In this article, I will discuss how to stop alcohol cravings by taking L-glutamine, which is an amino acid supplement that you can get inexpensively.
When I quit drinking, I experienced alcohol cravings that lasted for many months. They were often so bad that I’d get up in the middle of the night and eat whatever I could find in my kitchen – potato chips, pints of ice cream, even spoonfuls of jelly – to keep myself from thinking about alcohol.
Knowing what I now know about the power of L-glutamine to stop alcohol cravings, it’s frustrating for me to think about how easy it might have been for me to solve this problem! Ultimately, I did discover L-glutamine during post-acute withdrawal – but much later than I should have.
After reading this article, you’ll know how stop to alcohol cravings and start the process of body repair much quicker than I did.
Overview of L-Glutamine
Before we discuss how to stop alcohol cravings with L-glutamine, we will review the various functions of this amino acid and its many benefits for people in alcohol recovery.
L-glutamine is a conditionally essential amino acid. This means that your body can produce L-glutamine on its own, but because such large amounts are required during times of stress and disease, supplementation is often recommended to avoid deficiency.
Chronic alcohol exposure severely depletes levels of L-glutamine through several different mechanisms:
- Alcoholics derive more calories from alcohol instead of foods rich in L-glutamine
- Alcohol inhibits L-glutamine synthesis at the cellular level
- Alcohol flushes out nutrients like L-glutamine because it is a diuretic
- Alcohol damages the gut, preventing proper absorption of L-glutamine
The primary reason that L-glutamine can be used to stop alcohol cravings is that it can be converted into glucose for the brain without raising insulin levels.
The problem with relying on sugar to quench alcohol cravings is that sugar prompts the release of insulin, which robs the bloodstream of sugar and leads to escalating sugar and/or alcohol cravings.
This vicious cycle can lead to alcohol relapse along with diseases like diabetes and cancer.
It’s important to understand that alcohol is a highly refined sugar. The alcoholic brain craves alcohol because it “knows” three things very well:
- Alcohol is absorbed through the stomach lining much faster than other calories
- Alcohol provides energy for the brain despite its toxic effects
- Alcohol keeps the brain’s calming chemicals in check and prevents hyper-excitability
The alcoholic brain therefore prefers alcohol to other forms of calories. In the absence of alcohol, however, the brain will settle for the temporary satisfaction of a sugar high.
It’s not a coincidence that people who stop drinking tend to consume large amounts of soda, candy, or other sweets in a subconscious attempt to keep their cravings for alcohol at bay.
By consuming L-glutamine, many people can eliminate alcohol cravings while avoiding the roller coaster of hypoglycemia that so many alcoholics succumb to.
Moreover, supplementing with L-glutamine offers a host of other benefits for people in alcohol recovery:
We will now proceed to discuss some of the mechanisms by which L-glutamine helps to stop alcohol cravings and aids in biochemical repair after quitting drinking.
As we already discussed, L-glutamine can be converted into glucose without causing a spike in insulin levels. It can therefore be used to fuel brain cells and reduce alcohol and sugar cravings.
Technically, L-glutamine is first converted in the kidneys into glutamic acid, which is then converted into glucose in the brain.
Glutamic acid performs two other functions that can enhance alcohol detox:
Note: More L-glutamine does NOT necessarily equal higher levels of glutamate, which is a neurotransmitter suppressed by alcohol and which rebounds to dangerous levels during alcohol withdrawal syndrome.
I will try my best here to shed some light on the intricate relationship between L-glutamine, glutamic acid, and the excitatory neurotransmitter known as glutamate:
- Glutamic acid is a building block of both GABA and glutamate – respectively, the brain’s primary calming chemical and a stress chemical that is also required in balanced levels.
- Glutamic acid converts first into glutamate and then into GABA, given adequate levels of vitamin B6 and magnesium.
- L-glutamine will be used to restore GABA levels in the case of alcohol cravings, as it will be used to manufacture whichever neurotransmitter is too low.
While the above is a bit complex, the key points to take away from this section are that:
- L-glutamine satisfies the brain’s need for glucose, stopping alcohol and sugar cravings
- L-glutamine helps to facilitate detoxification via its effects on ammonia and glutathione
- L-glutamine helps to create a feeling of calm by increasing GABA activity
This does not mean that L-glutamine is enough by itself to combat serious alcohol withdrawal symptoms. In order to prevent seizures in severe alcoholics, medications like Ativan must be used.
The bottom line is that many people who have quit drinking and are experiencing post-acute withdrawal symptoms will be able to reduce alcohol cravings right away by taking L-glutamine!
Because of biochemical individuality, it’s important to determine your level of tolerance for L-glutamine before you take large doses of this amino acid.
