In this article, I’m going to discuss the best alcohol withdrawal vitamins. We will review a number of highly effective supplements for alcoholics that include many basic vitamins and go well beyond them.
Years ago, I had alcohol cravings that were so bad that I wondered if they would be a permanent part of my life. I began to research natural supplements for alcohol withdrawal.
I discovered that quality supplements can significantly alleviate alcohol withdrawal.
I read every book that I could find on the subject of alcohol withdrawal supplements. I experimented with dozens of supplements for alcohol withdrawal, most of them ordered from reputable companies through Amazon.com. I did all of this while training clients in the gym who were unaware of this real passion, but who often benefited from my newfound expertise in nutrition and mental health.
Acute alcohol withdrawal occurs when alcoholics stop drinking. Symptoms can include:
- Intense anxiety (for me, a sense of impending doom)
- Intense insomnia
- Crippling depression
- Seizures (in extreme cases)
While acute alcohol withdrawal typically ends within a week, post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) can last for up to a year. Symptoms are typically less extreme variations of acute withdrawal symptoms:
- General anxiety and depression
- Lack of motivation (or a sense of blah!)
- Mood swings
- Inability to focus
These symptoms often lead alcoholics right back to the bottle. Through independent research, I have identified a number of supplements for alcohol detox and withdrawal that actually work to relieve these symptoms.
Whether you’ve just quit drinking or you’re struggling with symptoms of PAWS, this list of supplements and vitamins for alcohol withdrawal can seriously change your life for the better.
- Why Do We Need Supplements For Alcohol Withdrawal?
- Top 20 Supplements for Detox and Recovery
- 1. Multi-Nutrient Support Formulas
- 2. B-Vitamins
- 3. Vitamin C
- 4. Vitamin D3
- 5. Magnesium Citrate
- 6. Omega-3 Oil
- 7. L-Glutamine
- 8. L-Tyrosine
- 9. DL-Phenylalanine (DLPA)
- 10. 5-HTP
- 11. SAM-e
- 12. Hemp-Derived CBD
- 13. DHM (dihydromyricetin)
- 14. PPC (Phosphatidylcholine)
- 15. Ashwagandha
- 16. N-acetyl Cysteine (NAC)
- 17. Milk Thistle
- 18. L-Theanine
- 19. Mucuna Pruriens
- 20. Passion Flower
- Scientific Research
- A Few Words About Benzodiazepines
Why Do We Need Supplements For Alcohol Withdrawal?
Because alcohol depletes so many important nutrients from the body, the root causes of alcohol withdrawal symptoms are often nutrient deficiencies that have built up over time.
Many people suffer needlessly and even relapse because they do not know about the benefits of even the most rudimentary vitamins for alcohol withdrawal. No amount of positive thinking, group therapy, or spiritual guidance can help when the cause of your problem is physiological.
Unfortunately, the average multivitamin is not enough to put an end to alcohol withdrawals. I found relief over time, gradually, and I tried many supplements that did not work. The process was worthwhile because every now and then, I would discover a miracle supplement that would catapult my sense of well-being to new heights.
Supplements for alcohol detox and recovery fall into six categories:
- Anti-anxiety agents
- EFAs (essential fatty acids)
- Amino Acids
Rest assured that there are compounds from each of these categories that work incredibly well for alleviating alcohol withdrawals and restoring healthy body chemistry.
These supplements do not need to be taken indefinitely.
In my experience, my nutritional deficiencies were resolved after one to three months of supplementation.
Whether you’ve suffered from alcohol withdrawals or you’re trying to help someone else, you’ll want to become familiar with the alcohol withdrawal vitamins and supplements listed below.
For a basic understanding of how nutrient repair for alcohol addiction works, check out my in-depth video below and be sure to read the rest of this article!
Top 20 Supplements for Detox and Recovery
1. Multi-Nutrient Support Formulas
There are exciting new supplements that can be used for alcohol recovery, including one from a company called Calm Support (you can read my review here). I’m so enthusiastic about Calm Support because it contains a highly effective combination of alcohol withdrawal vitamins and organic herbs, many of which I’ve already written about:
Years ago, I wrote about the benefits of magnesium and mucuna pruriens for alcohol withdrawal and PAWS. This supplement contains both of them and much more. I wish that Calm Support had been available when I quit drinking.
Calm Support can provide relief if you fall into one of the following categories:
- You are trying to quit drinking
- You have just finished detoxing from alcohol
- You have already quit drinking and are struggling with post-acute withdrawal symptoms
You can learn more in my review on Calm Support.
To make a long story short, the B-vitamins are the quintessential alcohol withdrawal vitamins. The brain and nervous system cannot function properly without B-vitamins.
