Addiction comes in many shapes and forms. It has no prejudices against or for any person. Chemicals and substances take a toll on our overall well-being. They can truly break a person down on so many different levels. Overcoming any form of addiction can be really difficult. It affects the mind, body, and soul, but addiction can be defeated!
Today’s walk through Mother Earth’s Medicine Cabinet will take us down the aisle full of herbs and plants that will help someone trying to overcome addiction. Before we move on to the herbs that heal I’d like to go over some information pertaining to addiction and how it has a negative impact on our body.
What Is Addiction?
Addiction does not only refer to drugs or substances; people can become addicted to gambling, sex, and many other acts that cause pleasure to the sensors in our brain -- things that cause our brain to release dopamine and other “feel-good” chemicals. The continued use of the drugs or substances becomes impulsive, almost a new way of living. Our bodies become used to this and crave whatever it is that provides the pleasure.
How Does Addiction Affect Health?
Substance addictions can lead to nutritional deficiencies in our body that vary based on the substance used. Alcohol, for instance, can cause deficiencies of vitamins D and B12, magnesium, and thiamine. These deficiencies ultimately lead to depression, feeling worn and rundown, having a foggy mind, and becoming easily distracted. Addictions can break down our body, causing damage to our vital organs and in some cases irreversible health issues.
Withdrawal Signs & Symptoms
When we stop using the drugs and substances we are addicted to, our body goes through withdrawal. The top signs and symptoms consist of:
- Difficulty Sleeping
- Excessive Sweating
- Cold Sweats
- Aches, Pains, Spasms
- Abdominal Pain
- Lack of Motivation
- Mood Swings
Part of overcoming addiction is detoxing our body. It is important to flush our system clean of any chemicals and toxins currently present. The liver, kidneys, and gallbladder all need help with cleansing and flushing our body.
- Burdock Root (Arctium lappa): Burdock root is a well-known blood purifier, as well as an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial. Burdock root is full of powerful antioxidants such as quercetin, phenolic acids, and luteolin. This plant also contains volatile oils, tannins, fatty oils, and plant sterols, which all contribute to healing. It makes a great tonic for the liver and kidneys. Burdock is a bitter so it stimulates digestion and appetite. The plant is nutritive because it is full of minerals; it helps give the body minerals that are often flushed out and released due to the kidneys not functioning properly. Burdock can be tasty wild foraged food, as well as medicine!
- Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale): Dandelions have many medicinal and culinary uses. The dandelion flowers make wonderful jelly, tea, and wine. The leaves and roots are used and have been used for centuries to treat the liver, kidneys, and gallbladder. Dandelion is a diuretic and blood tonic which makes it doubly useful for detoxing our body. Not only will it help cleanse the body but it also helps replenish and replace minerals and nutrients such as potassium and vitamin A. Dandelion is also useful at helping treat melanoma and other cancers.
- Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum): Milk thistle has been used for centuries as an herbal remedy for ailments pertaining to the liver, kidneys, and gallbladder. This herb is often recommended as a treatment for health issues caused by alcohol such as hepatitis and cirrhosis of the liver. Milk thistle helps to heal and protect the liver due to the silymarin it contains, which is found in the seeds. A group of flavonoids present in the thistle actually help repair damaged liver cells caused by alcohol and other harmful substances.
Herbs For Withdrawals
The withdrawals from addictive substances can cause us to feel really sick, and in fact a person does become sick in several ways. I’m going to share with you a few of the herbs that can help a person through the withdrawals aspect of overcoming addiction. It is a combination of herbs and mind over matter. I know that is easier said than done but it’s possible! Making it through the withdrawals is a big part of overcoming the addiction! It can take days and weeks to overcome the worst of the withdrawals but it only gets easier with time. It can take a year for some people before the physical desire and cravings fully subside, but it is unlikely that actual withdrawal symptoms will last that long.
- Kava (Piper methysticum): Kava is an amazing herb for easing anxiety, producing mental clarity, and increasing focus. Kava is known as a safe alternative for prescription anxiety medications. It is non-addictive and contains anti-hypnotic anxiolytics. Anxiolytics are used for treating General Anxiety Disorder (GAD), stress, and depression.
- Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla): Both German and Roman chamomile can be used as a sedative that helps to ease anxiety and bring about sleep. German chamomile is especially good for treating mild to moderate GAD. There is a wealth of healing provided by the chamomile plant such as helping ease and limit muscle spasms, which is another withdrawal symptom.
- Korean Ginseng (Panax ginseng): Ginseng is known for its natural and healthy energy-boosting properties but science shows that it is also effective for treating depression and depressive disorders. Ginseng, both Panax and Siberian, have incredible healing properties that add to our overall health and wellness. Ginseng is not only an energy booster but it is also an immune booster as well.
- L-Theanine: L-Theanine isn’t an herb -- it’s actually an amino acid found in green tea. This amino acid can help us stay calm and stress-free, helping to get us through the anger stages of withdrawal. L-Theanine blocks the binding of L-glutamic acids to glutamate receptors in our brain. This amino acid helps to reduce the body’s heart rate when feeling flustered, which allows us to calm down and cool off.
Overcoming addiction is a process for the whole body. A person will go through stages and phases during this difficult journey, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. It adds to the healing process when using natural and holistic healing to overcome addiction because there is less of a chance of becoming cross addicted to prescription drugs that seem to simply replace one addiction with another. Make sure you get enough vitamins and minerals for your body to stay strong!
My advice to anyone going through these trials at this time is to stick with it. It will be hard, maybe even one of the hardest things you’ve done in your life, but there is a way out! Stay strong and keep your head up. If you’re reading this and have a loved one who is trying to overcome addiction please try to be understanding of their fragile state and give them time and space to heal. Be there when you can to help out. I hope this walk through the Medicine Cabinet finds you well and in a good way. Happy Healing!