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Benzodiazepine Tapering, Titration, Weaning Help

Benzodiazepine Tapering, Titration, Weaning Help

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Last Updated on March 2, 2021 by Carol Gillette

Medical Review Icon

Alternative to Meds Editorial Team
Written by Diane Ridaeus Published May 22, 2020
Medically Reviewed by Dr Samuel Lee MD

At Alternative to Meds Center, we provide the space and time allowed to properly orchestrate benzodiazepine tapering, weaning, and titration. We are not a rapid benzo detox, which we consider largely inappropriate for this class of medication.

Let us be clear — weaning off benzo drugs just cannot be treated like any other class of drugs. To do so may add additional injury and heightened distress while attempting benzodiazepine tapering.

Do Your Symptoms
Require Benzodiazepines?

benzo tapering
Alternative to Meds has delivered expert benzodiazepine tapering programs for a decade and a half. Our published evidence demonstrates our clients’ successes. While some can come off these invasive drugs more easily than others, a significant number of people we see have become neurotoxic. We have found that clearing out the burden of toxicity first gives the best method to regulate neurochemistry.  Alternative to Meds Center knows that every individual needs a personalized benzodiazepine titration and weaning program that is uniquely tailored to their real-time needs and situation.
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Benzodiazepine Tapering

Each client has their own unique set of circumstances, history, symptoms, sensitivities, tolerance levels, nutritional deficiencies, fitness level, medical profile, and so on. Therefore, we tailor the benzodiazepine titration and weaning to fit the client. We have found that it is the most effective, and least problematic way forward. Different benzodiazepines have different attributes and half-lives. So Klonopin tapering, Ativan tapering, and Xanax tapering may have slightly different Benzodiazepine tapering schedules, and taper chart.

Generally, most inpatient tapering programs with us will require 2 months to complete. This allows for all of the therapies we provide time to make a difference, and adequate time for the body to transition, and reduce and eliminate symptoms. There are instances where more time is needed, especially when there is decades-long drug use and multiple medications involved.

Benzodiazepine Tapering Guidelines and Schedule

benzo tapering guidelinesIn this section, we lay out some of the benzodiazepine tapering fundamentals in bullet points, then offer discussion to expand upon the principles directly thereafter. The guidelines offered here are in the context of someone working at home with a doctor. Alternative to Meds Center inpatient treatment would involve many of the methods found on our services page and certain parts would be fundamentally different in approach from what we are presenting here.

Methods described below need to be talked about with a prescriber sensitive to your situation prior to attempting. Please share this information with your prescriber before attempting.

Benzodiazepine Tapering Guidelines Include:

  • Do not attempt to taper benzodiazepines while unstable and always obtain medical oversight.
  • Determine if your symptoms are intermittent or constant. (read below)
  • Inform persons close to you of your intentions.
  • Gather the support of a prescriber to provide the medical observation you will need.
  • Avoid caffeine, MSG, glutamate, and Aspartame. 6,19,20,21
  • Eat a solid breakfast, protein-based, and maintain frequent feedings to balance blood sugar. 5,7
  • Regular cardio exercise is physiologically therapeutic. 8,22
  • Have the lowest dose version of benzodiazepine available for use during the taper.
  • Discuss with your doctor what to do regarding other medications you are on. (read the below)
  • How long your benzodiazepine taper is dependent on your symptoms and the duration of time you have been on benzos. Discuss these points with your prescriber.
  • Percent of reduction and the duration between cuts will also depend on symptoms and the duration of time you have been on benzodiazepines. Discuss with your prescriber.
  • Have a discussion with your physician about how to avoid inter-dosing withdrawal.
  • Speak with your doctor about using a Valium crossover.
  • Speak with your doctor about switching over to an extended-release version of your drug if available
  • Symptoms will likely manifest during the withdrawal. Discuss any with your prescriber.
  • The last cuts may be the most difficult.
  • Optional:  Gabapentin prescribed for use as a bridge medication.
  • Reference our benzodiazepine alternatives page.
  • Reference our medication tapering page.

