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Which of the following is an antioxidant?
Vitamin E
Vitamin B

 Nutritional Programs: Nutritional Program for Drug Detoxification  

Cannabis sativa (and indica), or marijuana, is the most commonly used illegal drug in the Western world. In the United States, it has become a megabusiness. For many years, it was thought to be fairly innocuous, but now most medical authorities believe that marijuana is not a harmless drug at all and that with regular use it can lead to many problems, both acute and chronic.

Of course, most things in moderation tend not to create any major problems, but cannabis is commonly abused and can be habit forming and psychologically addicting, with some mild physical withdrawal potential. The biggest concern is with children or teenagers it tends to generate a nice relaxed feeling, but this "laid back" sensation may create an apathetic and irresponsible attitude toward life.

Marijuana "herb" probably has some positive medical potential. It is a good tranquilizer with fewer side effects than most. It has been shown to aid in general pain relief, and in glaucoma, it lowers the eye pressure; marijuana generally increases sensory awareness to our body and environment. However, it is not readily available for medical use.

Another side effect with regular marijuana smoking is that it can cause lung irritation and bronchitis, with an associated higher incidence of respiratory infections than in nonsmokers. Some preliminary studies suggest that it may even cause cancer (such as testicular cancer in men), but that would probably require excessive and/or long-term use. Further research is needed to evaluate this relationship and to differentiate the drug effect from that of possible pesticide exposure. Marijuana also has an effect on fertility. In men, it causes reduced testosterone levels, which may be associated with lack of aggressiveness, and can also reduce sperm count. In women, it lowers levels of prolactin, related to uterine function and breastfeeding, and is associated with irregular menstrual cycles.

Marijuana can also be an adrenal drain, lessening our ability to handle stress, and many regular cannabis smokers have associated hypoglycemic problems. The initial effect of smoking marijuana is an increased blood sugar. The "munchies" that are associated with "getting stoned" may be related to low blood sugar and reduced liver glycogen storage, setting up a craving for food, especially sweets. There is also some suggestion that marijuana sedates some of our immune functions, and I have classified it as an immune suppressant.

There can be emotional changes with both the smoking of and withdrawal from marijuana. Apathy or lack of motivation is common, though many people feel energized when stoned. Irritability and hostility are also common. Other personality changes are possible. Besides a craving to smoke, withdrawal symptoms include anxiety, hyperactivity, insomnia, anorexia, and depression.

For marijuana detoxification, as with other drugs, we must first decide that it is a problem and plan to stop, seeking support from companions. Avoid "pothead" friends and get rid of the "stuff" and associated paraphernalia. The tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), marijuana's active ingredient, gets stored in the body fat and liver, so as we detox, some of the withdrawal symptoms or flashbacks may surface, but usually they are pretty mild. With exercise, sweats, or weight loss, the fat will release toxins, but this is also helpful for a faster clearing. It is wise with marijuana withdrawal to avoid other drugs, tranquilizers, and cigarette smoke and to know and believe that we can stop it. As with alcohol and other only mildly toxic drugs, people seem to be able to use it occasionally for social or relaxation reasons, but when it becomes a regular habit, it is wise to avoid it completely.

I wanted to include sugar in this program because I think it is easily the most commonly addictive food/drug worldwide. The traditional Chinese health system views the desire for sugar, or the sweet flavor, as a craving for the mother energy, a craving representing a need for comfort or security, whereas a desire for spicy or salty flavored foods might represent looking for the father energy or yang strength.

Although sugar addiction is common, for many people the craving is cyclical and usually mild (withdrawal also is usually mild physically), yet periodic strong cravings are possible. For those who are more sensitive to refined sugar, or any sweeteners, or for those who consume it in large amounts many times daily, many symptoms of abuse and withdrawal may occur.

Many nutritional authorities feel that the high use of sugar in our diet is a major nutritional culprit in disease. This includes sugar in all forms - from pure white beet or cane sugar, soda pops, and candies to honey and fruit juices. Sugar often replaces other, more nutritious foods, and it weakens our tissue health and body resistance. Microorganisms and insects love sweet, simple sugar foods, and a sweet diet allows greater infestation with bacteria, fungi, and parasites, and then will support their growth, which may weaken our immunity. Reducing our entire dietary sugar load is important.

