If you’re struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, the first step toward renewed health is detox — and that means getting all the drugs out of the body. The only problem is that detox is extremely painful and unpleasant, and the difficulty of going off drugs can be enough to deter some from entering recovery.
Drug and alcohol detox should always take place under medical supervision, but using natural detoxifiers such a dandelion flower, seaweed, and ginger can help speed the process and soothe those in recovery. Ultimately, the goal is to support your body as it travels the path back to wellness.
Match Solutions to Symptoms
Before beginning the detoxification process, talk to your doctor about what symptoms you can expect and work together to choose appropriate supportive supplements. For example, many people undergoing medical detox experience headaches, anxiety, nausea, insomnia, and other symptoms. And while medical providers will try to support patients with proper nutrition and hydration during this time, it isn’t always enough.
Expressing your preferences and concerns about how the detox process will go and how you can make it less stressful is also a way to engage actively with your recovery, demonstrating that you’re serious about changing your behavior and improving your health.
Herbs, Minerals and More
There are countless herbal supplements and vitamins that can ease the detox process, but you don’t want to overload your body at a time when you’re trying to cleanse it and decrease the chemical load.
In other words, don’t take every supplement you can get your hands on in hopes it will ease your symptoms. Instead, consider a narrow set of nutritional aids such as these four high-impact supplements.
1. Activated Charcoal
Activated charcoal is best known as a treatment for accidental poisoning because it absorbs toxins from the body — and that makes it perfect for drug and alcohol detox. By ingesting activated charcoal, you reduce strain on your liver while binding toxins. Since your liver is going to be working extra hard during the detox process, it deserves a little external support.
If detox is hard on your liver, then addiction is hard on your adrenal glands. Constant use of stimulating drugs like methamphetamine and cocaine is responsible for releasing hormones related to stress, such as cortisol, and can leave users fatigued because the adrenal glands can no longer keep up. During detox, licorice can give your adrenals a boost and reduce post-detox fatigue.
3. Ginger Tea (+ Honey)
Ginger is something of a superfood, but when it comes to detox, it’s especially useful. That’s because ginger produces an enzyme called gingerol that has anti-nausea and anti-inflammatory properties, reducing physical discomfort during detox.
To make ginger tea, boil thinly sliced fresh ginger root and then strain the resulting liquid. The tea should be lukewarm. If it’s too strong, you can also add some honey; this simple additive can encourage sweating and also aid in detox.
4. Turmeric and Passionflower
Inflammation is a serious issue for many people undergoing detox, especially those who are addicted to opioid pain relievers. Natural anti-inflammatories like turmeric and passionflower can help reduce pain without introducing further chemical pain relievers.
Passionflower is considered especially useful for individuals in opioid withdrawal because, in addition to its anti-inflammatory properties, it also stimulates the production of GABA, a neurotransmitter that decreases anxiety and depression. Because it relaxes the nervous system, passionflower can also relieve insomnia during the detoxification process.
You’re trying to ditch the chemicals, so don’t artificially boost your system during detox. Instead, stick to natural remedies to soothe the worst of your withdrawal symptoms. This is the beginning of the next phase of your life, one that will be much gentler on your body and mind.
Originally published on January 17, 2018, this article was updated in January 2021.