People who use L-glutamine to stop alcohol cravings often begin with 1,000 mg and take up to 2,000 mg or more per day until the cravings stop.
Some people have even used up to 5,000 mg per day, but care should be taken to avoid side effects.
While L-glutamine is very safe, side effects from consuming too much L-glutamine can include headaches, nausea, and sweating. These side effects can be mitigated by beginning with a low dose and working your way up to an effective dose.
While I haven’t had alcohol cravings in years, I still take L-glutamine during periods of hard training to help my body repair from workouts.
I’ve experienced great results, including mood improvements, when I take NOW L-Glutamine.
It’s pretty amazing that you can put an end to your sudden alcohol cravings with a supplement that’s so cheap!
You can also up your intake of L-glutamine by eating foods like meat, beans, cabbage, and leafy green vegetables like parsley and spinach. However, these sources will not give you enough L-glutamine to stop alcohol cravings that come on suddenly.
A we will discuss, however, learning how to stop alcohol cravings naturally is just the first step toward repairing your brain-body system and transcending addiction forever.
Much of what we know about the relationship between L-glutamine and alcohol cravings is based on anecdotal evidence from people who have used L-glutamine themselves to eliminate cravings.
However, several scientific studies support the use of glutamine to stop alcohol cravings as well as sugar cravings:
- In a 1957 study published in the Quarterly Journal of Studies on Alcohol, alcoholics receiving at least 5,000 milligrams of L-glutamine stopped having alcohol cravings while alcoholics who received a placebo continued to suffer from cravings (source)
- In a study of alcoholics, L-glutamine along with two other amino acids (D-phenylalanine and 5-HTP) alleviated alcohol withdrawal symptoms including alcohol cravings (source)
- In a 1955 study of alcoholic rats, L-glutamine supplementation reduced alcohol consumption by 35% (source)
- In a 1998 study of alcoholic rats, L-glutamine injections reduced alcohol consumption significantly (source)
- In a study of mice with hypoglycemia, L-glutamine proved superior to glucose for eliminating sugar cravings (source)
- L-glutamine suppresses pro-inflammatory signaling pathways in the gut, which may help to account for its efficacy in treating leaky gut (source)
The following passage was written by Joan Matthews Larson, who operates a clinic in Minnesota that has successfully treated thousands of alcoholics with nutritional repair:
I have noticed that HRC clients complain of a return of cravings within forty-eight hours when they neglect to refill their glutamine supplies. You can quench a sudden desire for alcohol by opening a 500-milligram glutamine capsule and letting it dissolve in your mouth. (Substances placed under the tongue are absorbed directly into the bloodstream immediately.) Glutamine is one of our clients’ favorite nutrients. (source)
Chris Scott’s Tip – Combine L-Glutamine With Calm Support
In addition to taking L-glutamine, you can reduce your cravings and begin to repair your body from toxic alcohol by taking an ingenious supplement called Calm Support.
Calm Support contains high quality nutrients and herbs that are very effective for alcohol cravings.
These ingredients cost a lot of money when purchased separately, and I discuss many of them in my article on the best supplements for alcohol detox and recovery:
A number of my coaching clients have been able to quit drinking with the help of L-glutamine and the ingredients in Calm Support!
You are what you consume, and it’s very important to have your nutritional bases covered so that your other strategies for recovery can be given a chance to work.
Chronic alcohol use damages the lining of the stomach and intestines, leading to problems absorbing nutrients including L-glutamine. It can take weeks or months for an alcoholic to restore gut health, even with a proper diet and nutritional supplementation.
While L-glutamine itself can help to repair the gut lining for alcoholics, I highly recommend taking probiotics (“good bacteria” that dwell in your gut) and digestive enzymes. These will help to restore balance to your gut and increase the absorption of everything you consume.
You can find digestive enzymes and probiotic supplements on Amazon or in your local grocery store. You can also help to repair your digestive system by consuming the following foods:
If you take L-glutamine along with Calm Support and integrate some of the above recommendations to repair your gut health, then you’ll be well on your way to enabling your brain-body system to enjoy life without alcohol!
The following resources can also help you a TON on your mission of self-discovery without alcohol:
- Top 10 Ways Exercise Rewires Your Brain
- How To End Alcohol Withdrawal Insomnia
- How To Have Fun Without Alcohol At Dinners, Parties, and Weddings
- Kratom And Alcohol – Everything You Need To Know
I hope this article has provided you with useful information on how to stop alcohol cravings, and especially on how to use L-glutamine to take your alcohol recovery to the next level!
If you have any questions about how to stop alcohol cravings, please post them in the comment box below.