Albizzia 9, and Acupuncture, for Addiction Detox
Answered by: Robert Newman, L.Ac.
Question from: Nancy
Posted on: May 19, 2004

I have a 26 year old son, who at this time is going through a 90 day out-patient recovery for drugs and alcohol... At this time, he is 30 days clean. He’s doing really well. Through this program, he is getting daily acupuncture. Plus, they have him on a herb called Albizzia 9. Could you tell me something about this herb? He takes 3 times daily. I seem to be having trouble finding things out about this herb. And, what do you think about the acupuncture?

Well, actually the name of the product you are asking about is "Albizzia 9." It is more than just one herb -- it is actually a formula made by Seven Forests, comprised of 9 herbs, with Albizzia julibrissin being the main one after which the formula is named. It is a formula that is useful for doing what is known in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) as calming the spirit and mind, regulating the movement of Blood and "Qi" of the Liver, nourishing the Heart and Liver Blood, and extinguishing internal wind. Just as it sounds, calming the spirit and mind means that such herbs will be used for irritability, anxiety, insomnia, restlessness, agitation, palpitations, disorientation, moodiness and sulking. Herbs that regulate the movement of Liver Blood and "Qi" are useful in this situation to help handle stress better and address irritability and treat headaches that occur at the temples, the sides of the head or the back of the head, tension and soreness in the shoulders and/or neck, mild pain or a distended feeling in the flank, lower abdomen or ribs, or sharper, more severe pain in the flank, lower abdomen or ribs. Herbs that nourish the Heart and Liver Blood address some of the same symptoms mentioned above that herbs which calm the spirit and mind deal with -- particularly in the case of this formula, which employs those calm spirit herbs which are more nourishing. And the herbs which extinguish internal wind can be helpful for treating headaches, dizziness, blurred vision, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), irritability, muscle twitches and spasms, palpitations with anxiety, tremors, sudden loss of consciousness, facial paralysis, numbness in the extremities, burning pain in the hands and/or feet, seizures, or hemiplegia (paralysis on one side of the body).

The following is some information I obtained from the internet about the Albizzia 9 product.

General Activities

Calm shen, regulate qi and blood circulation, clear heat.

Sample Indications for Use

Depression, agitation, hypertension. Allow 4-6 weeks regular use of this formula to observe significant effects. Increase dosage temporarily during times of heightened symptoms.

Manufacturing Specifications

Crude herbs are powdered and formed into 700mg tablets. Bottling of 100 and 250 tablets.

Explanatory Notes

Albizzia 9 was formulated on the basis of several folk remedies used for the treatment of depression. While several of these traditional prescriptions are designed to address the standard patterns of disharmony associated with depression (e.g. Liver Qi stagnation, "Spleen" Qi deficiency, accumulation of dampness), the folk remedies are based on experience with individual herbs that seem to be quickly effective. Most of the herbs in this prescription have a calming action, but this does not mean that they make one feel sleepy or sluggish; rather, they calm wasteful, nervous energy that can sap one’s vitality and leave one feeling depressed. In many cases of depression, the underlying problem appears to be agitation of the mind with defects in thinking patterns: negative thoughts repeat endlessly. Calming the mind to alleviate some of the repetitive destructive thinking is a potential solution; many modern antidepressive drugs are sedative in nature even though the depressed patient feels restrained from action. The traditional use of most of the herbs in this formula is to calm the spirit (e.g. Albizzia, Polygala, Biota, Polygonum stem) and alleviate internal wind (caused by liver imbalances, treated with Tribulus and Uncaria). The main ingredient, Albizzia, is a specific remedy for depression: the term huan in the name of the herb is translated as “jolly, cheerful, merry, pleased,” referring to the condition that this herb is thought to bring about. On the physical level, the herbs may reduce hypertension, by calming the excessive neuromuscular constriction of the blood vessels.

The information below is something I put together about the herbs in the formula, taken partially from Bensky and Gamble’s "Chinese Herbal Medicine Materia Medica" and partially from my own concepts:

* Albizzia julibrissin tree bark: He Huan Pi ("huh hwahn pee"): this is a neutral and sweet herb, affecting the Heart and Liver; it’s in the category of herbs that nourish the Heart and calm the spirit; so in your son’s case, it could be useful in calming the spirit and freeing the emotions, to help with possible symptoms of irritability, depression, or insomnia -- particularly, but not necessarily, from emotions and feelings which are bound up or held in.

