Oats used in Drug and Alcohol Withdrawal
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Name not given
Posted on: August 14, 2001

I understand that Oat straw is useful to address cravings from drug abuse. Is this so? Can it help? Is any form of this that is not in alcohol "as useful"?

Oats (Avena sativa), taken from the "milk" of fresh, green, wild oats, is used in withdrawal from alcohol and drugs to reduce cravings and nourish the nervous system. It is available as a juice as well as alcoholic tinctures and extracts. Oat straw tea and oatmeal are not as effective as the juice, tincture or extract.

Other herbal help for drug detoxification includes help with elimination, support for digestion & liver and additional support for the nervous system. Herbs can help to ease symptoms of insomnia, anxiety, muscle cramps, GIT complaints and sweating:

- Yarrow is a relaxant, helps blood circulation, is diuretic, antispasmodic and diaphoretic

- German Chamomile is liver supportive, calms anxiety and is antiinflammatory to gastro-intestinal system

- Skullcap nourishes nerves, is a relaxant, antispasmodic and sedative. It helps nervous stress, sleep, headache and tension

- Peppermint is a digestive, antispasmodic, diaphoretic and a mild sedative, useful for muscular pains

- Vervain is a liver tonic and a nerve tonic

- Licorice is an adrenal tonic These may be taken as teas.

Ongoing supportive counseling for stress, depression, anxiety and panic attacks reduces the chance of relapse.

Nutrition: high nutrient foods are essential: whole grains, legumes, fruit, vegetables, organic if possible; some protein (fish is a good source of protein; meats should be organic, to avoid toxins that add to the detoxification burden); Yogurt with active bacterial cultures good for digestion and provides calming calcium. Avoid alcohol, sugar, white flour products and caffeine (caffeine in coffee, tea, soft drinks and chocolate increases agitation)


Vitamin B-complex supports the nervous system (available in whole grains, eggs);

Vitamin C to assist detoxification (available in fruit & leafy green vegetables)

Body work is beneficial to detoxification and to the nervous system: exercise, yoga, dance, relaxation exercises and massage.

Caution: withdrawal from alcohol, tranquilizers (benzodiazepines e.g. valium) and barbituates (e.g. phenobarbitol) can cause blackouts & severe emotional distress. In these cases, herbs are usually used in conjunction with drugs to ease symptoms. Detoxification may require hospitalization for withdrawal support. The best case is for a herbalist to work with the client’s doctor.

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