Herbal Approaches to Alcohol Dependence: Proof and Dangers

Herbs and Helpers

Erik Hefti procured his PharmD and Master’s degree in pharmaceutical science at the University at Buffalo. His research focus is pediatric pharmacogenomic factors impacting cancer chemotherapy. He is currently completing a PhD in pharmaceutical science at the University at Buffalo while practising as a clinical pharmacist at Sisters of Charity Hospital, St. Joseph Campus in Buffalo, NY.

Alcohol dependence is a problem facing many in our society. Many factors influence the decision to seek help with alcohol dependence, but shame and disgrace may lead some toward self-treatment. 1 As with many other conditions, there are OTC herbal supplements that claim to be an effective therapy option. Three herbal supplements commonly seen as self-treatment options for alcohol dependency include St. Johnas 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 drugadrug interactions. Their use in treating alcohol dependence and the related literature is not as well known. The objective of this brief article is to review what is known about employing these supplements for treating alcohol dependence.

1. St. Johnas wort : Most pharmacists are familiar with this herbal supplement and its( unapproved) used only for depression. Some may not be aware that it can be a component in adetoxa supplements and may be used by some to self-treat alcohol dependence. There have been some scientific studies analyse the use of St. Johnas wort to treat alcohol addiction in rat models that indicated some promise. The employ of St. Johnas wort reduced alcohol intake in rats, but thereas scant evidence that St. Johnas wort can have a similar impact in human topics. 2,3 Currently, the known hazards of taking St. Johnas wort far outweigh any potential clinical benefit. 2. Ashwagandha : This herbal supplement is used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine and has been used by some to overcome alcohol withdrawal or cravings. Many assert that it has anxiolytic effects that helps prevent alcohol cravings. Rat examines showed that Ashwagandha lowered anxiety links with alcohol withdrawal, but its impact on seizure threshold hasnat been thoroughly established. 4,5 Thereas currently no persuading proof in human topics that supports its use in treating alcohol dependency.

3. Kudzu: Kudzu is often advertised as a way for drinkers to cut back on alcohol. Itas thought to act as an aaversiona agent, inhibiting the clearance of acetaldehyde( a toxic metabolic byproduct of alcohol ), which may decrease alcohol cravings. This is similar to how the approved drug Antabuse( disulfiram) works in the body. 6 Modest reductions in alcohol intake were noted in a single study of young human topics taking kudzu extract. 7 Other examines didnat mirror these results in humans topics. 8 Kudzu hasnat yet indicated a clear benefit to drinkers trying to reduce alcohol consumption.

As with many other OTC herbal supplements, thereas little persuading evidence that the aforementioned supplements are clinically effective therapies of alcohol dependency. There have been some scientific studies conducted, but a majority involve animal models and present modest findings that rarely translate into conclusive human trials. The primary danger of these supplements in those with alcohol dependency is not inevitably knowing the drugadrug interaction potential or side effect. The real danger may be the possible delay in seeking professional help for the dependence. If asked about herbal therapies for a drinking problem, it is advisable to recommend speaking with a professional rather than self-treatment with over-the-counter supplements .

1. Dearing RL, Stuewig J, Tangney JP. On the importance of distinguishing disgrace from guilt: Relations to problematic alcohol and drugs. Addict Behav. 2005; 30( 7 ): 1392 -1 404.
2. Rezvani AH, Overstreet D, Yang Y, Clark E. Attenuation of alcohol intake by extract of Hypericum perforatum( St Johnas wort) in two different stress of alcohol-preferring rats. Alcohol and Alcoholism. 1999; 34( 5 ): 699 -7 05.
3. De Vry J, Maurel S, Schreiber R, De Beun R, Jentzsch K. Comparison of hypericum extracts with imipramine and fluoxetine in animal models of depression and alcoholism. European Neuropsychopharmacology. 1999; 9( 6 ): 461 -4 68.
4. Ruby B, Benson MK, Kumar EP, Sudha S, Wilking JE. Evaluation of Ashwagandha in alcohol withdrawal syndrome. Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Disease. 2012; 2: S856-S860.
5. Mohan L, Rao U, Gopalakrishna H, Nair V. Evaluation of the anxiolytic activity of NR-ANX-C( a polyherbal formulation) in ethanol withdrawal-induced anxiety behaviour in rats. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2010; 2011. pii: 327160. doi: 10.1155/ 2011/327160.
6. McGregor NR. Pueraria lobata( Kudzu root) hangover legal remedies and acetaldehyde-associated neoplasm danger. Alcohol. 2007; 41( 7 ): 469 -4 78.
7. Lukas SE, Penetar D, Su Z, et al. A standardized kudzu extract( NPI-0 31) reduces alcohol consumption in nontreatment-seeking male heavy drinkers. Psychopharmacology. 2013; 226( 1 ): 65 -7 3. doi: 10.1007/ s00213-012-2884-9.
8. Shebek J, Rindone JP. A pilot study exploring the effect of kudzu root on the drinking habits of patients with chronic alcoholism. J Altern Complement Med. 2000; 6( 1 ): 45 -4 8.

Source: Pharmacy Times

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