Kokin Healing Blog

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Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine as Complementary Treatments for Alcohol Withdrawal and Cravings

Apr 26, 2023

Alcohol dependence is the second most common psychiatric illness in the United States, only depression is more prevalent.

For someone addicted to alcohol, withdrawal symptoms can be life-threatening, so it is vitally important to receive treatment and support from a medical professional or rehabilitation center during this time. Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine can be supportive and complementary treatments for these patients.

A recent systematic review concluded acupuncture may be helpful in reducing alcohol craving and withdrawal symptoms. Social drinkers can also receive benefits from acupuncture, in that it can help moderate their relationship with alcohol and reduce cravings.

Below are some useful tools you can use to help you through the process of alcohol detoxification. However, these tools are not meant to replace any formal medical treatment or intervention, and should only be used as a complement to such an action.

Self-massage these acupuncture points to help the body release toxins, control cravings and become more grounded.

Liver 3
Located on the top of the foot. Start in the space between the big toe and the second toe, now walk your fingers back along that depression onto the top of your foot until you run into a bone and you can’t go any further. This is Liver 3. It helps to balance the liver energy of the body, and helps reduce stress.

Large Intestine 11
Located on the lateral elbow, at the end of the elbow crease. Large Intestine 11 clears toxins from the body, as well as releasing heat. It also balances digestion and helps to regulate body temperature.

Kidney 1
Located on the bottom of the foot, at the junction of the arch and the ball of the foot. Press on this point to help ground the energy of the mind and body, which is often necessary following alcohol consumption or during alcohol withdrawal.

This type of acupuncture stimulates points on the external ear to affect change throughout the body. Auriculotherapy is most effective when acupuncture needles are inserted into these points by a licensed acupuncturist. However, you can still get some benefit from performing acupressure on these points at home. Many alcohol and drug treatment centers use a particular protocol – called the NADA (National Alcohol Detox Association) protocol – which contains five points in the ear.

Shen Men
This point helps the body to process stress, balances emotions, and reduces cravings.

Get outside
Symptoms of alcohol detox can sometimes be helped by being outside in nature, even if only for small amounts of time. The feel of the earth underneath you can help to ground you and give your body added strength.

Drink Water
Be sure to drink lots of water during this time. This will help your body get rid of toxins, and keep you hydrated!


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Meet Marin L. Kokin, L.Ac.

Marin — acupuncturist, nutritionist, and owner of the Kokin Healing Center — is beloved by her patients. Read about patients that have found success at the Kokin Healing Center in Calabasas.