boosting dopamine, serotonin and GABA with natural therapies to support drug detox and recovery

Natural Therapies
for
Addiction

© PeterSmithUK.com (updated Feb 2014)
 

Drug addiction natural remediesAddiction Main Menu:

Dopamine is the addiction driver in general and the main neurotransmitter cocaine increases.  People with low dopamine (and excess dopamine see later) and addiction issues will tend to gravitate towards dopamine mimicking drugs including cocaine and methamphetamine.  Regulating dopamine levels with natural remedies may help take the edge off addictions in general and specifically addictions to hedonistic highs such as cocaine.

Serotonin anaesthetises mental pain and painful depression. People with low serotonin and addiction issues will tend to gravitate towards opiates and alcohol to self-medicate low mood and depression. Regulating serotonin levels may help take the edge of the mental pain driving addictions pain killers and heroine. Serotonin is also the happy mood elevator we get from Ecstasy and related drugs.

GABA is the brains primary inhibitory neurotransmitter, it tranquillises stressful, anxious and worrying thoughts. People with low GABA and addiction issues will tend to gravitate towards tranquilisers and possibly cannabis (the mellow kind) to self-medicate low self-medicate anxiety.  Regulating GABA levels may help take the edge off addictions to tranquilisers and downers.
Elevated norepinephrine levels (another neurotransmitter) may also produce hyper-vigilance to potential threats also producing anxiety driving cannabis and tranquiliser use. 
 
Put all this together with the right therapy and you can transform your life. :-)
 

Dopamine The Addiction Driver

Dopamine is the neurotransmitter most strongly associated with addiction, it seems to be involved in driving all addictions even in non-substance addictions like gambling and sex addiction. The drug cocaine strongly floods the pleasure centres of the brain with dopamine but obviously not everyone with addiction craves cocaine and for different people different things get them high. Other drugs that particularly increase dopamine activity include methamphetamine, Ritalin, Dexedrine, Adderol and to a lesser extent a coffee. Alcohol and heroine also raise dopamine levels but this is probably not their primary effect, alcohols affect the brain is complex and not fully understood and heroine/opiates also mimic endorphins and enkephalines with our body’s natural painkillers.
 
Studies have shown dopamine activity in the brain is increased not only by chemical substances, but also by substance addictions including gambling, high-risk activities, adrenaline sports and sex, basically anything that you can get high from will on some level involve dopamine.

For a long time we thought that dopamine was what actually produced the euphoric high, however yet again brain chemistry has turned out to be anything but simple and it has recently been discovered that dopamine is involved in producing the craving or “wanting” to get high and stay high, but there may be something else as yet unknown working alongside dopamine to produce the actual euphoria. 

I mention this recent finding just to keep my information up to date but at this point in time I think the previous model we had of addiction involving the desire to get a dopamine high is still a useful. I say this because when dopamine levels are low one can experience a low energy depression (see dopamine dependant depression), life is not worth living and we crave excitement, change and the relief (albeit only temporary) we get from getting high. I have experienced this myself as a consequence of the bipolar syndrome I have, when I’ve been in a dopamine dependent depression I have struggled with addiction, but elevating my dopamine levels with natural therapies including amino acid dopamine precursors eradicates the craving to get high. 

Brain chemistry is often confusing: boosting dopamine levels when one is depressed with natural remedies may help take the edge of the craving to get high however, paradoxically the drugs used to increase dopamine activity in people with Parkinson’s (pramipexole) can actually produce the side effects of gambling addiction. These anti Parkinson’s drugs (called dopamine agonists) do not in fact increase the levels of dopamine, but instead they increase the brains sensitivity to dopamine which is a different thing. This is an important distinction because many people wrongly assume anything that increases dopamine activity would encourage addictive behaviour like the Parkinson’s drugs do. However the reverse can be true and anti-doting low dopamine depression with natural therapies can be a helpful tool to manage and overcome addictive drives.  
 
One special caveat to this is in people with bipolar syndrome over stimulating dopamine can cause an over-swing from the depressed side to the manic side and in the manic state despite already being high people often engage in anything and everything that can get you high (drugs, overspending, gambling, sex addiction etc. etc.). This is not a reason to completely avoid boosting dopamine levels in bipolar syndrome because as I discus elsewhere increasing dopamine levels is sometimes the only way to alleviate bipolar depression and if you don’t alleviate the depression it can also  drive the desire to get high. What we have to do when managing addiction combined with bipolar syndrome is bring dopamine levels back onto balance, not too low and not too high (see bipolar syndrome). An important thing to mention is more than half of people with bipolar syndrome struggle with addiction at least at some point in their life and if you are an addict you should consider the possibility that you may actually have bipolar syndrome and treating it will be central to your recovery from addiction. 
 
