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Xanax Alternatives

This entry was posted in Benzodiazepine and tagged on by .
Medically Reviewed Fact Checked

Last Updated on August 8, 2021 by Carol Gillette

Alternative to Meds Editorial Team
Medically Reviewed by Dr Samuel Lee MD

Alternative to Meds Center is a residential facility that focuses on the benzodiazepine population, using safe Xanax alternatives in the transition to drug-free, natural mental health.

Xanax and other benzodiazepines do not amend themselves well to rapid detox modalities. Our residential center has been focusing on this patient population and these types of benzodiazepine transitions for more than 15 years.

Do Your Symptoms
Require Xanax?

successful xanax alternatives
At Alternative to Meds, more than 87% of our benzodiazepine clients have successful long-term outcomes after doing our program as reflected in our published evidence over the last 15 years. Many people have become trapped into continuing to take Xanax due to the fear of withdrawals, which can be horrendous. There is a softer, kinder way to free yourself from benzos with the guided use of benzo alternatives. This natural healing process has allowed the vast majority of our clients to experience welcome relief.
15 Years Experience by Professionals Who Understand Your Journey.
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You probably already know the horrors of this drug. Benzodiazepines are typically more difficult to withdraw from than heroin. And, trying to live life on benzos can be a mess.
Please watch the videos you see here or call us to get hope about your situation.

Benefits of Xanax Alternatives

Timing the use of Xanax alternatives is best determined by the end goal that is desired. If one’s goal is to avoid beginning a prescription of benzodiazepines, alternatives (as will be discussed below) can support health before ever starting on neuroleptic drugs. If one is already on a prescribed benzodiazepine that a person wants to stop taking, alternatives can be used to support health during and after the tapering off process.

Xanax Protracted Withdrawal
One of the common problems with benzodiazepines is the difficulty in stopping them. Xanax withdrawal can become a long, arduous experience leading to lingering withdrawal effects, generally referred to as protracted withdrawal. Protracted withdrawal can be avoided or brought to an end using proven strategies and introducing healthier, non-toxic Xanax alternatives to bring a successful resolution. For more information on the characteristics of protracted withdrawal, we recommend reading from Heather Ashton’s published literature documenting this phenomenon.1

WARNING: Coming off Xanax too abruptly can cause severe health challenges, often leading to protracted withdrawal. Avoid this condition by seeking medical guidance for a gradual reduction in dose.

Xanax Alternatives for Natural Mental Health

By Xanax alternatives, we are not suggesting we help you find a “better” drug. What we specialize in is matching a patient’s profile with the most effective non-pharmaceutical means to resolve symptoms.

Not only that, but the real quest is to find the root causes that underlay symptoms, and addressing those factors with non-pharmaceutical methods.

Natural Alternatives to Xanax include:

  • xanax natural alternativesChoose organic foods over processed foods wherever possible.2,3
  • Support a healthy microbiome for relief of psychiatric symptoms.4-8,61,62
  • Use organic personal care products, avoid products with neurotoxic chemicals.3,63,64
  • Restrict or eliminate MSG and foods high in glutamates, i.e., wheat, soy.10-12,66
  • Avoid products & beverages containing Aspartame.13,14
  • Improve the diet – powerful tools to address impaired synaptic communication.15-17,77
  • Cleanse accumulations of heavy metal and other neurotoxins.18-23,33
  • Therapeutic massage.24
  • Acupuncture, as effective as drug therapy in some cases.25,26,47
  • Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) effective for anxiety.27
  • Kava (Piper methysticum) 28,29
  • GABA, calming, boosts the immune system, available OTC.12,30-32,72
  • Taurine modulates & protects neuronal activity.32,34
  • Glycine, profound anti-anxiety features.37,38,60
  • Niacinamide, anti-anxiety effects comparable to benzodiazepines.38
  • L-lysine and L-arginine, anti-anxiety, and other benefits.39
  • Magnesium, a nutritional superstar but commonly deficient in the diet.40,73
  • Omega-3 fatty acid to lower anxiety, inflammation.67,75
  • Cannabidiol (CBD) effective for chronic pain, muscle spasticity, and more.41,42
  • Melatonin for sleep, depression, cancer-protective, also eases drug discontinuation.43,74
  • Tryptophan, 5-HTP, the necessary precursor to serotonin.44-46,54,69
  • Valerian, therapeutic for sleep, psychiatric symptoms.29,36,48,49
  • Reduce exposure to mold in the home and diet.50-53
  • Improve sleep habits.31,43,48,55,68,71
  • CBT (cognitive behavioral counseling) and other forms of psychotherapy.56,70
  • Equine therapy for PTSD and other benefits.57
  • Art therapy.76
Improve the Diet

