Top 10 Tips on Getting off of Benzos

top 10 tips getting off benzos

 

We have deep dives on how benzos work until tolerance and addiction kick in here.

 

That's a fast process…estimated to be around 14 days.

 

Another deep dive looks at how we weaned off of benzos here with CBD isolate.

 

We're going…simpler here (links above and below have dozens of NIH studies) with our top 10 tips.

 

We'll do a real quick lay of the benzo landscape in terms of what's it doing in your body and why it can be so hard to quit.

 

Here they are before we jump in: 

  • Go slow (very slow) on the wean - timetable below
  • Tool #1 magnesium glycinate - supports GABA
  • Tool #2 CBD isolate - feedback mechanism for GABA, serotonin, and more
  • Tool #3 NAC - keeps excess glutamate at bay
  • The Pillcutter is your best friend
  • Daily timing
  • The first 10 days versus the back 20
  • Addressing why GABA was down to begin with
  • Steroidal hormones are critical
  • Focus on the immune system and erase early trauma/infection

 

Okay…let's get into it! 

The benzo landscape (understanding where you are) 

Benzos ramp up GABA activity. GABA is our brain's "brake" pedal and when exhausted, it's critical to anxiety, insomnia, pain, and most mental health issues.

 

how benzos work 

 

The nervous system doesn't like this interference so it slowly clamps down on natural GABA production. GABA is one of the two most prevalent neurotransmitters in the body (glutamate being the other one).

 

Speaking of which, glutamate gets ramped up. This spirals and builds over time.

 

This is the process of tolerance and withdrawal.

 

Benzos also spike dopamine, our brain's "reward" pathway. This is the heart of addiction and it's a learned process which is why the 14 days on the Black Box Warning.

 

The brain is literally wiring in (hardwired) a liking for the benzo.

 

That's the bad news. Let's get into the tips now! 

Go slow (very slow) on the wean - timetable below 

go slow when getting of benzos

This is critical. Cold turkey is not advisable especially if the benzo use is longer term.

 

During benzo use, our natural GABA level is being suppressed and the opposing force (gas pedal) glutamate is being pumped up.

 

Whatever you were taking the benzo for (anxiety, insomnia, etc) will feel much much worse when the benzo wears off.

 

Safety net is gone!

 

In fact, people can experience seizures (glutamate is exhausting GABA) with cold turkey after longer term use.

 

Go slow. A 30 day window is best case and fits with other withdrawal protocols.

 

During this time, we'll need support. Stat!

Tool #1 magnesium glycinate - supports GABA 

 

Mag is a powerful stress response buffer but more importantly, it supports GABA.

 

Magnesium stimulates the activity of cerebral GABAergic systems by behaving as a modulator of GABA receptors, increasing their activity. 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK507254/

 

Mag is a key to the GABA receptor to open the door.

 

Glycinate gets across the blood brian barrier better than most versions of mag.

 

Without tolerance and addiction. We have a massive review on magnesium glycinate here.

 

3 x 100mg daily and at night as needed is a good basis but test how you feel.
Brand we use here

 

Mag has a very fast action and supports stress response longer term.

Tool #2 CBD isolate - feedback mechanism for GABA, serotonin, and more 

cbd isolate to get off benzos

 

CBD has a range of effects, both short and long term.

 

CBD supports GABA in a feedback mechanism…so when low!

 

It also supports the backup inhibitory pathway called glycine (more here) key to sleep.

 

Longer term, CBD supports serotonin, our primary stress response buffer but more importantly for unwiring the benzo addiction piece, serotonin drives BDNF.

 

BDNF is our brain's fertilizer and THE player for neurogenesis (brain repair/rewiring). More on that here.

 

CBD isolate also calms cortisol (stress), and inflammation (gut and brain), and balances dopamine.

 

There's a reason we've written 1 million+ words on it. Big review on CBD versus benzos here.

 

Most importantly, since it's a "modulator", there's no tolerance, addiction, or pleasure.

 

Take as far away from benzo as possible (at least 4 hours) since they both use the same liver pathway to metabolize.

 

Isolate calms GABA. Full spectrum can ramp up histamine which is excitatory in the nervous system. The first class of anti-anxiety meds were…antihistamines!

 

That's why we focus on isolate.

 

One final supplement piece… 

Tool #3 NAC - keeps excess glutamate at bay 

cbd isolate to get off benzos

 

NAC is a great tool for mental health generally but very important for coming off of benzos.

 

NAC is a sink for excess glutamate. Remember that glutamate is ramped up after benzo use (tolerance).

 

It also supports glutathione, our body's natural antioxidant and detox pathway.

 

glutathione and benzos

 

When dealing with coming off of benzos, there can be a spike of oxidative stress which feels…terrible!

 

Think of your nervous system being inflamed. NAC supports glutathione which addresses this spike.

 

We have a full review on NAC here.

 

The big point…no tolerance or addiction.

 

3 x 800mg daily based on research.

 


Brand we use here

 

That's our safety net from excess glutamate.

 

Okay…let's get practical.

The Pill cutter is your best friend 

pillcutter to get off benzos

 

When we came off of Xanax, we bought a pill cutter for $1.99 at CVS.

 

We started with the full dosage and slowly cut slivers off of it over a 30 day period.

 

This made it much easier while we had CBD, mag, and NAC as our safety net.

 

We went with ¼ of the pill size every week (gradually) as a benchmark but go based on how you feel. 

 

Work with your naturopath and adjust according to how you feel!

 

Let's look at the daily timetable. 

