“One of the primary aims in Dealing with Addiction is a smooth, obstruction-releasing qi flow throughout the body-mind so that intoxicants are no longer craved. This entails clearing the liver, which directs smooth qi flow in general. Embedded in the liver are chemical residues representing the life history of unresolved problems, denials, resentments and repressions that have been masked by intoxicants.” Paul Pitchford, Healing With Whole Foods.

Many people have addictions in today’s stressful living. These can range from alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, LSD, amphetamines and heroine to the more common stimulants such as tobacco, coffee and refined sugar. I love the idea of clearing the liver to bring back the life enhancing flow of energy or qi that Chinese Medicine refers to. Why are some more prone to addictions than others and, more importantly, what can we do about them?

I used to agree with the old gene research that says we inherit a gene for alcoholism and other addictions. However, since becoming familiar with the work of Bruce Lipton and other epigeneticist (meaning above genes), I now believe that our environment (including food) and our beliefs either switch on or off the gene relating to a particular “dis-ease”. That means we are in control of what we “choose” to inflict on our bodies! In the case of addictions, a major cause can be environmental and familial. We learn, usually as children, how to deal with stress and challenges in our lives and if a parent uses drugs or alcohol to deal with these stresses, the child will also learn that pattern. We also often adopt bad eating habits from our family of origin.

Once addictions have been going on for years our bodies will start to show signs of degeneration in the form of heat, anger, headaches, depression and eye problems which all relate to the liver; kidney/adrenal stress such as dizziness, low back pain, urinary problems, early senility, loss of hair, impotence and many more. Lung conditions can of course be prominent as well as general weakness and frailness, pale skin, a thin physical body and a less than robust constitution.

The first factor to address when Dealing with Addiction is regenerative diet which will help to clear harmful intoxicants and emotions from the liver.

Foods to include are:

Organic vegetables, fruits, legumes and grains. If the person is wheat or gluten sensitive then these will need to be eliminated from the diet. Foods specific to helping with alcohol addiction in Chinese Medicine are tofu, mung beans and their sprouts, fresh wheat germ, romaine lettuce, spinach, bananas and unrefined sugar cane juice. Honey can also be helpful during a hangover to reduce the desire for more alcohol.

An emphasis on chlorophyll rich foods and powders such as spirulina, kelp and alfalfa grasses, sprouts, seaweeds and fresh leafy greens are essential.

As many people with addictions are also hypoglycaemic (suffer from low blood sugar levels), a high protein diet is recommended and may be needed for an extended period of time. These foods would include fish, sardines, raw goats milk products, organic cottage cheese, biodynamic yoghurt, tofu, tempeh, miso, nuts and seeds.

Flaxseed Oil and/or Evening Primrose Oil is also a must for the essential fatty acids. I would recommend one tbsp of flaxseed oil a day with food and 2-3,000 mg/day of EPO. These would reduce inflammation in the body and also address mental/emotional symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Heavy, greasy, oily and fatty foods and meats, processed foods as in white flour and white sugar products, as well as hydrogenated fats need to be eliminated altogether as these will impinge on liver clearing.

A herbal formula to help detoxify the liver is important and I would recommend a combination of Chaparral, Golden Seal, Dandelion, St. Mary’s Thistle, Bupleurum and Rehmannia. Liquorice can be added for those not suffering hypertension. This combination would also support the kidney and adrenals. The herbs can be taken as tinctures or teas but do see your local herbalist for a remedy suitable to your particular constitution.

Supplements can aid to decrease cravings, especially the B Complex vitamins, and Magnesium will help with anxiety and insomnia. Vitamin C is especially useful to detoxify the body of nicotine – take 1/2 tsp 3-4 times a day in the initial weeks with a maintenance dose of 2 X a day for many months.

Nux Vomica 30 is a homeopathic remedy that is used extensively in addiction clinics in India to help deal with the withdrawal symptoms of all drug addictions. It is a great remedy for the liver and I would recommend taking it 3 X a day for the initial few weeks and then as required.

Last but not least, exercise, meditation, counselling and acupuncture can all help the body to come back to balance and help to ease withdrawal symptoms as well as helping the individual learn new, healthier ways to deal with stress.


Copyright Suzanne Staples
Suzanne Staples ND DBM
Naturopath Herbalist Homoeopath