Sufficient protein in the daily diet was found to be a significant dietary improvement for mental health in studies by Kim et al published in the Journal of Nutritional Research in 2017.77  Other examples include both onions and celery, which both have high amounts of potassium and folic acid. When a person is deficient in potassium or folic acid, the deficiency alone may be enough to cause anxiousness and nervousness. The very idea of warm chicken soup with onions and celery might cause you to drop your shoulders, take a deep relaxing breath, and smile.

Getting into the habit of eating healthy, whole foods may help result in a major reduction of anxiety. Studies show efficacy using food-based alternative treatments to drugs for improved mental health. Using these principles, our chef serves wholesome, organic, and exceptionally tasteful food.

Orthomolecular principles in food prep can serve up such an amazing and delicious dose of healing, it almost seems magical–but it is based on science.4,5,8,60

Are you interested in adding fermented foods to your diet? There are many foods that promote healthy microbiota in the gut and that can bring about life-changing, positive impacts on health. Supporting evidence can be found in Hilimire et al’s 2015 study in Psychiatry Research showing that eating fermented foods containing probiotics can have an anxiolytic effect, meaning they can reduce anxiety.61

But that’s not all. You have a friendly army in your gut that is there to defend your health, vanquish your pathogenic enemies, and harmonize your emotions as profoundly as the 17,572 singers do in Eric Whitacre’s “Sing Gently.” According to many researchers, the gut-brain axis is literally a highway to health heaven if you take proper care of it.4-8,62

Organic Food, Organic Hygiene Products

It is not always easy or even possible to procure purely organic foods and personal care products, but doing so might well be worth the extra time and expense if it can reduce the liability of chemical exposures. Canadian scientist David Suzuki describes one such chemical that is now banned in the US but not elsewhere, called Triclosan. Triclosan is used in thousands of common household products like bedsheets, garbage bags, toys, and even hand sanitizer and mouthwash. This chemical does not easily degrade but does easily pass through human skin. It is suspected of endocrine disruption, which means it may interfere with hormones and neurotransmitters.

The agri-food-industrial use of pesticides, growth hormones, antibiotics, flavor enhancers, and preservatives has been long-scrutinized, and there is a growing awareness of what these neurotoxic substances can do to our health. There is an excellent source of information on chemicals added to cosmetics and other hygiene products called Skin Deep 65 that can help in discerning which products you may want to avoid.

Buying organic can significantly reduce the potential risks of these toxic exposures.3,63,64

Avoid Overconsumption of Glutatmates in Foods
The chemical operations in the human body appear to be brilliantly interconnected and highly complex. Glutamate is the most abundant of the free amino acids in the body, and plays many vital roles in co-regulating and interacting with other amino acids in the body such as GABA production, GABA clearing, as well as muscle tissue building, and uncountable other vital health functions. Researchers in a 2011 review published in the Journal of Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior, suggested that glutamate expression is heightened during stress or fear events. Glutamate is an excitatory transmitter that is produced naturally by the body, as well as contained in many foods like wheat, soy products, cheeses, and foods processed with MSG. Although more research is called for, one could avoid overconsumption of foods high in glutamate or MSG to avoid the risk of glutamate-related anxiety or other symptoms.10,11,12

