The Natural Remedies for
Heroin & Opioid Addiction

 

Phase 1 Remedies for the initial painful withdrawal

After you’ve gone through the initial painful withdrawal phase lasting a week or two described below you can move on to Detoxifying and Regenerating Your Brain after Heroin/Opiate.
 
Dealing with the pain of the initial withdrawal phase
Heroin and opioid drugs are painkillers that mimic the natural painkilling enkephalins and endorphins we produce throughout our nervous system, with habitual use your body gets used to having its enkephalins and endorphins levels artificially boosted and when you suddenly withdraw opioid drugs enkephalin and endorphin levels plummet diminishing your body’s ability to control the sensations of pain.
 
Enkephalins and endorphins function as neurotransmitters or neuromodulators at many locations in the brain and spinal cord they are involved with pain perception, movement, mood, behavior, and neuroendocrine regulation; they are also found in nerve plexuses and exocrine glands of the gastrointestinal tract. When enkephalins levels drop your whole nervous system suddenly becomes supersensitive to pain causing an explosion of physical pain sensations all over your body from your head to your gut and your back, it can also be horrendous emotional pain.
 
Besides enkephalins and endorphins the levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine can also plummet contributing to severe depression and terrible lethargy.
 
Serotonin levels may also plummet causing painful depression and insomnia so we will want to replenish this with amino acids and herbs. At some point (the agitation and insomnia will collapse into excessive sleep, fatigue and lassitude; at this point we want to replenish low dopamine levels as well.
 
The intense pain of withdrawal usually begins to subside after 2 to 3 days and should definitely not last more than five days, the priority during this phase of recovery is to take high doses of things that stimulate natural enkephalins and endorphin production. We can boost enkephalin and endorphin levels with amino acid therapy.
 
Over the next couple of weeks most people can taper down the dosages of these remedies as the pain continues to subside. After the initial painful withdrawal phase the goal of treatment should shift to focusing on stimulating regeneration of neurological pathways weakened by prolonged drug use, I’ll discuss how to do that elsewhere.
 
Natural remedies for the beginning of heroin/opiate withdrawal:
 

Amino Acids to Make Neurotransmitters

DL-Phenylalanine (DLPA):
1000-2000 mg three times a day 30 to 40 minutes before meals.
DLPA increases endorphin and enkephalin levels by inhibiting the enzyme enkephalinase that breaks them down.
 
L-Tyrosine:
1000-2000 mg with the DLPA before breakfast and the midday meal.
This works with the DLPA to increase the production of enkephalins, it also protects falling dopamine levels.
 
After tyrosine has been converted into dopamine the dopamine can be converted into the stress fight-or-flight hormones epinephrine and norepinephrine and hypothetically this could increase feelings of agitation, anxiety, irritability and difficulty sleeping.  Personally I’ve never observed this problem in any of my patients and always had good results with regular L-tyrosine however there is an alternative form called N-acetyl L-tyrosine which you may see people claiming delivers more of the dopamine we want and less of the epinephrine/nor epinephrine we don’t want to increase; until I’m certain that then-acetyl L-tyrosine is better than regular L-tyrosine I will stick with what I know.
 
L-Glycine:
2000 mg with each dose of DLPA to assist endorphin and enkephalin synthesis.
You can also optionally take up to 8000 mg directly under the tongue up to 3 times a day as a sedative at times of extreme panic and agitation. To administer this under the tongue wait five minutes and if you don’t feel calmer take another 2000 mg under the tongue and then wait another five minutes and so on up to 4 doses i.e. 8000 mg.
 
L-Methionine:
500 to 1000 mg three times a day at the same time as the DLPA.
Methionine helps the liver to detoxify drugs and is also required for the production of enkephalins.
 
L-Leucine:
500 mg at the same time as the DLPA.
Leucine is another amino acid required for the production of enkephalins.
 
L-Tryptophan:
1000 to 1500 mg last thing at night.
Tryptophan is converted into serotonin to combat depression and help you sleep.
CAUTION: do not take tryptophan at the same time as SSRI antidepressants.
 
