Alcohol Withdrawal

Headache. Jitters. Upset stomach. Symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can be worse than a hangover—but help is available. According to research or other evidence, the following steps may be helpful.
Supplement Amount Why
Milk Thistle
420 to 600 mg of silymarin daily 3 stars [3 stars]
Though not a treatment for withdrawl symptoms, milk thistle extract is commonly recommended to counteract the harmful effects of alcohol on the liver, as this herb speeds the regeneration of injured liver cells.
Zinc
Take under medical supervision: 135 to 215 mg daily 2 stars [2 stars]
Supplementing with zinc may correct the deficiency common in alcoholic liver cirrhosis and may correct the impaired taste function that people with cirrhosis often experience.
Beta-Carotene
Refer to label instructions 1 star [1 star]
Though not a treatment for withdrawal, beta-carotene supplementation may be a safe way to correct vitamin A deficiencies common to alcoholics (requires a doctor’s supervision to monitor liver function and avoid damage).
D,L-Phenylalanine (DLPA)

(Food Allergies)
Refer to label instructions 1 star [1 star]
In double-blind research, alcoholics treated with DLPA (D,L-phenylalanine) combined with L-tyrosine, L-glutamine, prescription L-tryptophan, plus a multivitamin had reduced withdrawal symptoms and decreased stress.
Evening Primrose Oil
Refer to label instructions 1 star [1 star]
In a double-blind study of alcoholics in a detox program, supplementing with EPO led to greater improvement than did placebo in some parameters of liver function.
Glutamine
Refer to label instructions 1 star [1 star]
Animal and double-blind human research has shown that this amino acid reduces desire for alcohol and anxiety levels.
Kudzu
Refer to label instructions 1 star [1 star]
Traditional Chinese medicine, animal research, and some preliminary studies have found extracts of this herb may help reduce alcohol cravings, though some studies have not shown benefit.
L-Tyrosine, D,L-Phenylalanine (DLPA), L-Glutamine, L-Tryptophan, and a Multivitamin
Refer to label instructions 1 star [1 star]
In double-blind research, alcoholics treated with L-tyrosine combined with DLPA (D,L-phenylalanine), L-glutamine, prescription L-tryptophan, plus a multivitamin had reduced withdrawal symptoms and decreased stress.
Magnesium
Refer to label instructions 1 star [1 star]
Alcoholics are sometimes deficient in magnesium, and some researchers believe that symptoms of withdrawal may result in part from this deficiency.
Multivitamin
Refer to label instructions 1 star [1 star]
Because of multiple nutrient deficiencies associated with alcoholism, most alcoholics who quit drinking should take a high-potency multivitamin for at least several months after the detox period.
Vitamin A
Refer to label instructions 1 star [1 star]
Because of potential liver damage, correcting the vitamin A deficiency common to alcoholics requires a doctor’s supervision to monitor liver function.
Vitamin B1
Refer to label instructions 1 star [1 star]
Supplementing with vitamin B1 (thiamine) may prevent brain damage and nerve disorders in people with alcoholism, including those withdrawing from alcohol.
Vitamin B3 (Niacin)
Refer to label instructions 1 star [1 star]
Preliminary research has suggested that niacin may help wean some alcoholics away from alcohol. Niacinamide—a safer form of the same vitamin—might have similar actions.
Vitamin B6
Refer to label instructions 1 star [1 star]
Alcohol-related anxiety may be improved by a combination of vitamin B6, vitamin C, niacin, and vitamin E, though the high amounts of niacin and vitamin B6 used in the study need a doctor’s supervision.
Vitamin B-Complex
Refer to label instructions 1 star [1 star]
Research suggests it is possible that successful treatment of B-complex vitamin deficiencies may actually reduce alcohol cravings, because animals crave alcohol when fed a B-complex-deficient diet.
Vitamin C
Refer to label instructions 1 star [1 star]
Vitamin C appears to help the body rid itself of alcohol. Alcohol-related anxiety may also be improved by a combination of vitamin C, vitamin B6, niacin, and vitamin E, though the high amounts B vitamins studied need a doctor’s supervision.
Vitamin D
Refer to label instructions 1 star [1 star]
If deficient, supplementing with this vitamin may help prevent bone loss and muscle weakness.
Vitamin E
Refer to label instructions 1 star [1 star]
Alcohol-related anxiety may be improved by a combination of vitamin E, vitamin B6, niacin, and vitamin C, though the high amounts of niacin and vitamin B6 used in the study need a doctor’s supervision.
  • Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
  • Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
  • For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.

Our proprietary “Star-Rating” system was developed to help you easily understand the amount of scientific support behind each supplement in relation to a specific health condition. While there is no way to predict whether a vitamin, mineral, or herb will successfully treat or prevent associated health conditions, our unique ratings tell you how well these supplements are understood by some in the medical community, and whether studies have found them to be effective for other people.

For over a decade, our team has combed through thousands of research articles published in reputable journals. To help you make educated decisions, and to better understand controversial or confusing supplements, our medical experts have digested the science into these three easy-to-follow ratings. We hope this provides you with a helpful resource to make informed decisions towards your health and well-being.

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The information presented in Aisle7 is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires June 2015.