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Ativan Alternatives

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Last Updated on March 2, 2021 by Carol Gillette

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Alternative to Meds Editorial Team
Written by Lyle Murphy Published Oct 30, 2018
Medically Reviewed by Dr Samuel Lee MD

Switching from dependency on Ativan to Ativan alternatives is best done under medical supervision. We are a residential facility that focuses on this challenging patient population to provide the integration of both medical and holistic help to make this transition possible

Benzodiazepine withdrawal, like Ativan, must be treated strategically and compassionately. Much suffering can occur with unsupported withdrawal. Making the transition from Ativan dependence to holistic Ativan alternatives is our specialty.

Do Your Symptoms
Require Ativan?

ativan alternatives
Alternative to Meds has been the expert on benzodiazepine alternatives treatment for over 15 years. We have published evidence regarding our success. Some people can indeed slide off of benzodiazepines easier than others. Some are neurotoxic, forcing them into fight or flight (sympathetic overdrive), and need to clean up that toxic burden before they can regulate. Each person is different and needs to be treated as such.
This video is of a woman who successfully tapered off of benzodiazepines and antidepressants. Like many, she thought her life was over. Little did she realize that in many ways her life was beginning again. This video should certainly give you hope for your situation.
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Why Choose Ativan Alternatives?

Ativan, like most psycho-pharmaceuticals, treats symptoms, not root causes. People taking Ativan often get to a point where their current prescription is no longer working for them due to chemical dependency, tolerance, and structurally altered nervous systems. Their doctor or psychiatrist often increases their dose but the same problem is bound to happen again. This is because Ativan users often consistently need to increase their dose to relieve the problems listed above; tolerance, chemical dependency, and Ativan protracted withdrawal. This is a vicious cycle and gets more difficult the longer it goes on. There are effective Ativan alternative treatments, with the most successful being the identification and correction of the real underlying causes of anxiety.

Protracted Ativan Withdrawal

The medical community owes a great debt of gratitude to Heather Ashton for her brilliant work to document the very real struggles concerning protracted withdrawal for people coming off of benzos. The fact that withdrawal symptoms can go on for such a very long time suggests that neuronal damage could have occurred.9

WARNING: When Ativan tapering is handled improperly, serious effects can occur including severe depression, anxiousness, physical pain, intense cravings, insomnia, nausea, and overall discomfort. Ativan is one of the most frequent types of medication we address.

Natural Alternatives to Ativan

natural alternatives to benzosOvercoming anxiety disorders may feel a lot like trying to stop a runaway train — out of control and no working brakes! Alternative Ativan therapies can help transition not only to lesser severity of symptoms but can help transition to non-pharmacological solutions that are safe and effective. Whether a person suffers from panic disorder, general or social anxiety, PTSD, it probably matters less what name you call it — what matters more is that there are solutions to your distress.1,16

Natural Alternatives to Ativan include:

  • Choose organic food 66
  • Choose chemical-free body care products 51,52
  • Probiotics, fermented foods = healthy microbiome = reduced anxiety 62,63
  • Be aware of foods containing MSG 23,64,65
  • Do not ingest aspartame 50
  • Ketogenic diet 24
  • Clean out accumulated toxins from the body 25-27
  • Relaxation aids – aromatherapy, music therapy, massage 28,57
  • Regular sessions of acupuncture 29,30
  • Herbal remedies for relaxation and sleep (passionflower, kava, valerian) 31,32,60,75
  • GABA – an inhibitory neurotransmitter available in supplement form 33,54
  • Taurine – an inhibitory amino acid – ameliorates psychiatric symptoms 34,35,56, 58
  • Glycine – a proteinogenic amino acid helpful for insomnia 36
  • Orthomolecular (nutrient-based) medicine 37
  • L-lysine, L-arginine, L-theanine (relieve anxiety) 38,71
  • Get tested for magnesium deficiency 39
  • CBD (medical marijuana) 40
  • Melatonin before retiring can help with insomnia 41
  • Tryptophan, 5-HTP can help with depression 42,43
  • Eliminate toxic mold in the places you spend most of your time 19-22
  • Block or remove sources of EMFs, WiFi, blue light 17,18
  • Get more daytime light in your life (sunlight or bright artificial light) 61
  • Acupressure for better sleep 61
  • Psychotherapy such as CBT or other counseling 16

