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Alan Trachtenberg, Md  
     
     


Original source of this article: (http://www.smileherb.com/Smilebiz/HerbstoReplaceDrugs.asp)

First of all every substance abuser is already using herbal therapy. It is just that the herbs chosen are way too refined and strong, used without knowledge, and used without any model of balance in health or goal. Alcohol is distilled from potatoes, corn, rye, and other seed bearing plants. Marihuana is herbaceous and cocaine is a shrub. Coffee is a shrub; refined sugar comes from sugar cane. Tobacco and tea, some of the cultures favorite stimulants are also seed bearing plants. Heroin is a poppy. So the question is not whether substance abusers should use herbs, they already are!!! If this culture was honest about an intelligent peaceful educational way to approach the overuse of powerful herbs we have labeled the "drug war", we would honor the fact that everyone in the culture in using plants to modify their state of being. We would therefore educate people about the balanced use and growing of health giving herbs, instead of letting wounded people figure out Herbalism by trial and mostly error with some of the strongest and most dangerous herbs money can buy.
In any discussion of therapies for substance abusers, it is fundamental to address the roots of the excessive behaviors not just the result to the soul, thoughts, emotions and body. In my 27 years of experience as an herbalist, the greatest thing about using herbs as therapy for substance abuse is not that the person heals their hangover or binge damage, though this is certainly a good thing. Rather the greatest gift herbs offer is building the foundation for a sense of well being and "being comfortable in your own skin".
Herbs to Replace Drugs & Alcohol
by Tom Wolfe, AHG
"It's the stinking thinking starts the drinking"
AA slogan
"God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creeps upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so"
Genesis 1:29-30

