Herbs To Aid Recovery
There are herbs, which can help addicts kick the habit to addictive substances, aid them when experiencing withdrawals. They also help the body heal and recover from the damage the drugs caused more quickly. Alcohol and drugs are very hard on one’s health. Recovery should not only be about restoring our spiritual strength, but also our physical bodies. A well-nourished body lends to a sound mind. Cleaning out the body and repairing one’s health is not only good for the healing process but also for the recovery plan. When you spend the time, money and effort for what it takes to reverse the damage from substance abuse or overeating, you will not want to damage your body again so easily.
Ezekiel 47:12 tells us concerning certain trees that grow along the bank of a river in Israel, “Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for medicine.” Plants in their entirety, in the form that God made them have some incredible healing properties. There are herbs that are effective in helping the body withdrawal from various drugs along with detoxing and rebuilding from them. In addition, there are herbs, which can calm an addict without the side effects and dependency that comes with street or pharmaceutical drugs.
This chapter will provide you a good overview on the use of herbs for withdrawal from addictive substances. It also furnishes a list of herbs to help rebuild your body from the damage caused by toxic street drugs.
Before we begin the list of herbs, it should be noted that eating a healthy diet in addition to taking herbs is paramount during recovery. Speaking of diet, one of the reasons for the physical dependency of tobacco, alcohol, chocolate and carbohydrates is that addicts are actually allergic to these substances. When one has a food or drug allergy, the food sensitivity causes one to crave the very foods to which they are hypersensitive. According to the Mayo Clinic, alcohol allergy is exhibited by the body’s inability to break it down. Sugar, caffeine, nicotine and alcohol are all highly allergic substances and cravings are a symptom of food allergies. The only way to break the allergy is the stop using the food or drug. In addition, these substances do not behave normally in the body of an addict.
For Cigarette Smoking Cessation
Lobelia contains an alkaloid named lobeline. Lobeline has a molecular structure similar to nicotine. It attaches to the same receptor sites as nicotine and helps to curb the craving for cigarettes. Lobelia is a natural expectorant, thus it is good to use to alleviate lung congestion.
The Indians used Lobelia to treat pneumonia among other respiratory illnesses and infections. Besides helping smokers control their cravings for nicotine, Lobelia also makes cigarettes taste unpleasant. Called Indian tobacco, Lobelia has similar effects on the body as nicotine. Lobelia helps people fight the effects of nicotine withdrawal. Lobelia may increase levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain similar to cigarettes. Drink it in a tea and up to four cups a day. In addition to Lobelia, you might want to add some other herbs.
Cayenne Pepperdesensitizes the respiratory system to tobacco and chemical irritants thereby thwarting the cravings for cigarettes.
Ginseng prevents the nicotine-induced release of the neurotransmitter dopamine and can help alleviate the number of cravings.
St. John's Wort is an herbal antidepressant, and can also help people quit smoking.
For Alcohol Withdrawal
Kudzu: The Chinese have used the traditional Chinese herb Kudzu to reduce alcohol drinking in China since 600 A.D. You can take 3 to 5 g per day of Kudzu root extract within a 24 hour period or 3 to 4 ml of tincture three times daily to reduce alcohol cravings, says the University of Michigan Health System. According to an article written by Associated Press medical researcher Scott Lukas, Kudzu appears to have been discovered to be a compound that is effective in reducing alcohol intake.
The herb Kudzu can cut alcohol consumption in half without any side effects. Kudzu increases blood-alcohol concentration so that people need less alcohol to feel its effects. Research points to the possibility of Kudzu inhibiting the breakdown of an enzyme that breaks down alcohol. This leaves the drinker feeling satisfied for a longer period. There are also other herbs that are helpful when trying to stop abusing alcohol.
Wood Botany reduces alcohol cravings, agitation and irritability and relieves headaches related to withdrawal.
St John’s Wort reduces alcohol consumption and is an important herb in any herbal regime for combating addiction.
Schizandra isan adaptogen and tonic that supports adrenal gland health. It is used by the Chinese to treat mental disorders caused by alcoholism, and it also offers protective benefits for liver health.