Do not attempt to taper benzodiazepines while unstable

If you are already anxious to the point of not sleeping, eating, and are constantly in panic, tapering your benzodiazepines could escalate these symptoms. You will likely have to get your stability up in other ways in order to be able to reasonably embark on this journey. You can read some of the content on our benzodiazepine alternative page for natural therapies that might help you get settled. You may consider discussing with your doctor using non-benzodiazepine bridge medications like trazodone or gabapentin to help with the benzodiazepine tapering process. There will be more on this topic below in the section that covers the topic of bridge medications.

Determine if your symptoms are intermittent or constant

Intermittent anxiety that changes throughout the day or week is certainly better than constant unrelenting anxiety. Intermittent anxiety may come on in the morning, and relieve at night, or be better certain days over others.

Constant Anxiety

high anxiety benzo taperingConstant type anxiety presentations are like a background roar in your nervous system like you are living in the middle of the freeway. It may get slightly better or worse throughout the day or week, but it is always strongly there. Generally, the anxiety was a slow onset over time building up over many months to years that has now gotten to a place where it is unrelenting. We have found that this is most often due to neurotoxic poisoning. 9 There are poisons that affect the way the nervous system balances itself. Some of the anxiety-driving culprits are mercury,10 lead,11 organophosphates (pesticide) accumulation,12 or problems like Lyme disease.13 Researchers publishing in Psychological Reports in 1994 found that mercury fillings can be an etiological (causative) factor in anxiety, perhaps by altering neurochemicals in the brain.10 We have found this to be especially true in our center, as the correlation between mercury fillings, anxiety, ruminations, and insomnia has been very prevalent. Likely, you will have to figure out where your toxic load is coming from and work toward unburdening this attribute so that you can successfully taper off of the medications and remain stable. Imagine a game of catch, and the pitcher is pitching 100 mph fastballs, so you are wearing the glove of a benzodiazepine. If you just thin down the glove, eventually those pitches are going to start hurting. You would need the pitcher to pitch softer so you can catch it with your bare hand. If you reduce the benzodiazepine while you still have accumulated excitotoxins, you may hit a similar point of pain as you would with the glove analogy. If excitotoxic poisoning is over-ramping your nervous system, that is the issue that needs to be primarily addressed, which in our experience makes the benzodiazepine tapering process ultimately successful. Alternative to Meds Center is specifically designed around dealing with these kinds of stubborn issues in conjunction with benzodiazepine tapering.

Intermittent Anxiety

This type of anxiety will offer the sufferer some relief at certain points of the day, week, or may present seasonally. There are many reasons for this type of anxiety, but they are all almost always easier to confront than the constant type. We list some of the following here:

  • Blood sugar swings 7
  • Hormonal imbalances 14
  • Inter-dosing withdrawal 42
  • Food allergies 15
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder
  • Mold or mycotoxin sensitivity 16
  • EMF influences 17
  • Other stimulating medications such as SNRIs 18
  • Situational anxiety, workplace anxiety 43

seasonal affective disorderEach one of these factors has strategies to try to alleviate some of the detriments imposed. Regarding inter-dosing withdrawal, for instance, if someone is taking Xanax only at night, they may be going into withdrawal by the next morning or afternoon. One would be well-advised to speak to their prescriber about breaking the dosing up to be a little in the morning with the majority at night might be a good way to start the benzodiazepine tapering. Or, one could discuss if switching to a longer half-life benzodiazepine like Valium could make it easier. At Alternative to Meds Center, we typically keep the person on the medication they are familiar with as we have supporting mechanisms that make the process easier than what one can expect at home. There are different tapering methods that are described below and also can be viewed on our medication tapering page.

Inform persons close to you of your intentions

benzo tapering supportIt may be truly difficult for your family, friends, employer, and other support people to understand your struggles. It is important that you convey to your loved ones what is occurring with you so that they can attempt to understand your plight. This is often where we suggest that a person does an inpatient stay with us so as to spare loved ones of the emotional ride they will probably be enduring with you in this process. Many mothers come to us having left their children at home so as to get the benzodiazepine tapering successfully accomplished. And while it is difficult to be away from the family, it might be even more traumatic for them to see you go through this at home unsupported. For those trying this at home, letting the people in your close sphere watch videos of others who have struggled might help them to understand and have compassion for your situation.

