Addictive disordersNatural and complementary therapies for substance use disordersDean, Angela JAuthor Information Mater Child and Youth Mental Health Service and Mater Pharmacy Services, Mater Hospital, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia Correspondence to Angela Dean PhD, Research Fellow, Kids in Mind Research, Mater Child and Youth Mental Health Service, Raymond Terrace, South Brisbane, Qld 4101, Australia Tel: +61 7 3840 1007; fax: +61 7 3840 1644; e-mail: [email protected] Current Opinion in Psychiatry: May 2005 - Volume 18 - Issue 3 - p 271-276 doi: 10.1097/01.yco.0000165597.06176.71 Buy Metrics Abstract Purpose of review To review recent studies that have examined the efficacy of natural and complementary therapies as treatments for substance use disorders and their complications. Recent findings Despite increasing interest in natural and complementary therapies for substance use disorders, rigorous clinical studies in this area are few in number. Recent clinical studies, although preliminary, have reported potential therapeutic effects for hypericum in the treatment of smoking cessation, for prickly pear extract in the prevention of alcohol hangover and magnesium supplementation as an adjunct to methadone treatment. Other clinical studies have reported negative findings for ginkgo as an adjunctive treatment for cocaine dependence, for artichoke in prevention of alcohol hangover, and acupuncture for alcohol withdrawal. Relevant findings from animal studies are also discussed. Neither vitamin E nor Liv 52 had a useful effect in alcohol-related liver disease. A study of silymarin in baboons, which was undertaken in an attempt to untangle the conflicting findings of human studies, reported a potential for this compound to prevent liver injury. There is increasing awareness of safety issues associated with complementary therapies. Safety issues pertinent to substance use treatment are discussed in this review. Summary Several pharmacological and psychosocial treatments for substance use disorders are solidly evidence-based and improve both individual and public health outcomes. At this stage, there remains insufficient evidence to support the use of natural and complementary therapies as a primary intervention for substance use disorders. Further clinical trials are required to clarify the potential role of particular agents. © 2005 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.