Diet — Effective Ativan Alternative

Digestive issues such as slow digestion, leaky gut, and IBS are prominently associated with anxiety and panic disorders. The issues affecting digestion don’t necessarily start in your stomach — they can start from the spine, from the intestinal tract, from anywhere along the CNS including in your brain. The same neurotransmitters that alter your mood, such as serotonin, play a role in sending signals to your gut. Low serotonin can result in anxiety (and depression), but depression and anxiety can also result in low serotonin. This suggests that the normal messengers traveling to areas of your body from the brain are potentially being created at a lower rate, resulting in digestion issues.3

Organic food

Organic food tastes better, that is no great surprise to most. But did you know that by choosing pesticide and additive-free foods that you can avoid literally thousands of toxic chemicals? Toxins are basically poisons, and they can negatively impact our neurochemistry as well as many other areas of health. Eating organic foods that are packaged in non-toxic containers or materials makes for a delicious way to get the most benefits possible from the foods we enjoy.52,66

Microbiome Support

microbiome mental healthAccording to Butler et al’s research published in 2019, the trillions of micro-organisms in the gut play incredibly important roles in mental health, with the power of influencing mood positively and reducing anxiety. Anxiety and depression are 2 major reasons a large percentage of North Americans seek psychiatric drugs for symptom relief. The microbiome can be healthy and functioning well with the right support or can be out of balance and unable to fulfill its important functions. Like a huge orchestra, where one out of tune violin can make the whole works sound awfully sour, the workings of the human body were meant to be a harmonized work of art to dwell in. “Tuning up” the microbiome weighs in as a superior, natural alternative to Ativan and other prescription drugs.63

Non-toxic Body Care Products

If you would like to research what chemicals are in products you might use, check out Skin Deep where you will find a wealth of useful information. You can access the chemical profiles of over 77,000 body care products. As a health-conscious consumer who is interested in making the best product choices, education is the best armor.51

Info on MSG

The amino acid glutamate is a naturally occurring neurotransmitter. In fact, glutamate is the most prominent of all human excitatory neurotransmitters. Glutamate precisely regulates an incredible array of important and vital functions in the body. MSG or monosodium glutamate is a synthesized version of glutamate that is copiously used as a flavor enhancer in processed foods that otherwise wouldn’t taste quite so good. The body does not distinguish between glutamate and monosodium glutamate.64 There is a body of research that shows the body releases high levels of natural glutamate during episodes of depression, trauma, anxiety, and stress, for example in persons suffering from PTSD. This phenomenon termed “glutamate dysregulation.” 65

Glutamate is a powerful regulating neurotransmitter. But there can be too much of a good thing. When the volume of glutamate becomes overly concentrated it becomes neurotoxic, triggering cell death in the surrounding cells. This suggests one should avoid overconsumption of any food additives that will be too much for the CNS to handle. While more research is definitely indicated, caution can inform the best food choices possible, where there is any chance of negative impacts on health.23

Another important point is that MSG is often called by other names that sound quite wholesome, i.e. hydrolyzed protein, yeast, etc. Please research how and where MSG is disguised on food labels so that you can choose to avoid any confusion about what you are consuming.53

Avoid Aspartame (excitotoxin, artificial sweetener)

The research on aspartame is so clear, the only unanswered question seems to be, “Why hasn’t it been banned?” The research of Maher and Wurtman going all the way back to 1987 and subsequent studies such as those by Choudhary and Lee in 2018 clearly show the physical and mental health consequences attributed to this widely used artificial sweetener. The patent on aspartame expired in 1992 but the product is still marketed under different brand names that line the shelves of grocery stores everywhere. Excitotoxins like aspartame overstimulate the cells (stimulation can be addictive) along their neural pathways and incite cell death as a result. Direct and indirect effects manifest in a host of troubling symptoms such as headaches, seizures, mood swings, depression, panic attacks, anxiety, and insomnia. Avoiding such consequences by avoiding foods enhanced with excitotoxins makes for a highly effective alternative to Ativan.50,67,68

