The effectiveness of herbal treatments for alcoholism is not well established, and no herbal remedies are FDA-approved for treatment of alcohol use disorder. If you choose to try any herbal remedies, do so with caution and at your own risk. Discuss any use of herbal treatment with your physician. The options listed below are included because they are part of the current conversation on alcoholism; we do not endorse any treatment method and cannot vouch for the safety or efficacy of any of the methods described.
An extract made from the root of the Kudzu plant has been used for centuries in Asia to treat hangovers, intoxication, blood flow problems, and other physical issues. While there are conflicting reports on its efficacy, research continues on the isoflavones found in Kudzu, on the premise that they may be useful in treating alcohol use disorder.
While Kudzu has not been shown to decrease cravings for alcohol and does not STOP drinking, there is some evidence to suggest that Kudzu can help moderate heavy drinking. A 2012 study found that alcohol dependent young men who took Kudzu extract experienced a decrease in the number of drinks they consumed per week and an increase in the number of days they did not drink at all. Another study (2005) showed that when a group of heavy drinkers used kudzu extract, they took longer to drink a beer, took more sips to finish it and took smaller sips, resulting in less overall drinking. However, these studies were limited in scope, involving only a few participants, and more research is needed to conclusively prove Kudzu’s efficacy.
Additionally, concentrations of Kudzu extract vary widely in their potency and effective dosage for treating alcohol dependence has not been determined.
Declinol is a commercially prepared herbal supplement made with kudzu root, bupleurum, rehmannia, gentian, tangerine peel and other herbs and vitamins. The makers of Declinol claim that it can help to reduce alcohol cravings. They say that Declinol is “to be used in the process of tapering back and gaining control physically so you can choose to make better decisions moving forward.” It is sold online at www.declinol.com and costs up to $699 for a two-month supply. There is little research available on the effectiveness of Declinol.
In addition to the treatments listed above, some believe that herbs such as St. John’s Wort, Igoba, passion flower, dandelion and ginseng may help with cravings and other symptoms. Arsenicum Album may help with restlessness and anxiety.
Again, according to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, “there are hundreds of different homeopathic remedies, which can be prescribed in a variety of different dilutions to treat thousands of symptoms.” For this reason it is important not to diagnose yourself but instead seek the advice of a medical professional before taking herbal or homeopathic remedies.
People who believe in the efficacy of herbal remedies as a supplemental treatment method, and prefer them to pharmacological treatment.
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