7. Lukas SE, Penetar D, Su Z, et al. A standardized kudzu extract (NPI-031) reduces alcohol consumption in nontreatment-seeking male heavy drinkers. Psychopharmacology. 2013;226(1):65-73. doi: 10.1007/s00213-012-2884-9.
Valerian extract and a proprietary Ayurvedic formula may reduce the severity of benzodiazepine withdrawal.
This is the fourth installment in a series of posts on non-pharmacologic approaches to alcohol and drug abuse. Previous posts reviewed the evidence for weak electrical current for reducing symptoms of opioid and alcohol withdrawal. This post is offered as a concise review of promising herbal and other natural product treatments of alcohol craving and withdrawal, narcotic withdrawal, and benzodiazepine withdrawal.
If you are struggling with an alcohol or drug abuse problem it is prudent to consult with a mental health provider or an addiction specialist before considering any natural product supplement.
Alcohol dependence is a problem facing many in our society. Many factors influence the decision to seek help with alcohol dependence, but embarrassment and shame may lead some toward self-treatment. 1 As with many other conditions, there are OTC herbal supplements that claim to be an effective treatment option. Three herbal supplements commonly seen as self-treatment options for alcohol dependency include St. John’s wort ( Hypericum perforatum ), Ashwagandha ( Withania somnifera ), and Kudzu ( Pueraria lobata ). Although many pharmacists are familiar with these herbal supplements to some degree, that understanding is often related to potential adverse effects and drug—drug interactions. Their use in treating alcohol dependence and the associated literature is not as well known. The goal of this brief article is to review what is known about using these supplements for treating alcohol dependence.
2. Rezvani AH, Overstreet D, Yang Y, Clark E. Attenuation of alcohol intake by extract of Hypericum perforatum (St John’s wort) in two different strains of alcohol-preferring rats. Alcohol and Alcoholism. 1999;34(5):699-705.
1. Dearing RL, Stuewig J, Tangney JP. On the importance of distinguishing shame from guilt: Relations to problematic alcohol and drug use. Addict Behav. 2005;30(7):1392-1404.
In view of these findings, individuals who are attempting to taper and discontinue benzodiazepines following prolonged use for insomnia should be encouraged to take a nightly 2mg dose of controlled-release melatonin. The above findings should be viewed in the context of a 2105 systematic review and meta-analysis that found no evidence that melatonin facilitated benzodiazepine discontinuation and inconsistent effects of melatonin on sleep quality (Wright 2015).