Ketogenic Diet

A limited number of enlightening studies have been published showing some tremendously positive effects of a ketogenic diet. Research has reported a significant reduction of a wide range of psychiatric symptoms.69 Alternative to Meds provides clients the option of a ten-day keto-based diet to allow a period of cleansing and nutritional correction or “reset.” 24

Influence of Toxins and Heavy Metals in Anxiety Symptoms

Have you ever considered how the environment can personally affect your mental health? The foundation of environmental medicine is that what we are exposed to in our environment and what we eat has an effect on our health. Environmental medicine examines the role of toxins, pesticides, air pollutants, heavy metals, and other environmental factors. This way of approaching medicine allows an exploration of pertinent interactions between your health and your environment, and how the environment is contributing to mental illness, disease, and addiction.70

toxic brain chemistryToxins are among the underlying known causes of anxiety.72 Orisakwe’s 2014 review of hundreds of clinical trials notes that psychiatric symptoms are more prevalent in urban areas compared to rural areas. Further, the correlation is made between increased pollution of air, water, etc. in urbanized areas that seems a likely culprit for toxic effects. As toxins accumulate in the brain and nervous system over the course of our lives they become neurotoxic. These toxins can create the effect of an over-stimulated nervous system. Pesticides are a good example to understand this phenomenon. Pesticides are designed to kill insects, including grasshoppers, and function in the following way: the toxin permeates into the exoskeleton and finds its way to the nervous system. Pesticides cause acetylcholine channels to stay open, not allowing these channels to properly close. Acetylcholine is a stimulating neurotransmitter and will make the grasshopper jump. Consistent release of acetylcholine eventually puts the grasshopper into a catatonic state followed by death. This is how pesticides kill pests, similar to the way excitotoxins harm human cells by the overstimulation that occurs with toxic exposures.71

Accumulated exposure to acetylcholine affects humans similar to the grasshopper. Toxins can include heavy metals, mold, mycotoxins, MSG, aspartame, and thousands of other chemicals found in processed foods and hygiene products that have similar excitotoxic effects. Through medical testing and constant patient monitoring at Alternative to Meds Center, we often identify an accumulation of neurotoxins over-stimulating the nervous system of individuals with anxiety. Cleansing these from the body is an effective alternative to Ativan or other drugs. L-theanine, as found in green tea or in supplement form, has been shown to protect against neuronal cell death.71

Heavy Metals and Psychiatric Symptoms

toxic heavy metalsA wealth of research data has documented the adverse effects of heavy metals on the body and on mental health. Heavy metals can include lead, mercury commonly found in dental amalgam, cadmium, and other sources.25

Heavy metals including mercury can be tested for using a “provoked chelation” challenge to measure accumulations of this known neurotoxin. Mercury was found to correlate with the debilitation of the serotonin-melatonin pathway in animal studies.26

Testing done on human populations shows long-term exposure to mercury causes memory impairment, depression, anxiety, abnormal irritability, and mental excitement. These are often symptoms that tranquilizers are prescribed to treat, but drug-therapy does not involve cleansing out the heavy metals responsible for these symptoms. Likely, Ativan treatment would be ineffective as drug therapy does not address the source of the problems. Alternatives to Ativan such as cleaning up the toxic load in the body would address these problems at their source.27,44

Physical Therapies as Ativan Alternatives

Massage, Thermotherapy, Relaxation

Sherman et al’s exciting 12-week trial treated 68 patients with generalized anxiety disorder with therapeutic massage, thermotherapy, and time spent in relaxation rooms. Therapy was delivered in regular weekly sessions and found 100% of the participants showed a significant reduction in depression, stress, anxiety, and other GAD-related symptoms at the end of the trial. After a follow-up at 26 weeks, the researchers found all participants had retained these improvements. Other studies have shown similar benefits from learning self-administered relaxation techniques.28,55

Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine

acupuncture therapyAung et al’s extensive review of published materials on Traditional Chinese Medicine showed definite efficacy used as treatment protocols for psychiatric disorders and symptoms.29