Some of the most important alcohol withdrawal vitamins are niacin (B3), thiamine (B1), pyridoxine (b6), and folic acid. These are contained in Calm Support, and you can also get them from a quality B-Complex supplement.
Symptoms of B-vitamin deficiencies include:
- Nervous exhaustion
- Loss of libido
As you can see, depletion of B-vitamins can have devastating consequences!
3. Vitamin C
Even at doses of up to 125 grams per dose (a lot!), vitamin C is nontoxic. One of the most important alcohol withdrawal vitamins, it helps to repair every cell in the human body.
I did not take vitamin C on its own when I had alcohol withdrawals, and this was a mistake. I have friends who swear by Ester-C, which is very well absorbed and contains 1,000 mg of vitamin C. If I were looking for alcohol withdrawal vitamins today, I would add an extra dose of vitamin C into my regimen.
Update: Since writing this article, I have tried liposomal vitamin C and was able to stomach 5 grams without any intestinal discomfort! Liposomal nutrients are very well-absorbed and bioavailable, and this is a great option for anyone with a sensitive stomach.
4. Vitamin D3
Vitamin D3 is actually a steroid hormone used in a large number of bodily processes. It has been shown to be depleted severely in people with alcoholism. Supplementation with vitamin D3 relieves fatigue and stress, which are two huge symptoms of protracted alcohol withdrawal.
For alcoholics, vitamin D3 deficiency is often a root cause of depression that lingers for months or even years after acute withdrawal. This was the case for me!
Vitamin D3 was one of the most effective alcohol withdrawal vitamins I took. The sun did not trigger enough production of this vitamin because I always wore sunscreen, which blocks this natural process. A day after I began taking it, I had a brighter outlook and suddenly realized that my mood was no longer at the mercy of the weather.
5. Magnesium Citrate
This mineral is necessary for activation of over 300 enzymes throughout the body. Because modern soil is depleted of magnesium, most people’s bodies are depleted as well. And because just one drink causes us to excrete 170% more magnesium than usual, alcoholics are extremely deficient in magnesium.
Supplementation with magnesium can repair nervous system functioning, support energy production, and alleviate anxiety and insomnia.
When I began taking epsom salt baths and supplementing with magnesium, I felt more relaxed within 30 minutes and had the best sleep I’d had in years.
The type of magnesium that you take matters! Magnesium oxide, typically found in stores, is likely to pass through your system or even cause diarrhea. The most well-absorbed types are magnesium citrate, taurate, and gluconate.
Experts used to advise people to take magnesium with calcium, but recent research has indicated that calcium supplementation poses cardiovascular risks. (source)
6. Omega-3 Oil
Alcoholics benefit from omega-3 supplementation because the brain immediately seizes it to regenerate its own tissue. It also supports nervous system functioning. When I was suffering from alcohol withdrawals, omega-3 oil noticeably improved my mood.
Common vegetable oils contain large amounts of omega-6 fats. The proper ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 is thought to be around 3:1, but most Americans consume about 30:1!
The best sources of omega-3 fats are fish oil or krill oil that have over 200 mg each of EPA and DHA and which do not contain added filler oils. While krill oil might be superior because it contains an antioxidant called astaxanthin that combats free radicals in the body, most research to date has been done on fish oil, which has given me extraordinary results.
This is one of the few supplements I still take on a daily basis (and I take double the recommended dosage).
Many people have used this amino acid to combat alcohol cravings instantly. Because l-glutamine is a precursor for GABA, it can also alleviate anxiety and promote restful sleep.
There’s more glutamine in your blood than any other amino acid, and while it is produced in your body, it is depleted by stress and alcohol consumption. I used glutamine for several weeks to help with alcohol withdrawals, with a noticeable reduction of alcohol cravings.
This amino acid is a building block of catecholamines, which include dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine. All of these neurotransmitters are depleted by chronic alcohol consumption.
Because the catecholamines are responsible for feelings of energy and motivation, L-Tyrosine has an antidepressant effect. It can help people whose withdrawal symptoms include lethargy and depression.
I’ve used L-Tyrosine on and off for the past two years, with great results. It’s helped me curb my excessive coffee consumption and feel more motivated during the day.
Note: If you feel irritable after taking L-Tyrosine, stop taking it. You may respond better to DLPA (see below).
9. DL-Phenylalanine (DLPA)
This amazing supplement is a combination of two amino acids, D-Phenylalanine and L-Phenylalanine.
D-Phenylalanine can restore natural endorphins, which are the brain’s natural stress relief chemicals. L-Phenylalanine is a precursor to dopamine and other catecholamines, which are neurotransmitters that provide a sense of motivation and reward.