Savvy shoppers can find out where it is hidden in food products.66

Avoid Aspartame

Aspartame is an artificial sweetener 200X sweeter than sugar. It is synthesized (lab-produced) from the excitatory amino acid aspartic acid. The Journal of Nutrition and Neuroscience published a review authored by Choudhary et al that reported a possible link between the consumption of aspartame and neurophysiological symptoms including seizure, anxiety, migraine headaches, and others. When combined with caffeine, neurological symptoms can be worsened. A person who experiences symptoms of anxiety or other reactions can exercise caution by avoiding the risks linked to Aspartame.13,14

Improve the Diet

Modifying and improving the diet opens up a whole wealth of powerful tools for supporting both physical and mental health.15,16,17

Toxins, Heavy Metals, and Anxiety

xanax heavy metals testingDentists, Dental Hygienists, and others who are occupationally exposed to mercury were found suffering from increased symptoms of anxiety, depression, confusion, sexual dysfunction, fatigue, mood swings, headache, trembling muscles, and many others. These results were documented in the 2004 Journal of Toxicological Sciences authored by Heyer et al.23 The Alternative to Meds Center uses environmental medicine to clear out these toxic accumulations as an alternative to Xanax. Benzodiazepines are typically prescribed to reduce such psychiatric symptoms. However, neurotoxin removal has achieved a much safer, more permanent reduction and elimination of undesirable symptoms. We test for bioaccumulation of heavy metals such as mercury, lead, cadmium, and other toxins found in the food we eat, the air we breathe, and innumerable other sources. These neurotoxins can have a profound effect on mental as well as physical health. Another fascinating 2011 study on zebrafish found that exposure to methylmercury had a direct anxiety response in the fish.22

Much research has been done that demonstrates the effects of toxin exposure on the human population.21,33 Alternative to Meds Center seeks to find the possible underlying causes of symptoms that have previously been treated with medication.

Xanax Alternatives — Treating the Underlying Factors

To understand why benzos may cause problematic side effects or be ineffective, the real causes of anxiety should be examined first. Toxins and neurotoxins collect in a person’s body throughout their lifetime, resulting in an over-stimulated nervous system. Toxins could include aspartame, heavy metals, pesticides, mycotoxins from mold, and literally thousands of other toxic chemicals in our food, hygiene, and cleaning products, in our homes and workplaces. Additional factors such as an overly demanding workplace, a foundering marriage, or other stressors may be added to toxicity, and it can become too much. But if toxic impairment has not been tested for and corrected, other therapies such as counseling may not be effective until the toxic load is eliminated.

Physical Treatments for Anxiety and Insomnia

Massage
A study by Sherman et al published in The American Massage Therapy Association in 2010 found massage was effective in a small study of participants suffering generalized anxiety disorder. Since a diagnosis of GAD entails at least 6 months of challenging and ongoing worries for which no source can be located, this relief of anxiety would be life-changing. Massage can be an excellent Xanax alternative strategy in many cases.24

Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine
The Journal of Medical Acupuncture’s published findings in 2013 where Aung et al illustrated cases where acupuncture and other traditional Chinese therapies showed efficacy in treating such symptoms as insomnia, PTSD, and generalized anxiety disorders 25

Additional research can be found such as Pilkington et al’s review on treating GAD with acupuncture26 published in 2007, and Tu et al’s massive review in 201947 on the positive effects of acupuncture used in treating anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, and Alzheimer’s disease. Acupuncture has shown great efficacy as a Xanax alternative for various conditions, as outlined above.