We used to have a simplistic model that we use drugs like cocaine to get a dopamine high but the relationship between dopamine and addiction now seems more complicated than this. When dopamine activity is increased with Parkinson’s drugs people engage in reckless hedonistic addictive pleasures including drug taking, gambling and hyper-sexuality, similarly when dopamine levels are increased in people with bipolar mania they also often engage in hedonistic addictive behaviours. In both these cases it seems elevated dopamine drives addictive behaviour. Conversely however when dopamine levels are lowfollowing cocaine/meth withdrawal for example the craving to get high is also increase. So it seems both too much or too little dopamine drives addiction, or perhaps in some complex way when dopamine levels become excessive it quickly desensitises the brain (post synaptic membranes) to dopamine leading to reduced dopamine firing between neurones; more research is needed. 
 
I’ve had bipolar mania and bipolar depression, I’ve also taken cocaine and can attest to the remarkable similarity between the manic and the cocaine highs, I’ve also worked with many patients with unipolar depression, bipolar syndrome and addiction. My observation is we can struggle with addiction cravings in both the elevated dopamine manic side and the low dopamine depression side. When depressed we seek relief by self-medicating with dopamine increasing drugs and activities.  Conversely when we are high with elevated dopamine either from drugs or bipolar mania the euphoria feels so good we want more, to get higher and higher we go on a “bender” adding more and more fuel to the blaze until we burn ourselves out. When dopamine levels are elevated it also seems to lower our perception of risk or tells us things are going to work out and be okay even when they probably won’t be, this increases our tendency to take risks including gamble, taking more drugs etc. More research is needed. I speculate that excess dopamine activity not only down regulates our sensitivity to dopamine, but also down regulates our sensitivity to norepinephrine; this neurotransmitter gives us vigilant awareness of threats and danger when norepinephrine activity is elevated it can produce hyper vigilance, fear and anxiety and people may want to self-medicate with cannabis or tranquilisers. On cocaine and during bipolar mania this system seems switched off so people become less fearful and risk taking.  
 
You can use amino acids and herbs to increase dopamine production during drug withdrawal to help to replenish the sudden drop in dopamine levels. Continuing this treatment after the withdrawal phase can be helpful as a long term treatment to reduce cravings to get high, this is especially helpful for people suffering from depression. These remedies are safe and non-addictive so you could continue this to help keep you clean and straight while you work on other aspects of your addiction in therapy etc.  This strategy of using dopamine mimicking drugs is used in conventional medicine to help the withdrawal and maintenance of people addicted to dopamine mimicking narcotics (cocaine, meth etc.), conventional drugs used in this way include Neurontin, Klonopin, Seroquel, Xanax, Seroquel, Depakote; some of these drugs are addictive in themselves, but they will have less toxic effects than street narcotics. Few addicts relapse after they’ve been clean for more than five years, you could safely use the dopamine supporting remedies practically continuously or as and when required to help you manage your addiction for the first critical five years and beyond.
 
When bipolar mania leads to addictive behaviour you can use amino acids to reduce dopamine production combined with several other methods to control the mania.
 

Sugar Addiction & Dopamine

Several years ago an article published in New Scientist {insert reference} demonstrated for some people even sugar can be chemically addictive producing the same dopaminergic effect seen from the narcotics cocaine or heroin. Obviously not everyone gets a genuinely chemically addictive narcotic effect from the consumption of sugar, in this regard we can view sugar as similar to alcohol, many people consume alcohol but only a few become alcoholics and have their lives ruined by it, similarly many people can consume sugary junk foods in moderation (not that I’m recommending that) without becoming addicted but a few people develop a chemical addiction to these foods and have their lives ruined by it. The maximum pleasurable and addictive food combination is a 50-50 mixture of sugar and fat as is found in cheese cake and some other junk foods combinations such as a burger, fries and sugary drink. 

If you’re struggling with this addiction you may find the new Mac patch helps you manage your withdrawal :-)
 

Natural Remedies for Dopamine

The precursor building blocks for dopamine are the amino acids L tyrosine and DL phenylalanine. Several vitamin and mineral cofactors are required for the synthesis of dopamine so you should also take a multimineral and B complex along with supplemental vitamin C and magnesium.
 
The herb Rhodiola can be useful as it stimulates both dopamine and serotonin thereby producing a balanced stimulating effect.
NAC cysteine has been shown to reduce the craving for cocaine in rats and humans. 
 
For more specific dosages and remedy information see:
Natural Remedies for Cocaine
Dopamine Dependant Depression.
 

Serotonin the Pain Soother

The neurotransmitter serotonin has a calming sedating effect on the brain, yet it elevates mood which may seem like a contradiction but the way serotonin stimulates a happy feeling is by inhibiting painful and depressed type thoughts. When painful feelings or antsy depression drive you to get high to numb inner pain supplementing serotonin with natural remedies may help you take the physical edge off your addiction while you engage in therapy/counselling for the psychological aspects of your inner pain.
Biochemically the recreational drug Ecstasy produces a surge in serotonin in the pleasure centres of the brain creating a happy “loved up” euphoria, however I also think of rebalancing serotonin levels for people who use opiates and painkillers because if you’re drawn to these powerful numbing and painkilling drugs it’s probably to alleviate significant inner pain. 
 

