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 Nutritional Programs: Nutritional Program for Drug Detoxification  
  • Pharmaceutical - Prescription and OTC Drugs
  • Other Drugs - Street and Recreational
  • Cocaine
  • Marijuana
  • Sugar
  • Drug Detoxification Nutrient Program

  • This program is important because it concerns problems common to a large number of people in our culture. Not just drug addicts but most people are habituated or addicted to one or more substances. Drug detoxification involves two main processes changing our abusive habits and releasing the drugs from our lives.

    Drug use is a huge problem; we are a drug culture, and literally thousands of substances are used extensively. Western medicine is likewise a drug-oriented system. We consume billions of pills yearly and spend many billions of dollars on them. These figures do not even include the everyday use of caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine.

    Some preliminary concepts can help us prepare for drug detoxification. Most important is the relationship between states of being, symptoms, and our use of drugs. If we are slow or hyper, we may stimulate or sedate ourselves chemically. If we view a symptom as a problem, we may want to correct it with a drug. Although for immediate relief this may seem very practical, it is theoretically ludicrous and shows a complete misunderstanding of the design of the human body. Drug use and drug therapy rarely fix anything. Our symptoms are a warning sign of something wrong for which we must work to determine the cause. Symptoms are not the real problem, but results of deeper processes and causes. They are not an error on the part of our body; our body rarely errs. It responds to how we treat it. We must correct our internal imbalance by listening to our body and avoiding dietary and lifestyle abuses, which means limiting drug use.

    It is very important not to devitalize our body if we can possibly avoid it. The first step for many people is to learn again to care for and love themselves and reinforce their desire to live. Much of drug use, at least the habitual type, is part of a syndrome of self-destruction. Pharmaceutical prescriptions and most over-the-counter (OTC) drugs are designed to help us feel better, yet often they are used for problems resulting from abusive or misguided habits.

    Addiction is a tremendous personal, social, and economic problem in our culture. It both supports and drains our total economy. Our society and advertising world promote addiction. It begins with sugar, caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, and many foods, such as milk products. Our behavior regarding foods, particularly sweet ones, is conditioned very early and is very difficult to change.

    Later, the coffee break becomes a reward, a refueling and rest stop in the intense workday. The caffeine and sugar stimulants are the prime mind/nerve provocateurs to continue to work more. Nervousness and hyperactivity are often associated with productivity, though they are really not comparable to steady, healthful energy; trying to perpetuate that artificially stimulated productivity eventually leads to reduced capacity, time lost from work, wasted money, and increased illness.

    All drugs have some toxicity. Most have both physiological and psychological actions and addictive potential, with accumulated toxicity and some withdrawal symptoms when we try to give them up. Before going through any drug or chemical detoxification, it is wise to prepare and plan for it before we proceed. This is important both physically and psychologically. It is definitely helpful to have the aid of a physician, therapist, family member, or good friend for support. The withdrawal phase can be the most difficult time, and this can vary from a day or two to a week or more. It is often hard to differentiate the physical sensations from the underlying psychological involvement. The withdrawal phase is tied fairly closely to the drug addiction - the worse the withdrawal, the more likely we are to continue to use the chemical to prevent withdrawal. A psychological dependency easily develops.

    After initial withdrawal, which is often tied to detoxification - that is, the natural release of the stored chemicals from the body - we need willpower and commitment to our original plan for eliminating the particular substance from our life. We also need to work on new behavior patterns, avoiding exposure, such as the people and places associated with our previous problem substances, at least for a while, until we develop more deep-seated new habits so that we have the strength to say no when we are exposed again. Behavior modification therapy can be very helpful.

    Drug problems are common, and there are really no stereotypical drug addicts; they can be the affluent businessman, the housewife, the down-and-out "street" person, or anyone under pressure or with unmet psychological needs. Drug and substance abuse are an individual, family, and worldwide problem that can affect young and old, men and women.

    The general approach in dealing with drug detoxification begins with admitting that there is a problem. Then we must gather our desire and willpower to accomplish what we set forth to do in our mind and heart. We really have to want to change. Sadly, this incentive often arises from illness or crisis rather than a true desire to be healthy, but many of us may enter through that door and still follow a healthy path.

    In addition to a decisive plan and the necessary psychological support, a wholesome, well-balanced diet and nutritional supplements can be very helpful. During the transition, fasting or at least a cleansing diet is helpful to enhance purification and lessen the severity and length of the withdrawal period. I have seen people make incredible lifestyle changes with a week-long cleanse. It is very empowering and allows them to clarify their plan and goals while strengthening their willpower.

