Alcoholism is a disease characterized by a chronic dependency on alcohol, in which the sufferer feels an uncontrollable compulsion to drink. The compulsion to drink may be accompanied by intense cravings, feelings of depression, and even physical symptoms of withdrawal.
Health problems caused by alcoholism include liver disease, digestive problems, heart complications, diabetes, sexual problems, bone loss, neurological disorders, weakened immune system, and increased risk of cancer.
Most people cannot overcome alcohol addiction on their own, and professional help is usually required. Luckily, alongside professional help, there are also many natural remedies for alcohol addiction. Read below for seven natural ways to help you combat alcoholism.
People recovering from alcohol addiction are often suffering from a host of physical problems due to the toll that regular, heavy drinking can take on both the body and mind.
Regular exercise can help to repair the body, mind, and reduce the long-term effects of alcoholism. Exercise also reduces stress, regulates circadian rhythms (so that you can sleep better at night and get up more easily in the morning), and helps to fight depression–something that a large percentage of recovering alcoholics struggle with–by releasing endorphins or natural, “happy” chemicals into the body.
When battling alcoholism, include exercises like brisk walking, running, biking, swimming, aerobics, or yoga into your daily routine. If you cannot exercise on your own or you’re not sure if you’re doing it right, get help from an expert.
2. Healthy Diet
It is critical for people in recovery to establish a foundation of healthy eating, as nutrition and eating regular meals is usually the last thing on a person’s mind when they are in the throes of alcoholism.
Most alcoholics suffer from nutritional deficiencies, as alcohol consumption, in addition to making the person forget about eating, can reduce the appetite as well as the body’s ability to absorb nutrients. Newly sober people should get into the habit of not only eating nutritional food, but also establishing a routine of eating consistent, regular meals every day.
Recovering alcoholics should eat a nutrient-dense diet rich in B vitamins, organic protein, leafy greens and vegetables, low-sugar fruits, and a variety of healthy fats.
Proteins and fats help prevent blood sugar fluctuations (which can cause cravings and lead to relapse), increase energy levels, and provide fuel for the body and brain. A nutrient-rich diet can also begin to repair the physical damage done to the body and mind during years of alcohol abuse.
Those who may not yet be able to plan, shop for, and cook healthy meals on their own should seek the help of a professional, and nutritional guidance is usually part of a good recovery program.
3. Detox Diet
Many are unaware that alcohol detoxification is technically a method used to help a patient overcome alcohol withdrawal. Therefore, what you’re ingesting is of high importance.
A detox diet may consist of eating only fruits and vegetables, drinking juices, and consuming certain herbs or supplements for a certain period of time, often one week to one month in duration.
Detox diets help to expedite the body’s natural detoxification process and remove both natural and manmade toxins from the body and mind while soothing withdrawal symptoms.
In the recovery process, a detox diet is essential to ensure that the body is free of toxins related to alcohol consumption so that you can begin building that strong foundation of balanced, healthy nutrition described above.
Some benefits of detox diets include colon health, improved liver function, weight loss, increased mental focus and clarity, and a brighter complexion. It is a good idea to consult with a medical professional or licensed nutritionist before commencing a detox program, especially if you are in recovery.
In addition to a healthy diet and clean body, there are many herbs that can help to support the detox and recovery process:
- Dandelion root, which can be consumed as a tea or in capsule form, can treat the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal and helps to clean and repair the liver.
- John’s wort is also widely used for the treatment of alcoholism because not only does it alleviate the symptoms of depression, which is essential for many going through the recovery process, but it can also reduce cravings for alcohol over time.
- Kudzu is an herb that has been used in Chinese medicine since 200 BC to treat alcoholism and hangovers, and recent studies have shown that it is helpful in the reduction of alcohol consumption and the desire to drink. Kudzu can be consumed as a tea, a tincture, or in capsule form.
- Milk thistle is also a useful herb in the recovery process, as it contains the active ingredient silymarin, which cleanses the liver of toxins and repairs damage that has already occurred due to alcohol consumption. It can also help to stabilize blood sugar levels, which can cause cravings and mood swings during the recovery process.
5. Vitamin Supplements
In addition to detox, dietary changes, and the consumption of herbs, vitamin supplements can also be taken to support the recovery process. B-complex can help to restore liver function and reduce cravings for alcohol.
Recovering alcoholics are often deficient in vitamin B-1, which gets depleted by breaking down alcohol in the body. Vitamin B-3 (also called niacin) can help to reduce cravings for alcohol and acts as a mood stabilizer. Vitamin C supports healthy brain functioning and can also reduce cravings for alcohol.
Consult a medical professional before taking any supplements.
6. Yoga and Meditation
Not surprisingly, many yoga practitioners are also recovering addicts and/or alcoholics. This is because yoga detoxifies, strengthens, and balances the body and mind, and leaves people feeling calm, relaxed, and centered.
Meditation is also incredibly helpful in strengthening, balancing, and clearing the mind. Being in a calm, centered, and balanced frame of mind is essential in the recovery process and for the prevention of relapse.
7. Alternative Therapies
Acupuncture is a form of traditional Chinese medicine that is useful in reducing alcohol addiction and preventing relapse. In traditional Chinese medicine, the healer tries to find what is out of balance in the body, and can use acupuncture to restore this balance.
Often in alcoholics, this imbalance is found in the liver. In addition to treating the main source of imbalance in the sufferer, acupuncture can be used to treat the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, such as anxiety, depression, and low energy. Also, receiving an acupuncture session will leave you feeling calm, peaceful, and relaxed.
Reiki is another alternative therapy that is extremely helpful in the recovery process. Reiki is an energy healing technique from Japan, in which the healer channels universal life-force energy (Reiki) into the patient. Reiki works holistically to improve physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health, and is a fantastic way to experience peace and relaxation while reducing stress, anxiety, and depression.
The recovery process is often a bumpy road, with twists and turns that can leave you feeling scared, depressed, and hopeless. There is no one solution to recovering from alcoholism, luckily there are many holistic addiction treatment methods that can support you during this challenging journey.
Lifestyle and dietary changes, herbs and supplements, as well as yoga, meditation, and alternative therapies are effective and natural ways to help you combat alcoholism and begin enjoying a balanced, healthy life of sobriety.
Are you or someone you love suffering from alcoholism? Before trying to get help for yourself or a loved one, make sure you know the facts about alcoholism, an often misunderstood disease that affects millions of Americans across the country.
Do you have any question or know any other natural way to treat alcoholism you’d like to suggest? Please leave a comment below.