Natural Remedies for Serotonin

The precursor building block for serotonin is the amino acid tryptophan which is available without prescription, tryptophan is first converted into 5-hydroxy-tryptophan or 5-HTP for short which is then converted into serotonin. You can also buy 5-HTP without prescription but it can be converted very readily into serotonin and too much of it is convert into serotonin in the body before it even gets to the brain; when you want to deliver serotonin to the intestines to treat irritable bowel syndrome for example 5-HTP is superior but when you want to deliver serotonin building blocks to the brain where we want it as an antidepressant use tryptophan. To convert tryptophan into serotonin we need B6 and magnesium, but not too much B6 in the evening or it can disturb your sleep, you also need to be topped up with B3 otherwise you lose some of the tryptophan as it is converted into B3. A high dose B-Complex in the morning and low dose B complex in the evening along with magnesium will take care of these requirements. Vitamins C is another essential cofactor in the production of serotonin, it’s also an adaptogen (substance that assists the body maintain balance and cope with stress) and a detoxifier so I recommend vitamins C should be included in a high dose during recovery.
 
The herb St John’s wort can be particularly useful with regard to addiction because not only does St John’s wort increase serotonin levels but it also is a powerful detoxifier of drug residues from the liver and detoxification is an important part of using natural remedies to assist recovery from addiction.
 
The herb Rhodiola boosts serotonin, dopamine and has adaptogenic properties.
 
These remedies can be combined together and in my practice I often combine add things such as a multi-mineral, supplemental zinc (calming, antidepressant, sleep assisting), L glutamine (stabilising blood sugar, regeneration and energy levels), SAM-e for clinical depression, GTF chromium if hypoglycaemia (reactive low blood sugar) is also an issue etc. etc.
 

GABA The Anxiety Calmer

The neurotransmitter GABA is calming and is the primary inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain, it enables our brain to stop worrying and anxious thoughts simply going around and around in our mind; when GABA is deficient we can develop anxiety. People addicted to barbiturates and other tranquillisers (downers) may be self-medicating to quell anxious feelings and increase their GABA levels. Boosting GABA levels with natural therapies can be both a useful transitional step when giving up downers and a safer long-term alternative to tranquillising drugs.
 

Natural Remedies for GABA

You can buy supplements made of GABA but the size of the GABA molecule is too big to get through the membrane or barrier between the blood and the brain (the blood brain barrier) so if GABA supplements work on you it’s is a sign that the integrity of your blood brain barrier unhealthy, too permeable and probably inflamed. Actually you can use supplemental GABA as a challenge test to see if your blood brain barrier is leaky and if it is your brain will be bombarded by substances that shouldn’t be able to pass through the blood brain barrier such as half-digested food molecules particularly from wheat and dairy; when such molecules enter the brain it triggers allergic reactions, inflammation and has such a destabilising effect on brain chemistry balance that it must be treated and eliminated. See GABA challenge test under construction.
 
The way to raise GABA levels in the brain is not by supplementing GABA directly but by supplementing the combination of L theanine and L glutamine.
L glutamine is the amino acid precursor for GABA the brains primary inhibitory neurotransmitter but is also the amino acid precursor for glutamate which is the primary stimulatory neurotransmitter the last thing we want more of with anxiety. When you combine theanine with glutamine it promotes calming GABA production from the glutamine rather than stimulating glutamate. To convert glutamine into GABA we need the active form of vitamin B6 called pyridoxal-5-phosphate (P-5-P) also available as a supplement.
 
Vitamins C is also a cofactor for GABA production and should be supplemented.
 
Adding the amino acid L taurine has a calming and relaxing effect particularly when combined with magnesium.
 
The herbs passiflora and the valerian are also useful herbs for producing a calming and antianxiety effect to help the transition off downers and barbiturates.
 
Ashwaganda may also be helpful, like Rhodiola it has energy stabilising adaptogenic properties but with anti-anxiety rather than antidepressant properties.
 

Norepinephrine (noradrenaline) the Anxiety Stress Response Provoker

Norepinephrine (also called noradrenaline) is another neurotransmitter that may be involved in addiction. Norepinephrine is derived from dopamine and is involved in stimulating our awareness of threats in our environment and producing our fight, fright or freeze response. When norepinephrine activity is excessive we become hyper-vigilant and hyper-sensitive to threats so that even insignificant potential threats can provoke stress or fight or flight responses; in simple terms excessive noradrenaline activity can make us feel anxious. Some people naturally tend to suffer from excessive norepinephrine activity and this may be involved in driving them towards drugs that lessen anxiety including Valium, nicotine, cannabis (the mellow kind), klonopin etc. and perhaps also alcohol or opioids to dull the feelings of stress/anxiety. Endorphins have a sedating somewhat antianxiety effect so the endorphins we release from vigourous exercise may explain why for some people exercise has such a powerful anti-stress effect; I’m thinking of the stereotype person that is highly strung, stressed, suffer from anxiety or at least border on it and a fitness fanatics or fitness addict, perhaps they use exercise to produce endorphins and control uncomfortable feelings of anxiety caused by excessive noradrenaline activity. In extreme cases the overabundance of norepinephrine can produce extreme anxiety and panic attacks completely disproportionate to the real threat posed by our circumstances.


