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NCH Conference - The Homeopathic Treatment of Addictions

Report on a Presentation by Janet Zand, OMD

Twenty years of experience in the "Land of Hollywood" where "everyone is addicted to something" has given Dr. Zand a broad range of knowledge upon which she based her talk. She uses a combination of modalities, including acupuncture, nutrition and herbs, but she said that it's homeopathy that has the greatest effect on the treatment of people with addictions and that makes them "their old selves."

     Dr. Zand said that one of the most exciting things about treating people with addictions is that you get to see every remedy at the peak of its intensity. She then discussed the four distinct categories in substance abuse treatment: acute stage, detoxification, restoration, and maintenance.

     The first or acute stage is the withdrawal from the substance. In this stage you see the more violent symptoms such as exaggerated fears and fevers with delirium, etc.

     Aconite is one of the primary remedies for this phase, and can be especially good for the heart palpitations and fear that arise from giving up the addictive substances. For delirium, Dr. Zand has good success with Antimonium tartaricum, especially in heroin addicts. She said that because heroin addicts commonly eat a lot of junk food, their digestion is very messed up. So during the withdrawal phase there is a lot of coughing and mucus, which the Antimonium tartaricum often helps. This remedy has also been known to stop any vomiting with mucus associated with the withdrawal.

     Arsenicum is wonderful for some withdrawal symptoms. The personality attracted to marijuana is the anxious, nervous type, and Arsenicum can help calm them.

     Belladonna is an excellent choice for the more violent, feverish withdrawal. It is especially good in heroin addicts and hallucinogenic drug withdrawal. Dr. Zand told a story of an LSD addict who responded very well to Belladonna. 

     Crocus is great when there is liver damage from alcohol abuse. There is remorse from his moods and violent behavior. Crocus, Cholesterinum and Chelidonium are particularly good liver remedies, and Dr. Zand has used all three when a patient is in the process of having a liver transplant. 

     Hyoscyamus is for the combative individual who can't sleep. They will be quarrelsome and suspicious and usually are not coming in for treatment willingly, but are dragged in by their friend or spouse. 

     Ipecac is great when there is delirium with nausea, vomiting and stomach pains. 

     Lachesis is also a good remedy for addictions. With Lachesis people, their friends may not even know of their addiction because they are able to hide it so well. 

     Moschus is very anxious. Nux vomica is a premier remedy for addictions. Nux vomica will have occipital headaches, chills, eye pains and may be used for both the acute and constitutional phases of treatment. 

     Dr. Zand then discussed the case of a cocaine addict. He was a 28-year-old man, a very successful engineer. He only wanted to be treated for urinary infections and prostate problems. But his wife told the doctor confidentially about the cocaine addiction. He was very irritable and "lived on" antibiotics. He wouldn't even fill in the intake forms. He was impatient and ready to leave before Dr. Zand could finish the case. This patient described himself as someone who liked to literally "touch and feel" his engineering creations, rip them apart and then put them back together. He described himself as very intense and energetic without cocaine, and claimed he actually preferred to be calmer. He craved stimulants and napped in the afternoon. 

     Dr. Zand prescribed Nux vomica 1M, once per day for 3 days. He phoned in 10 days to ask how long the medicine would last since it had ended his urinary infection.

     He returned in three weeks, and said the burning on urination had returned. He also said he was using less cocaine. Dr. Zand gave him a dose of Nux vomica 10M. It had been almost five months since the use of antibiotics, but he was still using some cocaine. As a follow-up, Dr. Zand prescribed Medorrhinum 1M and this cured the case. He has been free of cocaine and has no urogenital problems.

     Dr. Zand has used Staphysagria a lot for female alcoholics. They generally give up the addiction and wind up with headaches. For the insomnia associated with addictions, Valerian is great when there are irrational mood changes. For debilitation in the acute state, she has used Veratrum album when there is collapse with extreme coldness and weakness and cold sweat on the forehead. Sulphuric acid can be useful for the older alcoholic, averse to coffee and acids.

     The second phase is the detoxification phase, and includes digestive problems such as gas, bloating, and also insomnia and joint pains. For the diarrhea associated with this phase, Arsenicum album and Gambogia are great. Berberis vulgaris is very good for dehydration and low back pain associated with detoxification. For nervousness, exhaustion and low sex drive, Avena sativa can be considered. Kali arsenicosum is great when there are itching and skin problems associated with the detox. Cantharis is wonderful for burning pain on urination with anxiety and restlessness. One of Dr. Zand's favorite remedies for all sorts of liver problems and for pain in the right shoulder or right scapula is Chelidonium. This remedy can stabilize high liver enzymes in the blood. When the whites of the eyes are yellow and the person has concomitant urogenital problems, Chimaphila can be a good remedy to use.

     If you have no other remedy, then try Quercus tincture for three consecutive months for alcoholism, and for alcohol craving in the robust patient. [Boericke says 10 drops, 3--4 times daily.] Also Sterculia (kola nut) works well for the fatigued alcoholic. Dr. Zand told the story of a woman who placed the Quercus in her husband's water dispenser, with dramatic results.

     The third phase is the restorative phase, and in conventional medicine patients are usually using a lot of different drugs. In terms of homeopathy, this is the constitutional phase. The constitution of the patient is beginning to come to the surface and you begin to see the real personality of the patient. 

     Phase four is maintenance, and patient compliance is the biggest problem. Patients think they are better because their major symptoms are gone. Often you won't even know that they are better, because they don't call to tell you. At this stage, Dr. Zand prescribes low potency remedies for the patient to self-medicate acute symptoms.

     As she was running out of time, Dr. Zand pointed us to the handout she provided. This was a great summary of some of the most commonly used remedies for each phase of treatment.

     I've heard Dr. Zand speak many times before, and this talk was as exciting and informative as always. If you get a chance to hear Dr. Zand, I highly recommend it. She is a powerhouse of clinical knowledge on combining Oriental medicine with herbs and classical homeopathy. She has a great knack for skillfully combining the three modalities!

About the author:

Randy W. Martin has been in private practice in Encino and Santa Monica , California for over 15 years. He is the author of Optimum Health.