Alcoholism is associated with multiple nutritional deficiencies. Thiamin deficiency (vitamin B1) is common and, when severe, can lead to Wernicke–Korsakoff syndrome. One of the early signs of thiamin deficiency is depression. Benfotiamine is a synthetic derivative of thiamine. It has been licensed for use in Germany since 1993 under the trade name Milgamma. It has been prescribed there for treating sciatica and other painful nerve conditions. A recent study, published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence (2015 Jul 1;152:257-63. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2015.03.032. Epub 2015 Apr 8) looked at the use of benfotiamine and the treatment of psychiatric symptoms in alcoholics.
The subjects of the study were 85 men (mean age about 48 years) who were diagnosed with current alcohol use disorder. In the double-blind study, subjects were randomly selected to receive either 600 mg/day of benfotiamine or a placebo for six months. All subjects avoided alcohol for 30 days prior to the study. Psycho logic testing was performed at the beginning of the study and at the end of six months. Tests included a derived Lifetime Alcoholism Severity Score (AS), Symptom Checklist 90R (SCL-90R), and the Barratt Impulsivity Scale (BIS).