NAC Cysteine 
Take 1200 mg on an empty stomach once a day.
NAC cysteine has numerous helpful effects, it has proven anti-addiction properties more notably in combating cocaine addiction however it repairs dopamine pathways, combats inflammation in the brain facilitating repair to the brain and detoxifies the liver.
 
NB: It’s a good idea to into phase 1 but it would be perfectly okay to omit it and use it for the detoxification and regeneration phases to follow.
 
I recommend Doctor’s Best NAC Detox Regulators available from iherb
You can also buy NAC cysteine in 600 mg capsules from Solgar or Now Foods.
 
NAC is a bit on the pricey side, you can find it available in powder form at a significantly reduced cost however it’s quite difficult to dissolve and has an unpleasant bitter and fishy taste. To save money it very easy to fill your own capsules from the NAC powder see below for details.
 
##In the UK you can purchase it online from bulk powders http://www.bulkpowders.co.uk/n-acetyl-l-cysteine-nac.html?view=ppc&dpc=ZPL10&msg=New%20customer?%20Get%2010%25%20off%20your%20first%20Bulk%20Powders%20order&view=ppc&gclid=CjwKEAjwmfKpBRC8tb3Mh5rs23ASJACWy1QPD2dzi00Cu-MtywfNHJD5fgKwdneZLIlvOmV7PJpfYhoC6ZHw_wcB 
 
NAC cysteine has numerous healing effects, it’s antidepressant, calms excessive excitation in the brain, detoxifies the brain and liver, protects the brain from oxygen free radicals and chelates toxic heavy metals. For more information on the health benefits of NAC cysteine see my page:
http://www.balancingbrainchemistry.co.uk/peter-smith/111/NAC-Cysteine-depression,-bipolar,-addiction,-anxiety,-detoxifying.html
 

Vitamins and Minerals

Vitamins and Minerals: the vitamins and minerals are supportive in their own right but they also are also necessary to provide essential cofactors for the above amino acid remedies.
 
Magnesium: you going to want 800-1000 mg of magnesium with meals from magnesium citrate, magnesium is calming and nourishing to the nervous system, slightly painkilling, assists regeneration throughout the system and liver detoxification.
 
B-Complex: high doses of B complex are protective and regenerative to the nervous system at times of extreme stress I recommend taking B-Complex both in a multi-vitamin multimineral and additionally as a separate B-Complex. Most of the population of find taking readily available B-Complex that contains folic acid (the man-made form of natural folate) however there is a small percentage of the population that have a genetic mutation (see MTHFR gene mutation) that means when they take folic acid it basically has the opposite effect and blocks the folate pathway in the body necessary to manufacture neurotransmitters and is likely to make you feel worse.
 
If you are absolutely sure that you’ve taken B-Complex before in the past and it didn’t make you feel worse then you could choose a regular multivitamin and B-Complex containing folic acid.
Regular supplements containing folic acid include Solgar VM 75
Take 1 pill twice a day with meals (if you take on an empty stomach it’ll make you feel nauseous).
 
Solgar Megasorb vitamin B-Complex
Take 1 pill twice a day with meals.
 
However if you’re not sure to be on the safe side you should avoid any products that contain folic acid and only use supplements containing the natural form of folate called L-methylfolate. I recommend:
 
Life Extension Two per Day multivitamin, take 1 pill twice a day with meals alternatively Doctor’s Best Best Multiple take 1 capsule three times a day with meals.
 
Sorry if it’s all getting a bit complicated I didn’t design it this way.
 
To support your brain and the detoxification process you want to take high levels of selenium and zinc, in whatever multimineral you take the level of selenium should be about 200 µg.
 
Vitamins C: High dose vitamin C is very useful during the initial stages, it helps eliminate toxins from the body and combined with B vitamins and a good protein intake significantly lessens withdrawal symptoms. Divide 10 to 12 g of vitamin C (not the really cheap fizzy vitamin C tablets you put in water) between your meals.
 
