The Role of Amino Acids in Alcohol Detox

Taking amino acids is a very good idea for alcoholics who wish to detox. They’re known to make it easier for your body to break down alcohol, which can give you reduced hangovers. At the same time, however, drinking regularly can cause amino acid irregularities to occur. Getting your amino acids back in line is definitely something that you’ll want to tackle as you go through the detoxification process. 

How Alcohol Affects Amino Acids

Your body needs amino acids to properly function. Unfortunately, the amino acids in your liver – along with your other organs – can go through a marked change as you abuse alcohol. This can lead to issues such as hepatic encephalopathy, which is a nervous system disorder that affects the brain. Getting your body back to its normal state will take some time and work, but it is possible.  

How Amino Acid Therapy Helps Treat Alcoholism 

When you drink alcohol regularly, it begins to interrupt your neurotransmitters. This means that your brain will no longer be able to produce dopamine, and you’ll be left needing to drink in order to feel good. Of course, this won’t last, which will leave you in a much worse state than when you first started. 

Amino acid therapy can balance your neurotransmitters, and this will lead to the production of dopamine again. This allows you to experience an improved mood, a new sense of well-being, and the ability to feel pleasure again. In other words, taking amino acids for detox is one of the best things that you can do. 

Try These Fatty Acids & Amino Acids for Alcohol Detox 

1. Omega-3 Oil

Alcoholics benefit from omega-3 (a fatty acid) supplementation because the brain immediately seizes it to regenerate its own tissue. It also supports nervous system functioning. When I was suffering from alcohol withdrawal, 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).

2. L-Glutamine

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.

3. L-Tyrosine

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 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).

4. 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:

alcohol withdrawal vitamins

5. 5-HTP

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.

6. 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 ERs 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.

Note: In 2021, the FDA announced its intention to restrict NAC for reasons related to the pandemic. It may be very difficult to find, but liposomal glutathione (a compound for which NAC is a precursor) is a good substitute.

7. L-Theanine

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.

The Takeaways

As you can see, fatty acids and amino acids are essential building blocks for your health. As you recover from alcoholism, your body will naturally begin allowing your organs to absorb more of each amino acid. In turn, this will make you feel much better and improve your overall health. Fit Recovery understands how difficult it can be to detox from alcohol. By taking our free 10-Day Alcohol Freedom Challenge, you can get better sleep, reduce your anxiety, improve your memory, feel less shaky, and get rid of your depression. All of this without being made to feel any shame, guilt, or blame. Join us today


  • Chris Scott

    Chris Scott founded Fit Recovery in 2014 to help people from around the world dominate alcohol dependence and rebuild their lives from scratch. A former investment banker, he recovered from alcohol dependence using cutting-edge methods that integrate nutrition, physiology, and behavioral change. Today, Chris is an Alcohol Recovery Coach and the creator of an online course called Total Alcohol Recovery 2.0.

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