Can Exercise Help Treat Addiction?

While some may joke about being “addicted” to various things — chocolate, coffee or selfies, for instance — addiction is no laughing matter when it involves dangerous behaviors and substances. But more and more research is showing that cardiovascular exercise plays a role in addiction treatment and can reduce the inclination to experiment with these substances.

The Brain Chemistry of Exercise vs. Addiction

The idea that exercise promotes longevity and health is not a modern discovery. Both the ancient Greeks and Romans recognized the importance of prescribing exercise for its health benefits. Though the dosage has changed over the years, a 2012 review study in the British Journal of Pharmacology reports that exercise is “one of the most frequently prescribed therapies in both health and disease.” The study concludes that exercise is so beneficial for health that it should be “considered as a drug.”

With regards to the addicted brain, Mark Smith, professor of psychology at Davidson College, says that exercise may serve as alternative non-drug reward activity, trading in an actual high for a “runner’s high.”

“When you look at how exercise affects the brain, you see that it increases dopamine in a reward pathway,” says Wendy Lynch, associate professor of psychiatry and neurobehavioral sciences at the University of Virginia School of Medicine.

Levels of dopamine and other “feel-good” chemicals are elevated by consuming the things we crave but plummet quickly when we stop. Researchers at the National Institute on Drug Abuse say that incorporating exercise into the addiction treatment process — as well as engaging in physical activity prior to exposure — may help in reducing substance abuse.

“The more likely you are to engage in physical activity, the less likely you are to abuse drugs,” Smith says. Smith, who has researched the behavioral effects of opioids and cocaine for the past six years, says there are a few reasons for the inverse relationship of exercise and drug use.

First, substance abuse often causes a decrease in physical activity, he says. “If you know a substance abuser, that’s their full-time job. They don’t have the discretionary time and income to engage in physical activity and exercise.” Preventing drug use might also correlate with nurture. “Maybe you were exposed to a positive role model early in life, and this positive role model encouraged you to live a healthy lifestyle,” Smith says. “Part of that involved engaging in physical activity, but part of that involved abstaining from illicit drugs.”

“Exercise increases self-esteem, self-efficacy and feelings of well-being,” Smith says. “All of these are negatively correlated with substance abuse. And all of these are protective factors against substance abuse.”

Treating the Various Stages of Addiction

Smith’s research has focused on the notion that physical activity causes a decrease in substance abuse, and in numerous studies, he has shown the powerful effects of exercise on different stages of use and relapse. He studied two groups of rats — one sedentary group with normal lab-cage activity and one group with access to a running wheel. The rats could run as much or little as they desired. After six weeks, Smith and fellow researchers trained the rats to intravenously self-administer cocaine or heroin (or a combination of the two), and then measured how much the rats injected.

“Sure enough, the exercise group self-administered much less cocaine than the sedentary control group,” Smith says. “That was the first evidence of this cause-and-effect relationship — that engaging in physical activity leads to a reduction in substance abuse.”

Smith ran follow-up studies that looked at the ability of exercise to reduce self-administration during different transitional stages of drug administration and drug relapse. “There are several important stages — the first is acquisition abuse,” he says. “No one starts out as a drug addict. Some people will experiment, but most of them will not advance beyond the experiment stage.”

The second stage is maintenance, when an individual engages in regular, consistent abuse but not in a problematic manner, Smith says. “This is how many Americans use drugs — one to two glasses of wine every single night. People do this for years and years with no problems.” The third phase is escalation — where some people gradually increase use over time and continue to do so despite negative consequences.

“Binge use/compulsive use is typically what we think about when someone is in the worst stage of addiction,” Smith says of the fourth stage. “During these binges, there is a highly dysregulated pattern abuse, and this is where people get themselves into trouble. This is the stage associated with overdose, criminal activity and visits to the hospital emergency room.” But Smith’s lab-rat studies provide encouraging evidence that physical activity can curb or prevent drug abuse in all of these stages of the addiction process.

Lynch’s studies at the University of Virginia School of Medicine also support this conclusion, especially for the final stage — relapse. She co-authored a study published in the September 2013 issue of Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, which showed that “physical activity and exercise activate the same reward pathway as drugs of abuse, through increases in dopamine concentrations and dopamine receptor binding.”

