A Comprehensive Guide to Using Herbs for Addiction Withdrawal (and Recovery)

As of right now, many options for getting help with addiction are less than ideal (if not downright unaccessible). They’re expensive, require insurance (which means you would have had to have held a job all the way to rock bottom, which is unlikely.) Some have long waiting lists, and strict attendance and drug testing policies.

And the problem with some of them, like methadone maintenance programs and Suboxone, are more like trading in one addiction for another– albeit one that is now overseen by a doctor.

Some even argue that Methadone and Suboxone are the “medicalizing” addiction: pharmaceutical companies created a problem and they’ve also created the solution. So, pharmaceutical companies profit twice from making addicts out of people. (Rife with ethical questions)

It’s no wonder that people are seeking out herbal solutions to addiction and recovery rather than depending on the pharmaceutical companies that put them there in the first place.

Thankfully, this is one little-known area where herbal medicine can really help. I’ve come across many herbs that can help with withdrawal symptoms as well as recovering from the damaging effects that addiction had over the years.

Hopefully by putting this information out there, it will help those who are addicted to substances reclaim their lives without having to depend on expensive treatments or the unethical companies that put them there in the first place.

(I had way more to say than I could stuff into an article, so I’m considering just putting together an entire book for this.)

Each drug is unique, so the healing plan is going to be unique for each one. I tried to do my best to explain which remedies are good for which addictions.

As another side note, when I may use the word “addict” throughout this article; Some people (in the AODA counseling world) don’t like people to use that word because of it has a stigma attached to it. I personally think it’s more insulting to come up with cute euphemisms for it to pretend it’s something it’s not for a couple years until everyone starts to understand what you mean!

So, I wanted to point out that if I use this term, it’s never meant in a disparaging way. I believe addicts are worth just as much courtesy and respect as any other person.

Vitamins and Minerals

Before getting into the herbs, I want to make mention of vitamins and minerals because soooo many disorders, health problems and illnesses are simply the result of low vitamins and minerals. And when you’re taking substances, your body gets really depleted in certain ones (due to both the substance or not eating, sleeping or drinking enough water.)

Here’s what I would start taking right away, even before you try to quit. The more nourished your body is, the easier time you’re going to have with the withdrawal symptoms.

  • Multivitamin: (All drugs) Especially if you’re prone to skipping meals.
  • Vitamin B: (for Alcohol + Opiates) Many alcoholics and heroin addicts are deficient in Vitamin B, which is the cause of Wernicke’s Karsakoff syndrome that is associated with alcoholism.
  • Vitamin C: (for Opiates) Apparently mega doses of Vitamin C helped withdrawal symptoms in 50% of opiate addicts.
  • Zinc: (for Opiates) Another big one that people are usually deficient in
  • Magnesium: (All drugs) You’re PROBABLY deficient in magnesium. Even if you’re not, you’re PROBABLY going to have sore muscles. It’s an essential nervous system herb, plus studies found that it reduces the intensity of withdrawal symptoms, makes relapse less likely AND increases GABA in the brain. [4]
  • Water: (All drugs): Every single process in your body needs water to function properly! It’s what transports vitamins to all the cells in your body. So make sure you’re drinking a LOT of water to help your body flush out toxins as much as possible and help it to do its job(s).
  • Himalayan Sea Salt or Celtic Sea Salt (Stimulants): Add a pinch to your water while drinking. It’s gently detoxifying, full of minerals you’re probably deficient in, AND helps your adrenal glands (which are probably overworked from pumping out cortisol and adrenaline all the time.)

Using Kudzu for Alcohol Withdrawal

Kudzu is this weird sounding plan that also goes by the name “Japanese arrowroot”.

It’s been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for treating alcoholism since the year 600 BC. Energetic-wise, it’s a “cooling” herb– which means it reduces all of the “heat” in the body that’s caused by alcoholism.

It works by increasing the amount of time and the amount it takes for alcohol to travel to the brain, so the alcoholic is satiated faster and can stop drinking. [1]

In people who aren’t drinking, it reportedly reduces the urge to drink alcohol. In people who are in alcohol withdrawal, Kudzu has been great for alleviating nausea/vomiting, headache, fever (the cooling effect at work). I can imagine that this applies to hangovers as well.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that it’s a gentler form of Antabuse. Clinical evidence shows that it reduces the amount of drinks consumed by like 30-40% (impressive?). They also found that it reduces alcohol cravings overall.

