Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS

Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS

Award-winning nutritionist and New York Times bestselling author.

March 26, 2015

Rx for Recovery: Healing Substance Abuse with Nutrition

Discover how an amazing 15 ingredient “recipe” can radically transform your health.

The brain has the miraculous ability to reset itself.

The missing component from most substance abuse programs—whether it’s an addiction to caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, street drugs or prescription meds—is biochemical repair.

And in this day and age, FDA-approved prescription drugs have proven to be just as serious as their illegal counterparts.

In fact, prescription depressants, opioids and antidepressants are now responsible for more overdose deaths (45%) than cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and amphetamines (39%) combined (Foundation for a Drug-Free World, 2015).

While emotional and spiritual support is also necessary, you can be counseled until the cows come home, but this won’t correct the chemical imbalances caused by nutrient deficiencies that perpetuate the condition.

Sadly, what has been labeled “recovery” is simply the substitution of one addiction for another. Too often, detox involves weaning from the drug of choice but then getting on another drug or set of drugs which further complicates the biochemical imbalance.

The alcoholic who trades booze for caffeine and sugar isn’t recovered.

Though he no longer drinks alcohol, his body chemistry is totally out of whack.  Cravings for alcohol and the resulting mood swings and depression are likely to remain. In truth, you can claim to have overcome addiction only when you are no longer dependent upon ANY harmful substance.

Real recovery is about nourishing your body, freeing it from dependency upon drugs and other damaging substances—including sugar and caffeine—that can be addictive.

The negative mental state that gives rise to chemical dependency is itself brought on largely by nutritional deficiency, which is then deepened with drugs. Drug therapy for drug addiction may mask symptoms, but it doesn’t correct their cause.

Replacing missing nutrients can.

An amazingly effective approach to drug and alcohol rehabilitation is one that features nutritional supplements—vitamins, minerals, amino acids, herbs—along with a balanced, wholesome diet to hasten recovery.

Coupled with counseling, this is a truly holistic program that helps ease withdrawal symptoms and eliminate cravings. Super nutrition can help you or a loved one kick the habit, whether the addictive substance is alcohol, nicotine, sugar, caffeine, prescription drugs or heroin or crystal meth.

There are many substances that can help break addiction.

Here are my suggestions for the most effective program: 

Since there are over ten nutrient suggestions, you may wish to select those that are most appropriate for your condition and presenting symptoms.

High Protein, High Fat Diet

First and foremost, choose a high protein/high fat diet combined with specific amino acids that help to repair nerve synapse damage and provide a natural energy boost.

This approach is designed to increase blood and oxygen supply to the brain, stabilize blood sugar, and provide antioxidant protection.

Eliminate all sugars, soft drinks, processed carbs and reduce fruit consumption to 2 servings of low-fructose fruits per day (like berries).

Daily Exercise

Engage in 30 to 40 minutes daily to properly oxygenate the system with a combination that includes weight-bearing, stretching and cardiovascular activity.

Although I recommend that caffeine in the form of coffee drinking be relegated to one to two cups daily, I do recommend the use of coffee for a coffee enema to detoxify the body. The caffeine in the coffee stimulates the liver and colon and, absorbed into the portal system, coffee can help flush out the bile in the liver, lightening its toxic load.

The same results are not achieved by drinking coffee, due to chemical changes that occur in the stomach. To prepare the enema, boil four heaping tablespoons of ground coffee in two cups of water for ten minutes. Dilute with cold water to make 1 ½ to 2 quarts, and adjust the temperature as needed. Pour into an enema bag.

Nutrient Supplementation

In addition to a daily multi-vitamin and mineral supplement, do focus on the following elements which will supply the basis for rebuilding an exhausted but overstimulated body:

Adrenal Extract
Adrenal extract combats adrenal exhaustion caused by drugs, medications, caffeine, and alcohol. This kind of exhaustion is characterized by low blood sugar, fatigue, lethargy, depression, irritability, inability to concentrate, weakness, and poor appetite. I like a product that contains at least 30 – 100 mg of adrenal cortex like UNI KEY Adrenal Formula.

