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Overcoming Addictions with Traditional Chinese Medicine

by Jul 5, 2024

Home » Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine Student Blog » Overcoming Addictions with Traditional Chinese Medicine

As an Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine (AHM) student, I’ve witnessed the transformative power of these ancient practices in addressing modern health challenges. Among the most pressing of these challenges are addictions, including those to cigarettes, drugs and alcohol. In my herbal seminar and acupuncture treatment strategy classes we learned about how specific herbal formulas and acupuncture points, including auricular acupuncture points used in the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association (NADA) protocol, can be utilized in conjunction with support groups and other Western modalities to combat these addictions.

Cigarette and Drug Addiction: Chai Hu Long Gu Mu Li Tang

Chai Hu Long Gu Mu Li Tang, also known as Bupleurum Dragon Bone Oyster Shell Decoction, is a traditional Chinese herbal formula used to treat a variety of conditions, including addictions. This formula is particularly effective for individuals dealing with cigarette and drug addiction due to its ability to calm the mind, relieve stress and balance the body’s Qi.

Key Ingredients:

  • Chai Hu (Bupleurum): Regulates liver qi and alleviates stress.
  • Long Gu (Dragon Bone) and Mu Li (Oyster Shell): Calms the spirit, anchors the yang and helps with anxiety and agitation.
  • Other herbs: Assist in detoxification, support the digestive system and enhance the overall calming effects.

Acupuncture Points:

  • Yin Tang (EX-HN3): Calms the mind and reduces anxiety.
  • Shen Men (HT7): Nourishes the heart, calms the spirit and helps with insomnia and palpitations.
  • Bai Hui (DU20): Elevates the spirit and clears the mind.


Alcohol Addiction: Ge Hua Jie Xing Tang

Ge Hua Jie Xing Tang, also known as Kudzu Decoction, to Detoxify Alcohol, is another powerful herbal formula. It is traditionally used to alleviate the symptoms of alcohol intoxication and to support liver function, making it ideal for those struggling with alcohol addiction.

Key Ingredients:

  • Ge Hua (Kudzu Flower): Reduces the effects of alcohol intoxication and supports liver detoxification.
  • Huang Qin (Scutellaria): Clears heat and detoxifies, supporting liver function.
  • Other herbs: Aid in detoxification, support the digestive system and reduce alcohol cravings.

Acupuncture Points:

  • Zhong Wan (REN12): Strengthens the stomach and supports detoxification.
  • Zhi Gou (SJ6): Moves the qi and alleviates pain, particularly in the hypochondriac region.
  • Tai Chong (LV3): Regulates liver qi and alleviates anger and frustration, emotions often associated with alcohol addiction.

NADA Protocol for Addiction: The NADA protocol is a standardized auricular (ear) acupuncture treatment that is commonly used to help with addiction and behavioral health issues. This protocol consists of five specific acupuncture points on the ear:

  • Shen Men: Calms the mind and alleviates stress.
  • Sympathetic: Balances the autonomic nervous system.
  • Kidney: Strengthens the kidneys and relieves fear and anxiety.
  • Liver: Detoxifies the liver and alleviates anger.
  • Lung: Supports the respiratory system and assists in letting go.

Combining specific herbal formulas with these body and auricular acupuncture points can significantly reduce withdrawal symptoms, anxiety and cravings associated with cigarette, alcohol and drug addiction.

Integrating Western Modalities

While Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) offers powerful tools for combating addiction, the best outcomes are often achieved through an integrative approach. Here’s how TCM can be combined with Western modalities:

  1. Support Groups: Joining groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA) provides social support and accountability. The community aspect is crucial for emotional and psychological healing.
  2. Counseling and Therapy: Professional counseling can help address the underlying psychological issues contributing to addiction. Techniques such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) are particularly effective.
  3. Medical Treatment: In some cases, medications prescribed by a health care provider can assist with withdrawal symptoms and prevent relapse.

Combining the ancient wisdom of Traditional Chinese Medicine with modern Western approaches offers a holistic and effective strategy for overcoming addictions. Herbal formulas like Chai Hu Long Gu Mu Li Tang and Ge Hua Jie Xing Tang, along with targeted body and auricular acupuncture points, can help mitigate withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings. When used in conjunction with support groups, therapy, and medical treatment, individuals battling addiction can find a comprehensive path to recovery. As we continue to explore and integrate these modalities, the potential for healing and transformation becomes ever greater.

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About the Author

Monique Carter

Monique Carter

My name is Monique Carter and I am a student in National University's AOM program. I chose this program because the basic tenets of Chinese Acupuncture and Herbs align with a holistic healing process that is steeped in years of tradition and research. I anticipate that learning these skills and applying this knowledge will allow me to help many in need. Starting this journey at the age of 49 has been humbling as well as life-changing, I am excited and grateful!


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