Daily timing 

daily timing

 

Here's the schedule we went with and tips to make it work.

 

One note...Everyone's system and situation is different.  This is not a recommendation...you should work with your naturopath and go based on how you feel.  

 

A note: whenever we took the decreasing benzo dosage,  we would remove the CBD for that one dose from below. For example...we would take 150mg of CBD for the other two spots. This satisfies the 4-hour separation between CBD and the benzo.

 

Sample morning we used -

After Breakfast:

  • After breakfast so the liver is busy
  • 100mg CBD (hold under tongue up to 60 seconds to boost availability)
  • 600mg NAC
  • 100mg magnesium glycinate

 

After lunch:

  • 100mg CBD (hold under tongue up to 60 seconds to boost availability)
  • 600mg NAC
  • 100mg magnesium glycinate

 

After dinner:

  • 100mg CBD (hold under tongue up to 60 seconds to boost availability)
  • 600mg NAC
  • 100mg magnesium glycinate

 

Middle of the night (if anxious or unable to sleep)

  • 100mg CBD (hold under tongue up to 60 seconds to boost availability)
  • 100mg magnesium glycinate

 

For the first 10 days, you can double the CBD if you're having really bad withdrawals.  This matches research on CBD and opioid withdrawals as the first 10 days is generally maximum withdrawals.  

 

More on that now.

The first 10 days versus the back 20 

first 10 days

 

The first 10 days can be brutal with benzo withdrawal. This is peak discomfort as your natural GABA levels are at their lowest and glutamate is racing.

 

It takes about 20 days for the GABA receptors to begin coming back online.

 

It's not uncommon to double the CBD for the first 10 days and drop for the remainder.

 

Studies on opioid withdrawals were at 600-800mg of CBD for this initial 10-day window.

 

The mag and NAC can remain at their same levels since research doesn't merit increasing and mag's a natural laxative.

 

The goal is 30 days because that's when receptors are back online after stopping benzos. That's our target!

 

Once we unwind benzo's upsetting the apple cart, we need to get to the heart of why we were prescribed benzos to begin with.

 

Otherwise, we're right back to square one.

 

Let's go there! 

Addressing why GABA was down to begin with 

root of gaba issue

 

Anxiety, insomnia, and pain are the common reasons for benzo prescriptions although they're used off-label for all sorts of reasons.

 

We have lots of research on what drives these here: 

 

The same culprits pop up but here are the common causes of GABA exhaustion: 

  • Stress
  • Trauma
  • Infection
  • Inflammation
  • Hyperactive immune response (spills out glutamate)
  • Loss of steroidal hormones

 

We'll cover the last two below because they're so critical.

 

Some quick tips: 

  • Eat real food - no processed with healthy fats
  • Avoid seed oils
  • Exercise and get outdoors (forest bathing, sunlight, etc)
  • Focus on the vagus nerve (see how to support here)
  • Sleep is critical - brain scans after lack of sleep look like extreme anxiety

 

Those are common sense…let's hit the big ticket items. 

Steroidal hormones are critical 

steroidal hormones and getting off benzos

 

Estrogen and testosterone drive serotonin (stress response buffer and brain repair)
Progesterone drives GABA

 

Goodness. Progesterone drops by 50% at age 40 and continues down from there.

 

steroidal hormones and anxiety 

 

We just hit the two biggest pathways that are targeted with medications (benzos and SSRIs) both of which build tolerance (and addiction to benzos).

 

We did big reviews on progesterone here and estrogen and mental health here.

 

Why bring this up?

 

Benzos appear to be the go-to option from doctors for women in their late 40s when perimenopause sets in.

 

That's how our founder fell into the benzo trap to begin with until SSRIs were prescribed (and nearly killed her). Her story is here.

 

Addressing symptoms without our steroidal hormones is a bandaid that will not work.

 

Lumped in with this is Vitamin D…a steroid we get from the sun!

 

Many people are deficient so get tested and supplement.

 

It takes a few months for steroids to really get going and make sure they're bioidentical.

 

Find a naturopath and get your levels tested!

 

Why do I get anxiety when others don't? Let's go there. 

Focus on the immune system and erase early trauma/infection 

trauma and infection versus benzos

 

The more we dig, the more we find the fingerprints of past trauma or infection on mental health.

 

Early infection/trauma (even in utero - especially the 3rd trimester) can cause long term effects including: 

  • Less GABA
  • Less Serotonin
  • Less BDNF
  • More inflammation
  • More cortisol (stress) 

trauma and anxiety

 

We did a deep dive on psilocybin and CBD for trauma here.

 

The key is to remove this "markup" on our epigenome which controls how DNA is turned on, for how long, and at which times.

 

Most of the information is written in the immune system and we covered how the immune system is key to mental health here.

 

Some tools to look at: 

 

Okay…we have both short term tools (mag, CBD isolate, and NAC) as well as longer term tools (steroidal hormones including Vitamin D, berberine, and medicinal mushrooms).

 

We have a schedule (adjust according to how you feel).

 

We have marching orders. We've come off of benzos and have seen countless people do the same (see reviews under products).

 

There is tons of research at each link above getting into dozens of NIH studies.

 

Some Related Reviews:

Comparing benzos

The weird electrical disconnect with benzos

Why Xanax and Ativan are so hard to come off of

Pathways of anxiety

 

Be well. Take care of each other. Take care of yourself.

 

 shop cbd isolate oil online

 

Always work with a doctor or naturopath with any supplement!

The information provided here is not intended to treat an illness or substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a qualified healthcare provider.

 

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