With all of the information on the internet available about diet and especially what diets are good for healing from benzo withdrawal, it can be really overwhelming what foods and vitamins you should eat while recovering from benzo withdrawal. As someone who researched virtually every diet and supplement to recover from benzos, I have a few words to say on the subject. The one most important thing is, listen to your body. Everyone is so different, and when you add how sensitive to our systems are into the mix, there is just no way to tell how you will react to anything. When you are healing everything is constantly changing, and what might not have worked before might work at a future time when you are further along in the healing process. I found that to be true for me.
There are a lot of people that say to just stay away from supplements all together, and you will see certain people that swear other things helped cure them. The truth is, there is just no way to know. The best thing you can do is research things as much as you can, and follow what feels best for you. I know have spent literally thousands of dollars on supplements that I tried. Some with good luck, others not so much.
What I can do is share what worked well for me along with some suggestions of other things I came across that you might want to consider. As far as diet, I tried all kinds of things and found that I needed different things at different times. When I got done tapering the benzos I went on a carbohydrate binge. At first it was great because I got super skinny during withdrawal, but then the carbs caught up with me and I gained ten pounds. I tried cutting back on certain foods, but then I started getting super shaking with eating too much carbohydrate on a vegetarian diet. I tried eating small meals every couple of hours, but still would just shake like crazy from the blood sugar roller coaster ride I was having. I could barely get a spoon to my mouth without spilling the food all over from shaking so bad.
I know a lot of you aren't going to want to hear this, and neither did I, but I ended up having to eat animal protein again to get my blood sugar stable. So far, I have followed Dr. David Perlmutter's diet for some time now. I have found I am far more grounded, and my blood sugar is always below 90 when I have it tested. I can go long hours without food, and I don't feel like I am going to tremble of shake profusely. It's also helping me shed a few of the pounds I gained right after withdrawal and the carb binge that I went on.
For those of you who suffer with Benzo Belly, I can say that this diet help my digestion a lot. I still have some of the tight muscles around my stomach that are part of this anomaly, but with all the vegetables I eat I have pretty normal digestion now. Some of the Benzo Belly phenomenon is just related to how the muscles appear to recover from inflammation and down-regulated receptors that are in literally every cell in your body. This is why this drug is so difficult to recover from.
You don't have to go very far to have heard the value of essential fatty acids in our diet. There is good research available to support the fact that most of us are deficient in omega 3. The Standard American Diet is filled with hydrogenated oils and loaded with omega 6 that are usually rancid and contribute to degenerative disease. The latest information shows we need a greater ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 oils.
The best source of omega three hands down is salmon and other fish and seafood. However, there is an increasing concern about the number of PCB's and other contaminants in fish and other seafood sources. When recovering our brains and central nervous systems from prescription medications, we need a minimum of 3000 mg of omega 3 with an emphasis on the brain needing a minimum of 1000mg of DHA per day. Omega 3 reduces inflammation, depression, improves sleep and overall brain function. Diets high in omega 6 cause inflammation and will compete for omega 3 absorption.
The following oils should be eliminated from your diet to insure the best recovery:
Safflower, sunflower, corn, cottonseed, sesame, peanut, soybean and canola. All of these oils contain only omega 6 and no omega 3. Therefore, just eliminating these oils alone will increase your omega 3 to omega 6 ratio if you are eating enough foods that contain high levels of omega 3. This is a key piece of information in brain recovery from medications.
The Fish Oil Dilemma - Okay, so if our fish is all contaminate what is our best choice if we don't want to eat fish?
We recommend loading up with the highest source of foods rich in omega 3. These would include:
Leafy Greens - Especially Spinach, Kale and Collard Greens.
You can also get an omega 3 oil called Udo's Oil (DHA). Udo's oil is the top selling omega 3 oil in the world. It is plant based and completely organic. It has the perfect balance of Omega 3 (5000 mg) to 6 (3000 mg) and is a good base of essential fatty acids for those concerned about toxicity in fish and seafood. The DHA in this product is made from red, brown algae that is grown organically in marine tanks. Remember that fish is still the best source of omega 3 and Udo's oil is the next best option if you want to stay away from the contaminates in fish products. If you decide you want to go with a good fish oil because of its' great DHA/EPA levels, then check out Point of Return. They have a high quality fish oil that is reasonably priced. http://www.pointofreturn.com/store.html
This is a great way to get a good dose of fiber, vitamins and minerals in one good punch. You can use a regular blender even though a Vitamix or something comparable is much more effective. If you are using a regular blender start with your liquids and fruit first. You can use about a cup of whatever coconut water you prefer. Make sure it doesn't have any added sugar. Add banana, berries (blueberry/strawberry/blackberry), fresh lemon or orange.