There are two natural therapy strategies we can turn to to obtain relief from the very unpleasant effect of excessive noradrenaline activity. Firstly we can use natural remedies most notably the amino acid glycine to diminish noradrenergic activity in the brain. This should produce immediate but not particularly long lasting benefits and therefore may be a useful strategy during the initial withdrawal and as a prop at times of potential relapse. Additional with potentially useful supplements antianxiety effects include passiflora, skullcap, valerian, camomile, magnesium, taurine and others, see Tranquiliser Addiction Natural Remedies. 
 
Secondly we can take advantage of the ability of the brain to change its shape and structure (neuroplasticity) and gradually rewire our brain to produce significantly less stress responses. It takes at least 50 hours of repeatedly switching on the relaxation response over several months to produce a significant and useful amount of change within our nervous system but the effects are consistently impressive and long-lasting perhaps even permanent. As well as training the relaxation response mindfulness meditation has been researched and shown to produce changes in the structure of the brain that help us overcome excessive stress responses. My recommendation is to do 50 hours of training in both the relaxation response and mindfulness meditation techniques, one after the other beginning with the relaxation response training. To facilitate the maximum amount of plastic change within the brain throughout this period nourish the brain with a chemical environment that supports neuroplasticity; this means following a nutritional regime high in flavonoid antioxidants from a diet high in vegetables, fruit and appropriate supplements while at the same time eliminating components from the diet that provoke inflammation. Typical examples of foods that provoke sensitivities and increased inflammation this include wheat, dairy and soya, while flavonoid rich foods and supplements include red and black fruits and the supplements resveratrol, rutin, curcumin, catechin.  See reducing brain inflammation under construction.
 

Endorphins and Enkephalin 

Endorphins were actually discovered by scientists researching how heroine and opiates produced their effects, it had been discovered that opioid drugs slotted perfectly into receptor sites on our nerves, the shape of the receptor sites were so perfectly matched to the shape of the opioid molecules that it seemed they had literally been purposefully designed to receive opioid drugs, at the time this was an astonishing discovery it looked like our brains had actually been built to get pleasure from opioids and opioid addiction had been purposefully built into us. Pretty quickly researchers realised that the receptor sites that opioid drugs fitted so perfectly into must have been designed for an as yet unknown naturally occurring compound within our brain and nervous system and that it wasn’t actually designed for us to get high on and become opioid addicts.
 
Okay so what is all this mean in terms of addiction
UNDER CONSTRUCTION
 

Balancing brain chemistry particularly stabilizing dopamine levels with natural remedies can help take the edge of the craving to get high; but this is not some magic cure and I’m not suggesting this should be the only thing you use to recover from your addiction, you should also be working on your addiction in other ways including therapy/counselling, improving diet etc. Natural remedies can assist withdrawal and detox. Addiction can be very challenging to overcome so through every helpful technique you can at it. 


Blood Sugar Control.

Eating foods that quickly release glucose sugar into the bloodstream causes an initial sugar rush but then a low blood sugar crash some time later.  This is very bad if you have problem with addiction. The brain predominantly relies on glucose as a fuel to produce the energy required to manufacture neurotransmitters. When the supply of glucose to the brain drops even a little brain's ability to manufacture neurotransmitters can become compromised causing immediate neurotransmitter deficiencies. You’ll already be familiar with this effect, it’s that feeling you get of being low, angry, irritable, perhaps shaky, finding it difficult to concentrate that we have all experienced from time to time when we’ve skipped a meal and gone too long without eating. Whatever difficulties you carry emotionally will tend to surface at this time; some people feel depressed while others feel angry or anxious. If your brain already tends to be naturally low in dopamine, serotonin or GABA when your blood sugar drops it makes you neurotransmitter deficiency even worse perhaps pushing you over the edge and seeking your drug of choice to artificially elevate neurotransmitter levels and stop the bad feelings. 

Let me restate this: eating foods that quickly turn into glucose in the blood causes low blood sugar episodes which then cause temporary neurotransmitter deficiencies and precipitate short-term emotional crises which depending on the circumstances may drive you back to your addiction to self-medicate the bad feeling away.
 
The mental roller-coaster that fluctuating blood sugar levels can cause must be stopped by people with drug and other dependency issues.  Stabilising blood sugar is done through diet though there are a few herbs and supplements which can help speed up the stabilisation process. In my practice I use the Glycemic Index, Glycemic Load, Glycemic Response or Zone Diets, with supplements and relaxation response training (to stop the adrenal glands causing surges of glucose). See Relaxation and Meditation for more on this.