Supplements Used as Xanax Alternatives

Supplements include a vast array of over-the-counter products, which may be more desirable than medications as they do not come with the risks of addiction, dependence and side effects. Some with proven track-records are described below, as examples of what is freely available at a local health food shop or even a local grocery store.32,60

Passiflora
A working person may find benzodiazepines impact their ability to work efficiently due to cognitive impairments. Choosing a non-pharmaceutical like Passiflora extract could be just as effective in treating GAD, but without the negative effects, according to a clinical comparison published in 2001, in the Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics.27

Kava
Kava is another Xanax alternative for treating anxiety. Seven clinical trials using Kava for generalized anxiety disorder reported anxiety was significantly reduced as compared to placebo. This is hopeful and exciting news for those desiring holistic methods of treating their symptoms.28,29

GABA
Abdou et al’s 2006 study in Biofactors showed that GABA not only induced relaxation but reduced anxiety in human trials.72 Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid is a naturally occurring amino acid that regulates or slows down nerve impulses. According to another 2006 human study, Adham et al concluded that GABA reduces anxiety, and also provides immune system support for those under stress, making GABA supplementation ideal if you are looking for a safe Xanax alternative.12,30-32

Taurine
O’Donnell et al published a remarkable double-blind placebo-controlled clinical study in the 2016 Journal of Clinical Psychiatry demonstrating that in persons with first-episode psychosis, taurine significantly reduced symptomology, with less fatigue and physical weakness compared to the placebo group.34 In another fascinating trial, Jakaria et al published their findings in the 2016 Redox Journal of Biology concluding that taurine has a neuroprotective role, protecting against endocrine pathologies, stroke, promoting neuron survival, and many other benefits, including antidepressant and anti-anxiety effects.35,36

Glycine
Mori et al published a study in 2002 in the Journal of Physiology where the authors describe glycine as a naturally occurring inhibitory amino acid. For example, glycine suppresses the release of norepinephrine, an excitatory neurochemical, causing a reduction in symptoms of anxiety, and panic.37,38

In an extensive research paper published in the Nutrition Journal in 2008, authors Lakhan and Vieria concluded that glycine was able to reduce symptoms that medication could not, citing a wide range of conditions, such as anxiety-disorders, depressive-disorders, bipolar, eating disorders, schizophrenia, and other conditions.60 The authors note that amino acid supplements are helpful in such a wide range of mental health issues because they get converted into neurotransmitters that alleviate the symptoms, making their nutritional approach of using supplementation with glycine an excellent Xanax alternative choice.

Niacinamide
Hospital News in 2005 concludes that niacinamide (a niacin variant) has anti-anxiety effects comparable to the benzodiazepine class drugs, to which Xanax belongs. They report that niacinamide is effective for anxiety by modulating neurotransmitters that are commonly unbalanced, resulting in anxiety.38

L-lysine and L-arginine
L-lysine and L-arginine given orally were shown effective at reducing chronic anxiety in a double-blind placebo-controlled study published in 2007 by Smriga et al in the Journal of Biomedical Research. Also worth noting, L-lysine combined with L-arginine was shown effective in lowering the stress hormone cortisol. The authors concluded that L-lysine in combination with L-arginine is a recommended dietary intervention for stress and anxiety in otherwise healthy humans.39

Magnesium
Boyle et al report in their 2017 review that magnesium is involved in over 300 operations in the human body including energy metabolism, insulin release, muscle contraction, and hundreds more. A deficiency of magnesium can result in cardiac diseases, hypertension, diabetes, and other breakdowns in health. Magnesium plays another role in regulating endocrine pathways that have been found related to depression, anxiety, mania, and others. Since depression and anxiety are often comorbid conditions, a trusted Xanax alternative would be to ensure the diet and supplementation provide adequate magnesium levels to attenuate these conditions.40

Foods that contain magnesium include green leafy vegetables, nuts & seeds, bananas, fish, chicken and other easily accessible foods. Migraine headaches can occur where a deficiency in magnesium exists, according to the National Institutes of Health fact sheet for professionals.73