DLPA has the unique ability to simultaneously alleviate pain and enhance motivation. As an amino acid precursor to natural chemicals made by your body, it is not a drug, and it does not have addictive potential.
DLPA is one of my “miracle supplements” that helped me finally stop missing alcohol and thoroughly enjoying life without drinking. And I’m not alone in holding DLPA in such high regard – check out this email from one of my coaching clients, who has since conquered post-acute withdrawal:
Tryptophan is an amino acid that your body uses to replenish its natural supply of serotonin. It is converted into 5-HTP before it is converted into serotonin.
Alcoholics tend to be deficient in serotonin, which is necessary for relaxation, sleep, and a positive mood. Both 5-HTP and tryptophan have been shown to resolve anxiety, insomnia, and depression for alcoholics going through withdrawal.
Some people respond better to tryptophan, while others respond better to 5-HTP. These supplements should not be combined. I’m recommending 5-HTP because I personally got more benefit than I did from tryptophan.
Unlike antidepressants that simply block the reuptake of serotonin molecules, artificially increasing the concentration of serotonin in your brain, 5-HTP replenishes your supply of serotonin.
These supplements require Vitamin B6 in order to be converted into serotonin, so be sure to take them with a multivitamin or B-Complex.
SAM-e is a natural compound that helps to regulate hormones and neurotransmitters and even facilitates the maintenance of cell membranes.
SAM-e boosts the production of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. These neurotransmitters are depleted by heavy, long-term alcohol consumption. In addition to balancing the brain, SAM-e has been shown in studies to help repair liver damage.
Clinical trials have shown that SAM-e is as effective as prescription antidepressants, with fewer side effects. This makes SAM-e a good option if alcohol withdrawal is causing depression. (source)
12. Hemp-Derived CBD
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a natural compound found in industrial hemp. It does not contain THC, will not get you high, and is currently regarded as legal in all 50 states.
In a 2018 study, alcoholic rats given a non-THC version of CBD oil reduced their alcohol-seeking behaviors and prevented high impulsivity often seen with alcohol withdrawal. A 1-week administration of CBD oil produced these effects for 5 months, even though CBD itself left their systems after 3 days. (source)
CBD is known to reduce the presence of pro-inflammatory compounds in the body and brain, removing a major roadblock for the production of feel-good brain chemicals.
There are many exciting anecdotal reports about the use of CBD for alcohol withdrawal, but more studies are needed before we can say that CBD has proven benefits for people struggling with alcohol addiction. With that said, CBD is an absolute favorite of my private coaching clients.
13. DHM (dihydromyricetin)
DHM is a flavonoid found in the fruit of the oriental raisin tree (hovenia dulcis). Recent studies have found that DHM can effectively treat symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, largely by blocking alcohol’s effects on GABA receptors.
DHM is most widely used as a hangover cure. Research suggests that this herb reduces inflammation throughout the body and directly neutralizing alcohol’s toxic byproducts, including acetaldehyde. This can be just as useful for someone trying to taper off of alcohol as for someone who parties too much!
In addition to enhancing alcohol clearance and alcohol metabolic enzymes, DHM has a direct and complex interaction with GABA-A receptors that likely accounts for many of its anti-alcohol effects. (source)
14. PPC (Phosphatidylcholine)
PPC is a precursor for a brain chemical called acetylcholine, and it is also involved in the production of cell membranes. PPC can be very useful for people who want to support both their liver health and cognitive function.
PPC is widely used in treatment of alcohol liver diseases and liver diseases of other origins. Studies show that PPC improves liver function within a few weeks and protects against alcohol-related liver disease. (source)
This herb is an adaptogen that helps to restore both adrenal and thyroid function.Adaptogens can help to fix chemical imbalances and can either make you feel more relaxed or more energetic, depending on your particular imbalance.
Ashwagandha contains antioxidants and natural compounds that can help balance hormone levels, which tend to be majorly out of sorts for chronic drinkers.
Ashwagandha was yet another “miracle supplement” for me. I thought at one point during PAWS that I would need a benzodiazepine to feel calm.
After trying ashwagandha and feeling refreshed almost immediately, I realized that the source of my anxiety was probably a minor thyroid or adrenal imbalance.
16. N-acetyl Cysteine (NAC)
NAC is an amino acid derivative that restores levels of glutathione, which is the liver’s natural detoxifying antioxidant. It has been shown to combat the negative effects of alcoholism by regulating genes that control inflammation.
NAC is so safe and powerful that it is routinely used in ER’s to reverse liver damage from Tylenol overdoses. Many people also report that it instantly alleviates their anxiety and helps them sleep more easily.
I used NAC primarily as a treatment for anxiety with good results. Because alcohol damages the liver, NAC should be considered by anyone who has had a problem with alcohol.
