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NAD+: It’s Effective Use in Addicts and Addiction
By Dr. Erik Fleischman, Regenerative Medicine Specialist and Infectious Disease Specialist
Executive Medical Advisor of Siam Rehab Thailand
Early the 1940’s molecular scientists recognized the potential incredible health benefits of NAD (Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide). NAD is actually derived from Vitamin B3. They believed then what we know now: NAD is one of a handful of substances that can create tremendous improvement in cellular function, cellular health and cellular longevity. Since then, NAD+ and NADH has been purified into many different forms and has been used successfully in number of medical issues including Depression/Anxiety, Neurologic diseases (MS, Parkinson’s and Dementia), Liver Disease, Heart & Kidney Failure and Liver Disease.
So how does this fit in the treatment of Addiction and Alcoholism?
Actually, the biggest experience in treatment with NAD has been in patients undergoing treatment of Addiction. NAD has been touted as a method of calming anxiety, which in turn calms compulsive behavior—the bane of most addicts and alcoholics. It makes sense: less anxiety leads to less cravings and an opportunity for the addict to gain control of his or her urges and addictions.
Scientifically, however, there is so much more to the use of NAD in addiction treatment. As a Regenerative Medicine Specialist and a doctor with 25 years of experience in the treatment of addiction I believe NAD treatment is the fastest and most effective treatment for the issues of Mind and Body in addiction therapy. Here is the science behind NAD in addiction:
NAD is what we refer to as a Mitochondrial stimulation therapy. You may remember the word mitochondria from high school science! The mitochondria is the battery of every cell. When the mitochondria is fully charged, the cell is at its peak performance and can regenerate a perfect copy of a new cell when the cell’s life is over. Organs that work harder than others have more mitochondria—more battery power. This is particularly important in our organs that never sleep and never rest: The nervous system, the liver, the heart and the kidneys. Even when the rest of your body sleeps, these organs churn forward at full force.
Let’s talk about the brain and the nervous system.
Each cell has the function of producing neurotransmitters which cause every motion you take and every thought you produce. We already know that forms of depression, anxiety and compulsion result from faulty and inadequate production and uptake of crucial neurotransmitters such as Serotonin and Melatonin. In the history of addiction therapy, the only medicines that have been proposed for neurological change has been anti-depressants. Personally, I am not a huge fan of their automatic use in addiction. There are side-effects that can complicate addiction: fatigue, weight gain, loss of sex drive and ultimate hormonal imbalance and failure in men and women. They should be used sparingly and, in general, re-evaluated every 6 months for discontinuation.
I have been using intravenous NAD to treat stress, depression and brain fog for many years. The results are predictable usually within the first 2 treatments: better sleep, less anxiety and improvement in focus and cognition. It increases metabolism and energy along with improvement in a person’s own production of naturally regenerative hormones such as Testosterone in men and Estrogen and Progesterone in women. These improvements also have a big influence toward focus, emotional control and sense of well-being.
Let’s talk about Liver and Kidney effects.
In my experience, one of the greatest concerns of addicts and alcoholics is damage to the liver and the fear that there could be permanent damage. And rightfully so. Liver disease can be acute and chronic depending on substance habits. Both substance “bingers” and prolonged users are at risk for liver cell destruction, dangerous toxin build up and fibrosis of the liver (scarring) that can be permanent and debilitating. Symptoms of liver damage range from:
To add insult to injury, once the liver starts to fail, kidney failure soon follows. Toxins in the body increase more and symptoms of liver failure can be 5-10 times worse. The liver has an inherent ability to heal if damage does not go too far. This is not the case with Kidney failure. It is usually permanent.
Both Liver and Kidney are 24 hour “active” organs and have high metabolic function—thus the amounts of mitochondria are more than most of the organs in the body. This is why NAD treatment has a preferential positive effect healing the damaged liver and kidneys and has been used extensively for such in patients with chronic liver disease, hepatitis and chronic kidney failure. The ultimate effect is regeneration of strong, normal, fully functional cells which is promoted by NAD. Even better, the effect is quite noticeable by the first few treatments.
Let’s talk about aging and the effects of drugs and alcohol.
Nobody ever said that drugs and alcohol have helped the body stay young. Not when they were sober, anyway! Many of the reasons for this can be attributed to poor nutrition and lack of good sleep. But the biology and physiology behind this tells us more.
Drugs and alcohol when combined with poor sleep, bad nutrition and emotional stress has a direct effect on your hormone production. A negative effect. The body has 55 hormones, yet 2 distinct Hormone Pathways: Stress hormones vs. Sex hormones.
Sex Hormones are regenerative. These are Testosterone and IGF-1 (growth hormone) in men and Testosterone, Estrogen, Progesterone and IGF-1 in women. They build muscle, collagen and healthy neurotransmitters for the brain. They make cells divide and create perfect copies to keep organs functioning at their peak.
Stress Hormones are reactive and for survival. These are Cortisol, Prolactin, SHBG and Noradrenalin. When the body is under stress it stops making Sex Hormones and shifts production to these hormones. The result is:
We test these regularly and when they are elevated the body is in a degenerative state. For older people this can be critical.
NAD restores peak healthy cell production and by inducing better sleep and lower anxiety it can actually suppress the Stress Hormones and restore good Sex Hormone regeneration. In fact, it is so efficient at increasing healthy hormone production that we even use it to increase fertility in both men and women with fertility issues.
Summary: NAD+ in my opinion, as a doctor of Addition and Regenerative Medicine, should be used as standard for treatment of addicts and alcoholics. NAD can give them their fastest ability to recover and restore cognitive power and lower anxiety. Synergistically it also has a strong regenerative effect on liver, kidney and brain. It has become a regular part of my protocol when treating patients who have been through short-term or long-term addiction.