CBD
benefits of cbdAnxiety and depression are 2 of the most prevalent reasons that medical marijuana is prescribed. A national review on medical marijuana and cannabidiol was published in 2017 showing benefits for various medical and mental health conditions. In a group of epileptic children treated with cannabidiol, a 75-100% improvement rate — less severe and less frequent seizures — was reported. Cautiously positive reports of improvements in Tourette syndrome and MS were also cited. A second study by Blessing et al reported conclusive evidence of efficacy in the treatment of anxiety in a limited trial, within the range of 300-600 mg daily, as well as OCD, PTSD, SAD, GAD, and PD ( panic disorder ) without the oversedation effects that can occur with medications. Both of these studies/trials called for more research on the use of CBD as an alternative to Xanax or other medication-based treatment.41,42

Melatonin
A 2013 study published in the Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism reported that melatonin has therapeutic value for sleep, and is a contributing factor in the protection of the body from neurodegenerative disorders as well as a documented treatment for and protection against cancer.43

As sleep deprivation has been found highly prevalent in anxiety disorders, melatonin through diet and supplementation would be a wise choice as an alternative to Xanax or other sleep medication.74

Tryptophan, 5-HTP
Birdsall concluded in an article published in the Alternative Medicine Review that 5-HTP is a clinically effective precursor to serotonin production.46 Another trial authored by Shaw et al, published in the 2002 Cochrane Database showed tryptophan use produced improvements in depression scores in the participants of the trial. The body does not make tryptophan but acquires it from protein foods such as poultry, cheese, or milk. The supplement 5-HTP contains a plant-derived form of tryptophan and is available OTC. Both L-tryptophan and 5-HTP convert to serotonin, and also melatonin.44,45,54

Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Kiecolt-Glaser et al’s 12 weeks long placebo-controlled trial in 2011 showed that Omega-3 fatty acid supplements decreased anxiety in the trial participants by 20% over placebo. None of the participants had a prior anxiety disorder diagnosis. However, blood samples were compared 12 weeks before and days before exams, which is known as a high-stress event. The trial also showed the supplement reduced inflammation. According to the National Institutes of Health, you can get Omega-3 fatty acids from a diet that includes fish, preferably cold-water sourced such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, herrings, and sardines as well as from flaxseeds, flaxseed oil, chia seeds, walnuts, and from fortified dairy products.67,75

Valerian
Murphy et al authored a laboratory trial with rats, published in the 2009 Journal of Phytomedicine, comparing the efficacy of valerian with diazepam. Anxiolytic effects of valerian were found to be the same as diazepam. The authors concluded that valerian extract was a potential alternative to traditional anxiolytics. Other studies have shown valerian extract’s efficacy in reducing anxiety and stress-induced insomnia. One study noted that vivid dreams were a valerian side effect in 16% of cases involved in the trial.29,36,48,49

Toxic Mold Syndrome

Medical research has conclusively shown that exposure to toxic mold can cause neurological impairment. That can mean symptoms such as confusion, depression, dizziness, anxiety, and many other concerning conditions.

Find out more about how to avoid it in Ritchie C. Shoemaker’s book called Mold Warriors,50 as well as the other recommended reading referenced in the citations below.51-53

Practice Good Sleep Habits

good sleep for mental healthSleep deprivation is a common condition in the modern world. There are ramifications for mental health when sleep is compromised.68

There have been investigations on the use of sleep deprivation as “enhanced interrogation techniques”. These reveal the disastrous physical and mental consequences of sleep deprivation, such as psychosis, biological impairments, and even death. Because of cognitive impairment, the use of sleep-deprivation as torture makes any intelligence gained useless, as it cannot be relied upon as true.

Alternative to Meds Center focuses on finding the root causes for insomnia with testing, supplementation, and other methods to provide safe and gentle means for healthful, quality sleep. There are effective alternatives to Xanax that do not rely on medication for better sleep.31,43,48,55,68,71

Counseling and Other Therapeutics as Xanax Alternatives

integrative psychiatryAt Alternative to Meds Center, we offer a plethora of talk therapies including CBT, DBT, Life Coaching, Social Cognitive therapy, Choice therapy, and others, all taking a fundamental approach of building trust through unconditional positive regard of the client.

Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience published a series of controlled, randomized trials demonstrating that structured counseling can have a superior, more long-lasting positive result than drugs, making counseling an excellent alternative to Xanax for mental wellness.56,70

Art Therapy
Many art enthusiasts describe an intrinsic value found in both art appreciation and hands-on creation, that transcends space and time. In therapy, we see art as an effective means to discover personal meaning, to articulate things that are difficult to express verbally and to discover or re-discover what is important or valuable, such as one’s concepts of beauty, nature, or the power of imagination. All of these factors can have an extremely uplifting effect, as is documented in controlled clinical trials published in the Frontiers in Psychology Journal of 2018.76

Equine therapy
Equine therapy is overseen by a licensed psychotherapist trained specifically in this genre, and provides a rich context for processing or re-processing one’s reactions and feelings, and improving confidence in oneself. There is little wonder that equine therapy is one of our most popular therapies at Alternative to Meds Center.57

Staggering Xanax Overdose Rates!

The overdose rates of Xanax have reached stratospheric levels. Overdoses on benzodiazepines in teenage populations increased by 54% between the years 2000 and 2015.1 It is time that we started considering other ways of treating our busy lives and anxieties besides addictive drugging.

Alternatives to Xanax (sold as alprazolam) include natural medicine, calming therapies, relaxing practices, herbal remedies, counseling, change in diet, and much more. Natural and alternative treatments for anxiety have been used for ages, long before prescription drugs like benzodiazepines were developed. It is a blessing from nature that these straightforward, but powerful alternatives exist. Xanax is highly addictive, has a high risk of abuse, can come with many side effects — and can be incredibly difficult to withdraw from. Many individuals would be blown away by the power of Xanax natural alternatives and how efficient they are. Our goal is to offer clients lasting relief and long-term success. The benzodiazepine alternatives we provide are targeted to correct underlying causes of symptoms as well as to obtain immediate relief from symptoms.

Xanax Alternatives Treatment at Alternative to Meds Center

We offer Xanax alternatives, meaning drug-free solutions that can help you achieve lasting relief. We offer safe, effective, and proven solutions to stabilize the brain and balance the body. We investigate and correct the source of the problems that resulted in being prescribed Xanax.

For most persons, rapid Xanax withdrawal doesn’t relieve their trouble as anxiety will stay behind even if the medication is gone. We do not advise it.

In contrast, Xanax alternative medicine includes the use of natural remedies that can be derived from a broad range of different types of foods, herbs, vitamins, nutrients, minerals, and supplements. Nutritional therapy means designing and implementing a corrected diet along with these natural substances to stabilize brain chemistry. Prior to providing these nutritional treatments, lab testing identifies deficiencies, toxicity levels, and other imbalances. Through investigative techniques such as lab testing, we are able to identify the source of the symptoms and then fix them.

holistic drug withdrawal sedona arizonaWe create an entirely customized treatment regimen for each of our clients. Treatment regimens also include nutritional education, counseling, body detoxification, life coaching, physical training, equine therapy, medication tapering, stabilization of the neurochemistry, and addressing genetic factors that may be interfering with metabolism, etc.

Other therapeutics can reduce anxiety significantly, such as yoga, meditation, massage therapy, and acupuncture. Multifaceted treatment plans are customized for each client by professionals in their field who deliver or teach their discipline to our clients.

Our focus is to provide long-term success and to teach our clients how to remain healthy and happy without drugs. Professional counselors are here now to answer questions.

Please call us at Alternative to Meds Center today. We can explain the program in detail, including the length of the program, costs, insurance coverage, and you can learn more about the best Xanax alternatives available to you or your loved one, in a beautiful residential setting.

Read Our eBook on the Alternatives to Benzodiazepines


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Originally Published Oct 30, 2018 by Diane Ridaeus


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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