1. johnpal716

    Dear Doc,
    About a month ago, I visited a naturalist to find some natural relief from the pretty relentless constipation from the Suboxone. Through the course of conversation some supplements were suggested to me that (I was told) would help my body recover from the “damage” I had done. Some of these things are: an “Adrenal Energy” supplement (from a bovine source), L-Tyrosine, and a “Lymph Cleanser”… also GABA for relaxation.
    While the supplements for my constipation are definitely working (some herbs and a wonderful magnesium drink powder called “Calm”) I am just in question in the first place of just how much damage I have done to my lymphatic system and adrenals. Some pretty surface research has told me that GABA does not cross the blood brain barrier. As for the Tyrosine I see it recommended in places on the internet, but am still unsure.
    Am I being scammed? Or rather, is someone who is severely misinformed trying to prescribe me things that I just don’t need? My drug use ran the gamut over the years (opiates, lots of ecstasy and cocaine) but I ended up on a significant amount of intranasal Oxycontin. Just from reading your blog I would think that if any specific supplements did any significant amount of help, it would have been mentioned at this point.
    John P.

  2. I can agree with your concern about amino acids being used as cures for addiction. I don’t know that they necessarily “cure” anything, but there are some that do seem to alleviate symptoms that might lead a person to use again. When I take Tyrosine I definitely feel an increase in mental clarity and when I D-Phenylalanine (hard to find since it usually comes a DL-Phenylalanine). But some of the others, not so much. But none would have served as a substitute for opiate cravings the way Suboxone does.
    The nutrients I do take are by IV. I do this a couple of times a month. This therapy is typically recommended for cancer patients or fibromyalgia patients. For the typical patient, I wouldn’t necessarily consider this is a “cure” either. Except in the issue of people like myself who had a particular type of bariatric surgery where the duodenum and upper jejunum are bypassed as well as reducing the stomach to the size of a thumb. In my case, it’s more of a matter of maintaining normalcy.
    What I noticed after the surgery, was that everyone I knew that had this type of surgery was developing problems. These include mood disorders, depression, alcoholism, substance abuse and suicide. And none of them had any history of problems before. When the phenomena was first noticed on a larger scale, many psychologists came out to say this was the result of deep-seated and unresolved emotional issues that had previously been treated by eating and after surgery, since they could no longer do this they turn to something else. They called this “addiction transfer” and would say this might be the result of disappointment that their life hadn’t become what they thought.
    But what I knew was that this just didn’t ring true. Everyone I talked to said “they felt different”, “anxious”, and “ill at ease”. But my friends that had different types of surgery (ie., lap band) never seemed to have these issues.
    My personal experience was recently confirmed by two studies (Dr. Wendy King and Magdalena Ostlund) where they show the risk of developing problems like I mentioned above actually QUADRUPLES when a person has a weight loss surgery that bypasses the intestines (ie .Roux-en-Y which is the most common and Duodenal Switch which is what Congressman Jesse Jackson had)…but no increase when they have restrictive procedures (such as lap band or sleeve gastrectomy). When you look at the primary function of the duodenum and jejunum which is absorption of nutrients, I could only conclude this had something to do with these problems.
    Dr. King came out and said flat out ‘addiction transfer’ in gastric bypass patients is a myth. Another finding of hers is that these problems don’t typically hit until about year 2 after surgery. If this was an emotional issue, you would expect to see it sooner rather than later.
    I think what’s going on is the people start experiencing neurological problems associated with nutrient deficiency. Many diseases previously only found in third-world countries are being diagnosed in gastric bypass patients. Now they even use the term ‘bariatric beriberi’. There is also pellagra, hypomagnesemia, pernicious anemia and B-12 deficiencies all whose deficiency symptoms include severe psychological and behavioral changes.
    When people feel bad or “off” and then find relief (albeit temporary) from alcohol, prescription drugs, or behaviors such as gambling or sex….the brain pretty quickly decides it would rather feel good rather than bad.
    So in that context, I think supplements can provide relief in that they can alleviate symptoms of nutrient deficiency that could otherwise leave a person vulnerable to addiction.
    To John P, there are some ‘naturalists’ that are basically just trying to sell expensive vitamins which you may not need. You’re research is correct, GABA doesn’t pass the blood-brain barrier to give you more GABA. But Tyrosine does provide some increase in clarity, similar to caffeine without the jitters and I am a huge fan of magnesium. But you need to make sure it isn’t Magnesium Oxide which is the most common and inexpensive form (but only about 4% absorbable). Look for chelated magnesium such as magnesium taurate or magnesium glycinate or liquid magnesium chloride solution. If you are deficient in magnesium, you can experience symptoms that mimic panic attack. Anxiety and insomnia are also symptoms. B-12 via IM injection or nasal spray is good too, especially if there is alcohol abuse involved which can deplete B vitamins. But “Lymph Cleanser” and “Adrenal Energy”? Also, you don’t need to spend a lot of money on these from the naturalist. Many of these can be purchased much less expensively online or your doctor can prescribe the B-12 (ask for methylcobalamin rather than cyanocobalamin).
    I don’t think nutrients are a cure per se, but I think they can be a tool in returning someone who is in poor health back to optimum health….and less susceptible to returning to old destructive behaviors.

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