addiction takes more effort than simply adding an herb or two to the
diet. Exercise changes the chemistry of the brain and should be added
to any nutritional program to fight alcoholism. Contributing to
alcoholism are a complex combination of social and physical factors, so
social support is also vital to overcoming alcoholism. Herbs for
alcoholism can help, however, and should not be overlooked in planning
a course of action.
To reduce cravings, herbs for alcoholism include kudzu extract (a traditional
Chinese treatment) and evening primose oil. Kudzu is an invasive vine
that is found all over the southeastern U.S. Both flowers and roots of
the plant are used for treating alcoholism.
Evening Primrose Oil
Evening primrose oil contains GLA, an omega 6 fatty acid. GLA is believed to
protect the brain cells from the damage cause by alcohol as well as
strengthen the recovering alcoholic's ability to stay sober. It also
helps to normalize blood sugar, which can set off the desire to drink.
It's healing for the liver as well, making it one of the best herbs for
alcoholism. Borage oil and black currant oil also contain GLA.
For the health of the liver, milk thistle and dandelion are herbs for
alcoholism. With milk thistle, the dried fruit is the part used. The
active component is a complex of flavonoids called "silymarin." Because
of these flavonoids, milk thistle is thought to block harmful
substances (like alcohol) from getting into the liver. It also cleanses
those substances from the liver, and may work to rebuild damaged liver
cells. Milk thistle is extremely safe and can even be used by pregnant
women. Dandelion is thought to have a synergestic effect with milk
sleep and reduce anxiety, kava kava is often suggested. It was reported
in 2001 to be linked to some cases of liver damage. It would probably
be wise to discuss the use of kava kava with a medical professional.
Scullcap is a very safe herb for reducing anxiety, as is chamomile,
which has a much better taste taken as a tea than does scullcap.
Wort is indicated if alcoholism is a cover-up for depression, and has
other qualities which make it one of the best herbs for alcoholism. The
Chinese herb shizandra is also used for alcohol related mental
Other related herbs
Herbs for alcoholism that are reported to ease withdrawal symptoms
include scullcap, valerian, passionflower, and Angostura bitters, which
are made of gentian and quassia. Oatstraw is reported to strengthen the
To speed up
the metabolism of alcohol to get it out of the body, and possibly to
reduce the alcohol absorbed in the stomach, Asian ginseng or American
ginseng can be used.
If using a
tincture of herbs to help overcome alcoholism, make sure you use a
glycerite and not an alcohol based tincture. The tiny amount of alcohol
in a few drops of tincture can be enough to set off the craving to
overindulge in alcohol. Herbs for alcoholism that might be included in
such a glycerite include valerian, scullcap, oatberry, St. John's Wort,
with rats has been done with kudzu and St John's Wort which gave
promising results. Both herbs were reported to reduce alcohol use in
rats that had shown themselves to be alcohol-preferring. A rat is not
going to resist alcohol if it really wants it.
trying to rebuild a broken home life or hold onto its dignity. If these
herbs work at all on rats, then it stands to reason they could assist
an alcoholic who is trying to kick the habit. On the other hand, a rat
doesn't have a buddy urging him to go down to the bar. Overcoming
alcoholism is a complex endeavor which will take dedication, support,
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