Zinc 
1 pills twice a day with meals.
You can vary the dose from 1 to 3 pills a day, use the higher dose to to help with sleep. To be calmer during the day you would take 2 pills with breakfast and to assist deep sleep you take 2 pills with dinner or one with dinner and one last thing at night before bed.
 
For the first month use L-OptiZinc (Now Foods or Source Naturals) thereafter switch to the lower strength L-OptiZinc by Jarrow for longer term use.
 
Much better but more expensive is:
MegaFoods zinc available from iherb, this special form of zinc is very well absorbed and is unusual in that it can be taken on an empty stomach without producing nauseous you can take last thing at night before going to sleep.
1 tablet twice a day for the first month thereafter switch to L-OptiZinc by Jarrow for longer term use.
 
N.B.: Zinc can be toxic, a single dose of zinc to become toxic you have to take 200 mg however a dose of 90 mg a day taken for several weeks could gradually build up a toxic effect. The combination 3 of the stronger L-OptiZinc from Now Foods or Source Naturals combined with the multivitamin prescribed below would deliver 90 mg of zinc a day, it’s okay to take this high dosage for a few days at a time if needed to antidote mania and induce sleep. The high glutamate levels occurring during periods of mania are actually toxic to the brain causing glutamate excitotoxicity which damages and kills nerve cells in addition to promoting harmful and potentially dangerous manic behaviour so I believe a shot of high-dose but still within safety margins of zinc for a night or two is a good strategy.
 

Herbal Remedies

N.B.: If you intend to take any herb for more than a month miss out one day a week to stop your body adapting to it, i.e take herbs six days a week only.
 
Passiflora or passion flower
Passion flower boosts production of the calming inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA it calms the jittery and agitated nervous system.
A good quality product is Natures Answer Passionflower.
 
Rhodiola
Rhodiola stimulates serotonin and dopamine production, it’s also what is called an adaptogen which assists the body to cope at times of stress.
500 mg standardised two or three times a day with meals, I use Now Foods.
 
St John’s Wort
St John’s wort serves two useful purposes: firstly it stimulates serotonin production helping depression and insomnia; secondly it’s very effective at detoxifying drugs from the liver, so much so that you must not take it at the same time as prescription medication because it can flush the prescription medication out of the body too quickly.
CAUTION: don’t take St John’s wort at the same time as prescription medication particularly SSRIs.
 
Useful optional herbs:
 
Scutellaria (Huang qin)
Scutellaria has a broad range of positive effects on the nervous system, it contains flavonoid antioxidants which reduce inflammation in the brain, it’s antidepressant, boosts neuroplasticity/BDNF to stimulate regeneration in the brain and it specifically protects and regenerates damaged dopaminergic pathways; you can think of it as a nervous system tonic, helping with anxiety, insomnia and headaches.
 
Scutellaria can be a great help in phase 1 to alleviate and manage uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms however if you need to limit your expenditure I would hold back the use of scutellaria until phase 3. The health of your body and brain are likely to be in such a poor condition that the special ability of scutellaria to boost neuroplasticity will probably be wasted. Once you have done several weeks of detoxifying, started on the good diet with improved amounts of physical exercise then you can obtain the full benefits of scutellaria to repair dopaminergic pathways.
 
Scutellaria Dosage:
If you buy the concentrated powder: take a level teaspoon (not a heaped teaspoon) dissolved in hot or warm water as a cup of herbal tea.
You could take a dose of scutellaria every 3 or 4 hours for the first 3 days thereafter reduce the dosage to just 2 or 3 servings a day.
 
NB: if you’re taking several herbal powders you can mix them all together into a single drink.
 
(Scutellaria baicalensis is also known as Baical skullcap root or Huang Qin in Chinese).
To find scutellaria available for sale search online for Huang Qin powder.
 