Lynch says that for both nicotine and cocaine, administering exercise during abstinence reduces the changes in the brain that lead to relapse, and the earlier you administer the treatment, the better. “Evidence from both human and animal literature is consistent and shows that exercise can effectively decrease the likelihood of starting and levels of abuse under a controlled situation (non-abuse),” she says. “It can prevent or reduce the likelihood of progressing to abuse or dependence, and it can reduce relapse vulnerability.”

Exercise’s Benefits Extend to Smokers Trying to Quit

Research has also shown exercise may help people quit smoking, which is good news for the 18.1 percent (42.1 million) of people 18 years and older who smoke in the United States, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2012.

Michael Ussher, a professor of behavioral medicine at St. George’s University of London, says there is “evidence from more than 30 studies that cigarette withdrawal symptoms and cravings are reduced following a single bout of exercise.” Ussher says sessions of exercise lasting five to 30 minutes have been used in these studies and the effect can last up to 30 minutes. “This evidence is the main rationale for why exercise might help smokers quit,” he says.

As for psychological effects, Ussher says smokers tend to have higher rates of depression than non-smokers, so exercise is beneficial for them because it “reduces depression and anxiety and increases self-esteem and positive mood.”

Ussher cited a study from the Center for Behavioral and Preventive Medicine that asked 281 female smokers to attend three sessions of vigorous exercise a week for a 12-week period while they were quitting. The researchers found that the smoking cessation rates were about twice as high in the exercise group compared with a control group enrolled in a wellness program.

Physical Activity for All

You don’t need to be addicted to reap the benefits of exercise, however. Smith says “moderate intensity for moderate time typically makes most people feel good.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Heart Association recommend at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity at least five days per week or 25 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity at least three days per week. The groups also recommend moderate- to high-intensity muscle-strengthening activity at least twice a week for additional benefits.

This can include power walking, water aerobics, riding a bike on flat land or pushing a lawn mower, according to the CDC. Vigorous activities include jogging, swimming laps, riding a bike quickly or up a hill and playing basketball. Whether it’s running, playing sports or walking around the park, Smith suggests engaging in any activity you enjoy that gets your heart rate up. “That’s the exact same thing your primary care physician would tell you.”

Nicotine withdrawal traced to very specific group of brain cells.

Nicotine withdrawal might take over your body, but it doesn’t take over your brain. The symptoms of nicotine withdrawal are driven by a very specific group of neurons within a very specific brain region, according to a report in Current Biology, a Cell Press publication, on November 14. Although caution is warranted, the researchers say, the findings in mice suggest that therapies directed at this group of neurons might one day help people quit smoking.

“We were surprised to find that one population of neurons within a single brain region could actually control physical nicotine withdrawal behaviors,” says Andrew Tapper of the Brudnick Neuropsychiatric Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

Tapper and his colleagues first obtained mice addicted to nicotine by delivering the drug to mice in their water for a period of 6 weeks. Then they took the nicotine away. The mice started scratching and shaking in the way a dog does when it is wet. Close examination of the animals’ brains revealed abnormally increased activity in neurons within a single region known as the interpeduncular nucleus.

When the researchers artificially activated those neurons with light, animals showed behaviors that looked like nicotine withdrawal, whether they had been exposed to the drug or not. The reverse was also true: treatments that lowered activity in those neurons alleviated nicotine withdrawal symptoms.

That the interpeduncular nucleus might play such a role in withdrawal from nicotine makes sense because the region receives connections from other areas of the brain involved in nicotine use and response, as well as feelings of anxiety. The interpeduncular nucleus is also densely packed with nicotinic acetylcholine receptors that are the molecular targets of nicotine.

It is much less clear whether the findings related to nicotine will be relevant to other forms of addiction, but there are some hints that they may.

“Smoking is highly prevalent in people with other substance-use disorders, suggesting a potential interaction between nicotine and other drugs of abuse,” Tapper says. “In addition, naturally occurring mutations in genes encoding the nicotinic receptor subunits that are found in the interpeduncular nucleus have been associated with drug and alcohol dependence.”

