In episode 2 of this season, I covered how the opiate withdrawal syndrome can be alleviated with either oral or intravenous nutrient therapy.  However, there is actually a little more to the story of opiate withdrawal syndrome that should be told.  Back in the late 1960s, one of the pioneers in the use of high dose Vitamin C for withdrawal was a Clinical Professor of Nutrition by the name of Alexander G. Schauss.  In 1969, Dr. Schauss organized one of the first open clinical trials on the use of high dose oral vitamin C and its effects on opiate receptors in the treatment of heroin withdrawal syndrome.  This unique study gave high oral doses of Vitamin C (in Sodium Ascorbate form) to heroin addicts for 6 day periods and alleviated the withdrawal syndrome.  The protocol that Dr. Schauss created is as follows:

Day 1: (3 days prior to withdrawal)

Drink 6 oz of diluted juice with 500-1000mg of Vitamin C powder added (Schauss used sodium ascorbate (SA) powder, but plain ascorbic acid powder will also do), every 2 hours until bed time.

Day 2:

Drink juice with 1000-2500mg of Vitamin C powder added every 2 hours until bedtime.

Day 3: (The big day)

Drink juice with 5000-7500mg of Vitamin C powder added every 3 hours until bed time. Begin withdrawal at bedtime.  If withdrawal symptoms occur during the night, juice with 5000-7500mg of Vit C added, administered when awake, and taken every 2 hours until symptoms stop.

Day 4:

Drink juice with 2500-5000mg Vit C powder added every 2 hours until bedtime.  If symptoms occur during the night, juice with 2500-5000mg Vit C powder added, administered when awake, and taken every 2 hours until symptoms stop.

Day 5:

Drink juice with 1000-2500mg Vit C powder added every 2 hours until bedtime.  If symptoms occur during the night, juice with 1000-2500mg Vit C added, administered when awake, then every 2 hours until symptoms stop.

Day 6:

Drink juice with 1000mg Vit C powder added, every 2 hours until bed time.  If symptoms occur during the night, drink the juice with 1000mg Vit C, administered when awake, then every 2 hours until symptoms stop.

This study attracted the attention of none other than Dr. Linus Pauling (the 2 time Nobel Prize winner) and many other clinicians, as well as the NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse).  However, around the same time as this, the FDA approved methadone “maintenance” therapy for opiate withdrawal, which the NIDA ended up adopting, and neglecting the Vitamin C protocol.  Their reasons for doing this were to ensure that no one was put out of work at the NIDA, as Vitamin C would have drastically simplified opiate withdrawal to the point that the protocol would have been possible to do at home for the vast majority of addicts.

Unfortunately, methadone maintenance was supposed to be a way of weaning people off of opiates.  In practice however, it hasn’t worked out that way.  Most people whom are addicted to opiates end up either staying on methadone long term, or going back to their original drugs.  One of the reasons for this stems from the multiple nutrient deficiencies that many addicts end up having as a result of poor diet in addition to the drugs.  Another reason for continuing addiction instead of coming off opiates is the fear of the withdrawal syndrome that many addicts have.  Finally, most addictions to any substance are due to previous trauma that is being masked via use of the substance.  Overcoming addiction is complex due to it’s many components.  Counseling, nutrition, housing, acupuncture, environment and support are also integral components to any recovery. 

Before I conclude, I’d just like to mention a few statistics that bear remembering:

     – There have been 4000 opioid related deaths in Canada since 1993.

     – In the US, there were 8050 deaths in 1999, 42,380 deaths in 2016, and 70,237 deaths in 2017.

For the last 50 years we have ignored simplicity and safety in order to pursue profit and the status quo.  Perhaps its time to embrace the above Vitamin C protocol for withdrawal as part of a combined solution to the opiate crisis. 

Be Well and Be Zen

References:

Gaby A R, (2011), Nutritional Medicine, Ch. 276, Drug Addiction, p. 995, Ch. 340, Intravenous Nutrient Therapy: Meyer’s Cocktail, ps. 1298, 1294-96., Fritz Perlberg Publishing, Concord, NH., ISBN 13: 978-0-9828850-0-0.

Levy T E, (2002), Curing the Incurable, Vitamin C, Infectious Diseases and Toxins, p.251-2, LivOn Books, ISBN: 0-9779-5202-9

Lancet Public Health. December 19, 2018, DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/S2468-2667(18)30232-9

CDC. March 29, (2018); JAMA Psychiatry, May 23, 2019

Evangelou et al., (2000), Ascorbic acid (vitamin C) effects on withdrawal syndrome of heroin abusers., In vivo, 14, 363-366.

Chaitanya et al., (2018), An Insight and Update on the Analgesic Properties of Vitamin C., J Pharm Bioallied Sci. 10(3), 119-125.

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