What Is Delirium Tremens? Its Symptoms And Natural Treatment

Delirium tremens is a condition which is characterized by an acute attack of delirium and is usually associated with withdrawal of alcohol or other sedative hypnotics like barbiturates. The condition was first described in 1813. The word is Latin for “shaking frenzy”.

As per estimates about 50-60% of alcoholics develop some form of withdrawal symptoms.

However, only 5% of individuals experience delirium tremens as a part of alcohol withdrawal. The condition is life threatening if it is not managed adequately with estimates suggesting that the mortality rate can be as high as 35%. This condition is similar to magnesium deficiency which is also manifested in the form of hallucinations and irritability.

Delirium tremens are caused due to biochemical disruption, which results in a cascade of symptoms, especially due to abrupt discontinuation of alcohol, barbiturates or benzodiazepines. Alcohol, barbiturates and benzodiazepines manipulate the production of GABA chemical and modulate the GABAa receptors. With increasing addiction, the brain stops producing endogenous GABA, due to increased supply of exogenous GABA and sudden cessation of addiction causes an imbalance within the brain.

Reports suggest the delirium tremors occur in individuals who consume about 3300 to 3800 ml of beer or 500 ml of distilled alcoholic beverage each day for 10 years or more.

Symptoms Of Delirium Tremens

The key symptoms associated with delirium tremens include the following,

  • Confusion and disorientation.
  • Auditory and visual hallucinations. These illusions are related to the environment like something crawling (formication) or morphology of an insect, etc.
  • Fever.
  • Nightmares, irritability and agitation.
  • Tachycardia and hypertension which are indicative of autonomic hypersensitivity.

These symptoms develop usually within 3 days of cessation of drinking and increase in intensity on the fifth day. In general the symptoms are worse at night. Most of the symptoms are associated with severe anxiety and apprehension. In addition the individual may find it difficult to speak simple sentences or make calculations.

Natural Treatment For Delirium Tremens

While delirium tremens can be life-threatening condition can requires hospitalization, there are certain simple home remedies and natural treatment options for the management of termers at home,

  • The herb ‘Chelidonium majus’ is considered to be very beneficial in the treatment of liver symptoms associated with alcoholism acts as a liver healer and detoxifier.
  • Homeopathic drug – Gelsimium is also useful in the treatment of tremors associated with withdrawal symptoms. The drug helps improve coordination between the different skeletal muscles and thereby alleviates the symptoms.
  • Boil wild lettuce leaves in a bowl of water and then allow it to cool. Filter the concoction and drink it when warm. This recipe creates a general sense of well being, creates calmness and relives pain. It is also useful in the treatment of insomnia.
  • St John’s Wart is another important herb that helps in alleviating the symptoms of anxiety and apprehension associated with withdrawal and delirium tremens.
  • Vitamin and nutritional supplements are very important to alleviate some of the symptoms. Vitamin K supplements help improve liver function and detoxify the blood while magnesium and calcium supplements improve muscle coordination and alleviate symptoms associated with tremors and coordination. Maintaining an uptake of other nutrients and supplements is also very vital to hasten recovery.
  • A healthy and well-balanced diet is crucial. Regular exercise or simple yoga poses are also very useful in building up strength and managing some of the distressing symptoms.

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