Rarely can you find one medical professional, let alone a whole team, who has the expertise needed to find workable and effective olanzapine alternatives and for planning long-term treatment that doesn’t sacrifice a person’s quality of life.
Olanzapine alternatives at Alternative to Meds Center are well worth considering, given the potential toxicity of olanzapine (Zyprexa®), which can cause dramatic side effects and rarely, death.
Does Your Diagnosis
For a decade and a half now, Alternative to Meds Center has led the way on antipsychotic withdrawal, antipsychotic alternatives, strategies, and treatments. See our published evidence describing the long-term success rates of our clients. In the midst of an acute crisis situation, the need for sedation may be the overarching factor. But prior, and post-crisis is an opportunity to check for overlooked medical conditions, psycho-social factors, environmental toxic exposures, or other factors that, if addressed, could prevent another crisis in the future.
15 Years Experience by Professionals Who Understand Your Journey.
Olanzapine Alternatives vs Long-Term Antipsychotic Use
A prescription for antipsychotics, even if indicated during a time of unquestionable crisis, does not always mean that a person’s only option is to remain medicated for life. Olanzapine users should not have to suffer drastic and harsh symptoms when less harmful olanzapine alternatives are available. We have clinically proven ways to reduce, soften and eliminate adverse effects and symptoms allowing them to fade away. Alternative to Meds Center has shown that there are many other techniques that result in feeling well and engaged in life. We provide our clients with proven olanzapine alternatives to this end.
In general, atypical antipsychotics are not recommended for long-term use once any initial crisis point has well passed. In the treatment of schizophrenia, olanzapine was only approved for short-term use. Perhaps this is why the drug manufacturer began promoting the drug for off-label uses such as insomnia and depression, for which activity the company was sued for $1.415 billion by the US Dept of Justice for breaking the law.2
Olanzapine clinical trials were very short (3-4 weeks) even for the approved uses of the drug, and long-term use was not well explored in any of the pre-approval trials done on olanzapine according to the FDA drug label.1
Once a psychotic episode has ceased, this may be an opportunity to gently transition to less toxic treatment measures after short-term use of olanzapine. Sadly, most prescriptions for mental health reasons are written by physicians who are untrained in tapering methods and a lot of patients fall through the cracks. We are here to help.
Risks of Extended Use of Antipsychotic Medications
As with almost any medication, antipsychotics may relieve certain symptoms, but aggravate or contribute to other symptoms or pathologies, and the side effects can begin to significantly outweigh any perceived benefits of continued drug therapy. For example, an extensive article published in JAMA concluded that in animal and human studies, brain volume, both grey matter and white matter, shrinks with the long-term use of antipsychotic medications.8
These are good reasons to think about olanzapine alternatives, especially where olanzapine or similar drugs do not produce the desired results in treatment, and where side effects have made life difficult.
Antipsychotics and Off-Label Uses
For elderly dementia patients, olanzapine was once aggressively promoted “off label” for dementia-related behavior problems, but this practice has largely disappeared since too many deaths resulted. After the company plead guilty to illegal promotion tactics, Eli Lilly stopped their ad campaign that targeted elderly rest homes and other off-label markets. In addition to the fines, the FDA put a black box label on the packaging of olanzapine or brand name Zyprexa, warning of increased mortality when prescribed to elderly dementia patients. Olanzapine is FDA-approved for the short-term treatment of schizophrenia, manic episodes of bipolar, and psychosis.3
Off-label use of virtually all of the atypical antipsychotics has become too common, and in fact, the practice of doing so reportedly doubled between 1995 and 2008 according to a massive review article published in the Journal of American Medicine. Drugs like olanzapine, risperidone, paliperidone, Clozaril®, etc., are prescribed for many issues that are not FDA-approved including PTSD, depression, eating disorders, OCD, insomnia, movement disorders, aggressive behaviors, and many others. The study found that all antipsychotic medications had risks of sudden cardiac death and that the risk increased with the dose. The study also found there was no evidence of efficacy in the use of antipsychotic medication for eating disorders, or for substance abuse or insomnia. There was strong evidence for olanzapine and weight gain over and above all the other antipsychotics in the comparative study.4,8
Olanzapine Alternatives for Schizophrenia and Other Conditions
Whether or not one was prescribed for the treatment of depression, schizophrenia, OCD, PTSD, an eating disorder, aggressive behavior, or insomnia, evidence of the efficacy of using atypical antipsychotics for off-label use is poor. Alternative treatments which are non-pharmaceutical can be extremely effective for a wide array of disorders and symptoms.
For anyone prescribed antipsychotics for schizophrenia, psychosis, mania, etc. there may have been a dire need to dampen the symptoms during a time of crisis. However, once the crisis has passed, it may be advantageous to consider alternative treatments that will produce better results and less harm for sustainable mental stability and wellness without heavy drugs.