Get a prescriber to help you

We know this might be difficult, but searching “holistic psychiatrist” or “integrative doctor” may help you get started. Benzodiazepine tapering is truly difficult to manage for an outpatient doctor and a residential stay is certainly preferred. But if you are limited to outpatient, you still absolutely need to have someone monitoring your medications and medical care.

Avoid caffeine, MSG, glutamate, and Aspartame

We probably don’t need to mention this to most anxiety sufferers but caffeine is definitely not going to be well tolerated during the benzodiazepine tapering process.19 MSG and glutamate are highly stimulating. Glutamate is the most excitatory neurochemical of the central nervous system and can contribute to heightened anxiety.20 Aspartame breaks down into aspartate and phenylalanine, both of which can be stimulating.21

Balance blood sugar

benzodiazepine weaningBlood sugar plunges can cause anxiety, and creating a lifestyle to avoid this can make things a lot easier.7 To alleviate blood sugar crashes, eat a healthy portioned protein-based breakfast. Try to limit excess sugars and simple carbohydrates like rice, wheat, and other starches. Consuming snack-like meals ongoing throughout the day can help balance blood sugar.5 A bag of carrots with nut butter is a viable snack, so is raw green beans or avocado. You want to avoid going on a blood sugar roller-coaster during the benzodiazepine tapering period. If you find it hard to eat, still try by eating small portions. Your gut is a muscle and might need to exercise a bit if you have been food restricting due to anxiety.

Exercise

Getting your body moving can help with the overall detoxification of the body by assisting your immune system, kidneys, liver, and respiratory system to work more efficiently.22 Stagnation is not helpful, especially when you are stewing in your own anxiety and ruminating thoughts. Getting your body moving may not have an immediate effect on anxiety, but can make an impact during the long-term.8 It is good to have an exercise routine established before attempting to taper benzodiazepines. Again, we know this might be a tall order, but this is a place you might want to lean into and push yourself within reasonable limits.

Get the lowest dose version of your medication prescribed to you

If you are planning the direct tapering route using your existing medication, you will want your doctor to have the lowest dose version of it on hand for the benzodiazepine tapering process. For instance, someone is taking Klonopin 3 mg (three 1 mg tablets) and they want to drop down to 2.75 mg. Klonopin comes in a 0.5 mg dose. So in this cut, the person would take two of the 1 mg, one of the 0.5 mg, and half of a 0.5 mg for a total of 2.75 mg. Speak to your doctor who will likely be able and willing to assist once informed of your intentions.

Lowest dose benzodiazepines include:
  • Ativan (lorazepam) 0.5 mg
  • Klonopin (clonazepam) 0.5 mg
  • Librium 5.0 mg
  • Valium (diazepam) 2.0 mg
  • Xanax (alprazolam) 0.5 mg
  • Ambien (zolpidem) 5.0 mg (not technically a benzodiazepine)

benzo titrationSpeak to your prescribing physician about how these medications can be cut into smaller fractions. Many people choose tapering steps to be smaller than the lowest dose pill. Librium comes in a capsule, and can only be cut by opening the capsule. Know that if you are using a timed-release version of your medication such as Xanax XR or Ambien CR, it will lose the extended-release aspect if you cut the pill. If you are on extended-release versions, one approach would be to keep the extended-release for the larger milligram portions of the total dosing and use the non-time-release lowest dose pills if you have to cut one of the pills. For instance, you are on Xanax XR 3.0 mg and want to taper to 2.75 mg. Consider getting a combination from your prescriber of 1.0 mg and 0.5 mg Xanax XR, and also get the 0.5 mg Xanax non-XR. So you could get to your target taper amount of 2.75 mg taking two of the 1.0 mg Xanax XR, one of the 0.5 mg Xanax XR and the 1/2 of the 0.5 mg normal Xanax (0.25 mg).

Other medications you are taking

If you are on a stimulant, such as Wellbutrin, Effexor, Cymbalta, Provigil, or an SNRI type of antidepressant, talk with your doctor about eliminating these first. These drugs could be fueling anxiety or sleep problems.18

Other drugs like Seroquel, Trazodone, gabapentin, SSRI antidepressants, mood-stabilizers like Lamictal will likely assist the benzodiazepine tapering process. If you are already on those medications, have your doctor consider keeping you on those medications until after you are stably off of the benzodiazepine.