B Vitamins Are A Must
It is especially important for a recovering alcoholic to take B vitamins when healing their bodies from alcohol abuse. Alcoholics tend to be deficient in B vitamins, and drinking depletes B vitamins in the body even further. Taking 500 mg of each day can help restore vitamin B levels, but possibly also reduce the individual's cravings for alcohol. Some doctors recommend alcoholics ingest a daily dose of at least 100 mg of B-complex vitamins.
Thiamine or B1 is also extremely important because the deficiency is what causes “wet brain” in alcoholics. The first stage of wet brain is reversible with thiamine supplements but the second stage, while it can improve the symptoms of wet brain, it never comes back totally. If you are actively drinking, be sure to take B vitamins and especially thiamine.
For Cocaine Withdrawal
Korean White Ginseng is an adaptogen, which means it helps the body better deal with stress.
Ginseng helps purify the blood of toxins; alkalizes the body, increases endorphins, increases energy and eases cocaine withdrawal.
Lobelia is comprised of Lobeline. According to animal studies published in the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics in 2000. Lobeline increases dopamine and norepinephrine release while interfering with receptors associated with addiction. Another study in the same journal in 2001 found that Lobeline blocks the behavioral and neurochemical effects of amphetamine drugs. Lobelia is important in the herbal arsenal as an antidepressant and drug-withdrawal aid.
For Opiate Withdrawal
Kratom prevents withdrawal symptoms in an opiate addict, and eliminates cravings. It also has other medicinal purposes. Kratom's primary alkaloids interact with the opioid receptors. The alkaloids are 7-hydroxymitragynine and mitragynine
In as early as 1897 Scientists discovered that the leaves and bark of Mitragyna speciosa or Kratom treated opium addiction. Mitragynine was the only constituent isolated from Kratom,which possesses morphine-like properties.
New Zealand uses Kratom for methadone dependence detox. Although chemically similar, ibogaine and mitragynine work by different pathways, and have different applications in treatment of drug dependence. Ibogaine treats opiate cravings. Mitragynine gradually weans users off opiates. The presence of opiate drugs increases mitragynine's crossover because it directs binding to where it is needed, automatically regulating the attachment ratio and modulating it towards the delta receptorsover a short time. Thus, a person dependent on opiates would stop use of opiates, and the cravings and withdrawal eased by the binding of mitragynine to the delta receptors. In Southern Thailand, heroin users use Kratom to break their dependence and to manage cravings.
In 1999, Pennapa Sapcharoen, director of the National Institute of Thai Traditional Medicine in Bangkok said that Kratom could be prescribed both for opiate dependence and to patients suffering from depression, but stressed that further research is needed.
Bacopa is an herb used in Ayurveda medicine for memory and stress. Bacopa contains saponins called bacosides that appear to affect the brain by enhancing the neurotransmitters acetylcholine and serotonin. These actions in the brain, along with Bacopa’s ability to relieve anxiety and depression and other psychological factors, aid in drug withdrawal. An in-vitro study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology in 2002 found that Bacopa extract appeared to ease morphine withdrawal symptoms in a guinea-pig, according to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
Passionflower contains constituents such as alkaloids, maltol and gamma-pyrone derivatives that may activate gamma aminobutyric acid or “GABA” receptors and inhibit monoamine oxidase, causing sedative effects, according to the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. These specific calming actions in the body might help in treating withdrawal symptoms associated with opiates and benzodiazepines. A 2001 double-blind clinical trial of men addicted to opiates published in the Journal of Clinical Pharmacy, and Therapeutics found that taking Passionflower along with the medication Clonidine was more effective at treating the emotional and physical symptoms of drug withdrawal than taking clonidine alone.
Lobelia increases dopamine and norepinephrine release, which account for its potential use as an antidepressant and drug-withdrawal aid.
Rosemary, according to a 2003 study in the journal Phytotherapy Research, found that taking Rosemary extract eased morphine withdrawal symptoms in mice.
Velvet Antler possesses anti-narcotic effects relating to morphine. Two studies using mice published in the Journal of Ethno pharmacology in 1999 discovered that taking a water extract of velvet antler had this effect.
L-Tyrosine Both of these amino acids restorethe brain chemicals norepinephrine and dopamine, which are vital for recovering meth addicts. These amino acids can counteract the symptoms of depression, low energy, lack of focus and concentration. The expected behavior changes when restoring these depleted amino acids are anti-craving, anti-depression, increased energy, improved mental focus.
