Choosing to quit drinking is a courageous and brave move. Detoxing brings with it the extra challenge of dealing with alcohol withdrawal. They can be uncomfortable and frightening. Using herbal supplements for alcohol withdrawal is an effective, natural option. There are many herbal supplements for alcohol detox. They can help curb unpleasant symptoms and cravings, but they can also help bring healing to parts of the body damaged by years of alcohol abuse.
The Role of Herbs in Detox
For many years, the mainstream turned only to the use of pharmaceuticals to help with alcohol withdrawal. Firstly, medications have been found to be incomplete for combating alcoholism. There are many psychological elements that must also be explored to ensure successful alcohol withdrawal. Secondly, many of the most popular pharmaceutical options used to treat alcohol dependence don’t work the same for every person. It can be a bit hit-and-miss working for some, but not all. And thirdly, many of the most popular traditional treatment options have their own potential adverse side effects.
After years of research, many experts and medical professionals are turning to natural options such as herbal supplements for detox. Although it’s a relatively new concept in the West, the Chinese have used natural plant-based medicines to treat alcohol dependence and abuse. The International Journal of Pharmacy & Technology suggests the use of several medicinal herbs to help treat alcoholism and detox the body from the effects. Ayurvedic practitioners suggest nine herbal remedies for battling alcohol cravings.
Herbal alcohol detox is by no means a new concept, but many are new to this way of thinking. Let’s take a look at some of the most effective herbal supplements for alcohol withdrawal.
Herbal Supplements for Alcohol Withdrawal
This herb is an adaptogen that helps to restore both adrenal and thyroid function. Adaptogens can help to fix chemical imbalances and can either make you feel more relaxed or more energetic, depending on your particular imbalance.
Ashwagandha contains antioxidants and natural compounds that can help balance hormone levels, which tend to be majorly out of sorts for chronic drinkers.
Ashwagandha was yet another “miracle supplement” for me. I thought at one point during PAWS that I would need a benzodiazepine to feel calm.
After trying ashwagandha and feeling refreshed almost immediately, I realized that the source of my anxiety was probably a minor thyroid or adrenal imbalance.
DHM is a flavonoid found in the fruit of the oriental raisin tree (hovenia dulcis). Recent studies have found that DHM can effectively treat symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, largely by blocking alcohol’s effects on GABA receptors.
DHM is most widely used as a hangover cure. Research suggests that this herb reduces inflammation throughout the body and directly neutralizes alcohol’s toxic byproducts, including acetaldehyde. This can be just as useful for someone trying to taper off of alcohol as for someone who parties too much!
In addition to enhancing alcohol clearance and alcohol metabolic enzymes, DHM has a direct and complex interaction with GABA-A receptors that likely accounts for many of its anti-alcohol effects. (source)
This herb is so effective for liver detoxification that it is used in ERs to treat mushroom poisoning. Among its many benefits, it contains silymarin and silybin, antioxidants which increase the production of glutathione, the liver’s own detoxifying compound.
It’s impossible to feel high on life when your liver is not functioning properly.
Milk thistle has also been shown to regenerate liver tissue in alcoholics. If you drank enough to harm your liver, this herb is a must-have. I actually began taking milk thistle a year before I quit drinking, and it might have saved me from irreparable liver damage.
Also known as velvet bean, this herb is a natural source of L-Dopa, which is a precursor to dopamine. Mucuna pruriens also contains antioxidants that work synergistically with L-Dopa to create an enhanced sense of well-being.
Alcoholics tend to have depleted their supply of dopamine, which is an excitatory neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of motivation, stimulation, and reward.
Symptoms of low dopamine include feeling “blah,” feeling unmotivated or depressed and even having trouble sleeping. Before I discovered mucuna pruriens (about 10 months after I quit drinking), I felt like I was living in a sad, black-and-white movie. The herb actually saved me from giving up on this website!
This herb has long been prized for its ability to reduce anxiety, insomnia, and even inflammation. One study even found it to be as effective at reducing anxiety as benzodiazepines! (source)
I used passion flower after quitting alcohol to help me sleep, with great results. If I take too much, it can make me feel groggy the next morning. However, I felt significantly more groggy after my experiments with melatonin and valerian root.
Although I originally used a non-alcoholic glycerine extract, I’ve since switched to capsules with great results. I only use this herb when I have trouble sleeping – it works very reliably.
Final Thoughts on Herbs for Alcohol Withdrawal
Using herbal supplements for alcohol withdrawal will be a different experience for everyone. It can take some time to determine which herbal supplement(s) work best for you.
You may find some work for giving you a boost of energy when needed, while others help you relax and unwind in a healthy way after a stressful day.
Herbs for alcohol detox can make a difficult journey a bit smoother. Please let me know if you have any questions about using herbal supplements for alcohol detox.