Source: Cell Press

Cloning Mice.

For the First Time, a Donor Mouse Has Been Cloned Using a Drop of Peripheral Blood from Its Tail.

From obesity to substance abuse, from anxiety to cancer, genetically modified mice are used extensively in research as models of human disease. Researchers often spend years developing a strain of mouse with the exact genetic mutations necessary to model a particular human disorder. But what if that mouse, due to the mutations themselves or a simple twist of fate, was infertile?

Currently, two methods exist for perpetuating a valuable strain of mouse. If at least one of the remaining mice is male and possesses healthy germ cells, the best option is intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), an in vitro fertilization procedure in which a single sperm is injected directly into an egg.

However, if the remaining mice cannot produce healthy germ cells, or if they are female, researchers must turn to cloning. Somatic-cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) produces cloned animals by replacing an oocyte’s nucleus with that of an adult somatic cell. An early version of this process was used to produce Dolly the sheep in 1996.

Since then, SCNT techniques have continued to advance. Earlier this year, researchers at the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology in Kobe, Japan, even devised a technique to avoid the diminishing returns of recloning the same cell; success rates increased from the standard three percent in first-generation clones to ten percent in first-generation and 14 percent in higher-generation clones.

The type of somatic cell used for this process is critical and depends largely on its efficiency in producing live clones, as well as its ease of access and readiness for experimental use. While cumulus cells, which surround oocytes in the ovarian follicle and after ovulation, are currently the preferred cell type, Drs. Satoshi Kamimura, Atsuo Ogura, and colleagues at the RIKEN BioResource Center in Tsukuba, Japan, questioned whether white blood cells (a.k.a., leukocytes) collected from an easily accessed site, such as a tail, would be effective donor cells. Such cells would allow for repeated sampling with minimal risk to the donor mouse.

There are five different types of white blood cells and, as expected, the researchers found that lymphocytes were the type that performed the most poorly: only 1.7 percent of embryos developed into offspring. The physically largest white blood cells, and thus the easiest to filter from the blood sample, were granulocytes and monocytes. The nuclei of these cells performed better, with 2.1 percent of the embryos surviving to term, compared to 2.7 percent for the preferred cell type, cumulus cells.

The granulocytes’ performance was poorer than expected due to a much higher rate of fragmentation in early embryos (22.6 percent): twofold higher than that of lymphocyte cloning and fivefold higher than cumulus cell cloning. The researchers were unable to determine what could be causing the fragmentation and intend to perform further studies to improve the performance of granulocyte donor cells.

Although the blood cells tested did not surpass the success rate of cumulus cells in this study, the researchers have demonstrated, for the first time, that mice can be cloned using the nuclei of peripheral blood cells. These cells may be used for cloning immediately after collection with minimal risk to the donor, helping to generate genetic copies of mouse strains that cannot be preserved by other assisted reproduction techniques.

Saccharin And Sugar Found More Addictive Than Cocaine.

Sugar and artificial sweeteners are so accessible, affordable and socially sanctioned, that few consider their habitual consumption to be a problem on the scale of say, addiction to cocaine.  But if recent research is correct their addictive potential could be even worse.

Sugar and Saccharin More Addictive Than Intravenous Cocaine?

Almost 40 years ago, William Duffy published a book called Sugar Blues which argued that refined sugar is an addictive drug and profoundly damaging to health.  While over 1.6 million copies have been printed since its release in 1975, a common criticism of the book has been that it lacked sufficient scientific support.

Today, William Duffy’s work is finding increasing support in the first-hand, peer-reviewed and published scientific literature itself. Not only is sugar drug-like in effect, but it may be more addictive than cocaine.  Worse, many sugar-free synthetic sweeteners carry with them addictive properties and toxicities that are equal to, or may outweigh those of sugar.

Back in 2007, a revealing study titled, “Intense sweetness surpasses cocaine reward,”  found that when rats were given the option of choosing between water sweetened with saccharin and intravenous cocaine, the large majority of animals (94%) preferred the sweet taste of saccharin.[i] This preference for sweetness was not attributable to its unnatural ability to induce sweetness without calories, because the same preference was found with sucrose; nor was the preference for saccharin overcome by increasing doses of cocaine.

