pass on genetic damage from parents who drink excessively.
Given all these problems, why is alcohol so popular. Besides the social pressure and the fact that people often drink to hide their problems, there may be a nutritional deficiency factor. A research team at Loma Linda University fed some experimental rats the typical American teenage diet, and the rats developed a strong craving for alcohol. When the diet was improved, the craving diminished. While this wouldn’t be sufficient to prove why humans drink alcohol, it is an option worth considering.
Help for Quitting
The hardest step for the alcoholic seems to be admitting that they have a problem. Once this step has been made outside help should be sought, either from medical professionals or alcoholics anonymous. Redefining one’s purpose in life and working on unresolved emotional problems can help to subdue unnatural cravings for alcohol. Many alcoholics drink to try to avoid the pain they feel inside (i.e., “drown their sorrows”).
There are many nutritional aids that make the healing process much easier. For example, hypoglycemia (low blood-sugar) may induce a craving for alcohol, as suggested by the Loma Linda study cited earlier. Increasing B-complex vitamins and using the mineral chromium and the herb licorice will help stabilize sugar levels in the blood and reduce cravings. For an even better result stop the sugary foods and sweets and eat complex carbohydrates (whole grains and loads of fresh vegetables) instead.
Some research indicates that evening primrose oil helps reduce the craving for alcohol. Also try 1,000 mg. of vitamin C a day. Alcohol robs the body of large amounts of magnesium. Cleansing the body with herbs like chickweed, red beets, red clover and yellow dock may also help reduce cravings.
To soothe the nerves and resolve headaches, try hops, chamomile, peppermint, passion flower, valerian root or a nervine combination like STR-J, Eight or Nutri-Calm. The amino acid glutamine (not glutamic acid) may also be helpful.
An excellent formula to aid the recovering alcoholic is Kudzu/St. John’ s Wort. Kudzu is a vine common to the Southern States with the remarkable property of reducing high blood pressure, relieving pain (analgesic) and also has antispasmodic (anti-cramping) properties. Studies have demonstrated it also possesses the ability to help control alcohol cravings. St. John’s Wort adds the benefits of bringing the nervous system back into balance and helping to dispel negative emotions associated with alcoholism.
Special Note for Beer Drinkers
Believe it or not, the most addictive thing about
beer drinking isn’t the alcohol, it’s an herb used
in making the beverage hops. This herb contains
a sedative substance with a mild addictive effect. Researchers found that they could decrease the alcohol content in beer, increase the hops and drinkers consumed even more. Recognizing this, hops can be taken to reduce the craving for beer.
How to Rebuild Your Liver
Since the liver works overtime to neutralize alcohol when levels are too high in the blood, the liver itself breaks down after long abuse. The liver can repair itself, all it needs is a rest. Herbal combinations specially designed to help cleanse and repair the liver are LIV-A, LIV-J, Milk Thistle Combination, BP-C and LIV-C. Of these formulas Milk Thistle Combination may be one of the most valuable, since milk thistle acts to protect the liver from damage as well as promote repairs. The Chinese formula BP-C is another good choice, since it helps to rebuild a weakened liver. Additional lecithin may also help the liver, as well as the brain, nerves and circulatory system, to heal.
- Milk thistle (and probably blessed thistle) can increase the liver’s content of glutathione, needed to detoxify chemicals and drugs. It promotes growth of new liver cells. Double the recommended dose on the bottle for best results.
- Rehydrate your system with plenty of pure water.
- To quell nausea, drink tea made with dandelion and/or burdock, a small amount of ginger and two tablespoons of honey.
- Other helps include Vitamin B1, oil of evening primrose, pantothenic acid (a B vitamin) for stress, and orange or tomato juice to help the body burn alcohol faster.
Drug addiction is a problem which will
probably require professional assistance. Nevertheless, there
are natural aids which can be of benefit even here.
The following are general suggestions:
- Change your environment.
There must be good company, music, fresh air, sweat baths and dreaming of a healed and wonderful you.
- Change the diet to fresh fruit/vegetables and wholesome grains, with large amounts of pure water.
- The fatty receptor sites are clogged with attached drug compounds which must be released. Megadoses of vitamin C (2,000 to 5,000 mg. per day) with lots of water encourage more rapid toxin release.
- Herbs which help to detoxifY the blood and strengthen the liver are probably central to any nutritional program for drug withdrawal. Chaparral is especially helpful here, but has become difficult to find due to unwarranted bad publicity. Nevertheless, other blood purifiers and liver tonics will probably work, too. Consider red clover, burdock, echinacea, pau d’arco, and dandelion.
Combinations like BP-X, BP-C, CLT-X and Enviro-Detox are probably better choices because they have a broader action. Although the amounts will vary from individual to individual, a person will generally need three to four capsules of these herbs three times per day.
- Anyone withdrawing from drugs is going to experience mental and emotional stress. Hence, a nervine formula such as STR-J, STR-C would be another important component of a drug withdrawal program.
- As with alcohol and tobacco addiction, adrenal support may be necessary because blood sugar imbalances are often part of addictive behavior. Licorice root and Nutri-Calm can again be very helpful.
- Seek support through meditation and friends. And again, never take on major drug withdrawal problems without the proper help of professionals to insure success.
Golden Seal and Drugs
There is a popular myth still floating around that goldenseal will mask drug tests. Research has proven that this is not the case. In fact, in some instances testers are now checking for the presence of hydrastis, a constituent of goldenseal, in the urine. Since this herb is currently endangered, please discourage people from misusing this plant in this manner.