Herbal Medicine for the Treatment of Alcoholism or Alcohol Dependence

Herbal medicine is one of the oldest and most widespread forms of treatment for drinking problems. There are many plant origins of modern pharmaceuticals, such as digitalis (from the foxglove plant, quinine (from the cinchona tree), aspirin (from the willow tree), taxol (from the Pacific yew tree), artemisin (from the artemisia shrub), and both vincristine and vinblastine (from a species of the periwinkle plant). Until the last few decades, pharmaceutical research depended heavily on the search for pharmaceutically useful substances in plants.

See Also

The Chinese have long used roots of the Kudzu (a rapidly growing vine native to China) to treat alcohol abuse and also hangovers. Scientific research is currently underway to determine if any of the substances found in Kudzu (Pueraria lobata) are effective and the some of the results are promising. (Unfortunately, it also appears to increase the risk of developing cervical cancer by about 360% and possibly other cancers.) In addition, the Chinese have used milk thistle seeds to treat the liver and the Reishi mushroom to treat “fatty liver” due to alcohol abuse.

A number of plants including Tabernanthe iboga, Panax ginseng, Salvia miltiorrhiza and Hypericum perforatum have shown promise for possible use in helping reduce alcohol consumption or drug use. A common feature among many such plants is that they may reduce alcohol absorption from the gastrointestinal system.

Unfortunately, the herbal remedies being promoted on the internet and elsewhere are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Therefore, sellers routinely make completely unsubstantiated claims for their products.

No herbal therapy has yet proven to be effective for alcohol problems and some can increase the risk of developing serious health problems. This is clearly a clear case of buyer beware.

Anyone who chooses to try a herbal remedy should always discuss the matter with their person's physician. This is true of all medications (herbal or not) because of possible drug interactions.

The most well known approach to alcohol problems is Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.), which has a success rate of only about 5% after one year. That’s about one of every twenty alcoholics. On the other hand, spontaneous remission (the cure rate that occurs by doing nothing) is about 36% according to the federal government’s national Institute on Alcohol and Alcoholism (NIAAA). That suggests that A.A. is doing something or some things that actually inhibit the natural course of events.

A number a non-herbal programs have proven effective. They include LifeRing, HAMS (Harm reduction, Abstinence, and Moderation Support), Women for Sobriety, Moderation Management, Rational Recovery, SMART Recovery (Self-Management and Recovery Training), and the Life Process Program.

Because no-cost and effective programs are available, people can lead lives free from alcohol problems.

Note: This website is informational only. It does not suggest or make recommendations about alcoholism, drug abuse, addictions, therapy, herbal treatment, recovery, or any other subject and none should be inferred. Neither this website nor your host receives any compensation, directly or indirectly, for listing or describing any program.

Readings and Resources for Herbal Medicine as a Therapy for Alcoholism

  • (listing does not imply endorsement)
  • Connors, M.S. and Altshuler, L. The Everything Guide to Herbal Remedies: An Easy-to-Use Reference for Natural Health Care. Avon, MA : Adams Media, 2009.
  • Cornett, D.J. Alcohol Abuse Revolution: Complementary and Alternative Herbal Remedies from Around the World to Reduce Alcohol Craving and Consumption and Prevent Alcoholism. Santa Rosa, CA: People Friendly Books, 2005.
  • Overstreet, D.H., Keung, W.M., Rezvani, A.H., Massi, M. and Lee, D.Y. Herbal remedies for alcoholism: promises and possible pitfalls. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 2003, 27(2), 177-185.

See Also

Filed Under: pending

This website is informational only. It makes no suggestions or recommendations about any subject.
For more fine print, read the disclaimer.