In the US: https://www.activeherb.com/extract/huangqin.shtml
or
http://1stchineseherbs.com/scutellaria-root-powder-huang-qin-skullcap-root-1-lb/  
 
Mucuna Pruriens
You’ll see mucuna pruriens recommended regularly online as a herb used to boost dopamine but I don’t like using this herb because it contains a compound called L-dopa which is to similar in my view to the drug levodopa used to treat Parkinson’s and levodopa is notorious for desensitising dopamine synapses/pathways. I suppose if you’re coming off heroin and you wanted to use mucuna pruriens for the first week or so it’s probably okay but I never recommend using a product that can produce desensitisation, instead I recommend products such as scutellaria that have a dopaminergic effect and promote regeneration of the brain.
 
Valerian is another strong and useful nerve tonic and calmative for the first phase of opiate withdrawal. It boosts GABA levels which has a tranquilizing effect calming anxiety/agitation.
Valerian can also be useful for alcohol and cocaine withdrawal.
 
Chamomile has mild tranquillising effects and is also helpful to improve digestion which may become disturbed, it may also assist with liver regeneration.
 

Withdraw Diet

The withdraw diet must include abundant potassium and easy to digest protein. For the potassium eat lots of vegetable soup and steamed vegetables.  For the protein fresh or tinned fish is the best because it gives you the fish oils, chicken, especially chicken and vegetable soup is easy to digest.  The easiest protein to digest and also if you’re a vegan take a few spoons of amino acid powder with your meals.
 
What I recommend is cooking up about 5 litres of tasty chicken vegetable soup with lots of ginger in advance and keep it in the fridge/freezer, it’s a perfect source of potassium, protein and sustenance; it’s just great to have some healthy ready-made meals.
 
Continue with the above supplements for a week or two until the initial withdrawal is completed and then progress on to the detox and maintenance phases.
 

Withdraw Diarrhoea

You could just use Imodium from the pharmacy, it’s not a natural remedy but it should work well and you’re only going to take it for few days. You may feel you have enough on your plate already but if you want to go the totally natural remedy route for the diarrhoea use:
Eat about 4-5 bananas a day, they bind the intestines and are rich in potassium which we loose with diarrhoea. 
Eat about 250g (9 zo) blueberries a day, they are binding and add a lot of highly valuable polyphenol antioxidants for your brain. 
 
Mix a level teaspoon of psyllium powder in a large glass of ¾ water ¼ juice and drink twice per day.  Psyllium helps both constipation by bulking up the bowls and diarrhoea by soaking up liquid.  It has another advantage of soaking up toxins and carrying them out of the body. 
 
Nutmeg tea grate ½ teaspoon fresh nutmeg into a cup add boiling water, sweeten to taste with honey/xylitol/stevia. Use 2-3 time per day CAUTION: may not be safe during pregnancy.
 
Actually even though I’m into naturopathy I would on this occasion recommend using Imodium, it’s easier, more effective and may even help the opiate withdrawal slightly because the active ingredient (loperamide) has a similar to opiates but does not pass through the blood brain barrier so it will not get you high. You can still eat some bananas and blueberries.
 
Withdrawal Nausea:
 
Use ginger capsules or make grated ginger tea, I think the tea is actually more effective. 
Good quality ginger capsules are available from Jarrow.
 

Aches and Pains

The phenylalanine acts as a natural pain killer by encouraging the production of your own endorphins and enkephalins but you may also want to take additional pharmaceutical painkillers such as Tylenol (take up to 1000 mg 4 ½ hours apart, do not exceed 4000 mg in 24 hours). Tylenol is toxic and hard work on the liver so if possible don’t use more than 2000 mg; in step two we will do lots of liver detoxification, but try not to make the server even worse and set up more work for this next step.
 

Kratom for Opiate Withdrawal

 
The herb kratom has opioid and painkilling properties and may potentially be helpful for transitioning off heroin and opiates acting like a herbal alternative to methadone. As an opioid kratom is open to abuse and potentially addictive, but if you want to take control of your health, self-medicate and use it as a transition to help give up opioids is can be a potentially very useful remedy, far less addictive than methadone.  Despite having opioid like properties kratom does not suppress respiration or breathing so dangerous overdose appears to be unlikely. 
 