At Alternative to Meds, we generally do the most challenging drug first. That is after we remove conflicting drugs like the stimulants listed above. So let’s say someone is one Wellbutrin, Seroquel, Ativan, Lamictal, and gabapentin. And anxiety and sleep issues are the diagnosis. We would remove the Wellbutrin first. Then, we would attend the Ativan. The remaining would involve more investigation into the individual presentation but might look like Seroquel, then Lamictal, and saving gabapentin for last. Removing the stimulants and attending to the benzodiazepine first is the most common strategy. Removing the easier drugs first might paint someone into a corner where they have no medication support for the benzodiazepine withdrawal.

How long will my benzodiazepine taper take?

If you have the constant anxiety presentation, and it is only marginally helped by the drugs, then your case might take longer. If you started taking benzos because of a traumatic life event that has now passed, or because you were having intermittent sleep issues, then you can likely get through this rather quickly. There are a lot of details to consider when answering this question. At Alternative to Meds Center, most people can accomplish benzodiazepine cessation and be stable within an eight-week period. Most people attend to a whole host of other medications in that time frame as well. Those with multiple medications combined with decade-plus consistently long use of benzos may take more time. Outpatient, for those with the intermittent type of anxiety, you might want to set the broad expectation to be 10-25% every two weeks, which adds up to anywhere from 8 weeks to 20 weeks.

How much benzodiazepine reduction do I every week and how often?

benzo reduction There is no one size fits all answer for this. For inpatients at Alternative to Meds Center, we build people up with nutraceutical agents, use IVs, and begin the process of removing excitatory neurotoxins prior to making medication cuts. When the cause of the anxiety is being alleviated, the tapering can go substantially quicker with fewer complications. For outpatient populations and guidance for the doctors handling these situations, we would recommend the initial cut to be 10%. And the time till the next re-evaluation would be 2 weeks. If that is easily tolerated, then the person can step it up by either cutting 10% every week or going up to 20-25% every two weeks. Other outpatient people may find this is too much and do better with 5% cuts. We do not prefer the type of liquid titration methods where someone frequently cuts a small percentage, like 2.5% every day, as that can lead to confusion from overlapping dosages during the withdrawal. In this method, there is not time between the cuts to get a good sense of the withdrawal syndrome. Liquid titration to get good accurate milligram dosing levels is a great method for tapering certain water-soluble medications, but we like to leave time between each cut for the person to rebalance and get ready for the next step-down.

Inter-dosing withdrawal

If a person is only taking a benzodiazepine one time a day, especially short half-life drugs like Xanax or Ativan and to some degree Klonopin, there can be a withdrawal between dosing. This is common phenomenon in many classes of drugs.44 We find it better to split up the dosing so that there is at least some of the medication active in the body throughout the day. So if a person is taking 1 mg Xanax at night, the first medication change might be to move 0.25 mg to the morning and leaving the 0.75 mg at night. After this has been adjusted to, then they might go to 0.625 mg at night and 0.25 mg AM. As they get down below 0.5 mg PM, then they might drop the AM to .125 mg. Each person will have a unique strategy regarding this. Another method to discuss with your prescribing physician is switching to Valium, which has a longer half-life, as described in the next section.

Valium Crossover for benzodiazepine tapering

We have tried many, many ways of approaching benzodiazepine withdrawal inpatient over our now 16 years at the date of this writing. We do not use the Valium crossover method very often for our inpatient population. Our detoxification processes, supplement infusions, and tapering adjunctive therapies make the benzodiazepine tapering a much different experience in relation to those doing tapering without those mechanisms of support. We have found it best to do a direct taper on the drug the patient is familiar with. Changing to a new drug is not always that well-tolerated, and the crossover period itself can take one to two weeks even in our inpatient setting, which loses valuable time.

However, for people working with an outpatient doctor, this is a very viable approach, especially for those who are having a rough time making even the smallest of cuts.