Research: Sugar and Saccharine Found As Addictive As Cocaine

A common argument against the relevance of animal studies like this to human behavior is that rats differ too profoundly from humans. However, even insects like forager bees have been found to respond in a similar way to humans when given cocaine, experiencing an overestimation of the value of the floral resources they collected, with cessation of chronic cocaine treatment causing a withdrawal-like response.[ii]

Researchers believe that intense sweetness activates ancient neuroendocrine pathways within the human body, making obsessive consumption and/or craving inevitable. The authors of the cocaine/saccharin study summarized this connection as follows:

Our findings clearly demonstrate that intense sweetness can surpass cocaine reward, even in drug-sensitized and -addicted individuals. We speculate that the addictive potential of intense sweetness results from an inborn hypersensitivity to sweet tastants. In most mammals, including rats and humans, sweet receptors evolved in ancestral environments poor in sugars and are thus not adapted to high concentrations of sweet tastants. The supranormal stimulation of these receptors by sugar-rich diets, such as those now widely available in modern societies, would generate a supranormal reward signal in the brain, with the potential to override self-control mechanisms and thus to lead to addiction.

In a previous article, “Is Fructose As Addictive As Alcohol?”, we looked at the addictive properties of isolated fructose in greater depth, including over 70 adverse health effects associated with fructose consumption. It appears that not only does fructose activate a dopamine- and opioid-mediated hedonic pathway within the body, but like excessive alcohol consumption, exacts a significant toll on health in exchange for the pleasure it generates.

The drug-like properties of common beverages and foods, have been the subject of a good deal of research over the past few decades. Wheat and related grains, for instance, are a major foodsource of opioid peptides. These pharmacologically active compounds, also found in milk,coffee and even lettuce, may even explain why ancient hunters and gatherers took the agrarian leap over 10,000 years ago.  Likely, the transition from the Paleolithic to Neolithic was motivated by a combination of environmental pressures and the inherently addictive properties made accessible and abundant due to the agrarian/animal husbandry mode of civilization. For more on this, read our essay “The Dark Side of Wheat.”

As far as synthetic sweeteners, an accumulating body of toxicological research indicates they have a wide range of unintended, adverse health effects beyond the aforementioned problem of addiction.

Get Off the Pot.

Researchers demonstrate the successful treatment of marijuana abuse in rats and monkeys.

A drug that increases levels of a naturally occurring chemical may help marijuana users kick the habit, according to new research published this week (October 13) in Nature Neuroscience. In rats, the drug, called Ro 61-8048, boosted brain levels of kynurenic acid dosed with THC, marijuana’s active ingredient, which subsequently diminished dopamine-driven neural activity associated with pleasure. In monkeys, the same treatment reduced voluntary use of THC by 80 percent.

“The really interesting finding is that when we looked at behavior, simply increasing kynurenic acid levels totally blocked the abuse potential and the chance of relapse,” coauthor Robert Schwarcz, a neuroscientist at the University of Maryland, told “It’s a totally new approach to affecting THC function.”

Though marijuana may not have serious long-term consequences, and may even hold potential in treating various medical maladies, it is commonly used as a recreational drug, and some people who abuse it show signs of addiction to the substance. This addiction is believed to stem from THC’s ability to activate the pleasure circuitry of the brain, increasing levels of dopamine and eliciting feelings of happiness. Kynurenic acid can also mediate dopamine-regulated brain activity, and was thus a top target of Schwarcz and his colleagues as they looked for ways to inhibit THC’s euphoric effects.

Indeed, dosing rats with Ro 61-8048 caused kynurenic acid levels to rise, after which THC no longer elicited the dopamine-driven brain activity in the reward centers of the brain, including the nucleus accumbens. It seemed that kynurenic acid was literally blocking the brain’s dopamine receptors, thereby decreasing the pleasurable feelings normally elicited by THC. As a result of the treatment, both rats and monkeys with the ability to self-dose with THC reduced their drug intake by about 80 percent.

