CNS Drugs

, Volume 25, Issue 12, pp 999–1007 | Cite as

Herbal Medicines for the Management of Opioid Addiction

Safe and Effective Alternatives to Conventional Pharmacotherapy?
  • Jeanine WardEmail author
  • Christopher Rosenbaum
  • Christina Hernon
  • Christopher R. McCurdy
  • Edward W. Boyer
Leading Article


Striking increases in the abuse of opioids have expanded the need for pharmacotherapeutic interventions. The obstacles that confront effective treatment of opioid addiction — shortage of treatment professionals, stigma associated with treatment and the ability to maintain abstinence — have led to increased interest in alternative treatment strategies among both treatment providers and patients alike. Herbal products for opioid addiction and withdrawal, such as kratom and specific Chinese herbal medications such as WeiniCom, can complement existing treatments. Unfortunately, herbal treatments, while offering some advantages over existing evidence-based pharmacotherapies, have poorly described pharmacokinetics, a lack of supportive data derived from well controlled clinical trials, and severe toxicity, the cause for which remains poorly defined. Herbal products, therefore, require greater additional testing in rigorous clinical trials before they can expect widespread acceptance in the management of opioid addiction.


Heroin Ginsenosides Conditioned Place Preference Panax Ginseng Opioid Withdrawal 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors declare no conflicts of interest. Dr Boyer is supported by NIH ARRA (Challenge) grant RC1-028428. No other sources of funding were used to prepare this review.


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Copyright information

© Adis Data Information BV 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeanine Ward
    • 1
    Email author
  • Christopher Rosenbaum
    • 1
  • Christina Hernon
    • 1
  • Christopher R. McCurdy
    • 2
  • Edward W. Boyer
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Medical Toxicology, Department of Emergency MedicineUniversity of Massachusetts Medical SchoolWorcesterUSA
  2. 2.Department of Medicinal Chemistry, Laboratory for Applied Drug Design and Synthesis, School of PharmacyUniversity of MississippiUniversityUSA

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