One crossover approach would be some version of converting half or less of the medication to Valium, and then waiting to see how well that was tolerated before switching over the rest. Some people may want to switch over a smaller portion of medication first, especially those who have truly struggled and need to play it extra safe. An example might be, a person is taking 1.5 mg a day of Ativan split up into 3 dosings of 0.5 mg at different times of the day. Switching over one of the 0.5 mg Ativan to 5.0 mg of Valium might be a good test. If well-tolerated, the rest can be converted over possibly a two-week period in two steps.&

Another crossover approach would be converting one half of the medication over to Valium in one or more steps. But then instead of converting the other half, cutting only the other benzodiazepine (Ativan, Xanax, Klonopin, etc) in 10-25% increments until to are only left with Valium. Then you would proceed in a similar fashion with the Valium. These are points you can discuss with your doctor.

Benzodiazepine to Valium Equivalency Chart

When converting a benzodiazepine like Xanax over to Valium (diazepam), the milligram levels are not equivalent, and the dosing level will have to be adjusted. Every person tolerates medications differently, and so the below is simply a guide to share with your prescriber.

1.0 mg Ativan ~ 7.5 mg diazepam (range 2.5 to 10 mg)
1.0 mg Klonopin ~ 12.5 mg (range 2.5 to 20 mg)
5.0 mg Librium ~ 1.5 mg diazepam ( range 1.0 to 4.0 mg)
1.0 mg Xanax ~ 12.5 mg (range 5.0 to 20 mg)

The above calculations were gathered by our in-house observations and a combination of conversion ranges found on both clinicalc.com and mdcalc.com.23,24

Extended-release benzodiazepine tapering

Some people might find they want to stick with the medication they are prescribed but move to an extended-release version of their medication for the benzodiazepine tapering purposes. This may help with inter-dosing withdrawal intensity, but realistically, the half-lives of the extended-release versions are very similar to the non-extended release versions. It also generally requires that you have multiple extended-release milligram strength levels prescribed to you as well as the lowest dose non-extended release version. If you “cut” the extended-release tablet, it is no longer extended-release. But a process for this method could be, for instance, you are on Xanax XR 3.0 mg and want to taper to 2.75 mg. This could be achieved with a combination of 1.0 mg and 0.5 mg Xanax XR and also using half of the 0.5 mg Xanax non-XR. So you could get to your target taper amount of 2.75 mg taking two of the 1.0 mg Xanax XR, one of the 0.5 mg Xanax XR and the 1/2 of the 0.5 mg normal Xanax (0.25 mg). Discuss these strategies with your medical support person if you believe they would be helpful.

Benzodiazepine tapering symptoms will likely manifest during the withdrawal

Benzodiazepine tapering symptoms will generally occur starting about the half-life of the drug. Depending on the person, the withdrawal can last days, weeks, or even longer in some people. The people that have an unresolved toxic body burden of accumulated environmental poisons, or other situations such as Lyme disease, in our experience, can have a longer and potentially protracted withdrawal period. The longer the half-life, generally the easier the withdrawal experience. Each person’s elimination time is going to be dependent on genetics, liver and kidney health, and other lifestyle factors.25

Half-life times for benzodiazepines and Ambien
  • Ativan ~ 12 hours 26
  • Klonopin ~ 20-30 hours 27
  • Librium ~ 24-48 hours 28
  • Valium ~ 100 hours or more 29
  • Xanax ~11.2 hours 30
  • Ambien CR ~ 2.8 hours 31

Tapering benzodiazepines can result in a benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome. Some of the features of this withdrawal syndrome can include some of the following.

Possible benzodiazepine tapering symptoms 32
  • Rebound Sleep issues
  • Rebound Anxiety
  • Panic
  • Increased excitability
  • Heart palpitations
  • Muscular pain and stiffness
  • Changes in perception such as dizziness, visual disturbances, skin pain, etc
Serious symptoms from an abrupt withdrawal may include: 32
  • Seizures
  • Psychosis

The most common symptoms are certainly rebound anxiety and insomnia usually occurring 1-4 days after a tapering step. Going too fast on a benzodiazepine taper, especially when higher doses are involved, may result in seizures or psychosis. Slower tapering is advised to avoid extreme symptoms. 33

The last benzodiazepine tapering cuts may be the most difficult

As you do each cut, starting with the first, the symptoms you go through, and the time it takes to restabilize are generally a guide for each benzodiazepine taper that is to follow. This information will help your doctor and you to get a more predictive picture of the way your body will respond to each cut. Tapering of the upper milligram levels of benzodiazepines may be somewhat uncomplicated in many, but when getting down below the half-way point, things might get more difficult. Tapering at the lower dosing levels may require elongating the time frame between tapering steps and reducing by smaller amounts each step. It has been our observation at the center that this is especially true when a person gets to the last few steps.