“Currently, we’re doing some experiments with nicotine abuse, and there’s some very interesting preliminary data indicating it may work the same way,” Schwarcz told

New non-smokers may gain weight because of gut changes, not food.

Eighty percent of people who quit smoking put on an average of 15 pounds, studies have shown, and those pounds are usually attributed to a person trading lighting up for pigging out. But according to the researchers at the Zurich University Hospital, the weight gain may not have to anything to do with an increase in calories. Rather, the weight might be a result of changes in the composition of a person’s intestinal flora after they quit. The study found that when a person stops smoking, the bacteria in their intestinal flora shifts to a type which burns energy more efficiently and breaks down more of what is ingested, thus creating more fat and less waste. The 20 study participants insisted their calorie intake stayed the same or fell after they quit smoking.



Nicotine exposure gives baby rats addictive personalities.

Results suggest explanation for why people exposed to nicotine in the womb are more likely to become smokers.

Exposure to nicotine in the womb increases the production of brain cells that stimulate appetite, leading to overconsumption of nicotine, alcohol and fatty foods in later life, according to a new study in rats.


Smoking during pregnancy is known to alter fetal brain development and increase the risk of premature birth, low birth weight and miscarriage. Prenatal exposure to nicotine also increases the likelihood of tobacco use and nicotine addiction in later life, but exactly how is unclear.

To understand the mechanisms behind this effect, Sarah Leibowitz, a behavioural neurobiologist at the Rockefeller University in New York, and her colleagues injected pregnant rats with small doses of nicotine — which the researchers say are comparable to the amount a pregnant woman would get from smoking one cigarette a day — and then examined the brains and behaviour of the offspring.


In a paper published today in Journal of Neuroscience1, they found that nicotine increased the production of specific types of neurons in the amygdala and hypothalamus. These cells produce orexin, enkephalin and melanin-concentrating hormone, neuropeptides that stimulate appetite and increase food intake.

Rats exposed to nicotine in the womb had more of these cells and produced more of the neuropeptides than those that were not, and this had long-term consequences on their behaviour. As adolescents, they not only self-administered more nicotine, but also ate more fat-rich food and drank more alcohol.

“These peptide systems stimulate food intake,” says Leibowitz, “but we found that they similarly increase the consumption of drugs and stimulate the brain’s reward mechanisms that promote addiction and substance abuse.”

Leibowitz notes that children whose mothers smoked during pregnancy are more likely to smoke themselves during adolescence and adulthood. Her team’s findings suggest a possible mechanism for that.

The use of nicotine patches or e-cigarettes during pregnancy could have a similar effect. “Whether given subcutaneously, as in our study, or via smoking or patches, the same amount of nicotine would still get into the brain to affect neuronal development and function,” Leibowitz says.

The results highlight the toxic effects of nicotine exposure on brain development, says George Koob, a neurobiologist at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California. He also adds that the study casts new light on the role of these neuropeptides in reward and motivation.

In earlier work, Leibowitz and her colleagues showed that rats exposed to fat and alcohol in the womb likewise overconsume these substances as adolescents. “Our studies make it very clear that neuronal development in utero is highly sensitive to these substances,” she says, “with each promoting their overconsumption and addictive-like behaviour in the offspring.” 

She and her collaborators are now comparing the effects of nicotine, fat and alcohol to learn more about how this promotion occurs. They are also exploring ways to reverse the effects of prenatal exposure to these substances, thus preventing their overconsumption in later life, which could lead to addiction and obesity.



Source: Nature


The skinny on cocaine. Insights into eating behavior and body weight in cocaine-dependent men.


There is a general assumption that weight loss associated with cocaine use reflects its appetite suppressing properties. We sought to determine whether this was justified by characterizing, in detail, alterations in dietary food intake and body composition in actively using cocaine-dependent individuals. We conducted a cross-sectional case-control comparison of 65 male volunteers from the local community, half of whom satisfied the DSM-IV-TR criteria for cocaine dependence (n = 35) while the other half had no personal or family history of a psychiatric disorder, including substance abuse (n = 30). Assessments were made of eating behavior and dietary food intake, estimation of body composition, and measurement of plasma leptin. Although cocaine users reported significantly higher levels of dietary fat and carbohydrates as well as patterns of uncontrolled eating, their fat mass was significantly reduced compared with their non-drug using peers. Levels of leptin were associated with fat mass, and with the duration of stimulant use. Tobacco smoking status or concomitant use of medication did not affect the significance of the results. Weight changes in cocaine users reflect fundamental perturbations in fat regulation. These are likely to be overlooked in clinical practice but may produce significant health problems when cocaine use is discontinued during recovery.