Magnesium helps eliminate muscle cramping and twitching. It is known to be a natural tranquilizer and muscle relaxant. I suggest 400 to 1200 mg Magnesium per day.

Dimethylglycine (DMG)
Dimethylglycine (DMG) is an amino acid derivative that improves oxygen utilization at the cellular level, combats fatigue, and increase endurance. Start with 250 to 500 mg daily in the morning.

L-Glutamine is the only amino acid substance, other than glucose, that can serve as fuel for the brain. This amino acid helps improve intelligence, fight fatigue and depression, and control cravings for sugar and alcohol. Can be taken between meals as instance brain fuel or before meals for instance energy. I like 3 grams of L-Glutamine powder at least three times per day.

Lecithin is a nutrient derived from non-GMO soy that contains choline from which the neurotransmitter acetylcholine is derived. Acetylcholine is responsible for nerve transmission, and it regulates the activity of the muscles, and is required for memory, appetite, sexual behavior, and the ability to sleep. I suggest 2 TBSP of powdered lecithin granules per day in smoothies or sprinkled on salads.

The amino acid phenylalanine is a precursor of tyrosine. It creates a natural feeling of well-being, aids in overcoming depression, increases mental alertness, improves memory, and helps suppress appetite. 500 to 1500 mg three times a day is the ideal amount especially for pain control.

The mineral selenium is an antioxidant that protects against free radicals. Its presence is required to activate vitamin E. Take 250 mcg daily.

Tyrosine is an amino acid that’s derived from phenylalanine, and is involved in the manufacture of adrenaline, noradrenaline, dopamine, and thyroid hormones. It also helps overcome depression, increase mental alertness, and improve memory. In a cocaine-detoxification program conducted at Columbia University in New York, investigators reported that 75 to 80 percent of those treated with tyrosine were able to stop cocaine use completely or decrease their use by at least 50 percent. I suggest up to 1,000 mg a day.

B Complex
A yeast-free methylated B complex vitamin contains a team that works together to help combat depression, fatigue, and weakness, and to defend the body against the ravages of stress.  I like at least 50 mg once or twice per day to help rebuild the nerves.

Vitamin C
Vitamin C is an important antioxidant that offsets free-radical damage and helps preserve the antioxidant nutrient vitamin E. It plays a key role in the production of neurotransmitters in the brain, helps soothe anxiety and insomnia, and supports the adrenal glands. I suggest 3 g of time-released vitamin C daily.

Vitamin E
Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that facilitates oxygen utilization, calms the nervous system, and restores function of a damaged liver. The recommended daily dosage is 400 IU.

L-Cysteine, a sulfur-containing amino acid, helps destroy harmful chemicals in the body, such as acetylaldehyde and the free radicals produced by smoking, drinking, and the body’s everyday metabolic processes. It protects the body against the effects of radiation, heavy metals, and other harmful substances. I recommend 600 mg daily.

Gotu Kola
Gotu kola is an herb that has sedative properties. It’s also a tonic herb that can strengthen and energize the brain. Research recommends 50 to 250 mg per day.

Passiflora (passionflower) is another sedative herb. One type of passionflower, Giant Granadilla, has been found to contain serotonin. It helps to calm the body by promoting transmission of subtle nerve impulses, and is useful in combating insomnia, nervous tension, fatigue, and muscle spasms. I suggest 90 mg daily.

Tryptophan helps to offset depression by increasing levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin. It has an anti-anxiety effect and helps combat insomnia. 5HTP is the precursor to tryptophan and can be taken once daily – 400 mg before bed.

With a well-rounded program that feeds the body, mind and spirit, substance abuse can be overcome, and recovery can become permanent.

Related Articles and Podcasts

Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS, is an award-winning New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty books including The Fat Flush Plan series and her latest book, Radical Metabolism. She’s been rewriting the rules of nutrition for more than 40 years and is internationally recognized as a pioneer in the field of diet, detox and women’s health issues. 