Blend in any leafy greens you like. You can also add avocado for additional healthy fat, celery, cucumber etc. The combinations are up to you. This is a great source of Vitamin C, B Vitamins, omega 3 and minerals.
You can add ground flaxseed, chia, hemp or pumpkin seeds to these for the extra omega 3.
If you are already eating lots of fruits and vegetables, you may still be having digestive issues. The bloating and gas is a common problem for many people coming off medications. The gut and brain are closely linked and when the gut becomes inflamed it can cause host of problems.
I know adding beans to your diet may seem like it produces more gas, but some people actually need the additional fiber of beans. Beans are also higher in magnesium per cup than any food you can eat aside from spinach, chard, pumpkin seeds and almonds, especially black beans.
There are a vast number of these products on the market, and there are several very good brands. If you can, try to research making your own kefir and fermented vegetables. Not only are they the best way to get probiotics, but you get a larger number of beneficial bacteria in the ratio that nature intended. If you haven't got the time to make these items you can experiment with several over the counter products that might work best for you.
Medications can be hard on your overall cell function. At the very least, there are a number of products that can help with regenerating healthy cells from the damage done by these medications.
All of the B Vitamins are one of the most important vitamins for cell repair in the central nervous system. There is a very inexpensive product (about $15.00) called Garden of Life, Vitamin Code, Raw B-Complex. These are kosher and vegan. Two a day will give you a good base for B Vitamins.
Some people coming off medications will find B1 and B2 too stimulated. If they are a problem for you, you can also get a B12, B6, Folate combination from BioGenesis called Methyl Factors. https://www.naturalhealthyconcepts.com/methyl-factors-B12.html
Two of the most important B Vitamins involved in cell repair are Niacin (B-3) and Nicotinamide Ribose. These are both coenzymes for NAD. NAD is a crucial coenzyme involved in every cell in the body, and an important factor in ATP function and repair. These are optional, but Nicotinamide Ribose has the fewest steps to convert to NAD. Niacin is also important in lowering cholesterol, helping produce hydrochloric acid (many people are low in this coming of medications) and helping with anxiety and depression.
There are several Nicotinamide Ribose products on the market that are all good. There is a product called Niacel made by Thorne Research available on IHerb.com. This is probably the most cost effective, but there other more expensive products online under the name of Niagen. You can get pure NAD in its original form online as well for a bit more money. It is a little harder to get a good quality, and the only one I would recommend is a product called Fatigue Assist made in South Africa. It is out of stock a lot, but it is made by a doctor there. They use this product in several NAD recovery clinics.
This is a simple sugar that is involved in muscle recovery and heart function. It helps with energy and is tolerated by diabetics. There are a number of good products on the market. Make sure you get a pure D-Ribose powder and take 5 Grams once to twice a day.
This is an amino acid involved in liver detoxification and is an important precursor for making glutathione, a very crucial antioxidant involved in liver detoxification. Glutathione taken orally is usually destroyed by the stomach acid. The best way to get it is through an I.V. or injection. Since those are very expensive, we recommend that you get glutathione from the food you eat. The body can make its own through whey protein, taking NAC, Milk Thistle, Vitamin C and eating sulfur rich vegetables such as asparagus, garlic, onion, cruciferous vegetables and avocados.
Magnesium has over 300 different functions in the human body. Most people are deficient as it is not replaced in our soils in adequate amounts. People coming off medications are particular in need of this mineral as a large amount is used by the central nervous system. There are a number of kinds of magnesium, but magnesium citrate, glycinate, oxide are the best ways to get it orally. You can take up to 800 mg orally depending on bowel tolerance. If you are having really bad constipation, bloating and gas, you can use an enema sparingly with magnesium in it. It will calm you down and relax the horrible bloating and gas that many people suffer from.
You will likely hear a lot about other supplements that can work well for many people who are posting online and are coming off of medications. Some of these include, but are not limited to: Taurine, Glycine, L-Theanine, Ashwaganda, Bacopa and many others. We recommend you be your own advocate for all things, and see how your body reacts. For the best results, try introducing one supplement at a time and see how you feel. Make sure you start with the lowest possible dose, and slowly raise the dose until you feel you are getting the desired outcome. Some people can be much more sensitive to things that others can take, so pay attention to how you feel before you start anything else.
Above all, I recommend using the experience you are having with withdrawal to become a healthier and more grounded individual by investing in your physical, mental and spiritual health. This way you won't have a need for these medications moving forward in your life. I know it's really hard, but you will ultimately come out of in a much better place than most people that don't have the down time that you have for self exploration. Use the time wisely and you will be grateful that you did.
*All supplements can be purchased at Iherb.com. If you use the code CIT589, you can get a discount on your first order. They also have reward programs for people who order other products frequently.