Sugar Abuse and Withdrawal Symptoms

headachessugar cravings
visual disturbanceweakness
blurry visioninability to concentrate

If we have a problem with sugar abuse, we can decide to change this and cut down on or eliminate this substance by avoiding many of the sweet foods. Many people who abuse sugar do not eat a wholesome diet and have nutritional deficiencies, hypoglycemia, and other problems, both physical and psychological. Let us also not forget the more severe problem of "sugar diabetes."

There are many other more nutritious nibbles to replace sugary foods. These include popcorn, rice cakes, vegetable sticks, fruits, nuts, seeds, and unsweetened granola. We should clear our house of unhealthy sweetened foods. Once sugar has been removed from the diet, it is still possible to use it again, but only as occasional treats, as it is not as readdicting as many stronger drugs. Many people who have kicked the sugar habit find that they no longer tolerate sugar very well.

Avoid Sugar Foods

candywhite sugarcake
soda pop fructose cookies
ice creammaple syrupdoughnuts
artificial juiceshoneyliqueurs
fruit juiceschewing gumwine

Nutrients that can help reduce the sugar craving and help in sugar withdrawal are the B vitamins, vitamin C, zinc, the trace mineral chromium, and amino acid L-glutamine. Chromium is the central molecule of glucose tolerance factor, which helps insulin work more efficiently at removing sugar from the blood and nourishing the cells. The amino acid L-glutamine, which can be used directly by the brain, has also been helpful in reducing sugar (and alcohol) cravings. A diet that is rich in whole grains and other complex carbohydrates, vegetables, and protein foods can also help stabilize the blood sugar and minimize the desire for sugar.

There are many other addictions to be aware of. We all find something to latch onto in order to feel connected. It is important to stay aware of these patterns so that we can step out of our dependency and gain perspective on our habits. Besides addictions to people, such as mother, father, spouse, or friends, many of us are addicted to our kids or animals. Some have addictions to work or money. Others are addicted to running around or talking and go through withdrawal when they stop and try to sit still and quietly. Still others are the opposite and are attached to inactivity. The telephone, television, and computer are even more common addictions in our technological age.

I would say that the addictive aspect of drugs and diet is emotional in nature. Dietary flavors, certain foods, and certain feelings we get from them and the drugs that we try are usually conditioned. Often, an ability to stop and see things clearly or to talk about them with a counselor will allow us to make the necessary transition from addiction to safe and balanced use of substances in all aspects of our life.

The following program is a general one for drug detoxification and for suppport during drug use. The ranges of many nutrients allow varying amounts to be used depending upon needs. During withdrawal, the higher levels may be used, with mid-range levels used during the three to six weeks of detox after the initial withdrawal. Lower ranges may provide basic support during general drug usage.

Drug Detoxification Nutrient Program

Water 2­3½ qt.
Fiber20­40 g.

Vitamin A10,000 IUs Iron10­20 mg.
Beta-carotene20,000­40,000 IUs Magnesium400­800 mg.+
Vitamin D200­400 IUs Manganese5­10 mg.
Vitamin E200­800 IUs Molybdenum150­300 mcg.
Vitamin K300 mcg. Potassium100­500 mg.
Thiamine (B1)25­100 mg. Selenium200­300 mcg.
Riboflavin (B2)25­100 mg. Silicon50­150 mg.
Niacinamide (B3) 50­100 mg. Vanadium200­400 mcg.
Niacin (B3)50­1,000 mg.* Zinc30­60 mg.
Pantothenic acid (B5)250­1,000 mg.
Pyridoxine (B6)25­100 mg.
Pyridoxal-5-phosphate 25­50 mg. L-amino acids1,500 mg.
Cobalamin (B12)100­250 mcg. L-cysteine250­500 mg.
Folic acid800 mcg. L-glutamine 250­1,000 mg.
Biotin300 mcg. Essential fatty acids,2­4 capsules
Choline500­1,000 mg. or Flaxseed oil2­4 teaspoons
Inositol500­1,000 mg. Goldenseal root3­6 capsules
Vitamin C2­10 g.
Bioflavonoids250­500 mg.
Calcium650­1,200 mg.+
Chromium200­500 mcg.
Copper2­3 mg.
Iodine150 mcg.

(Excerpted from Staying Healthy with Nutrition ISBN: 1587611791)
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 About The Author
Elson Haas MDElson M. Haas, MD is founder & Director of the Preventive Medical Center of Marin (since 1984), an Integrated Health Care Facility in San Rafael, CA and author of many books on Health and Nutrition, including ...more
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