* Polygala tenuifolia root: Yuan Zhi ("yoo-en jih"): this herb is bitter, acrid and slightly warming, affecting the Heart and Lungs; this herb is also in the category of herbs that nourish the Heart and calm the spirit; for your son, this can be used for calming spirit and quieting the Heart, for insomnia, palpitations and anxiety, restlessness, emotional or mental disorientation -- again, particularly, but not necessarily, from emotions and feelings which are bound up or held in.

* Uncaria rhynchophylla thorn and stem: Gou Teng ("go tung"): this is a sweet and cooling herb, affecting the Heart and Liver; this is an herb in the category of extinguishing wind and stopping tremors; it can be good for helping with clearing signs of wind and spasms such as tremors, seizures and muscle spasms; also, it can clear out and drain down heat in the Liver and a rising up of the Liver’s Yang (heat or fire--this is a warming part of the Liver) aspect that can affect the head to address headaches in the temples or on the top, irritability, dizziness, red/dry/irritated eyes, and possibly hypertension.

* Curcuma longa or C. wenyujin tuber: Yu Jin ("yew gin"): this herb is acrid, bitter and cooling, affecting the Heart, Lungs and Liver; this is one of the two herbs in this formula which are in the category of invigorating the Blood; it is useful for increasing blood circulation, but it is also good for improving the flow of the "Qi" in connection with the Liver for such symptoms as mild flank/rib pain and/or distention, irritability and anger, headaches at the temples and on one side of the head (and PMS in women); it also can clear the Heart and cool the Blood, for anxiety, agitation, seizures, restlessness, and mental disturbances.

* Salvia miltiorrhiza root: Dan Shen ("dahn shen"): this is a bitter, fairly cooling herb, affecting the Heart, Pericardium and Liver; this is the other herb in this formula that is in the category of herbs that moves (invigorates) the Blood, for various pains due to stagnation of Blood flow, and also for stagnation of the movement and flow of the Qi of the Liver, for the same symptoms mentioned earlier: mild flank/rib pain and/or a feeling of distention, irritability and anger, headaches at the temples and on one side of the head (and PMS in women); it also is said to clear heat and soothe irritability, for restlessness, irritability, insomnia, palpitations, agitation, or disturbing dreams.

* Paeonia lactiflora (aka Paeonia "alba") root: Bai Shao ("buy showw): this is a bitter, sour and cooling herb, affecting the Liver, Lungs and Kidneys; it is considered to be an herb in the Blood-tonifying category, good for nourishing the Blood, calming the Liver, stopping pain and reducing the tendency for the rising of the Liver’s Yang, treating mild flank/rib pain and/or a feeling of distention, irritability and anger, headaches at the temples and on one side of the head (and PMS in women), dizziness, painful cramps or spasms in the abdomen, hands or feet, nausea or stomach upset caused by and/or worsened by stress; it also can be useful for preventing loss of the Yin (fluid, material aspect of the body) to treat night sweats, or to treat spontaneous sweats during the day which are due to deficiency and weakness and happen suddenly or with the slightest exertion, or even without much clear cause.

* Polygonum multiflorum vine stem: Ye Jiao Teng/Shou Wu Teng ("yay gee-oww tung/shoh woo tung"): this herb is sweet, slightly bitter and neutral, affecting the Heart and Liver; it’s in the category of herbs that nourish the Heart and calm the spirit; so it is good for nourishing the Heart and the Blood and calming the spirit, to help with insomnia, irritability, restlessness and dream-disturbed sleep.

* Tribulus terrestris seed: Bai Ji Li ("buy gee lee"): this herb is acrid, bitter and warming, affecting the Liver and Lungs; it’s an herb that is in the category of ones that extinguish wind and stop tremors; it can calm the Liver and hold down the Yang -- this means it can be useful for when the Liver’s Yang aspect is rising up to affect the head (and the Heart) with such symptoms as headaches, vertigo, dizziness, irritability, overactive mind with racing thoughts, light sleep, waking with difficulty returning to sleep; it can also help make the flow of the Liver’s "Qi" smoother, for irritability, mild pain, fullness or distention in the chest or flanks, and headaches at the temples.

