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 Smithsonian.com. “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 Smithsonian.com.

The Most Horrifying Drug in the World Comes to the U.S.


Krokodil, a heroin-like drug that rots the skin, has been reported in Arizona

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A flesh-eating drug called Krokodil, because it makes user’s skin scaly and green before it rots away, has arrived on American soil. The Banner Poison Control center in Arizona has reported the first two users of the drug — which has been available in Russia for more than a decade — here in the U.S.

Krokodil most closely resembles morphine or heroin and is injected into the veins. It is made of codeine, a painkiller often used in cough syrup, and a mix of other materials including gasoline, paint thinner, and alcohol. It has become popular in Russia, where it was first reported in 2002, because it is cheap–it can cost 20 times less than heroin according to Gawker–and can be made easily at home.

“As far as I know, these are the first cases in the United States that are reported,” Dr. Frank LoVechhio, co-medical director at Banner Good Samaritan Poison and Drug Information Center in Arizona, told CBS 5. “So we’re extremely frightened.” The average life span of a Krokodil user is two to three years, according to a 2011 TIME investigation of the drug’s prevalence in Russia.

When it is injected, the drug rots the skin by rupturing blood vessels, causing the tissue to die. As a result, the skin hardens and rots, sometimes even falling off to expose the bone.  ”These people are the ultimate in self-destructive drug addiction,” Dr. Ellen Marmur, chief of dermatological and cosmetic surgery at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City told Fox News, “Once you are an addict at this level, any rational thinking doesn’t apply.”

Concurrent Naltrexone and Prolonged Exposure Therapy for Patients With Comorbid Alcohol Dependence and PTSDA Randomized Clinical Trial.


Importance   Alcohol dependence comorbid with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has been found to be resistant to treatment. In addition, there is a concern that prolonged exposure therapy for PTSD may exacerbate alcohol use.

Objective   To compare the efficacy of an evidence-based treatment for alcohol dependence (naltrexone) plus an evidence-based treatment for PTSD (prolonged exposure therapy), their combination, and supportive counseling.

Design, Setting, and Participants   A single-blind, randomized clinical trial of 165 participants with PTSD and alcohol dependence conducted at the University of Pennsylvania and the Philadelphia Veterans Administration. Participant enrollment began on February 8, 2001, and ended on June 25, 2009. Data collection was completed on August 12, 2010.

Interventions   Participants were randomly assigned to (1) prolonged exposure therapy plus naltrexone (100 mg/d), (2) prolonged exposure therapy plus pill placebo, (3) supportive counseling plus naltrexone (100 mg/d), or (4) supportive counseling plus pill placebo. Prolonged exposure therapy was composed of 12 weekly 90-minute sessions followed by 6 biweekly sessions. All participants received supportive counseling.

Main Outcomes and Measures   The Timeline Follow-Back Interview and the PTSD Symptom Severity Interview were used to assess the percentage of days drinking alcohol and PTSD severity, respectively, and the Penn Alcohol Craving Scale was used to assess alcohol craving. Independent evaluations occurred prior to treatment (week 0), at posttreatment (week 24), and at 6 months after treatment discontinuation (week 52).

Results   Participants in all 4 treatment groups had large reductions in the percentage of days drinking (mean change, −63.9% [95% CI, −73.6% to −54.2%] for prolonged exposure therapy plus naltrexone; −63.9% [95% CI, −73.9% to −53.8%] for prolonged exposure therapy plus placebo; −69.9% [95% CI, −78.7% to −61.2%] for supportive counseling plus naltrexone; and −61.0% [95% CI, −68.9% to −53.0%] for supportive counseling plus placebo). However, those who received naltrexone had lower percentages of days drinking than those who received placebo (mean difference, 7.93%; P = .008). There was also a reduction in PTSD symptoms in all 4 groups, but the main effect of prolonged exposure therapy was not statistically significant. Six months after the end of treatment, participants in all 4 groups had increases in percentage of days drinking. However, those in the prolonged exposure therapy plus naltrexone group had the smallest increases.

Conclusions and Relevance   In this study of patients with alcohol dependence and PTSD, naltrexone treatment resulted in a decrease in the percentage of days drinking. Prolonged exposure therapy was not associated with an exacerbation of alcohol use disorder.

Source: JAMA

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.

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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.

Source: OasisAdvancedWellness.com