Detox elixir not as odd as it sounds

By Katherine Spitz

Knight Ridder News

Dr. Bob Smith was said to have an unusual therapy for treating newly sober drunks.

Smith, one of the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous, apparently prescribed tomato juice, Karo syrup and sauerkraut, says Dr. Robert Liebelt, who for years was close friends with Smith’s late daughter, Sue Windows.

Liebelt says Windows used to talk about how her father treated alcoholics in the mid-1930s. Smith would sneak them into St. Thomas Hospital in Akron, Ohio; they weren’t able to be officially admitted.

“He’d get an empty room, sit there with them and give them Karo syrup, tomato juice and sauerkraut,” Liebelt says.

As odd as that combination sounds, there is some solid science that backs Smith’s choice of food and drink.

The syrup contains fructose, which speeds up the metabolism of alcohol in the blood. The tomato juice provides both fluid and electrolytes, helping with dehydration – a condition common among people who came in for detoxification. And the sauerkraut. …

“Apparently Bill Wilson was very strong on the idea that sauerkraut was very good for you,” Liebelt says, “and it turns out, it probably is, because it’s very rich in thiamine.”