Just to be on the safe side the very first time you take kratom I recommend you take quarter or even an eighth of the dosage and weight several hours to test your sensitivity and make sure you don’t have any unusual toxic reaction, actually you should do this with any new herb but we rarely do. Furthermore when you get a new batch of kratom you should test the strength of the batch by taking a low or three quarter dosage; one of the issues with herbal remedies is that depending on the weather (rainfall, sunshine) and soil conditions the strength of the herb can vary considerably.
 
Kratom Dosage
 
The doses below are for regular Kratom powder and NOT enhanced Kratom or Extract:
  • 2 - 4 grams = mild effects (Stimulant Effects)
  • 4 - 6 grams = medium effects (Stimulant Effects or Sedative / Analgesic Effects)
  • 6 - 8 grams = strong effects (Sedative / Analgesic Effects; Too strong for most people)
  • 8 grams or Higher = very strong effects (Sedative / Analgesic Effects; NOT RECOMMENDED)
 
How to Take Kratom:
Kratom has a very unpleasant taste, it can even make some people retch and feel sick. You drink kratom like a tea, mix it in with yoghurt or stuffed it into empty 00 capsules.
 
For example you can
Mix 1 to 2 tea spoons of fine kratom powder to 1/3 cup of orange juice, mix it in and quickly drink it down followed by another half a cup or more of orange juice to wash it down and get over the taste.
Wait 20 to 30 minutes for effects to take place.
 
Useful links:
http://www.howtoquitheroin.com/How_to_Quit_Heroin_with_Kratom.html
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/should-kratom-be-legal/
 
CBD from Cannabis
There are two principal ingredients in cannabis one is called CBD and the other is called THC, they basically have polar opposite effects. THC is stimulating and can increase agitation, anxiety, sleeplessness, paranoia et cetera, CBD on the other hand is very sedating and calms the nervous system, it interacts with the enkephalins and endorphin systems in the brain. CBD is helpful for sleep, anxiety and agitation, I highly recommend using it if you can get a hold of it as an aid to going through withdrawing from opiates. CBD is not addictive like opiates, it also as far as I can work out not harmful so you can use it to help you give up heroin and worry about giving it up later on.
In the UK CBD is not illegal, it’s very expensive but you can buy it online.
 
Continue with the above supplements for a week or two until the initial withdrawal is completed and then progress on to the detox and regeneration phases.
 
Regenerating the brain and maintaining healthy levels of dopamine and serotonin is important because when these neurotransmitter levels fall you decline into a low mental state that can drive you back into using drugs to get high again. See Detoxifying and Regenerating Your Brain after Heroin/Opiate
 
IMPORTANT Please note the information on remedies above is for doing a private home withdrawal you organise yourself.
 
To do this at home you are would ideally have a helper/friend ideally an ex-addict to be with you. You should definitely organise all the remedies in advance, in the links at the bottom of this page are some helpful pages on setting up a cold turkey withdrawal at home. 
If your health is in a poor condition and your heavy drug user have a medical checkup and if possible get the help of a medically qualified person; you could also spend several weeks making a point of eating better (increase your intake of vegetables and consume lots of chicken/vegetable/lentil soups would be helpful) and taking multivitamins/minerals with extra magnesium.
                             
I’m available for consultation either at my London clinic or via Skype to help coach you how to set up the initial withdrawal however I don’t have a residential withdrawal facility at my practice nor offer close support through the first detox phase. After the initial withdrawal phase I can offer treatment and coaching advice on how to use natural remedies, diet and exercises both physical exercises and brain training exercises) to stimulate neuroplastic regeneration of your brain, to detoxify your liver, the rest of your body and improve your overall health.

 

Addiction Main Menu:

Useful Links:

http://www.slideshare.net/CMoondog/the-addicted-brain

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/can-you-cure-yourself-of-addiction/
 
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Hi my name is Peter Smith I specialise in treating and coaching people how to live well with mental health problems, digestive health problems/IBS, sleep problems and type II diabetes using natural therapies.
I used these techniques to overcome and live well with my own bipolar disorder and IBS. I've been in practice as a natural medicine practitioner since 1988.
 

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