Gabapentin used as a bridge medication

Gabapentin is a medication that actually has the capacity to raise intracerebral GABA levels.34 Benzodiazepines act by making GABA, an inhibitory neurochemical, more potent at the receptor.35 This then creates a sedating effect. But the benzodiazepine tends to exhaust this mechanism and tolerance occurs.36 While coming off of the benzodiazepine, gabapentin can be extremely useful in mitigating the withdrawal. And then after the withdrawal, we have observed that it can generally be discontinued in a comparatively expedited taper. Each person is different, and there are a small few who have difficultly tapering off of the gabapentin, but even in those cases, it is almost certainly easier than the benzodiazepine tapering. Even though gabapentin is moving toward being a scheduled drug at the time of this writing, we feel it is a much better drug than benzodiazepines and far less addictive. It has virtually no impact on the liver and is excreted by kidneys as an unchanged substance.37 Many persons feel guarded around introducing another drug, and that is okay. We present it as an option. GABA has a short half-life of 5 to 7 hours,37 and to mitigate the withdrawal, it may have to be taken 3-4 times during the day during the benzodiazepine tapering process. To be effective. the dosing can range between 100 and 600mg 3-4 times a day depending on the severity of the withdrawal and how well tolerated the gabapentin is. If you are considering this option, ask your doctor to integrate it slowly so that you can ease into it.

There are certain people that have the opposite effect from gabapentin than most people in that it stimulates them as opposed to sedating them. We suspect that this may be due to a genetic polymorphism type called GAD1 and GAD2. While these polymorphisms are somewhat uncommon in the general population, it does show up in people with chronic anxiety.38,40 GAD has a lot to do with how the synthesis gating of GABA and glutamate occurs. Strangely, GABA, the most inhibitory neurochemical, and glutamate, the most excitatory neurochemical, share a common glutamic acid precursor.39 Those with the GAD polymorphism tend to produce less GABA and may be possible that even GABA products such as gabapentin can get shunted toward excitatory glutamate. For these people, they may have to take Trileptal or Trazodone if they are considering a temporary bridge medication. Speak to your prescribing physician to address these issues.

Benzodiazepine Alternatives and Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Links

We have pages on our site that address benzodiazepine alternatives that can be used during the tapering process. We strongly recommend you review these pages. Quick links are: benzodiazepine alternatives, Ativan alternatives, Klonopin alternatives, Valium alternatives, Xanax alternatives, Ambien alternatives, and Librium alternatives. There is also a page that covers different types of medication tapering strategies. You may also want to consider reading the benzodiazepine withdrawal page.

Benzodiazepines and the Gut-Brain Connection

Certainly, whether we are considering benzodiazepine tapering or not, we are more than just guts and brains. However, the gut, sometimes referred to as “the second brain,” plays a number of essential roles in both physical and mental health, particularly as it relates to the process of benzodiazepine weaning.

benzodiazepine tapering and titrationAlternative to Meds Center applies holistic principles to improve health. One such application is based on understanding the magnitude of the role of microbiota (microorganisms) in the gut. For instance, studies have established that inflammation in the gut can lead to many expressions of symptoms that could be mistaken for mental health issues. These can include anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, autism, chronic stress, and others.1,2

This data is useful in healing from benzo damage as, without correcting the condition, symptoms of anxiety, depression, chronic stress, and many other CNS malfunctions are likely to return and continue to plague an individual.3 Many times a physician will prescribe benzodiazepines “to treat” the above conditions/symptoms. But in these cases, benzos may have been avoided altogether if such symptoms could have resolved with a more holistic treatment plan. Benzodiazepines were the subject of the world’s largest class-action lawsuit against drug makers in the UK. Many people have been unnecessarily damaged by these drugs.4

Methods to Help Restore Healthy Neurochemistry

Thankfully, the correction of gut function can be accelerated safely and gently. Cleaning out the body’s neurotoxic load is possible using therapeutic sauna, ionic foot baths, colonics, mineral baths, and nebulized glutathione treatments.

