Can acupuncture, herbs cure addiction?

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 17 2017 09:54 PM

A man undergoes ear acupuncture. Photo by Fernando Sepe, Jr., ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Poking needles into several spots on the ear and consuming certain herbs have been helping a number of Filipinos cope with addiction, experts on acupuncture and traditional medicine said on Thursday. 

People suffering from addiction develop psychological as well as physical dependence on the the substance they are addicted to, said psychiatrist and acupuncturist Dr. Cho-Chiong Tan. 

Tan said people addicted to drugs, including nicotine, tend to feel weak and irritable when they don't get their usual dose. 

"Acupuncture has a definitive role in reducing the craving and at the same time, it has an invigorating effect para maging masigla 'yung mga adik na nagiging matamlay ang katawan dahil sa mga kemikal," he said.

Ear acupuncture tends to have this effect as pressure points near ear nerves send signals to the brain that switches the thinking and urges of the body, said Dr. Iris Teo Hwee Chin, president of Singapore's Si En Traditional Chinese Medicine College.

Former Health Secretary Dr. Jaime Galvez Tan said several patients showed signs of getting over their addiction after completing 10 weekly sessions of ear acupuncture.

These are private citizens who want treatment without having to go through drug-rehabilitation facilities, Galvez Tan said.

But Galvez Tan said patients should only book ear acupuncture sessions with clinics and practitioner licensed by the Department of Health.

Check if the clinic or the doctor obtained certificates from the Philippine Institute for Traditional and Alternative Health Care, Galvez Tan said.

Photo by Fernando Sepe, ABS-CBN News

TRADITIONAL HERBS

Dr. Teo said boiling certain vegetables and spices and consuming it like tea and coffee also helps flush out chemicals from the system.

Traditional medicine effectively cures addicts as it naturally detoxifies the body without adding more chemicals into the system, she said.

Moringa, garlic, turmeric, cinnamon, and lemongrass are some of the natural detoxifiers common in the Philippines, the doctors said.

"You have to boil it and drink it once or twice a day for at least two months," Teo said.

The government can save a lot of financial resources if they use these instead of Western medicine, Tan said.

"You can just plant it in a pot at home and not spend too much money," he added.

Health Secretary Paulyn Jean Ubial said the government is studying the efficacy of natural and traditional methods in helping Filipinos get over drug addiction.

"We have started this in limited extent on pilot implementation," Ubial told ABS-CBN News in a text message.

Though natural remedies for addiction are available, people suffering from addiction must also take part in socio-cultural and spiritual consultations and activities to fully curb their dependence on substances.

"Acupuncture, herbal medicine, and detoxification are just parts of the treatment. We (also) have to take care of the psychological, social, and spiritual problem," Tan said.