Calcium and magnesium in high doses, chelated calcium 1500 mg and magnesium 1000 mg as methamphetamine use depletes magnesium. Magnesium deficiency is also a cause of depression and insomnia.
In addition, cocaine, crack, methamphetamine and amphetamine users will want to take:
Hawthorn Berry, which is a Eurasian herb, is highly regarded for its ability to cure early stages of heart diseases. It helps to improve circulation by dilating the coronary arteries and blood vessels to allow blood and oxygen to circulate all over the body without giving much pressure to the heart. It helps dilate blood vessels and lower blood pressure. Cocaine, amphetamines and methamphetamines constrict blood vessels and can cause a sudden heart attack. It is a heart and circulatory system tonic and is important in amphetamine drug users healing regime.
Liver Supports For Substance Abusers
Many substances are especially damaging to the liver. Crystal meth is full of toxic solvents. Cocaine, crack cocaine, alcohol, inhalants, and many other drugs are especially hard on the liver. Weight that gathers around the mid-section is a classic sign of liver problems.
Milk Thistle is the most important herb in your herbal arsenal to support liver function. Milk Thistle seed extract helpsreverse liver damage caused by cirrhosis, hepatitis, fatty liver and mushroom poisoning. Milk Thistle is helpful in the support of the liver, and aids the cleansing of toxins and encourages new cell growth.
If you abused alcohol, Milk Thistle is necessary for the liver. If you have alcohol dependency, taking Milk Thistle may help to treat alcohol-induced liver damage or alcoholic liver disease. Milk Thistle can help to improve liver function, says the University Of Maryland Medical Center. Milk Thistle is most beneficial for people with mild alcohol-related liver damage and is less effective for people with severe liver diseases such as cirrhosis. Milk Thistle may regenerate damaged liver cells and prevent harmful toxins from entering the cells, says the University of Michigan Health System.
Herbalists consider Milk Thistle an effective liver tonic. The silymarin in Milk Thistle works to bind the membranes of the cells in the liver, shielding the organ and its cells from toxin attack. Additionally, the Milk Thistle's silymarin stimulates the liver to produce proteins and enzymes faster, thus enabling it to battle the toxins in your body at a quicker rate. Milk Thistle works best taken in combination with food. In addition to helping detoxify the liver of poisons such as alcohol, Milk Thistle stimulates bile production and improves digestion, helps break down fats in foods for optimal cholesterol levels, provides antioxidants to combat the accumulation of free radicals, aids in reducing inflammation of the liver and gallbladder and may help in stress relief.
In addition to Milk Thistle, other herbs, which benefit the liver include:
Dandelion Root is a liver detoxifier that can help repair damage due to alcohol or liver harming prescription drugs. It enhances nutrient absorption.
Burdock eliminates wastes and is a liver and lung tonic. It contains the carbohydrate inulin that strengthens the liver. It is also a detoxifier because it eliminates toxins through the skin.
Bupleurum is an exceptional liver detoxifier. It is widely used in traditional Chinese medicine and is a powerful liver protector even in cases of hepatitis and immune system dysfunction.
Coptis is an herb with known liver-cleansing properties and is especially helpful when it comes to overcoming alcohol addiction. Health-food stores sell it a tincture or in pill form.
Cayenne Pepper comes in ointment, capsule, powder and tincture. Herbalists recommend it primarily for its blood-movement stimulation properties and for removing toxins in the blood. For purposes of ridding your body of toxins related to alcohol and drugs in your addiction fight, take between one and four capsules twice daily, or massage the ointment into the skin once per day.
Turmeric is a natural liver detoxifier, painkiller and anti-inflammatory, and the Chinese use it for depression.
Aloe Vera helps to strengthen the liver.
Schisandra, is a Chinese adaptogen herb, mild sedative and liver protector.
Artichoke aids the liver and has been used as a treatment for hangovers because of its effects on the liver.
N-acetyl cysteine also benefits the liver as an important detoxifier, use 600 mg twice daily.
Fennel aids elimination of toxins, and can be used to treat food poisoning.