    The key to dietary detox support is in increasing alkalinity and reducing acidity. Cravings and withdrawal are more intense with an acid state generated from an intake of acid-forming foods such as meats, milk products, and refined flours and sugars. All the fruits and vegetables are alkaline-forming in the body. A fruit and vegetable diet, juices and soups, or even water can be used temporarily. See the previous General Detoxificationprogram for more complete instructions.

    I do not suggest doing withdrawal and drug detox during illness or pre- or postsurgery, although sometimes it is unavoidable. Pregnancy is another concern, where it is so important to clear all unnecessary drugs, even over-the-counter (OTC) drugs, alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine. We must be careful, and a physician's help may be needed, but usually the basic daily abuses can be tapered off and eliminated over a few days.

    Some supportive nutrients can be very helpful during drug elimination. Water is most essential to help clear our cells, tissues, organs, and body. "Dilution is the solution to pollution" is still one of my favorite cleansing statements, along with "Elimination equals Illumination," by Bethany Arg Isle. Extra fiber can also aid colon function and pull more toxins from the body.

    A general increase in nutritional supplements is usually helpful in detoxification from drugs, with or without a change in diet, though better with, of course. Vitamin C and the other antioxidants-A and zinc, E and selenium, L-cysteine and other amino acids are all useful, in addition to the basic vitamins and minerals. Glutathione, which is formed from L-cysteine in the body, helps to decrease the toxicity of most drugs and chemicals through its function in detoxification enzymes.

    An orthomolecular approach to drug detoxification includes the B vitamins, minerals, a high amount of vitamin C, antioxidants, and L- amino acids. These work better with a food diet than with fasting, so the alkaline, fruit-and vegetable-based diet is best used with a high nutrient intake. With a more liquid diet, minimizing supplements is suggested, maybe using just vitamin C, some minerals, and an antioxidant formula, along with some herbs and chlorophyll.

    Many people find the use of herbs beneficial in drug detoxification. Goldenseal root powder is probably the most important here. Its alkaloids help clear toxicity, and it stimulates the liver to better perform its detox function. One large or two small capsules three times daily before meals for one or two weeks can be helpful. Herbs that work as laxatives, diuretics, and blood or lymph cleansers can also be used in specific formulas. Valerian root and other tranquilizing herbs may also be very useful during excitatory withdrawal symptoms, such as anxiety or insomnia. Chlorophyll, taken as tablets or liquid, has a mild purifying and rejuvenating quality.

    Pharmaceutical - Prescription and OTC Drugs
    Any of the thousands of prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs currently available and in common use can be toxic, especially when too much is used or when they are used for too long. Aspirin and other anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving drugs, tranquilizers, and anti-depressants are all in very common use.

    A key to preventing the need to detoxify from drugs is to not use them in the first place. Many people are turning to more natural therapies and remedies as better preparations and experience improve the efficacy of these modalities. Nutritional supplements, herbal remedies, and homeopathic medicines are commonplace substitutes for drugs; when used correctly, they support our body's natural healing powers and correct the internal organ/function/energy imbalances. Acupuncture is also helpful in this regard, as is chiropractic therapy. Massage and other body mechanics can be supportive both by allowing the body to heal naturally and by stimulating elimination during detoxification periods.

    OTC products, more easily abused than pharmaceuticals because they can be readily obtained, are usually less toxic. Some symptoms commonly treated with the use of OTC drugs and the drugs commonly used are as follows.

    Symptoms Drugs
    headacheaspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen
    fatiguecaffeine, nicotine, No-Doz
    insomniatranquilizers, antihistamines
    colds, flusantihistamines, decongestants
    allergiesantihistamines, decongestants
    constipationlaxatives, lubricants
    diarrheaKaopectate, fibers
    indigestionantacids, Pepto-Bismol, Alka-Seltzer
    excess weightstimulants

    Many of these drugs can create physical dependency, especially when there is a chronic problem or when there are withdrawal or rebound symptoms, as there are in allergy conditions, sinus congestion, and constipation. If problems persist we should consult our doctor or healer to help us determine the underlying cause and to correct that. If stress and worry are the cause of insomnia or if our poor food choices lead to our gastrointestinal symptoms, we need to handle these problems. Herbs or homeopathics often can be a more gentle remedy for some of these symptoms.

    (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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