How To Beat Addictions Naturally.

In this land of plenty, a conservative estimate calls 4 out of 10 Americans “addicts.” Abused substances include sugar, caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, prescription drugs and street drugs including pot. Addiction can serve us well once we recognize that substance abuse is a way to obscure honest, peaceful, self-discovery. Using, of any addictive substance, gives us the temporary illusion of control, excitement and perfection. In recovery we discover, often to our great relief, that we’re not perfect, that we need intimacy, and that integrity is more appealing than denial. The addict is self-obsessed; living for the next “fix.” The addict is crisis oriented; using panic as a way of feeling alive while avoiding meaningful contact with others. In recovery we let go of our need to control in favor of serenity and clarity.

Scientists from different schools of thought have attempted to explain addiction. Some say the culprit is a genetic lack of the feel-good, sleep-inducing neurotransmitter serotonin. Others say early brain cell damage begets lack of feedback inhibition for normal cravings, driving them out of balance. For example, non-addictive persons who eat some sugar will be satisfied (in terms of simple carbohydrates) for several hours. The addictive person, by contrast, will crave even more sugar after consuming a moderate serving. This may be due, in addicts, to a lack of endorphin stimulation when a healthy physiologic craving is satisfied. Other researchers and physicians contend that addiction is largely a response to depression. Addiction is major problem in this country, whatever the cause. Sugar addiction is perhaps the most insidious because the substance is so cheap, so available and so universally regarded as a “treat.”

Addiction spells confusion. For example, street drugs are “bad” while prescription drugs are “good” despite the statistics which show that in any recent year death due to complications from prescription drug overdose is 50 times more likely than death from street drugs. Nevertheless, IV “recreational” drug addicts are the long-term reservoir for AIDS and the vast proportion of criminal activity among teenagers is due to the cocaine trade. Caffeine and alcohol and nicotine are socially condoned although they contribute to a substantial percentage of hospitalizations in the U.S.
If you ingest white sugar daily, or drink alcohol daily or have an immediate family member who is alcoholic, or feel depressed frequently you may have a problem with addiction without realizing it. Please take a good look; the crucial initiation of breaking free from addiction is recognizing the substance abuse and seeking help to maintain the commitment to quit.

Addiction results from a multifactorial network of choices; the treatment approach must address not only the physical, but the mental and emotional (spiritual) as well. One reason the 12-Step programs (Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous, Spenders Anonymous, Adult Children of Alcoholics, etc.) are so successful is that they are free of charge and thus require only the commitment of the participant for attendance. Sometimes people need stronger measures to kick their habit at the beginning. But quitting per se is not so difficult; the trick is staying quit. Many addicts have incurred so many physical and mental changes that they need to get their fix merely to sustain homeostasis. In other words withdrawal can be very rough. And the better prepared we are for withdrawal, whether it be from inhaled crack or chocolate, the better we will be able to handle the rocky road back to recovery.

The basic parameters for recovery are the same as for any rehabilitation; good high fiber, high fresh veggie, plenty of pure water diet; regular adequate sleep; daily exercise; heartfelt participation in group activities. Don’t isolate yourself. The more people know you’re trying to quit, the more help will be spontaneously offered, and the more comfortable you’ll be with asking for help and taking baby-steps towards your new reality.

The cornerstone towards my own recovery has been wanting to hear that small and enormously personal inner voice that would get drowned in the substances night after night. Breaking free of addictive habits is a blessed opportunity to engage in the ultimate purpose of life — to know Thyself. Meanwhile, there are a few natural support mechanisms that may help.