In addition to herbs:
Exercise- You should add some form of daily exercise to your routine. Exercise produces endorphins, which are the body’s feel good chemicals. Sweating from exercise helps with detoxification.
Saunas and sweatingthrough exercise are among the best ways to remove the body of toxic solvents such as incurred from meth abuse. A twenty-minute sweat followed by a rinse with cold water daily will promote the detoxification of the harsh solvents used in the production of methamphetamines and street drugs.
Epson salt, baking soda bathsalso detoxify the body. Add one cup of Epson salt and one cup of baking soda and soak for 20 minutes. Epson salt baths contain magnesium and are a good way to get magnesium into your system.
Brushingyour body also helps to eliminate toxins and stimulate the lymphatic system.
Removing Heavy Metals Found in Street Drugs
Drug dealers usually cut street drugs with substances containing heavy metals. To help get dangerous metals out of your system add:
Miso Soup contains dipilocolonic acid, which is an alkaloid that can chelate, bind to and remove heavy metals from your body. You can drink miso soup daily to enjoy its health benefits.
Garlic, Cilandro, Burdock Root and Pectinfound in lemons or apples also remove metals from the body.
Nervous System Support
Nature supplies many herbs, which calm the nervous system and provide additional support for the withdrawal symptoms of coming off substances. It can which take about a year for the body to return to a normalized state. Among the herbs, which are good for the nervous system, are:
Passionflower could help during drug withdrawal, according to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. It is a natural relaxer and helps with insomnia.
Rosemary and velvet antler might also have the potential for treating drug withdrawal symptoms.
Catnip calms your mind and helps you relax.
Chamomile eases nervousness; it is good for the liver and lungs, and digestive upsets.
Hops for its calming effect.
Motherwort induces calmness and helps to stabilize emotions.
Skullcap stabilizes mood and is a sedative and tonic. It eases depression, insomnia and restlessness. Scullcap reduces addictions and alcoholism by supporting proper nervous system health and lowering cravings. It is especially helpful for barbiturate addiction and withdrawal. Scullcap has the added benefit of enhancing motor ability and sensory impairment.
St. John’s Wort is a mood lifter and aids with withdrawal from various substances and helps prevent viral infections.
Valerian is a natural tranquilizer and a sleep aid that is very effective. It is also a muscle relaxer. Valerian acts as a good sedative and helps relax the central nervous system and decrease levels of anxiety and stress
Albizzia also called the “tree of happiness” is used by Chinese herbalists to ease mild depression, anxiety and stress and as a tonic used in formulas to help overcome addiction.
Oatseed/Oatstraw providesa high source of calcium and magnesium to nourish the nerve sheath. It is calming and grounding especially for addiction with secondary ADHD or hyperactivity.
Ashwagandha is an Ayurvedic nervous system restorative, which can help prevent relapse. It is helpful for “burnout” and withdrawal symptoms like severe daytime fatigue with nighttime insomnia and agitation.
Oatstraw – Helps to rebalance the levels of endorphins.
Yarrow contains a mild hypnotic ingredient called thujone, which has a similar effect to that of marijuana. Yarrow tea is best sipped before bedtime to induce relaxation and deeper, more peaceful sleep. It is used in the therapeutic treatment of inflammation, anxiety, digestive and blood disorders, muscle spasms, wounds, colds, flu, whopping cough and asthma, just to name a few. It is a potent detoxifier that helps improve immune-system health. Yarrow is good for both its relaxation properties, and because it is a detoxifier.
The adaptogen herb's Licorice, Siberian, Korean Ginseng, Rhodiola and Siberian Ginsenghelp the body deal with stress and build up the immune system. They also relieve depression.
Brain Tonics For Restoring Brain Chemistry
In addition to the nervous system damage system caused by drugs and alcohol, these substances rearrange brain chemistry. The following brain tonics also provide healing for the addict:
Ginko Biloba a brain tonic rich in vitamin C and niacin.
Butchers Broom increases circulation and blood flow to the brain.
Bacoba improves many brain functions and even helps rejuvenate brain cells.
Alcohol, drugs and tobacco deplete the body of nutrients and cause the body undue stress. Along with using herbs for withdrawal and detox, you will want to add some super foods to your diet to help replenish your body with nutrients and heal your body from the damage of drugs, alcohol and cigarettes.