Improve Diet — An Effective Alternative Therapy
One example of alternative treatments found effective for schizophrenic symptoms is upgrading one’s diet.
A comprehensive review of studies published by the World Journal of Psychiatry has shown a dramatic reduction in auditory hallucinations, a dramatic reduction in delusions, psychosis, improved cognition, and other desirable and documented outcomes in patients with schizophrenia from changing the diet alone.5-7
A ketogenic diet featuring low carbohydrates and high fats has been shown effective in relieving symptoms that medication was not able to dampen adequately. It is suggested that this type of diet change increases the synthesis of GABA, a natural suppressor of excitatory neurotransmitters.9
One can seek guidance from a qualified naturopath or other nutritionally knowledgeable physicians for nutritional therapies that have proven helpful for the reduction of symptoms of psychosis or schizophrenia.
There are many other alternative therapies and strategies besides adding more drugs to one’s daily regimen. The list below is an abbreviated sampling of strategies to coordinate with your prescribing physician or holistic health care professionals.
Alternatives to olanzapine include:
Test for and remove neurotoxic accumulations such as heavy metals, organophosphates, drug residues, etc.21,22
Modify the diet, for reduced symptoms and weight control5-7,9
CBT can effectively reduce symptoms in schizophrenic patients10
Other forms of cognitive therapy for schizophrenia can be explored.*
Support gut microbiome health with fermented foods, yogurt, prebiotics, and probiotics, which can profoundly improve neurotransmitter health11
Abstain from recreational drug and alcohol use13,14
Avoid caffeine as it can worsen psychosis symptoms18
Avoid gluten-laden foods.22
Supplement with omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and fish oils as red blood cells in schizophrenia patients typically show reduced levels of this protective nutrient in cell membranes15,16
Many natural medicines have shown efficacy for psychotic disorders such as Vitamin C, B3, B6, B9 (folate), B12, ginkgo Biloba (particularly for dyskinesia and akathisia), glycine, sarcosine, NAC, melatonin (attenuates dopamine), and Ayurvedic herbal remedies17
GABA suppresses dopaminergic transmission19
EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) trials demonstrated superior results in reducing symptoms in schizophrenia20
*A study in the Lancet showed CT significantly reduced psychiatric symptoms and stated counseling was “a safe and acceptable alternative for people with schizophrenia spectrum disorders who have decided not to take antipsychotic drugs.”
Notes on Coming Off Antipsychotic Medication
However necessary it may have been to begin taking medication, coming off a drug like olanzapine must be accompanied by informed help and guidance from knowledgeable practitioners who are familiar with the tapering roadmap, and in any case, should never be done abruptly.5
Always seek guidance and competent help for planning your gradual discontinuation of heavy pharmaceutical drugs such as olanzapine, or similar antipsychotics.
Alternative to Meds Center Offers Olanzapine Alternatives
At Alternative to Meds Center, we specialize in getting to the root causes of symptoms a person is troubled with and seek to remedy these using scientific, effective, and safe methods. Along with safe tapering programs, holistic protocols are used to eradicate the underlying reasons for problems such as insomnia, eating disorders, or other symptoms. In documenting our successes, we know how well our clients have responded to sound and natural (non-drug-based) protocols. Our facility is beautiful, relaxing, and welcoming and our clients appreciate the nurturing atmosphere and support provided.
Rather than being stuck on heavy medications for a lifetime, there are olanzapine alternatives that can be accessed at Alternative to Meds in a compassionate and friendly setting. We encourage anyone interested in finding out more about our inpatient programs utilizing olanzapine alternatives to contact us and we are happy to speak with you or your loved one about the program, insurance coverage, and any other questions you may have.
14. Hasan A, von Keller R, Friemel CM, Hall W, Schneider M, Koethe D, Leweke FM, Strube W, Hoch E. Cannabis use and psychosis: a review of reviews. Eur Arch Psychiatry Clin Neurosci. 2020 Jun;270(4):403-412. doi: 10.1007/s00406-019-01068-z. Epub 2019 Sep 28. PMID: 31563981.[cited 2021 Dec 7]
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.
Diane is an avid supporter and researcher of natural mental health strategies. Diane received her medical writing and science communication certification through Stanford University and has published over 3 million words on the topics of holistic health, addiction, recovery, and alternative medicine. She has proudly worked with the Alternative to Meds Center since its inception and is grateful for the opportunity to help the founding members develop this world-class center that has helped so many thousands regain natural mental health.
Medical Disclaimer: Nothing on this Website is intended to be taken as medical advice. The information provided on the website is intended to encourage, not replace, direct patient-health professional relationships. Always consult with your doctor before altering your medications. Adding nutritional supplements may alter the effect of medication. Any medication changes should be done only after proper evaluation and under medical supervision.
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