For a FREE daily dose of tips and strategies for maintaining healthy weight, conquering insomnia, and much more…check out my Radical Health Tips.

I’d like to meet and greet you on my Facebook groups, so won’t you check us out at the Radical Metabolism RevolutionFat Flush Nation, or my Inner Circle!


  1. Liz

    What an interesting blog. I’m so glad to have all the important nutrients listed with dosages.Thank you Ann Louise.

  2. Lauren Goldberg

    Thank you, Anne Louise!!! I have friends and family members who struggle with substances and often wished there was a list like this to help them through recovery. Now there just needs to be a compounded “formula” (or two) so that getting everything in the proper dosages could be easier for the recovering person to get together. There’s so much happening on so many levels for them and this list is might be daunting for the average person, let alone someone who is struggling to keep it together. Do you have any ideas or know of any possible solutions for that?

    • Team ALG

      Hi Lauren, recovery is undoubtedly daunting! The recommendation is to choose 3 remedies for the most 3 relevant symptoms/challenges. Use these for three weeks, then select another 3 to use for three weeks. Continue alternating in that manner as needed.

  3. Leslie

    It there a compounded formula that we can buy? Also the expense of all the supplements is quite a lot for me…could you point out the most important?

    thanks so much.

    • Team ALG

      Hi Leslie, Unfortunately it is impossible to make a blanket recommendation for everyone. Please select the remedy that seems most appropriate for your symptoms. Best wishes to you!

  4. Teresa Pfaff

    Hi Ann Louise. Thank you for this wonderful, informative, encouraging. non-judgemental and practical blog! I will pass it on to many people I know who will find it tremendously helpful.

  5. ally

    How long would these nutrients need to be taken for complete nerve regeneration?


    • Team ALG

      These remedies would be essential for as long as the symptoms persist, and as each one of us is unique and has our own challenges, it is impossible to say how long that might take. Best wishes to you!

  6. Yessi

    Ann Louise,
    I am always excited to try new supplements, although I try to get my vitamins and minerals through diet as much as I can. I know glutamine is abundant in foods, but I still feel a lot better with the additional glutamine supplement.

    However, taking selenium in a pill form was no comparison to eating 4 egg yolks a day to get my selenium.

    Also, I have read that synthetic vitamin E and tryptophan can be dangerous when taken as supplements. Do you have an opinion on this?

    • Team ALG

      Hi Yessi, It is most important to find quality supplements that are pharmaceutical grade, FDA compliant, and 3rd party tested for quality and purity. UNI KEY meets all of those standards, and that’s why Ann Louise trusts them as her resource for quality products. It can be quite challenging to get enough nutrients from diet alone- especially if one is following a therapeutic protocol. In many instances, egg yolk can evoke a food allergy response for sensitive individuals. Also, as we have learned more via CBS testing, sulfur can be as problematic as non-methylated B12 and folate for those with genetic deficiencies.

  7. david

    i’ve had trouble with insomnia for a long time and would love to get off the prescription drugs. will try supplements you suggest. thanks ann louise
    ps: i’m 72

    • Team ALG

      Magnesium should help, David. Try beginning with 400 mg before bed and working your way up to 1200 mg at the most (as per bowel tolerance).

  8. Rochelle

    Where can I find more information about the high protein/high fat diet?

    • Team ALG

      The Fat Flush Plan book by Ann Louise Gittleman is a great resource. She also has Super Nutrition For Men and Super Nutrition For Women

  9. Char

    How often do you recommend the coffee enema? Daily? Weekly? Bi-weekly?

    • Team ALG

      Weekly will suffice

  10. Lana

    Ann, I saw you on Know The Cause, which I try to watch daily. I started your alcohol supplement protocol last week. I started out with vitamin B Complex, Vitamin C, and tryptophan at night.. I have an addiction to wine. I’m ok until it comes to the evening. Is there something else I can take to relax me and help with insomnia. Thank you in advance.

    • Team ALG

      Lane, taking some GABA, 750 mg in the morning and evening before bed may help relax you.


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