Tu et al’s 2019 thorough review of medical literature on the use of acupuncture for various psychiatric symptoms and disorders show the efficacy of using acupuncture in treatment and suggest more clinical trials and studies could provide a better understanding of how acupuncture may benefit the neuropathways involved in such disorders.79

Supplements — Effective Ativan Alternatives

An article by Shaheen and Vieria was published in The Nutritional Journal in 2010 that reviewed over 60 studies on approximately 2600 participants using nutritional and herbal remedies for treating psychiatric symptoms. Their review concluded that “based on the available evidence, it appears that nutritional and herbal supplementation is an effective method for treating anxiety and anxiety-related conditions without the risk of serious side effects.” 80 Our work using nutritional and other alternatives to Ativan and similar drugs to help our clients at Alternative to Meds Center resonates in full harmony with their findings. This and other studies have found “strong evidence” for the efficacy of numerous alternative treatments including passionflower, kava, and combinations of amino acids such as L-lysine and L-arginine and others, as effective treatments for anxiety and other symptoms. 34, 35, 36, 38, 31

GABA

There exists much research on the use of GABA as an effective natural alternative to pharmaceutical treatments for anxiety, stress, and related symptoms such as Hepsomali et al’s 2020 review published in Frontiers in Neuroscience. Adham et al’s 2006 study found that GABA produced relaxation and diminished anxiety within one hour of oral administration.33,54

Niacinamide

Abram Hoffer and Linus Pauling were not the only researchers to report the beneficial effects of niacin (Vitamin B3) in its various forms. Hospital News in 2005 also found the form of niacin called niacinamide provided anti-anxiety results comparable to those of benzodiazepines, but without the side effects.37,81

Magnesium for Stress, Anxiety

Boyle et al’s 2017 systematic review extensively examined medical literature on magnesium as a treatment for anxiety and stress. The review concluded that magnesium produced a beneficial effect on anxiety and stress responses.39

Cannabidiol (medical marijuana)

medical marijuanaMedical marijuana has been in the spotlight since changes in the law in many locations have made this healing substance more accessible to many. Misunderstandings still seem to exist about the differences between THC (recreational) and CBD (medical) marijuana.

CBD is non-psychoactive. It has been shown to be an effective alternative to Ativan and other pharmaceuticals in treating anxiety, cancer, nausea after chemotherapy, and a very long list of other benefits. For pain relief, it can be a safe alternative choice over the risks of addictive pain medications.40,73

Melatonin for Sleep, Additional Benefits

Ativan alternatives for sleep include nighttime use of melatonin. Garzon et al’s clinical study of the effects of melatonin documented significant improvements in sleep as well as significant improvements in depression and anxiety after a two-month trial. The study also reports participants were able to discontinue hypnotic drug-based behavioral disorder therapy with the use of melatonin in an elderly group of patients.41

Tryptophan for Insomnia, anxiety

Tryptophan has been shown to significantly improve severe chronic insomnia and anxiety in a number of trials in a clinical, controlled setting. The use of lorazepam compared to non-drug-protocols for sleep showed lorazepam (Ativan) carried high risks for abuse and addiction and other unwanted side effects in a clinical trial. These side effects can be avoided using natural sleep aids such as tryptophan as an alternative to Ativan or other drugs.42,45,74,76

5-HTP to Support Natural Mental Health

Just like it takes more than one brick to build a bridge, many nutrient-based remedies can blend in a synergistic way to build a solid foundation for natural mental health. 5-HTP is an interesting over-the-counter supplement that is made from the seeds of a shrub that grows in West Africa, called Griffonia simplicifolia. It is not known to occur in foods but is produced by the body. This natural chemical is a direct precursor in the synthesis of serotonin. 5-HTP anxiolytic effects were demonstrated in Carnevale et al’s experiments on rats in 2011. The research suggested the supplement could provide moderate relief for symptoms of anxiety in humans as well, making it a moderately effective alternative to Ativan, without the risks of abuse, addiction, or other side effects.4377

Valerian – Natural Sedative

Pakseresht et al’s 2011 study on the extract of valerian in treating OCD patients demonstrated significant improvements compared to the placebo group in this 8-week double-blind randomized trial. Donath’s 2000 randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over study showed that valerian improved the quality of sleep in participants compared to placebo, and other studies have shown a sedative effect for this over-the-counter herbal supplement. 33, 75, 78

Avoid Exposure to Toxic Mold

toxic mold syndromeExposure to toxic mold is one of the most overlooked factors when analyzing the soaring numbers in the population who suffer from such symptoms as fatigue, memory problems, depression, anxiety, all of which are symptoms of toxic mold exposure.

