Putting Together an Herbal “Toolkit” for Opiate Withdrawal

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Navigating the world of herbal medicine can be overwhelming. There are many different plants that all treat similar symptoms, and if you don’t have the time to read between the lines, selecting the right herb can be difficult.  If you’re going through opiate withdrawal or have a loved one that you want to help, there are many tried and tested herbal allies that can help to combat the withdrawal symptoms. In this article, we will take a look at the most commonly reported symptoms people face, the herbs for tackling them, and the most effective methods of preparation.

Body Aches and Pains

One of the best herbal remedies for coping with aches and pains throughout the body is an herb called Wild Lettuce (Lactuca Virosa). Wild Lettuce secretes a substance called lactucarium, which is what gives the plant its pain-relieving effects. It is more effective than many over the counter pain relievers while remaining non-addictive and non-habit forming. However, If used in large amounts throughout the day it can make users sleepy. Wild Lettuce can be found at natural healthcare store as well as ordered online.

How to Prepare Wild Lettuce Tea

    • Bring one cup of water to a boil
    • Gather one teaspoon of dried plant material
    • Add the dried plant material to the hot water
    • Let the plant material steep for 20 minutes with a tight-fitting lid
    • Strain out the material and consume the liquid

Upset Stomach and Diarrhea

The chances are that you’ve heard of Ginger. It’s a popular ingredient in many cuisines, but did you know that it’s also one of the best plant-based remedies for nausea and diarrhea? The ginger ale at your local supermarket isn’t likely to cut it, but making a medicinal preparation of ginger is simple and will help your upset stomach in no time. When you are using medicinal roots like ginger, the steps are a little different from making regular tea. Anytime that you are using the root of a plant, you will need to make what is called a decoction.

How to make a Ginger Decoction

    • Chop one ounce of fresh ginger (or a half ounce of dried)
    • Measure one pint of water
    • Add the pint of water and your chopped ginger to a pot
    • Bring the mixture of water and ginger to a boil
    • Let the mixture simmer on the stove for 15-20 minutes with a tight-fitting lid
    • Take the mixture off of the heat and let it steep for an additional 20 minutes
    • Drink the mixture in ½ cup increments as needed throughout the day

Stress and Anxiety

The mental and emotional upheaval that people experience when going through opiate withdrawal can often be one of the most challenging aspects of overcoming addiction. When the physical withdrawal symptoms have subsided many people struggle for a long time with coping with stress and elevating mood. Three of the best herbs for stress and anxiety are Skullcap, Ashwagandha, and Kava Kava.


Skullcap is a nervine that helps those who take it feel calm and balanced. Skullcap can be made into a tea by following the same instructions and dosages given for Wild Lettuce up above.


Ashwagandha is an adaptogen that is incredibly helpful for stress. Ashwagandha works to restore balance in the body, repair the nervous system, and to reduce the effects of cortisol in the bloodstream. Ashwagandha root powder can be purchased online or in health food stores and is most often taken mixed in liquid or placed in capsules. Half of a teaspoon of plain, unenhanced root powder should be taken each day. If you get an extract or an enhanced powder, the dosage will be different depending on strength.

Kava Kava

Kava is a potent nervine that should be reserved for occasional use. Kava produces a sense of deep relaxation in the person that consumes it and is great to have on hand to help combat cravings for other dangerous substances. Kava Kava is readily available on the internet and is most convenient to take in the form of a tincture. Tinctures are extracts that you can mix with liquid or drop under the tongue.

If You Develop Complications from Withdrawal

It is important to seek the assistance of a medical professional. Herbal remedies are a wonderful way to get relief from symptoms, but they are not a replacement for professional medical care. Opiate withdrawal can cause serious complications that in severe cases may require hospitalization. Always be sure to listen to your body. If you feel that something is wrong, you should trust that instinct and get medical assistance. You can return to using plants as allies on your recovery journey once you have been cleared by a doctor, and it is determined that you do not require hospitalization.

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