Stick to a Mediterranean or ketogenic-based diet, eat organic wherever possible, use no neurotoxic food preservatives or additives, and avoid refined flour and sugars to support the microflora of the gut which in turn can actually produce neurotransmitters such as GABA.41 Also, daily probiotics from fermented foods, supplements or a combination of sources turbo-charges gut health. Restoring a healthy gut aids benzo tapering greatly as the symptoms from a dysfunctional gut-brain axis can be lessened or eliminated altogether by addressing the root causes.

Psychological and Spiritual Health During Benzodiazepine Tapering

benzo titrationAs stated earlier, we are more than our guts and brain cells. A balance can be sought between the correction of physical issues and the very valuable freedom that comes from resolving spiritual or psychological concerns. Alternative to Meds Center provides a number of helpful therapies such as CBT and other personal counseling along with Life Coaching, guided peer support groups, Equine-assisted therapy, art, and music therapy, and much more to assist our clients.

Our roster of over 40 highly-trained clinicians, holistic psychiatrists and psychologists, therapists, and caregivers provide a wide variety of holistic therapies. The program is rich with opportunities for this kind of support while navigating benzodiazepine tapering. While we do not hold religious services in house, we are happy to transport and accompany our clients to local church services if desired. At Alternative to Meds Center, we recognize that many pathways of spiritual and psychological support can offer solid pillars of support and healing while healing from medication-induced damage.

Making Tapering Benzodiazepines More Comfortable

benzodiazepine taperingWe have a number of methods that clients enjoy using to ensure maximum comfort during benzodiazepine tapering. We understand there can be multiple sources of discomfort that, if not resolved, may make benzo withdrawal more difficult to endure. Some of these are described below:

  • Therapeutic massage:  increase flexibility and joint mobility, reduction of stress hormones, reduced muscle tension, stimulates circulation, soothes aches and pains
  • Soothing mineral baths:  decrease fatigue, deep relaxation, improves skin tone, better sleep, pain relief
  • Craniosacral therapy:  gentle touch therapy applied to improve the functioning of the CNS, relieve pain, improve circulation in the craniosacral system, developed by a doctor of osteopathy
  • Castor-oil heat packs:  reduce inflammation, improve digestion, promote healing of tissue, pain relief.
  • Nebulized glutathione therapy:  reduce oxidative stress, detoxes fat-soluble compounds such as environmental chemicals and carcinogens such as from cigarette smoke, etc. 
  • Acupuncture:  reduce tension and stress, increase mental clarity, relief from headaches
  • Therapeutic sauna:  detoxification, better sleep, clear skin, relief from sore muscles and joint pain
  • Sublingual GABA:  a nano form of GABA sprayed under the tongue provides anxiety relief
  • Inositol:  relieves panic attacks, helps with OCD and anxiety without the toxic side effects of prescription drugs

Learn More About the Effects of Benzodiazepines

Importantly, we recommend that you begin reading through the Alternative to Meds Benzo Book for more information on benzodiazepine tapering, weaning and titration information about how benzos alter the CNS, and information about effective modes of repair of the damage and injury that these drugs cause.

Contact Alternative to Meds Center

Please feel free to contact us directly if you have questions about the programs and modes of treatment we use in our holistic treatment programs. Whether you have done programs before and didn’t get the level of healing you were looking for, or whether this is your first time seeking treatment, we are always happy to speak with you and answer other questions you may have. Alternative to Meds Center is insurance-friendly and accepts most major insurance providers. We have found that benzodiazepine tapering can be made significantly easier to tolerate when the proper preparation steps and treatment methods are utilized.


1. Clapp M, Aurora N, Herrera L, Bhatia M, Wilen E, Wakefield E, “Gut microbiota’s effect on mental health: The gut-brain axis.” Clinics and Practice, An International Journal of Medical Case Reports [INTERNET] 2017 Sep 15 [cited 2020 May 22]

2. Carabotti M, Scirocco A, Maselli MA, Severi C, “The gut-brain axis, interactions between enteric microbiota, central and enteric nervous systems.” Clinics and Practice, An International Journal of Medical Case Reports [INTERNET] 2015 Apr-Jun [cited 2020 May 22]

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4. Class Action Lawsuit example, Benzodiazepines World Awareness Day publication [INTERNET] [cited 2020 Jul 9]

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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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