Studies show that people residing in mold-contaminated houses or workplaces are more likely to suffer from depression, inability to concentrate, insomnia, and numerous other symptoms.20,21;

Recommended reading:  Mold Warriors: Fighting America’s Hidden Health Threat by Ritchie C. Shoemaker.19

A Good Night’s Sleep

Sleep is a hot topic, according to a 2018 study by Vijay et al published in the Healthcare Journal, 81 that reports over 83 million Americans get less than 7 hours of sleep a night. Not only Americans — it’s a global problem. There are many non-pharmaceutical interventions like the supplements listed above, that could improve the quality of sleep needed for optimum energy, clearheadedness, bright mood, and other health benefits. Create a sleeping environment devoid of electronics and blue light, invest in properly sized pillows, black-out curtains, adequate ventilation, noise control, are some examples of workable and effective alternatives to Ativan or other drugs for sleep.17,18,33,41,61,72,82

Psychotherapy in Benzo Recovery

talk therapyCBT and other forms of talk therapy have been shown very helpful during recovery from benzodiazepine use and for the resolution to personal struggles that could have led to a prescription in the first place.

According to Mayo-Wilson and other researchers, CBT and other forms of talk therapy are helpful in treating anxiety disorders that are notorious for contributing to insomnia, anxiety, and depression. Find a counselor you feel able to connect with and see if the results are at least as effective, if not more effective than tranquilizers.4,5,16

Ativan Addiction and Abuse

“It is more difficult to withdraw people from benzodiazepines than it is from heroin” – Professor Malcolm H Ladder. The Treatment Episode Data Set Report ( TEDS ) shows that during 2011, there were 60,200 individuals receiving substance abuse treatment who were addicted to benzodiazepines.83

Between 1995 and 2002, benzodiazepine-related ER visits involving drug abuse increased 41%.2 In 2002, clonazepam and alprazolam were the most associated benzodiazepines in ER visits for drug abuse.2

Ativan Alternatives at Alternative to Meds

ativan alternative treatmentsWhat really sets us apart from other residential mental health treatment centers is our concentration on the restoration of neurochemical processes and the balancing of neurotransmitter function through medical-grade supplements, lab testing, and additional scientifically focused holistic treatments.

  • We provide a variety of holistic treatments and will customize an individualized medication tapering program for each of our clients for relief of Ativan withdrawal symptoms.
  • We specialize in Ativan alternatives help, therapeutic guidance, and provide medically monitored tapering.

During your inpatient stay with us, based on the results of your lab tests, your personal medical history, and preferences our medical staff will work with you to determine the Ativan alternatives that work best for you. Our goal is to provide the safest, most comfortable, and most successful Lorazepam withdrawal treatment using Ativan alternatives that is available anywhere in the world.

Read Our eBook on the Alternatives to Benzodiazepines


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This content has been reviewed and approved by a licensed physician.

Dr. Samuel Lee

Dr. Samuel Lee is a board-certified psychiatrist, specializing in a spiritually-based mental health discipline and integrative approaches. He graduated with an MD at Loma Linda University School of Medicine and did a residency in psychiatry at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle. He has also been an inpatient adult psychiatrist at Kaweah Delta Mental Health Hospital and the primary attending geriatric psychiatrist at the Auerbach Inpatient Psychiatric Jewish Home Hospital. In addition, he served as the general adult outpatient psychiatrist at Kaiser Permanente.  He is board-certified in psychiatry and neurology and has a B.A. Magna Cum Laude in Religion from Pacific Union College. His specialty is in natural healing techniques that promote the body’s innate ability to heal itself.

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