Methadone as a Short-Term Detox Drug

Herbal Remedies that can Help with an Opioid Detox

opioid detox

Opioids may just be the most addictive substances out there. Whether you got them prescribed by a doctor or bought them illegally, it’s easy to get very hooked in no time. That’s why opioid detox can be so hard.

These drugs are among the most deadly, killing many thousands of Americans each year.

It’s important to quit as soon as possible, no matter how bad the withdrawal symptoms. The sooner you start, the better your odds of surviving the addiction.

There are several ways you can support your recovery and ease the suffering caused by addiction and withdrawal. Not all of these are fancy, complex, or expensive solutions.

Many natural herbs can help treat your symptoms and make your recovery easier.

Keep reading to learn about the best herbs for opiate withdrawal help.

1. Ginseng

Ginseng is a perennial plant with big, fleshy roots. There are 11 different species. Many consider ginseng the best remedy for fatigue.

This plant contains a cocktail of active substances. The most praised ones are the ginsenosides.

Ginseng is an adaptogen. Adaptogens are herbs that help stabilize your physiological functions and maintain homeostasis. They get their name from their ability to adapt to your needs.

They work like a thermostat. When a thermostat senses a low temperature, it starts heating up. If it senses a hot temperature, it cools down. Adaptogens like ginseng can give you energy and calm you down.

When you taper off or quit cold turkey, you will feel a lot of fatigue. This can last for weeks or, in extreme cases, months.

If you have responsibilities that demand work, such as a job or children to take care of, this will be a big struggle. This is a major factor in many relapses and life crises.

You don’t want to have to choose between getting clean and taking care of your life, just because you feel terrible.

Ginseng and other adaptogens will make this easier. Giving you the energy and tension relief you need to deal with opioid detox.

The main benefits of ginseng are:

  • More energy without overstimulation
  • Better response to stress
  • Improved adrenal system health
  • Restored hormonal balance
  • Less anxiety and fatigue

This randomized double-blind study conducted in 2010 confirmed the effectiveness of American ginseng against cancer-induced fatigue.

Opioid withdrawal is a severe physical condition. Treating it with adaptogens calls for high-quality herbs. Look for quality ginseng or ginseng extracts.

Take two to three doses each day for the best results.

2. Cannabis

Cannabis has a wide range of beneficial effects on sufferers of opioid withdrawal and PAWS.

It’s anti-inflammatory and reduces pain with zero risk of overdose. And it’s not very addicting. The psychoactive “high” of cannabis can also help reduce opioid cravings.

Cannabis is gaining popularity as an official treatment for opioid detox. A recent survey also revealed that 92% of respondents would rather use cannabis than prescription painkillers.

Other than the positive effects on mood and pain management, cannabis is also good for:

  • Nausea relief
  • Temperature regulation
  • Reducing anxiety
  • Curing diarrhea
  • Stimulating your appetite
  • Improving sleep
  • Relieving muscle cramps

While natural cannabis and extracts require a prescription in most states, CBD oil is more available.

This product has no THC, so it doesn’t have the psychedelic effects. It still has most of the beneficial effects, pain and stress relief in particular.

CBD makes a good remedy for opioid detox, although the herb itself is considered a more effective and better option.

3. Passionflower

This beautiful flower has a long history as a natural remedy for various health afflictions.

The relevant beneficial effects for opioid withdrawal are:

  • Less insomnia
  • A calmer gastrointestinal tract
  • Reduced anxiety and depression
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Pain relief

Passionflower contains harmine and harmaline. These are MAOIs (monoamine oxidase inhibitors.) Many other flavonoids found in passion flower are also MAOIs.

MAOs are enzymes responsible for breaking down neurotransmitters. Inhibiting these enzymes from doing their job can have great positive effects on your mood.

Taking MAOIs during opioid detox can give you an abundance of these mood-lifting chemicals in your brain:

  • Serotonin – Causes happiness and relaxation
  • Epinephrine and Norepinephrine – Increase energy, reduce fatigue, depression, and stress
  • Dopamine – Responsible for desire and pleasure

Pharmaceutical MAO inhibitors were once common prescriptions for depression. The downside was that certain foods would cause dangerous reactions with the medicine.

The mild, natural, reversible MAOIs found in passion flower are a safe option. They help fight depression without any unpleasant side effects, unlike modern antidepressants.

It affects many of the same brain receptors though. One key example is the production of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). This neurotransmitter reduces stress and relaxes muscles. It’s part of why coffee feels so good.

You can buy the herb in its natural state for eating or tea infusions, or you can buy tinctures or capsules.

3-4 doses a day grants the best effects.

4. Reishi Mushroom

This mushroom is one of the most valuable and sought-after adaptogens in natural medicine. It’s been revered for its medicinal properties in China for over 2,000 years.

Reishi is in the “tonic herb” category. Ginseng is another example of such herbs.

The Chinese consider tonic herbs so important and beneficial to overall health and life quality that many recommend taking them every day. Even if you’re in perfect health.

As an adaptogen, reishi can increase energy when you’re fatigued. However, the most sought-after effect is the improved mood.

Other benefits include:

  • Mental relaxation and focus
  • Less depression and anxiety
  • A stronger immune system
  • Better cardiovascular function
  • Accelerates the liver’s ability to clear out drugs and other toxins

When it comes to relieving PAWS symptoms, reishi mushroom may be the best natural treatment. It can also induce a slight euphoric effect. The effect will be subtle at first, but increases with repeated use.

You can buy it in capsule form or as whole mushrooms. Take it twice a day to boost your brain and nervous system.

5. Kava Kava Root

Also known as just Kava. This plant comes from the western Pacific Ocean region. Polynesian people have used it for relaxation and pain relief for ages.

What makes it great is that these effects don’t come with any brain fog. On the contrary, Kava increases cognitive function and mental clarity.

Kava is a revered herb throughout the West Pacific region. Kava ceremonies are frequent. These can be important events attended by key religious and political figures.

The kavalactones in Kava Kava root have seen growing popularity as a remedy for opioid withdrawal and PAWS.

Some compare the positive effects to those of alcohol, for example:

  • Relaxation
  • Pain relief
  • Light euphoria
  • Talkativeness

It can also treat convulsions and seizures.

There are a few different ways of using this herb. You can buy the whole root and make Kava tea. You can also buy capsules, tinctures, or concentrated extracts.

6. Ginger

This common household herb can provide great opioid detox aid.

Gingerols are similar to the COX-2 inhibitors found in non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like Advil.

It’s a popular home remedy for arthritis and muscle discomfort.

Another helpful quality when dealing with opioid withdrawal and PAWS is its effect on the gastrointestinal tract. It helps reduce stomach aches, acid reflux, and nausea.

Scientific studies have confirmed these properties.

Final Thoughts on Helpful Herbs for Opioid Detox

Kicking opioids doesn’t have to mean either using harsh pharmaceuticals to reduce withdrawal symptoms or face them head-on without any help.

The herbs listed above can help you a lot with your symptoms and speed up recovery.

They work well together, and also make perfect companions for methadone treatment.

About the author

Dr. Michael Carlton, MD.

Leading addictionologist, Michael Carlton, M.D. has over 25 years of experience as a medical practitioner. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and returned for his MD from the College of Medicine at the University of Arizona in 1990. He completed his dual residency in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics and his Fellowship in Toxicology at Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center and Phoenix Children’s Hospital.

He has published articles in the fields of toxicology and biomedicine, crafted articles for WebMD, and lectured to his peers on medication-assisted treatment. Dr. Carlton was a medical director of Community Bridges and medically supervised the medical detoxification of over 30,000 chemically dependent patients annually.

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