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Health Food Stems Gambling Addiction

Rolling DiceProvocative research suggests a common health food supplement may help restrain pathological gambling addictions.

In the study, the common amino acid N-acetyl cysteine, appears to have an impact on the chemical glutamate – often associated with reward in the brain.

Over an eight-week trial University of Minnesota researchers gave increasing does of the chemical to 27 people. At the end of the trial, 60 percent of the participants reported fewer urges to gamble.

The research will be published in the Sept.15, 2007 issue of Biological Psychiatry.

“It looks very promising,” said Jon Grant, J.D., M.D., a University of Minnesota associate professor of psychiatry and principal investigator of the study.

“We were able to reduce people’s urges to gamble.”

Those who responded well in the first round of the study were asked to continue to participate in a double-blind study – a testing method where neither the researcher nor subjects know who is in the control group until the study is finished.

Of the 16 who responded to the amino acid the first time around, 13 agreed to continue in the double-blind study (three didn’t want to risk quitting the drug) for an additional six weeks. About 83 percent who received the supplement, continued to report fewer urges to gamble.

Nearly 72 percent of those who took the placebo went back to gambling.

Similar studies using N-acetyl cysteine have shown its ability to curb drug addictions in animals, and a current University of Minnesota study conducted by Grant is investigating whether the drug could help methamphetamine users quit.

“This research could be encouraging for a lot of addictions,” Grant said.

This pilot study is the first to examine the efficacy of a glutamate-modulating agent in the treatment of pathological gamblers, making the findings fairly significant, Grant said.

Because subjects knew they were taking a supplement during the first phase of the study and since there was a relatively small number of subjects in the double-blind portion, a larger study is warranted to confirm the validity of these findings.

University of Minnesota researchers are currently seeking a federal grant to fund it.

Source: University of Minnesota

Health Food Stems Gambling Addiction

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Health Food Stems Gambling Addiction. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 20, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2007/09/11/health-food-stems-gambling-addiction/1261.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
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