The effect of blood sugar on brain chemistry is enormous, although the brain only comprises about 2% of total body weight it consumes about half of all the glucose in the blood when we are at rest. The brain needs this huge supply of glucose to manufacture neurotransmitters; I cannot overstate the benefits of stabilising blood sugar on brain chemistry balance.

Learn one step at a time, start with eliminating all foods with a GI higher than 70, next start reducing your glycaemic load or the excessive consumption of carbohydrates and then finally learn about the zone diet in which you always combine protein and healthy oils with carbohydrates to control and slow down the rate at which the carbohydrates are broken down into glucose. For the first two stages you’ll find everything you need on the website www.Mendosa.com

Cognitive Hypnotherapy


As I said earlier you should combine the above techniques with counselling/therapy. In my practice I use cognitive hypnotherapy to help change the psychological sources of pain, anxiety and pressure which a person may be trying to avoid feeling by getting high.
 
Sometimes a person will have the best intentions to no longer engage in their addictive behaviour however something seems to hijack their mind and as if in a hypnotic daydream they get high again. In cognitive hypnotherapy we believe hypnotic trances are not unusual states of consciousness that we experience only when we visit hypnotherapist, we believe that hypnotic trances are common everyday experiences that everyone has. Sometimes you may relapse in a completely unconscious way, sometimes however a person may consciously watch themselves relapse seemingly taken over by some other (subconscious) part of them compelled to get high.  One of the objectives of cognitive hypnotherapy work is to use hypnosis techniques to de-hypnotise the hypnotic trance that take over the mind enable you to sleep walk back into addictive behaviour. 
 
Sometimes people will have specific psychological triggers that switch on the process that makes them want to get high. They might see or hear something that triggers subconscious memories and sets off a chain reaction causing them to spiral out of control again; in cognitive hypnotherapy we think of the trigger as the switch that switches on the daytime hypnotic trance. Some cognitive hypnotherapy techniques focus on breaking the subconscious link or association between the external trigger and the internal memories and feelings it provokes. 
 
Another technique is to implant a subconscious process that interrupts the process or chain reaction. 
 
Yet another useful thing we can do is to revisit painful and traumatic memories and feelings in a relaxed hypnotic state and remodel the memories. It turns out that our memories and interpretation of past events can be remodelled to lessen the impact and pain which those past experiences still exert on our lives today and which may be involved in provoking addictive behaviours.
 

Meditation not just to Restore Balance but to Get High by releasing Endorphins

I trained as a meditation and kundalini yoga teacher. Kundalini yoga can be of benefit in recovery from addiction it employs very vigorous breath-work with stress poses and meditation which can produce safe and sustainable endorphin highs. The highs obtained from kundalini yoga do not produce unpleasant withdrawal or come-down after effects and if practised continually for long enough can develop inner mental/spiritual peace.  
 
Obviously inducing an endorphin high with meditation is not a cure for addiction, it’s transferring the addiction onto something else; but I believe it can be a safe and helpful transitional prop on the road to recovery.  Some drugs counsellors would frown on the suggestion to you use kundalini yoga and Taoist meditation to get high, they would assert that the only goal must be to challenge the addictive behaviour; they would say that what I’m suggesting is simply transferring one’s addiction and not challenging it. I defend my position in the following ways: firstly I’m not suggesting the use of these techniques to satisfy one’s need to get high in isolation, but they may provide a useful transitional prop or steppingstone while a person works on their addiction issues with therapy/counselling and other lifestyle changes. Secondly I believe that transferring one’s addiction from something harmful, toxic and destructive onto something non-toxic and health promoting is a genuinely viable long-term strategy to manage addiction in its own right, let’s be honest therapy and counselling techniques to challenge and change addiction issues are not always 100% successful. The combination of therapy to “soften” or reduce addictive behaviour and transferring what is left onto something healthy helped me manage my addictions and I have two old friends who attribute their recovery from alcohol and heroin addiction to kundalini yoga.
 

Bicom cravings treatments.

Bicom resonance therapy is an alternative medicine technique that has been developed in Germany over the past forty years. This system a little difficult to describe, it uses an electrical device and on a simplistic level can be thought of as a form of electro-acupuncture. For total honesty and clarity I must make it clear that like many alternative medicines it’s effectiveness is not accepted by conventional medical science. For people attending my clinic it is an optional extra service we can use during your time. The Bicom device both diagnoses (from the acupuncture meridians) and treats, acupuncture type treatments have a long history in helping people recover from addiction, it is believed acupuncture stimulates the release of natural soothing endorphins.  One of the unique abilities of Bicom treatment is to switch off physical cravings.
 
Bicom Treatment also identifies and eliminates food allergies and sensitivities. Especially important when they affect the brain and behaviour, so-called brain allergies.
To comply with UK advertising trading standards I must reiterate that although it is believed by Bicom practitioners that the device can do these things the effectiveness of Bicom treatment is not accepted my conventional medical science and so I am not making any scientific claims as to its efficacy. 
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Below is some random drug information. 

