Tapering off Your Medications
What you Need to Do First
Many people are anxious to get off their cocktail of medications as they end up not liking the side effects and/or they don’t like the way the medications make them feel. I have heard numerous times “I tried to come off my meds and I felt worse. I guess I just need them.”
As a nutrition professional, I cannot tell you to go on or off medications since I do not diagnose, treat or cure. But that does not mean I cannot help you with your goal to go off or reduce your medications.
Here is What You Need to Know Before You Taper Off Any Medication
You need to address root health causes first, not after you go off your medications. If you attempt to taper and still don’t know why you have the mental health symptoms that you do, then once you go off your meds you are left with not only the same feelings you had prior and the same unaddressed root causes, but may also now have nutrition deficiencies (some meds can cause nutrient depletion of certain vitamins or minerals) that can exacerbate your condition.
You need to support your body with a healthy diet (one that is best for you) first. This does not mean change your diet one week and then attempt to taper off medications the next week. This does not mean to follow a generalized diet in some book. Depending on your health issues and how long you have had them, you may need to restore balance to your body and be on a whole food, supportive diet for 6 months to a year before you should consider the taper process. Your diet (and supplement) plan should be individualized based on your needs.
You need to taper very, very slowly. By this I mean, you may need to use a razor blade to shave off portions of your medication instead of cutting it, so that you do the process gradually and slowly under the guidance of your prescribing doctor. Yes, it does mean the taper process will take longer, but your odds of remaining off the medication instead of going back on will be greater.
When you are ready to taper under your doctor’s supervision, let your nutritional professional know ahead of time-she can create a supportive protocol for you during the taper process to help ease into the transition.
Why Changing the Diet First Is So Important in the Taper Process
Look at the chart below to see what the Standard American Diet is doing to your moods and what effect it has on your neurotransmitters.
|What it Does|
|Skipping meals||Lowers serotonin|
|Refined carbs||Lowers serotonin and dopamine|
|Low protein diet||Lowers all amino acids neurotransmitters (NT’s)|
|Low B complex status||Lowers most NT’s|
|Low EFA status||Lowers serotonin|
|Stimulant use||Lowers serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine|
|Alcohol, metals, other toxins||Lowers most NT’s|
|Artificial sweeteners||Blocks production of serotonin|
|Glyphosate (Roundup sprayed on plants you eat)||Disrupts gut microbiome (thus will affect serotonin production since over 80% made in gut)|
The paper contains cadmium which damages the brain, also raises free radical status in body which is significant risk factor for dementia
Medications and Nutrient Depletion
Do your homework on the medications that you are taking. If the drug depletes certain nutrients make sure you are getting it from food and/or supplementation. Don’t forget to include the other medications that you are on such as antibiotics, acid blockers or cholesterol lowering drugs as all of these can effect nutrient status as well.
Lithium (used to treat Bi-polar): Depletes folate and inositol
Prozac, and some other antidepressants such as Paxil and Zoloft (used to treat depression and anxiety): Depletes magnesium, CoQ10, B vitamins and melatonin. (These drugs may not deplete B vitamins but B’s are needed to make serotonin and dopamine and thus you should make sure you are getting adequate amounts)
Benzodiazepines (used for anxiety): Deplete melatonin, B12, Folate,
Antipsychotics: Some can deplete CoQ10, melatonin, B2, B6, B12, Folate,
Bottom Line: Work with a holistic nutrition professional to get to your root causes, address them, support your body and get it to a “good” place for you. Then have the taper discussing with your doctor. Be patient. Depending on how long you have been suffering, how long you have been on medications and how many you are on, this process can take months to years. Be kind to yourself, give your body the time it needs to get through this process.
Bauman, E. & Friedlander, J. (2014) Foundations in Nutrition. CA: Bauman College
Bauman, E & Friedlander, J (2014) Therapeutic Nutrition. CA: Bauman College
Gaby, A.(2006) A-Z Guide to Drug-Herb-Vitamin Interactions. NY: Three Rivers Press
If you are sick and tired of feeling sick, tired, fatigued, depressed, anxious and more and have given up hope then Karen’s simple, effective, individualized and sustainable approach may be what you need.
Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition and Herbalist is the author of Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and If Life is So Good, Then Why AM I Still Depressed? Discover the root cause for your depression and learn what to do to feel better and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC.
For more information visit www.trufoodsnutrition.com
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As a nutrition professional, Karen does not treat, cure nor diagnose. This information is for educational purposes only.