There is a cross tolerance between alcohol and opiates, so there is a possibility that it COULD also work for opiate addiction as well. (I’m dying to know, please let me know in the comment section if your try this) BUT please don’t take them while you still have opiates in your system because there’s no way of telling how the two will act with each other.

I wrote a post talking about Kudzu here in this article about hypoglycemia.

Black Seed Oil (Nigella sativa)

Black seed oil was once promoted thousands of years ago by the prophet Muhammad, believe it or not. He believed it was a cure to most illnesses. In many ways he’s right! It’s been found to be a cure for candida infections, asthma, blood sugar irregularities, high cholesterol, hair regrowth… (There’s more. Much more.)

Black seed oil is an oil made from the black cumin seed. You would take about 1 teaspoon per day to help with symptoms– although I would go slow with it because sometimes can cause GI problems. (It gives me headaches but people swear by it)

Kava Kava

Activated Charcoal

Activated charcoal (or AC for short) is what they give out in emergency rooms for certain poisonings and overdoses. It essentially works by bonding to, absorbing and trapping toxins, thereby preventing them from being absorbed by the stomach.

There is plenty of anecdotal evidence that AC helps to lessen the severity of withdrawal symptoms (even though Healthline claims there’s no evidence to support it, I literally just saw an article like yesterday.) It can also help with anti-depressant withdrawals and purify water (beyond the scope of this article).

One person was able to curb their withdrawal symptoms by taking 1250mg as soon as withdrawal symptoms start, and then 1x/day thereafter.

(I also covered activated charcoal in this post about radiation poisoning.)

Milk Thistle

You probably don’t need me to tell you that with abuse of any drug, one of the health risks is damage to the liver.

Your liver has the unfortunate task of processing and filtering out all of the substances, toxics and metabolic waste products (as well as about 499 other functions! including producing hormones, converting ammonia to urea (urine), filtering/cleaning the blood, managing blood sugar and more.) (It’s a pretty big deal)

If you’re not drinking a lot of water, this increases the load on the liver and kidneys under normal conditions. (Also increasing the risk of kidney stones, too.) The load is even further multiplied when you’re taking a lot of stuff and not hydrating on top of it.

With alcohol, damage can take the form of cirrhosis and fatty liver disease. If you’re taking a lot of pills, the liver can easily become overloaded.

The liver is also impacted if you’ve an IV drug user for obvious reasons If you share needles, your risk of hepatitis goes up exponentially (not news to anyone XD)

The bottom line is that most recovering addicts and/or alcoholics would benefit from liver herbs, such as milk thistle.

Signs of an overloaded liver, at least according to the Traditional Chinese Medicine paradigm, is anger.

You can get milk thistle capsules. If you have a really bad liver problem, it might be better to drink as a decoction (tea) to avoid your body having to break down all of the capsules all the time!

Tincture is also an option, but you would probably have to make it with a menstruum that is *not* alcohol if you’re giving it to an alcoholic. (But some addicts have trouble with only certain kinds of drugs and not with alcohol, so in some cases you might be able to make the tincture with alcohol.


Capsules: Take (2) of the #00 capsules 3x/day [2]

A detoxification dose would be about 150 mg. For long term use or just as general liver support, you could take between 50-150 mg/day.

Velvet Bean (Dopa Mucuna) – (Stimulants)

If you’re taking stimulants often (or something like ecstasy and probably any other drug, honestly) it’s likely that your neurotransmitters are depleted and/or just plain whacked out for awhile. This is why depression, trouble with concentration, irritability and mood challenges come in after quitting.

Dopa Mucuna is a supplement made from a constituent called l-dopa, which is found in the Velvet Bean (or Mucuna pruriens). It can help to boost available dopamine in the brain, and has even been found to be useful in treating Parkinson’s disease (which occurs due to low dopamine.) [5]

Apparently it also can help with poison from snakebites (WHO KNEW?!)

While you can just take Dopa Mucuna by itself, the fact is that herbs work way better and have less side effects when the whole plant is used, rather than just isolated constituents. So, I would try and find some velvet bean.

Adaptogens (Meth, Adderall, Ritalin, Stimulants)

Chances are if you are taking a lot of stimulants, your nervous system is probably fried and you’re probably having problems with wonky cortisol levels (because stimulants release cortisol and adrenaline). So, if this was your drug of choice, one of the first things you should do is start taking an adaptogen (or a few!) to help nourish and strengthen your central nervous system/s and adrenals.

Adaptogens are essentially herbs that help your body adapt to stress. Unlike anxiety meds, the positive effects of some adaptogens will last after you stop taking the supplement, which is what is meant by the word “tonic”. There are a lot of them to choose from.