Ecstasy

Ecstasy is not physically addictive however a person with chronic serotonin dependant depression especially may habitually use it for the sort-term lift it provides. Do you take E at the weekends and then have several days of depression after that. 
 
The MDMA in ecstasy floods the pleasure centres of the brain with increases serotonin. Many people experience rebound low levels of serotonin and a short-term depression after Ecstasy, but if you have a health issue with low serotonin levels causing depression as I do Ecstasy can be awful.  I took Ecstasy once and had about 90 minutes of euphoric dancing then imploded sitting in the corner with my hands on my head, followed by several days of suicidal serotonin deficient depression. This makes total sense to me now, when you over stimulate pathways in the brain (whether serotonergic or dopaminergic or GABA) that are already practically exhausted even with natural remedies you can produce an initial rise or surge in activity followed by nasty crash. 
 
The solution is to improve the overall health of the brain by eliminating brain allergies including gluten sensitivity, eliminating chronic inflammation, restoring the integrity of the blood brain barrier and the gut-brain axis, detoxifying the brain including of heavy metals, stabilising blood sugar and maintaining the brains fuel supply, replenishing essential fatty and then or at the same time gradually restoring healthy neurotransmitter levels. Put all this together with the right therapy and you can transform your life. :-)
 
See serotonin dependant depression for natural serotonin boosting remedies. 
 
Ecstasy Destroys the Rain Forest
Almost all MDMA comes from sassarfras or safrole oil taken from the roots of an endangered tree this causes destruction to the Cambodian rain forest.
 
Ecstasy Helps Heal Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Ecstasy has been combined with psychotherapy to induce a state of calm that can help a person to confront and work with painful experiences. In the 1960’s and 70’ ecstasy used in this therapeutic context was dubbed penicillin for the soul. Since ecstasy was criminalised in the 1980s this treatment is unfortunately no longer legally available. Since 2000 research in the United States on soldiers with PTSD has shown that psychotherapy performed under the influence of MDMA can cure 80% of subjects in just two sessions.

 

Addiction Main Menu:

  • Addiction & Neurotransmitters (Dopamine GABA Serotonin)
  • Heroine and Opiates Addiction Natural Remedies for
  • Cocaine & Methamphetamine Addiction Natural Remedies for
  • Tranquilliser Addiction Natural Remedies for
  • Smoking Addiction Natural Remedies for
  • Alcohol Addiction Natural Remedies for
  • Cannabis, Marijuana Withdrawal Remedies
  • Ketamine
  • Ecstasy
  • Get High without Drugs the Safe & Free way
  • My Personal Drug Story 

Useful Links:

http://www.slideshare.net/CMoondog/the-addicted-brain

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/can-you-cure-yourself-of-addiction/
 
© PeterSmithUK.com –Holistic Medicine Consultant-
© Please feel free to download or print my work for personal use, I wrote it to help people. You can copy and distribute my work on web pages and in literature but please give me credit for the fruits of my labour. Mark my work as a quote and reference/link the source to my name and the website or book you copied it from. [15]
 
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The notes below are not my own they are cut and pasted from other sites