First of all every substance abuser is already using herbal therapy. It is just that the herbs chosen are way too refined and strong, used without knowledge, and used without any model of balance in health or goal. Alcohol is distilled from potatoes, corn, rye, and other seed bearing plants. Marihuana is herbaceous and cocaine is a shrub. Coffee is a shrub; refined sugar comes from sugar cane. Tobacco and tea, some of the cultures favorite stimulants are also seed bearing plants. Heroin is a poppy. So the question is not whether substance abusers should use herbs, they already are!!! If this culture was honest about an intelligent peaceful educational way to approach the overuse of powerful herbs we have labeled the "drug war", we would honor the fact that everyone in the culture in using plants to modify their state of being. We would therefore educate people about the balanced use and growing of health giving herbs, instead of letting wounded people figure out Herbalism by trial and mostly error with some of the strongest and most dangerous herbs money can buy.
In any discussion of therapies for substance abusers, it is fundamental to address the roots of the excessive behaviors not just the result to the soul, thoughts, emotions and body. In my 27 years of experience as an herbalist, the greatest thing about using herbs as therapy for substance abuse is not that the person heals their hangover or binge damage, though this is certainly a good thing. Rather the greatest gift herbs offer is building the foundation for a sense of well being and "being comfortable in your own skin". Once that gift of the spirit of herbs is given and received, the person feels violated in mind heart and body by excessive use/abuse of booze and drugs. Without a sense of a healthy state, the endless treating of symptoms often fails because the substance abuse continues and continues. Of course herbs are only a part of a total recovery package, but I am sure that most folks underestimate how quickly and deeply herbs can build a radically different experience of ones physical body. Nothing I know of can cleanse the liver so safely and completely as these herbs that are inexpensive, safe, and easy to prepare. So let's look at these commonly available, inexpensive, and balanced herbs to replace the all too common abuse of illegal, expensive, and way too refined strong herbs. I have selected six herbs that are commonly available that will if used properly within a total recovery therapy, partially or completely replace the dependence on booze, marihuana and cocaine. The five herbs are kava-kava, passionflower, kudzu, angelica and oats. I have also included one herbal mix that contains three of these "full recovery herbs" and has been found effective by each of the Herbalists practicing at Smile that I consulted for this article.
Kudzu: Pueraria lobata (also the species phunbergiana) When my wife and I visit my younger son who goes to college in Atlanta, as we approach "Hotlanta" coming south we pass by miles of tall tress in forests that has been overtaken by Kudzu. Climbing high into the tops of the trees, Kudzu gives the forest a rounded look that is unique. Because the plant is so invasive, covering acre after acre of forest in the Southeastern USA, it is commonly known as "the plant that ate the south".
It would be a great day if a medicinal use were commonly accepted for this plant so destructive to the forests of the south. Well the use is well known, but not yet common in use. The use for this plant that is everywhere in the south is to help with alcoholism. High in isoflavones Kudzu is excellent for many other soothing applications as well. In China Kudzu is called Ge Gen and is used for measles and muscular pain especially back pain. Kudzu is used by American Herbalists to treat headache and dizziness, and to increase blood flow to the brain. Anyone familiar with alcohol abuse knows that often sugar cravings are linked to the boozing. I consider one of the foundations of Herbalism to be the concept of a balance in diet, rather than just an accumulation of nutrients. One of the most important gifts of herbal use to the substance abuser is the reduction of craving swings, especially for refined sugars. The consistent use of Kudzu and other Basically Kudzu is the perfect herb to help liver metabolism for large meals or any overloading of the demands on the liver. Kudzu basically helps the digestion and use of fat and carbohydrates, and as is commonly known alcohol often damages the liver more than any other organ. Kudzu is the herb of choice for hangovers or more proactively to reduce or eliminate the excess drinking. Kudzu root is available in powder form for capsules or to make tea. Two teaspoons of the powder to a pint of water slowly cooked makes a bland tea that can be spiced up with cinnamon or licorice as the perfect soothing brew. One use would be for the rough edges on the soul that come with a hangover. Of course treating the symptoms of alcohol abuse are not going to be satisfactory in the long run, but exposing substance abusers to the intelligent use of herbal medicine places their unsteady walk on a firm green path to recovery.
Kava-kava: Piper methysticum is our first herb of choice for a recovery program, or for anyone who needs help to relax during the hectic week. Kava-kava is the rhizome, or underground stem of a bush that grows in the South Sea Islands. Recent testing has confirmed what herbalists have been saying all along: Kava helps in nervous anxiety, stress and restlessness. So for the substance abuser, kava provides a safe way to take the edge off the process of weaning away from drugs or alcohol, and a sensible herb to use to help in a recovery program. Kava is available in tincture (2-3milliliters three times daily) or in capsules some of which are standardized to 5-12% kava lactones or kava pyrones. Check the strength of the capsule you are taking and start with 60-120 mg of kava lactones daily. This usually works out to two to six 500 mg. capsules daily. The PDR for Herbal medicine reports Kava to have "no health hazards in conjunction with a properly administered therapeutic dose" defined as a treatment period of less than three months. I would agree with some restrictions on the length of therapy, and would advise people to generally not rely only on one herb. In my years of clinical experience I have not known anyone following these guidelines to have any problem with kava, but it should be noted that the PDR for Herbal Medicine does caution against the use of kava in depression.
Passionflower: Passiflora incarnata is one of my favorite herbs. It is a vine, a striking beauty and grows in the Washington DC area easily to 10 feet high. Two weeks ago (May 1st) it was pushing its way up through the asphalt driveway at Smile determined to climb up as is its nature. I suppose that this is a perfect image of its use, it helps folks climb up through tough circumstance to grow tall and strong again. In my office at Smile I have a huge full color picture of Passionflower on the wall which is a very striking example of how beautiful some of these herbal medicines are. I also have a picture of Passionflower as the screen saver on my computer, as it has been a good friend to me personally. David Hoffmann, one of the most respected Herbalists about today, taught me about Passionflower, and so I pass on the joys of knowing this plant to you. Passionflower used in this context of recovery from substance abuse is what we Herbalists call a nervine relaxant, an herb that helps in nervousness and insomnia. For the person in recovery Passionflower offers a completely safe way to relax or sedate when used in combination with kava or other nervine relaxants. This action has been confirmed by modern western science and she is listed in the PDR for Herbal Medicines as "useful for nervous agitation and mild insomnia and without health hazard or side effects when used properly". Herbalists have also used passionflower for gastrointestinal complaints, hysteria and hemorrhoids. A beginning dose for Passionflower is a tea made by infusing ½ ounce of herb to a pint of water for 30 minutes to an hour, or 2-3 milliliters of tincture twice daily. One interesting side effect that has been reported is the effect that Passionflower has on some folks to make their dreams more vivid with brighter colors. I have found this to be true in my own work with dreams. For this effect I use between 5-10 ml of Passionflower just before retiring.
Angelica: Angelica archangelica is another power plant that grows well in the Washington DC area and I believed to be indigenous to Syria. I have tow Angelica plants in my garden and they are among the most interesting plants I have ever grown. The base of the stem is a blood red-purple color that really defies description. The entire plant is medicinal and has a characteristic aroma that is bracing and therapeutic in itself. The root is the main part we will use in this recovery program, for it has the actions of increasing the effectiveness of the liver, and reducing spasms in the gastrointestinal tract. These two actions make it a specific for the recovering alcoholic. I have also noticed an effect of the use of Angelica in larger doses that I have not seen recorded anywhere. This effect needs to be researched more fully for it could prove to be one of the most important herbal actions possible. In my observations with recovering alcoholics over the decades Angelica root in large doses over a three to six week period, reduces the craving for alcohol. Even if this action does not prove true in larger studies, though I would bet that it would, the improvement in the substance abusers digestion, liver function, and appetite are al actions that will help the recovery. Angelica is dosed in tincture 2ml twice daily, or as a decoction (slowly boiled) 1 teaspoon to each cup of water, three to five cups daily. This also would be the dose to test out the three to six week program for the reduction in the craving for booze.
Recovery supreme is a mix of nine herbs extracted in glycerin made by the Gaia herb company. Two of the herbs in this product are mentioned in this article, Passionflower, Kudzu. The others are all herbs known to be effective in recovery; I just did not have space in this article to go through each one. The other seven are Schizandra berries, Milk Thistle Seed, Oats, Indian Gooseberry, Licorice, Peppermint, and fresh Ginger juice. With Ginger, Milk Thistle and Peppermint this mix provides balance to the patients metabolism, by supporting the liver, and the gastrointestinal tract. It also nourishes and tones by the inclusion of Oats, Schizandra and Kudzu. Recovery Supreme is one of the finest blends available to make an easily prepared tea since all of the herbs are already mixed together for you in an easy to use liquid form. Though I prefer people to make their own teas and thereby get to know the plants a bit by handling them, we all know that people in recovery are often struggling and making slowly cooked teas may not be their idea of what is helpful. Recovery Supreme provides full herbal support without the need to prepare anything, so it is a valuable mix to have around the house for immediate availability. Recovery Supreme is dosed at 2-3ml three times daily during crisis and 1 ml twice daily in calmer times.
So friends, here are some beginning herbal therapies for use in the struggle with the demon of drug or alcohol dependence. Use them properly with a bit of understanding and these herbs will help toward the goal of full recovery of sobriety and balance. For those of you who are wrestling with or have friends or family wrestling with alcoholism, give Angelica anchangelica a chance to help. The Latin name means "angel of the archangels" There is indeed a good reason for this that is available to you if you will but let it in.

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