A Word About Kratom

I see a lot of herbalists saying Kratom is good for opiate withdrawal. It does act on opiate receptors, but that probably isn’t something we want to do with opiate addicts because that’s– again– creating a situation like with methadone where you’re just transferring the addiction to another drug.

Some people might argue otherwise but the fact is that if they were then going to go into therapy or treatment in an outpatient setting, if they were to tell an AODA counselor “yeah, I quit using heroin and I just take kratom now.” The AODA counselor would still view the kratom a problem that needs to be dealt with.

I’ve never used it personally (and I don’t feel a need to try it either because I need an addiction like I need a hole in my head XD) so this may be an ignorant opinion. I’m just speaking from a professional perspective, how it would be viewed and I don’t think it’s really a viable alternative.

In some ways, transferring the addiction to another drug could be a good thing because if you transfer the addiction to a drug that’s easier to wean off of, that could really help some people kick an opioid problem with less side effects and less dangerously than a trying to go off them cold turkey on heroin/opiates.

This is a method some rehab centers do when it’s dangerous to wean off of alcohol (yes, alcohol withdrawal can be deadly) or opiates.

But (and this is a huge but) there is a potential risk of getting someone addicted to another substance and thereby creating more problems rather than helping.

I would say in a supervised setting– if it’s someone else administering it to an addict and the addict doesn’t know substance you’re giving them to help them detox so they can’t go out and seek it for themselves– then that might work?

In a professional setting that wouldn’t be acceptable because it violates the client’s right to informed consent, and to know what they’re being given and the potential side effects LOL.

OBLIGATORY DISCLAIMER: This isn’t medical advice– this is not medical advice, LOL please don’t attempt this at home. I’m just saying that if you’re maybe trying to help a friend or s/o or something get off heroin that this might be a way to try it while lowing the risk of them getting addicted.

I would NOT try this if you’re trying to DIY quitting drugs (not unless it’s a life or death situation and you don’t have access to inpatient treatment for whatever reason.)

OTHER IMPORTANT NOTE: I would NOT take it with opiates already in your system, or if you’re taking benzodiazepines, methadone or any downers or anything similar that would suppress breathing, cough syrups etc. There are so many overdoses that happen as a result of combining medications that seem completely innocuous. Some people think that combining drugs can have a balancing effect but combining opiates tends to have an added effect (cumulative effect?) where one can make the other stronger and it depresses the respiratory system too much and you can stop breathing.

I don’t think there’s any research on this out there, but this is what you typically can expect from combining those kinds of drugs, so it’s REALLY important to not mix chemicals and herbs and run this by an integrative medicine doctor before attempting.

Kava Kava (Kratom, Benzos, Alcohol, Opiates)

And for the people that did kratom, you can use kava kava for withdrawal symptoms from kratom. (LOL)

Kava Kava also works on the neurotransmitter GABA, which is the same neurotransmitter that benzodiazepines like Xanax act on. So, it’s helpful for post-quitting anxiety and tension. (I would not take this before you go to work or driving machinery or something. LOL Test it out at night time to see how it impacts you before taking it at work)

I found kava really helpful when I was trying to go off of stupid benzodiazepines that my doctor had me on that I just did not want to be on anymore.

Consequently it works for alcohol withdrawal AND I’m pretty sure opiates. I will look up sources for this eventually.

Contraindications: This is one that you should not use if you have liver problems. (or so I’ve heard). I haven’t looked into the actual case study myself or anything but when I do, I will update this.


I really hope that this article helped to give you some ideas on what you can use to make the withdrawal, detox and recovery process much, much easier. I would think that if you follow any/all of the above, you would be soooo not having withdrawal symptoms. Heck, you might even be feeling better than on a normal day. (Kidding)

For people that have problems with the liver I would exercise caution with just downing a bunch of supplements because THAT can be really hard on the liver also (which already might be in a fragile state with drug and alcohol use). So try and choose the ones that you think are best and not rely on just one form of these things– try teas, tinctures (not alcohol-based ones, of course), food/diet and capsules.

Have you tried any of these for withdrawal/recovery and what was your experience with them? Leave a comment below!


[1] https://www.addictionresource.net/blog/methadone-maintenance-cost/
[1] https://fitrecovery.com/kudzu-for-alcoholism/
[2] Michael Moore, swsbm.com
[3] https://stonegatecenter.com/blog/2021/01/28/top-10-natural-alternatives-that-can-aid-opiate-withdrawal/
[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK507260/
[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3942911

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