If you are not using sea salt and are flavoring with table salt switch to using a good-quality sea salt to obtain minerals your body needs. Eliminate white processed grains for whole grains; eat plenty of fruits, vegetables and lean meat. Eradicate white sugar and satisfy your sweet tooth with only sweets containing organic sugar or pure maple syrup, honey or rice syrup and barley syrup. Stay away from chemical sweeteners like saccharin and aspartame and replace it with packets of stevia, which sells in supermarkets. Stevia is from a plant 300 times sweeter than sugar.
Superfoods that you will want to include in your diet include:
Bee Pollen: enhances adrenal gland functioning and contains five to seven times the amount of protein as beef for blood sugar stabilization. It is nutritionally complete with all 22 amino acids, 27 minerals, vitamins, complex carbohydrates, EFAs, enzymes and co-enzymes.
Kelp/Sea Vegetables provide one of the highest sources of minerals available. It is rich in body building minerals like calcium, iron, iodine and potassium.
Barley Grass is a green grass that can provide sole nutritional support to an animal throughout life. It possesses ten times more calcium than cow’s milk and is a good vegetarian source of B12. It also neutralizes heavy metals like mercury.
Alfalfa is a nutritional powerhouse, pulling up minerals from the soil from depths as great as 130 feet.
Nettles are very high mineral source, including potassium, calcium, magnesium and silica.
Goji Berries are the most nutrient-rich food on the planet. With over 15% protein, 21 essential minerals, and 18 amino acids, as well as lycium barbarum polysaccharides (LBP). Goji berry is a nutrient-dense superfood. Here are just a few of the many benefits you get from eating goji berries:
They strengthen the immune system.
Provide antioxidant and anti-aging effects
Protect the liver
Builds strong blood and promotes cardiovascular health. Supports eye health and improves vision and combat’s premature aging.
Goji’s have an almost perfect amino acid complex in conjunction with valuable trace minerals, vital to proper muscle contraction and regeneration.
Herbal Benzos For Anxiety
Now that you have all the herbs and foods to help heal and repair your body, there might come a time when life’s circumstances become so overwhelming such as during times of grief or loss that you might need an herb with a strong sedative effect. Most addicts suffer from anxiety, depression, and obsessive thinking. Compulsive thoughts can be positive if channeled for productive activities but during times of stress, addicts will tend to obsess on persons or situations, which cause them pain, and their minds will race with these thoughts. After all an addict in part reaches for substances to ease their anxiety and helps to calm them. While many herbs listed above help with anxiety, the following are much more potent in their relaxation ability.
Sceletium has a remarkable ability to treat symptoms of anxiety. Sceletium tortuosum is a South African plant with a long history of use in South Africa. For hundreds of years, the Hottentots of Southern Africa used Sceletium tortuosum as a mood enhancer, relaxant and empathogen. Natives also refer to it as Kanna. Historically, people chewed, smoked or used as snuff Sceletium tortuosum, which produces euphoria and alertness, whichgently fades into relaxation. Natives used the plant in rural areas in very small doses as a treatment for colic in infants. They also made a tea made from Sceletium to wean alcoholics off liquor.
The mood-elevating action of Sceletium is caused by a number of alkaloids, including mesembrine, mesembrenol and tortuosamine. These interact with the brain's dopamine and serotonin receptors. Mesembrine is a major alkaloid present in Sceletium. Mesembrine is a potent serotonin-uptake inhibitor and acts as a natural antidepresent.
Mesembrine is an alkaloid within Sceletium is a confirmed serotonin (re)-uptake inhibitor, as understood by the US Patent office, which means that it regulates the effects of one of the brain's most important neurotransmitters. In individuals suffering from depression, the neurotransmitter serotonin (also known as 5-hydroxytryptamine) is lacking. Mesembrine slows down the re-uptake process, making it more probable there will be more serotonin in the relevant receptors, greatly increasing the possibility that there will be sufficient levels to set up the signal transfer in all neighboring neurons. Mesembrine permits the brain to function with reduced levels of serotonin, allowing time for natural levels to build up. Meanwhile, herbalists reduce or eliminate the mesembrine dosage.