http://www.hypoglycemia.asn.au/2011/the-connection-between-depression-addiction-hypoglycemia/
Why sugar addiction?
One way to speed up the absorption of tryptophan is by consuming refined carbohydrates – such as sugar. Sugar consumption triggers the body to produce insulin, a hormone that transports glucose, amino acids and fatty acids into cells. Thus high levels of insulin absorb amino acids (as well as glucose) and make room for the absorption of tryptophan.7 This is then converted to serotonin in the presence of vitamin B6 and presto we feel happy!!!
This may lead to sugar addiction and here is theory connecting hypoglycemia and addiction. “Sucrophilia” or love of sugar is one of the symptoms of hypoglycemia.
The question remains how this can lead to other forms of addictions such as addiction to heroin or cocaine.
Insulin Resistance follows
Sugar addiction leads eventually to insulin resistance. When the body is exposed to excess insulin over a long period of time, it adapts by ‘down-regulating’ receptors for this hormone. This means reducing insulin receptors in target cells.
Insulin Resistance is an abnormal response of the cells’ receptors to insulin. Both hypoglycemia and diabetes are affected by ‘insulin resistance’. In diabetes insulin resistance results in hyperglycaemia, responsible for increase in atherosclerosis, changes in the retina of the eye and cataract, changes in kidney which lead to protein excretion via the urine8, damage to nervous system, particularly of the legs producing tingling and numbness.
In hypoglycemia it initially raises the blood sugar level, which triggers the production of more insulin. This is then followed by a crash in blood sugar level. When blood sugar levels crash the brain goes into a panic mode and triggers the adrenal gland to produce adrenaline. The latter converts stored glucose – in the form of glycogen in liver cells – back into glucose. But adrenaline is also the fight/flight hormone, which prepares the body for action. Excess secretion of adrenaline may lead to the shakes and nerves!!
Thus people may have learned that depressant drugs – particularly alcohol and tranquilisers – can calm down nerves, and here we have another mechanism for addiction to depressant drugs!
Insulin Resistance may block phenylalanine?
But there is another important theory that may explain the heroin/cocaine addiction. Hyperinsulinism means that other amino acids are blocked for absorption. Thus it could well be that phenylalanine – an other essential amino acid – is not properly absorbed, because of insulin resistance. Phenylalanine is the forerunner of a series of neurotransmitters – called catecholamines – among these the important neurotransmitter ‘dopamine’. Dopamine is the main neurotransmitter responsible for the highs that drug addicts experience when injecting with heroin, or taking cocaine.
Special brain cells produce dopamine (from a long series of biochemical conversions deriving from phenylalanine), a neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of pleasure. Normally dopamine is reabsorbed by the dopamine cell for reuse. It is known that heroine and cocaine occupy these receptors for dopamine so that reuptake of dopamine is prevented. This results in an excess of dopamine, which drug addicts experience as a high. However, the brain – in other words target cells responding to dopamine – respond by down-regulating receptors as a defence against excess dopamine. Thus down-regulation of receptors is the mechanism whereby ‘tolerance’ is build up. More of the substance – heroin or cocaine – is required to experience the high! Consequently, the body has to rely on drugs in order to obtain sufficient levels of dopamine for a person to function at all.
GABA cells control dopamine cells
Another set of brain cells, namely GABA (gamma-amino-butyric-acid) cells, regulate the production of dopamine in dopamine cells. GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that sends messages to dopamine cells and controls the amount of dopamine these cells produce. Thus it exerts influence over the dose of dopamine release. What may be useful to know at this stage is, that GABA is produced from glutamine (a non-essential amino acid) and converted to GABA in the presence of vitamin B6. (Chaitow, 79) A supplement of glutamine (easily converted to glutamic acid 9) is now available from health food stores. Glutamine has been successfully used in stopping alcohol and sugar craving and may be helpful in the treatment of other drug addictions.
Theories about the causes of drug addiction
The question is whether drug addiction is primarily due to an error in serotonin synthesis or results from hypoglycemia? This question is similar to the nature-nurture debate in psychology. We have seen that we could reason that a blockage of serotonin production, would lead to depression, to sugar addiction, which in turn leads to insulin resistance, diabetes and/or drug addiction. No doubt there are genetic factors operating that predispose us towards either or all of these conditions. If we accept the serotonin hypothesis, being seen primarily as an inherited condition, then we would come to a dead end. This would be a form of biological determinism, presenting us with an inevitable outcome of our congenital destiny – a rather pessimistic point of view.
If on the other hand we were to accept that hypoglycemia, a lifestyle condition, precedes or aggravates an inherited weak link in serotonin metabolism, then this would open the way to new treatments and interventions for either depression, hypoglycemia, diabetes or drug addiction.
The serotonin hypothesis would suggest that it is a mere coincidence that in the twentieth century humans have been increasing their sugar consumption on average 15 lbs per head per year in 1900 to 120 lbs per head per year in 1974.(Cheraskin, In the year 2001 this figure would be much higher! Furthermore, humans are now exposed to 65,000 xenobiotic (often poisonous) chemicals produced in the USA alone (1000 chemicals added each year) and dumped in the environment and undermining our health.
As a result of modern agricultural practice in the USA trace mineral deficiencies in the soil were reported in all fifty states, zinc deficiency in 32 states. This means that an important co-enzyme like zinc may be in short supply in the diet – 80 enzymes are known to require zinc as a co-enzyme. It is no coincidence that alcoholics or anorectic patients are known to be zinc deficient. The evidence of drastic environmental changes during the last few decades, which would decisively affect our health, cannot be ignored.
It would be more reasonable to assume that the nutritional environment of modern humans plays a more significant role in the pandemic of mental illness, hypoglycemia, diabetes and drug addiction. The inherited error of serotonin metabolism appears to be of secondary importance.
The conclusion would be that dietary treatment is significant in any treatment modality for addiction and in particular the treatment of hypoglycemia, which appears to be at the root of all these modern diseases. The finger is pointed to sugar consumption.10
Alternative treatment of drug addiction
Most modalities in the treatment of drug addiction start with detoxification. This is probably the most difficult step in treatment. Not only that, but staying off is even more difficult. The reason is clear that the brain has adapted to the use of high levels of dopamine, artificially increased by drugs and resulting in a reduction of receptors for dopamine (and perhaps other neurotransmitters). It will take some time for the brain to readapt (that is build receptors) for the neurotransmitters now synthesized naturally. Thus to expect that the natural production of neurotransmitters (for instance dopamine) will find adequate receptors – now reduced by drug use – may indeed be a tall order.
This scenario applies equally to the prescription of Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) by doctors for the treatment of depression. These, like street drugs, block the reabsorption of a neurotransmitter, serotonin. Long term use may alter the brain structure – down regulates receptors for serotonin. Hence withdrawal often results in rebound depression. You can only withdraw from these drugs gradually and under the supervision of the doctor. If this is so, why not the same for street drugs?
I am just wondering in the light of the above knowledge, whether it would be possible for drug addicts to eventually reach a point, where drugs are not needed, if and when they would treat the underlying causes of drug addiction. This could be achieved by adopting hypoglycemic diet, take suitable vitamins and minerals 11 , and neurotransmitter supplements such as tryptophan, phenylalanine and glutamine UNDER THE SUPERVISION of a doctor or drug counsellor (phenylalanine may have adverse effects in some people). This suggests a reversal in the official treatment process, deal with underlying causes first, before withdrawing from drugs. This may be a radical view, especially because there appear to be no studies to support this hypothesis.
Many more studies will be required to clarify some of the points raised here. It is expected that clinical nutritionists will contribute further to this research.
As we have noted the sequence leading to addiction following the error in serotonin synthesis may be triggered by a long period of emotional stress responsible for the imbalance in brain chemicals. Therefore, it cannot be stressed enough, that this regime should be accompanied with a course in psychotherapy or Rational Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (RCBT), which will help a person to deal with the normal stresses of life. Drug addicts – and for that matter others suffering from a mental disorder – have a severely damaged self image which affects their personality at the core. This can be remedied by doing a course in psychotherapy. Such a self-help course is freely available at this web site at PSYCHOTHERAPY.