17. Milk Thistle
This herb is so effective for liver detoxification that it is used in ERs to treat mushroom poisoning. Among its many benefits, it contains sylymarin and sylibin, antioxidants which increase production of glutathione, the liver’s own detoxifying compound.
It’s impossible to feel high on life when your liver is not functioning properly.
Milk thistle has also been shown to regenerate liver tissue in alcoholics. If you drank enough to harm your liver, this herb is a must-have. I actually began taking milk thistle a year before I quit drinking, and it might have saved me from irreparable liver damage.
L-theanine is a natural amino acid found in green tea that is responsible for its relaxing effects. I used l-theanine to achieve a sense of calm during PAWS, and many people have used it during acute withdrawal.
L-theanine has a similar structure as glutamate, which is a stress chemical found in the brain. Because alcohol suppresses glutamate, alcoholics experience a surge of glutamate several hours after their last drink. When l-theanine is consumed, it plugs the glutamate receptors, preventing the stress chemical from wreaking havoc!
There is also evidence that l-theanine helps release GABA, which is a calming neurotransmitter whose depletion plays a huge role in alcohol withdrawals.
19. Mucuna Pruriens
Also known as velvet bean, this herb is a natural source of L-Dopa, which is a precursor to dopamine. Mucuna pruriens also contains antioxidants that work synergistically with L-Dopa to create an enhanced sense of well-being.
Alcoholics tend to have depleted their supply of dopamine, which is an excitatory neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of motivation, stimulation, and reward.
Symptoms of low dopamine include feeling “blah,” feeling unmotivated or depressed, and even having trouble sleeping. Before I discovered mucuna pruriens (about 10 months after I quit drinking), I felt like I was living in a sad, black and white movie. The herb actually saved me from giving up on this website!
20. Passion Flower
This herb has long been prized for its ability to reduces anxiety, insomnia, and even inflammation. One study even found it to be as effective at reducing anxiety as benzodiazepines! (source)
I used passion flower after quitting alcohol to help me sleep, with great results. If I take too much, it can make me feel groggy the next morning. However, I felt significantly more groggy after my experiments with melatonin and valerian root.
Although I originally used a non-alcoholic glycerine extract, I’ve since switched to capsules with great results. I only use this herb when I have trouble sleeping – it works very reliably.
Research has shown that there are major benefits to using alcohol withdrawal vitamins and other supplements:
There are few studies on the results of using herbs for alcohol withdrawals and recovery. I can vouch for their efficacy, as can many other people. More research is clearly needed!
2021 Update: The past few years have brought the research I called for years ago, with studies now vindicating CBD, DHM, and milk thistle.
A Few Words About Benzodiazepines
Benzodiazepines are anti-anxiety and anti-convulsant drugs that must be prescribed by doctors. They are often a necessary part of detox for people who have been drinking very heavily for months or years.
Benzodiazepines activate a neurotransmitter called GABA (gamma amino butyric acid), preventing seizures that can arise as fatal complications of alcohol withdrawals.
Commonly prescribed benzodiazepines for alcohol withdrawal include:
I mention benzodiazepines here for three reasons:
- Ativan saved me from potentially life-threatening withdrawals
- I easily tapered off of Ativan under a doctor’s supervision
- You may be able to obtain a prescription to detox without expensive treatment
I hope that this article helps you find relief from your detox symptoms much faster than I did. There are some other effective natural alcohol detox supplements that I don’t have room to include here, so please subscribe and stay tuned for future articles.
As you can see, I have personally researched and taken everything on this list. Alcohol addiction is not an emotional problem; it is a biochemical disorder that can be addressed and resolved.
People often ask me if I still take all of the supplements I’ve written about. The answer is that I only take supplements as needed. I have a medicine cabinet filled with the aforementioned supplements, and it feels good to know that I have them just in case I need them.
Sometimes, I’ll take passion flower or L-theanine to help me get to sleep. Other times, I’ll take ashwagandha or rhodiola rosea to help balance my system during a stressful day. I’ve found that if I need an extra mental boost to stay up and finish some work, mucuna pruriens does the trick.
Everyone’s biochemistry is different. I know which supplements work for me as tools, buffers, or lines of defense against stress, insomnia, and poor health. Figuring out which ones worked best for me was an empowering process of self-discovery, and the same will be true for you.
I often take DLPA before busy mornings – it is probably my favorite supplement on this list. One of my coaching clients recently told me that this amino acid worked instantly for him, staving off a panic attack at work. (He’s been conquering post-acute withdrawal for four months now and I couldn’t be more proud of him.)
If you have any questions about alcohol withdrawal vitamins or supplements, please post them in the comment box below.