In this post, I will discuss herbs used to repair brain damage caused by opioid toxins.
It is now known that opioid use causes radical brain changes. An article in the Brain Injury Journal explains, “Oxygen is essential to the human brain, and a lack of oxygen to the brain causes damage. The opioid epidemic has led to the creation of a new term: Toxic Brain Injury. This type of brain injury occurs from prolonged substance misuse and nonfatal overdose.” Opioid toxins damage neurological pathways in the brain; this “brain damage” can last long after one stops using opioids. The severity of brain damage done by opioid-opiate use depends on the degree and duration of use; an overdose episode would definitively point to severe brain changes. I certainly witnessed a change in our son’s personality following his overdose.
In TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine), the development of thought is quite complex and linked to all of the major energetic organ systems: Kidney-wisdom; Liver-insight; Heart-emotions; Spleen-memorization; Lungs-sense of self. Additionally, TCM doctors have traditionally been taught that “The brain is the sea of marrow, and the Kidney is the seat of the marrow”. The increase in aging related memory loss and traumatic brain injuries has lead to a flurry of speculation and studies on the scientific basis for the traditional TCM protocol of utilizing nourishing Kidney tonics to restore proper brain function. The results of these studies suggest that of Kidney tonic herbs improving cellular metabolism and regeneration, enhancing neuroplasticity, and decreasing neuro-toxin production.
In addition to Kidney tonic herbs such as rehmannia and fo-ti, regenerative brain herb tonics traditionally incorporate blood moving herbs such as red sage root, ginkgo and dong gui. These blood moving herb help to insure that abundant oxygen reaches the brain and help to speed healing. Blood moving herbs also play a vital role in effective remedies for pain reduction. This is noteworthy because pain is why opioids are most commonly originally prescribed to patients, and prescription opioid use is the most common cause of opioid-opiate dependency.
As discussed in Part-1 of this 2-Part series on long term recovery from opioid addiction, tonic herbs must be used for many months for one to experience the long term benefits and true healing of these potent herbs.
Retrieved September 2018 https://www.biausa.org/public-affairs/media/the-solution-to-opioids-is-treatment
Bjork, J.M. and Grant, S.J. (2009, July 26). Does Traumatic Brain Injury Increase Risk for Substance Abuse? Journal of Neurotrauma.
Kosten, T. R., & George, T. P. (2002). The Neurobiology of Opioid Dependence: Implications for Treatment. Science & Practice Perspectives, 1(1), 13–20.
Cai, H.-B., Wu, G.-L., Huang, C.-H., Huang, Z.-S., Chen, Y.-B., & Wang, Q. (2016). Effect of Zhuang Jing Decoction on Learning and Memory Ability in Aging Rats. Rejuvenation Research, 19(4), 303–308. http://doi.org/10.1089/rej.2015.1751
Prescription opioid use is a risk factor for heroin use. Retrieved September 2018 from NIH https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/relationship-between-prescription-drug-heroin-abuse/prescription-opioid-use-risk-factor-heroin-use