Wet Brain Syndrome

A Closer Look at Wet Brain Syndrome

Wet brain syndrome, also known as Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, is basically a deficiency in thiamine (aka vitamin B1). This condition is one that is often associated with alcoholism, however it can affect anyone whether they consume alcohol regularly or not. This condition can have a devastating effect on one’s quality of life and if it is not caught early on the effects could be irreversible.


The symptoms of wet brain syndrome are usually mild to begin with, but progress quickly as the vitamin deficiency continues. The symptoms can vary between individuals, however the most commonly seen traits involve losing control of eye movements, awkward gait while walking, and confusion. One may be affected by memory loss or the inability to form new memories. Some people even experience the formation of memories which never really occurred. Visual and audio hallucinations are also common symptoms of wet brain syndrome. The longer one’s body is subjected to the physical stresses of a thiamine deficiency, the less likely it will be for the sufferer to regain their full physical and mental capabilities. In severe cases, it can even lead to death of the individual.


Thiamine is responsible for helping the body break down and use the energy that it gets from food. It is also necessary to have strong and properly-functioning muscles and nerves. It is a water soluble vitamin which means that whatever excess the body has is flushed out through the urine on a daily basis. Because of this fact, thiamine must be taken in every day through one’s diet in order to replenish the stock.

Although wet brain syndrome is often associated with alcoholics, the condition is not specifically connected to alcohol itself. In fact, thiamine deficiencies are directly related to malnutrition, or failing to partake of an adequate and balanced diet. The reason why people who suffer from alcoholism are more likely than others to suffer from wet brain syndrome is because their excessive consumption for alcohol often outweighs the need to eat a healthy diet. They are less concerned about what or how often they eat. The more severe one’s dependency upon alcohol is the more likely they are to neglect their diet and overall health, which includes ignoring the signs of thiamine deficiency.

Others who are likely to suffer from this condition are people with an eating disorder such as bulimia or anorexia nervosa. With anorexia, the individual does not allow themselves to eat, or they eat very little food. This self-induced fasting makes it impossible for the body to receive enough thiamine, and because the body cannot synthesize this essential vitamin on its own, it is incapable of functioning properly. Those who suffer from bulimia do consume food more often than someone suffering from anorexia, however because it is eaten in a binge fashion and immediately purged, the body does not have a sufficient time to absorb as much vitamin B1 as is necessary to promote healthy body functioning.  


There are treatments available for wet brain syndrome however they are not guaranteed to restore a person to their former health. Because wet brain syndrome results in the physical damage to the nerves and muscles in the body, a severe case can result in long-term or even permanent damage. In fact, it is more likely that one will not gain a full recovery from wet brain. In order to increase one’s chances of gaining back some functionality of these systems, the cause of the deficiency must be found and resolved. For instance, wet brain caused by excessive alcohol consumption would likely be treated by abstaining from alcohol and taking up healthy eating habits. Individuals suffering from an eating disorder should seek treatment for the disorder first and become re-accustomed to eating regularly from a variety of food groups. In severe cases it may be necessary to administer a thiamine supplement via intravenous measures.