If you struggle with alcohol use disorder (AUD), you may have considered at-home remedies and herbs that help with alcohol withdrawal. Supplements can be a great way to assist in detox and counter cravings. However, they are not a replacement for professional help.
Throughout this article, we’re going to take a deeper look at what to take to help with alcohol withdrawal. At the end, we invite you to ask further questions.
What are the Effects of Alcohol Withdrawal?
Alcohol acts as a depressive on our bodies, causing changes in nerves as well as a slow down of brain function. ¹ If you continue to consume alcohol, it’s going to cause changes to your central nervous system. ²
Due to these effects, the body goes through a number of changes when you stop consuming alcohol. Common symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include: ³
- High blood pressure
- Racing heart
- Shaky hands
It’s important to receive medical treatment if you’re experiencing alcohol withdrawal since extreme cases can sometimes be fatal. ⁴
Herbs that Help with Alcohol Withdrawal
While herbs and supplements aren’t the answer to alcohol withdrawal, they can act as a tool in easing withdrawal symptoms. Since there are so many options available, it may seem overwhelming if you aren’t familiar with each of these. For this reason, we put together a list of the 5 best herbs that help with alcohol withdrawal:
1.) Kudzu Flower
The kudzu flower has been used for generations as a source of various minerals, such as iron, sodium and calcium. Furthermore, kudzu contains isoflavones which are similar to estrogen. In turn, some women have used the kudzu flower as a means of battling menopause symptoms and other health problems, such as: ⁵
- Stomach pains
Since kudzu has so many benefits, some have used it to help with alcohol withdrawal. Not to mention, some also use it as a way to combat hangovers.
One study found that kudzu had alcohol-curbing effects when given to addicted rats. The rats that were given a dose of kudzu were 50% to 60% less likely to consume alcohol and didn’t experience as intense withdrawal symptoms. ⁶
2.) Milk Thistle
Milk thistle is often used as a natural detox cleanser to help purify the liver. In terms of alcoholism, it’s also been found to: ⁷
- Facilitate gut health
- Increase bile circulation
- Prevent alcoholic cirrhosis
- Provide immune system support
- Reduce inflammation
A number of studies have reported that milk thistle has benefits in helping people ease out of alcoholism. More specifically, in helping the liver recover from alcoholism. ⁸
However, milk thistle shouldn’t be your primary form of liver treatment as there isn’t enough research to suggest this.
While ashwagandha is typically used for stress support, some studies suggest it can be used for alcohol withdrawal and cravings. For example, in one study using alcohol-addicted mice, ashwagandha relieved symptoms of anxiety that came from withdrawal. ⁹
However, other studies suggest that ashwagandha may have negative effects due to its anxiolytic effects. ¹⁰
4.) St. John’s Wort
While St. John’s wort is normally used to treat depression, it’s serotonin-increasing properties have been found beneficial for those struggling with alcohol dependence. In fact, some studies suggest that depression and alcohol abuse function on the brain and body in similar manners. ¹¹
Currently, there are a few studies that have shown St. John’s wort to be effective in reducing alcohol withdrawal symptoms. ¹² However, results are inconsistent and, therefore, non-conclusive.
Still, being that it’s been found to have benefits for a variety of mental health conditions, many swear by St. John’s wort as an effective treatment tool in alcoholism.
If you plan to take St. John’s wort, it’s important to note that it does have negative drug interactions with antidepressants – a common medication for those in alcohol rehabilitation. ¹³ For this reason, you should consult your doctor before taking St. John’s wort.
5.) Cannabidiol (CBD)
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a common cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant. While it’s not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill legalized it nationwide. ¹⁴
Since its discovery, CBD has been found to have a number of therapeutic properties, including: ¹⁵
- Alleviation of cancer-related symptoms
- Anxiety and depression relief
- Improve sleep
- Neuroprotective properties
- Pain relief
- Seizure (epilepsy) reduction
- Substance abuse treatment
While research is slim, studies have revealed that CBD can help with a number of addictions, including cocaine, opioid, stimulant, tobacco, and cannabis dependence. ¹⁶ Furthermore, one study observing rats found CBD helped curb impulsive behaviors in rats with alcohol addiction. ¹⁷
Being its anti-pain and anti-anxiety effects, CBD may be a suitable supplement for treating alcohol withdrawal. However, more research is necessary before we can draw conclusions.
How to Help Someone Going Through Alcohol Withdrawal
If you know someone going through alcohol withdrawal, it can be difficult to know how to help. While you can recommend the supplements mentioned above, you’ll also want to consider:
- Call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room if symptoms only worsen
- Consider rehab facilities if your loved one has a serious dependence
- Keep a close eye on the withdrawal process
- Research alcoholism, withdrawal, and symptoms
- Support them at home or another safe space (away from alcohol drinkers)
- Understand triggering behaviors and signs and avoid them
Alcohol withdrawal isn’t easy. While the most grueling symptoms will last from one to two weeks, cravings will continue to be an issue in the future. For this reason, your loved one is going to need a strong support system in order to combat those urges.
While alcohol withdrawal isn’t easy, there are ways to help curb symptoms. The supplements mentioned on our list aren’t meant to act as an answer. Rather, they can be a helping tool alongside traditional treatment options.
If you plan on taking any of the supplements mentioned here, you should speak to a medical professional in order to ensure they’ll benefits your situation.
Still have questions concerning herbs that help with alcohol withdrawal?
We invite you to ask them in the comments section below. If you have any further knowledge to share – whether personal or professional – we’d also love to hear from you.
¹ U.S. Department of Health & Human Services: ALCOHOL’S DAMAING EFFECTS ON THE BRAIN
² AIMS Neuroscience: Effect of alcohol on the central nervous system to develop neurological disorder
³ MedlinePlus: Alcohol withdrawal
⁴ Pathophysiological Insights: Complications of Alcohol Withdrawal
⁵ Journal of Ethnopharmacology: Kudzu root: traditional uses and potential medicinal benefits in diabetes and cardiovascular diseases
⁶ Journal of Medicinal Food: Kudzu root extract suppresses voluntary alcohol intake and alcohol withdrawal symptoms in P rats receiving free access to water and alcohol
⁷ StatPearls [Internet]: Milk Thistle
⁸ AHRQ Evidence Report Summaries: Milk Thistle: Effects on Liver Disease and Cirrhosis and Clinical Adverse Effects
⁹ Pharmacognosy Magazine: Effect of withinia somnifera and shilajit on alcohol addiction in mice
¹⁰ Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Disease: Evaluation of Ashwagandha in alcohol withdrawal syndrome
¹¹ ISRN Psychiatry: The Association between Alcohol Dependence and Depression before and after Treatment for Alcohol Dependence
¹² ScienceDaily: Study Finds St. John’s Wort Can Cut Alcohol Consumption
¹³ National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: St. John’s Wort and Depression: In Depth
¹⁴ Food & Drug Administration (FDA): FDA Regulation of Cannabis and Cannabis-Derived Products, Including Cannabidiol (CBD)
¹⁵ MedlinePlus: Cannabidiol (CBD)
¹⁶ Substance Abuse: Research and Treatment: Cannabidiol as an Intervention for Addictive Behaviors
¹⁷ Neuropsychopharmacology: Unique treatment potential of cannabidiol for the prevention of relapse to drug use