1) Good old Vitamin C, preferably the powdered form (1/4 tsp = 1 gram). Take up to 12 grams daily. Vitamin C is the single most potent free radical scavenger and will help cleanse and oxygenate the tissues. It will also help to keep the bowels moving; a very important component of getting clean and sober.

2) The amino acid Glutamine is a so-called amino radical, useful in detox, as well as acting as an excitatory neurotransmitter. Glutamine, 1 gram 4-6 times daily between meals on an empty stomach, will stimulate the body’s natural opiates, the endorphins and enkephalins, to help us through the cravings.

3) Essential fatty acids (preferably Flax oil, cold, raw, 1 tablespoon daily) in combination with the sulfur proteins (foods with cysteine or methionine, such as yoghurt, eggs, codfish, sesame paste, garlic and onions) will render fat soluble toxins water soluble, allowing all the toxic wastes, which are preferentially stored in the body’s fat cells, to be flushed out via the kidneys and sweat glands.

4) Anything to enhance perspiration; rigorous exercise, Turkish wet steam, or Finnish style dry heat sauna. Make sure to scrub down with a high-fat soap (such as Neutrogena) after sweating, to emulsify the fatty secretions and prevent their re-absorption.

5) Liquid aqueous chromium drops are extremely helpful in reducing sugar cravings. This is because the trivalent mineral chromium is the central molecule in the Glucose Tolerance Factor, which allows insulin to deliver glucose from the blood stream into the cells. Without chromium, the insulin cannot do its job and sugar will build up in high levels in the blood, then flood precipitously into the cells causing the dramatic rollercoaster ride of “sugar blues.”

6) There are a number of natural substances to help with sleep and depression, including the amino acids tyrosine, phenylalanine, tryptophan (the precursor to serotonin) and the vitamin niacinamide. From the botanical pharmacy we have Valerian, Scutellaria (Skullcap), Passiflora (Passion lower), Chamomile and many others.

7) Many people are helped enormously by acupuncture, especially for getting off nicotine and street drugs. Acupuncture detox clinics using a simple “5 needle protocol” in specific acupoints (Spirit Gate, Lung, Liver, Kidney and Parasympathetic) in both ears are so successful that state governments have become involved. Seattle King County medical insurance will now re-imburse for acupuncture treatments for addicts. In Oregon, heroin addicts MUST try acupuncture before getting methadone.

Whether you go the route of stimulate the natural endorphins or 12-step meetings, the bottom line is commitment to self. Cold turkey off anything is usually the least painful in the long run — but please prepare yourself. Prepare for the demons who will emerge. Prepare to negotiate with them and bring them around to your best interest. Set a date; tell your friends; locate support groups in your area; stock up the pantry with fresh healthy snacks; invest in a consultation or two with your local holistic health practitioner to get some high quality supplements. Ask your doctor or therapist to help guide you through a visualization of a shiny clean new you. No one is pretending it’s easy; but it’s certainly worth it.



Should Smokers Quit Abruptly or Gradually?.

Quit rates are roughly the same, and relatively poor, with both approaches.
The main approaches to quitting smoking are abrupt cessation (sometimes called “cold turkey”) and gradual reduction of smoking before quitting. U.S. clinical practice guidelines, as well as pharmaceutical labels required by the U.S. FDA, strongly imply that smokers should try to quit smoking abruptly as part of various quit regimens. However, some smokers prefer to gradually decrease their nicotine intake. In a Cochrane review of 10 randomized controlled trials conducted in various clinical settings in several countries, researchers assessed quit rates at least 6 months postintervention (gradual reduction or abrupt cessation) in 3760 smokers who wanted to quit smoking. Smoking status was verified biologically in 7 studies.

Quit rates were 14% to 15%, regardless of cessation approach. The success of either approach did not differ in studies that incorporated nicotine replacement, self-help methods, or behavioral support.


In this meta-analysis, quit rates were similar for abrupt cessation and gradual reduction of smoking before quitting. These results suggest that clinicians can work with patients who want to quit smoking to identify which approach they prefer, as part of a comprehensive smoking cessation program. Clinical practice guidelines in the U.S. favor abrupt cessation, but those in the U.K. and Australia already incorporate this flexibility.

Source: NEJM