* Biota/Platycladus orientalis seed: Bai Zi Ren ("buy zih wren"): this is a sweet and neutral herb, affecting the Heart, Kidneys, Large Intestine and "Spleen" (this is the Chinese idea of "Spleen" -- see my explanation of this organ on the question I answered about Korean Ginseng for Richters Q & A page); this is the fourth herb in this formula in the category of herbs that nourishes the Heart and calms the spirit; it could be useful for your son in treating irritability, insomnia, forgetfulness, and palpitations with anxiety; it is also helpful for a deficiency of the Yin aspect of the body, to treat night sweats.

Richters also sells seeds, plants and extracts of some of the above-mentioned herbs:

* Albizzia (aka Mimosa or Albizzia julibrissin); seeds are available

* Turmeric (Curcuma domestica = C. longa) plants are available (the remedy mentioned above, Yu Jin, is not derived from the rhizome of this plant -- the rhizome is another separate medicine -- but rather Yu Jin is derived from the small tubers that are attached to the small feeder roots which trail down from the rhizome)

* Sage, Chinese (aka Red Sage or Salvia miltiorrhiza); seeds are available

* Fo-Ti (Polygonum multiflorum) plants are available (the remedy mentioned above, Ye Jiao Teng, is not derived from the root of this plant -- the root is another separate medicine -- but rather it is derived from the dried stem of woody [older] vines)

* Tribulus (Tribulus terrestris) seeds and a fluid extract of the seeds are available (in Ayurvedic medicine, the whole plant is used as a tonic and "aphrodisiac," but the remedy mentioned above, Bai Ji Li, is derived from just the seeds)

Regarding the acupuncture, I think it can be very useful for helping with drug addiction. There are even areas of the U.S., such as in Dade County, Florida, and St Louis, Missouri, where the courts regularly assign drug addicts a series of treatments with acupuncture as part of a multifaceted approach to detox and prevention of a return to the use of those drugs or alcohol. I’ve included some links to some information about this below. The acupuncture can help to calm the mind and spirit (and therefore the nerves and nervous system) and help the organs and tissues to clear out any residue of the substances that can tend to cause cravings during the detox. Also, the acupuncture can do something which I consider to be a re-education of the body, mind and emotions/spirit -- it can help to change the patterns which stem from some weakness or imbalance and can "teach" the system to remember what a healthy state feels like, and give one a sense of wholeness and feeling of being nourished from within. In a wholistic approach, an addictive desire for such substances can be seen as coming from some internal imbalance or weakness: the desire can be viewed as an attempt by the system to fill some "need," to restore balance, albeit ineffectively. Perhaps a reason why it doesn’t succeed is because there is no nourishment or depth connected with either the production/making of the addictive substance or the usage/taking of it in our culture. In fact, what is connected with the making of such substances in our culture is greed, a desire to exploit or take advantage of and an intention to weaken or create dependency. And there is a matching (as in two dance partners mirroring each other) compulsion, despair and desperation behind the drive to take or use the substance. In any event, the acupuncture can effectively be used on points on the body, generally, and also specific points on the ears. In fact, the ear acupuncture treatment has also been developed into a particular and very helpful detox protocol. This protocol has been taught and promoted by an organization known as the National Acupuncture Detox Association (NADA). I have included some links down below to sites that have information about their work. Their contact information is: P.O. Box 1927, Vancouver, WA, 98668-1927; 1-888-765-NADA; e-mail: NADAClear@aol.com.

There was a report put out by the National Survey of Substance Abuse Treatment Facilities, based on data from 2002, that found that there were 736 places that offered acupuncture as part of a treatment program for substance abuse. Furthermore, 5.4 % of the reviewed, non-profit private organizations’ sites offered acupuncture, for-profits offered it at 3.9% of their sites, and government-operated programs offered it at 7.5% of their sites -- this may not seem like high percentages, but in light of how much resistance and skepticism associated with acupuncture and Chinese medicine has been present in the mainstream medical community for so many years, these numbers are actually very significant.

Also, you can do a search on GOOGLE and put in: "court system, acupuncture for drug detox." Several sites that I found had information about this subject were:

http://www.acudetox.com/NADA/aboutus/fact-sht.htm

http://www.acudetox.com/NADA/news/Spring%202001.htm

http://www.acupuncturetoday.com/archives/2000/sep/09kolenda.html

http://www.acupuncture.com/Acup/Dade2.htm

http://www.silcom.com/~alexb/jsat.htm

http://www.exceltreatment.com/accu_page3.htm

http://www.sbcada.org/en/projectrecovery/

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