A number of psychiatrists, psychologists and doctors use tablets and capsules of Sceletium successfully with excellent results for anxiety states and mild to moderate depression. Sceletium elevates mood and decreases anxiety, stress and tension. In intoxicating doses, it can cause euphoria, initially with stimulation and later with sedation. The plant is not hallucinogenic, and documents do not record severe adverse effects and there is no record that it is addictive.
A typical dose is between 50mg and 100mg once or twice day, usually taken after breakfast and after lunch. Less commonly, this is to 100mg two times a day, if necessary. In drug rehabilitation programs, under physicians or psychiatrist's supervision, the dose needed may be as high as 200mg twice a day. The reported side effects are as follows: mild headache, slight nausea, soft stool with no cramping, initial increase in anxiety or irritability an hour after taking, which lasts about an hour, insomnia, corrected by lowering the does or taking the product no later than midday. If sedation occurs reduce the product to a single 50 mg dose at night.
Kava Root Powder
Kava root powder consumed in a drink imparts an incredible relaxation, a slight euphoria and the user never loses mental clarity or the ability to think clearly. Kava intensifies the senses, and increases focus and can greatly help with obsessive-compulsive thinking while also imparting relaxation. Kava is non-addictive.Effects of kavalactones include mild sedation, a slight numbing of the gums and mouth, and vivid dreams. Kava improves cognitive performance and promotes a cheerful mood. Kava has similar effects to benzodiazepinemedications, including muscle relaxant, anesthetic, anticonvulsive and anxiolytic effects. Research currently suggests kavalactones potentiate GABAA activity, but do not alter levels of dopamine and serotonin in the CNS.
Desmethoxyyangonin, one of the six major kavalactones, is a reversible MAO-B inhibitor and is able to increase dopamine levels in the brain. This finding might correspond to the slightly euphoric action of kava.
Kavain, another kavalactone inhibits the reuptake of noradrenalin at the transporter but not of serotonin. An elevated extracellularnoradrenalin level in the brain may account for the reported enhancement of attention and focus. Kava also detoxifies the body, which is why it should never be consumed with alcohol, because alcohol is a toxin and the combination can make one feel sick.
According to Ernest Campbell, MD the kavalactones, comprise 15% of the root. Of the fifteen lactones isolated from Kava Kava, there are six major lactones (kavalactones) known to provide psychoactive activity: kawain, methysticin, demethoxy-yangonin, dihydrokawain, dihydomethysicin, and yangonin. None of these are water soluble. They are dissolvable in alcohol, oil and other fat solvents, including gastric juices. All kavalactones are physiologically active. The fat-soluble kavalactones derived from kava resin convey the main psychoactive activity. Absorption in the gastrointestinal tract is remarkably rapid, so the effects occur almost immediately.
Synthetic Kava does not possess the same soothing qualities of naturally extracted kavalactones from the Kava plant. Correctly, extracted Kava Kava will contain all six kavalactones in high concentrations (25-30%).
The user feels Kava’s effects almost immediately. It has a reverse tolerance, which means that you need to drink less to get the same result once the Kava kicks in. Never mix Kava with benzodiazepine drugs because it can intensify or double the effect of them because they are similar in composition.
Kava grows all over the South Pacific islands, including Hawaii. The various South Pacific islands produce different strains of Kava, which vary in color and effect. The most potent plant comes out of the island of Vanuatu, which is the island of Kava’s origination. Vanuatu claims to have named about 265 varieties of Kava. When buying Kava root powder you have to be careful who you purchase it from because unscrupulous business persons are adding saw dust to their Kava’s. This author prefers Vanuatu Kava from www.instantkavatea.com for their connoisseur grade Kava. It also sells on Amazon under Vanuatu Kava.
Many alcoholics and opiate addicts have been able to get sober using Kava as a methadone type of treatment for their addiction. Unlike methadone, Kava is not addictive and does not have any adverse effects in the body. It is a true sedative, which addicts can truly benefit from using.
This list of herbs for healing serves to help in withdrawal and also to speed healing and balancing the emotions for the addict.
Recovery is about changing your life. Taking the steps to clean and heal your body will move you forward in a new and beneficial direction. It will also give you something to focus on that is positive to help keep you clean and sober.