References to addiction and hypoglycemia
See also:
Index to Specific Topics and Research
References to Mood Disorders and Nutrition

Burton Goldberg Group, The, Strohecker, J (Ed) (1994), ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE: The definitive guide, Future Medicine Publishing, Puyallup WA
Chaitow,L(1985), AMINO ACIDS IN THERAPY, Thorsons Pub. Inc N.Y.
Wade, C (1985), AMINO ACIDS BOOK, Keats Pub Inc, New Canaan, Conn.
1 ) Strickland PL, Deakin JF, Percival C, Dixon J, Gater RA, Goldberg DP. Bio-social origins of depression in the community. Interactions between social adversity, cortisol and serotonin neurotransmission. Br J Psychiatry. 2002 Feb;180:168-73.
2 ) The sudden contraction of smooth muscle in brain capillaries is one of the factors involved in the development of ‘migraine’ headaches. Serotonin is thought to play a role in inflammation similar to that of histamine.
3) These are arginine, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine.
4 ) When there is a vitamin B6 deficiency, tryptophan is converted to xanthurenic acid and excreted in the urine. Xanthurenic acid may damage the pancreas and may cause diabetes. It is also a carcinogenic substance. Xanthurenic acid in the urine indicates a vitamin B6 deficiency. There is anecdotal evidence that B6 deficiency is indicated when people cannot remember their dreams, as is common among drug addicts. This is thought to be due to B6 being used up in detoxification.
5 ) Doctors prescribe antidepressant drugs, called Specific Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) to artificially increase serotonin levels in depression.
6 ) It takes 60mg of tryptophan to produce 1mg of niacin, which also requires vitamin B6 as coenzyme. (Chaitow, p65)
7 ) Plasma tyrosine, phenylalanine, leucine, isoleucine and valine, being large neutral amino acids – unlike tryptophan – are affected by insulin and are consequently absorbed, leaving free the absorption of tryptophan.
8 ) This supports the concept of insulin resistance failing to absorb amino acids (including phenylalanine) by cells, which are then excreted in the urine, along with glucose, typical in diabetes.
9 ) Glutamic acid is a brain fuel. It cannot pass the blood brain barrier, but it is easily converted to glutamine, which can. When glutamic acid combines with ammonia – a nitrogenous by-product of amino acids and toxic to the brain – it becomes glutamine. Ammonia is then converted to urea and excreted via the urine. Glutamine is said to improve intelligence, control alcoholism, sugar craving, heal ulcers, alleviate fatigue, impotence, depression, and may be useful in schizophrenia and senility.
10 ) Just recently it has been announced that the consumption of kola ‘soft’ drinks – the popular high sugar drinks of young people – has been increased by 7 per cent in the last six months of the year 2001. The fact that they may contain aspartame may aggravate the impact on their behaviour.
11 ) Some of the vitamins and minerals suggested are, Vitamin C (up to tolerance level +/- 3000 mg (Drug addicts can tolerate high doses of vitamin C), zinc, chromium (picolinate), selenium, B-Complex, vitamin B6, B12, folate and herbals supporting the liver: Dandelion, St Mary’s Thistle, Gentian, Fringe Tree, Greater Celandine, Withania (for anxiety) and many more.
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Hi my name is Peter Smith I specialise in treating and coaching people how to live well with mental health problems, digestive health problems/IBS, sleep problems and type II diabetes using natural therapies.
I used these techniques to overcome and live well with my own bipolar disorder and IBS. I've been in practice as a natural medicine practitioner since 1988.
 

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