Natural Detox Methods: Why Vitamin C is Making Headlines for Use in Opiate Withdrawal

Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble antioxidant that is an essential nutrient for normal growth and development. Many people take Vitamin C as a supplement for its antioxidant benefits. Ascorbic acid occurs naturally in foods such as citrus fruit, tomatoes, potatoes, and leafy vegetables. Vitamin C is essential for bones and connective tissues, muscles, and blood vessels. Vitamin C also helps the body absorb iron, which is needed for red blood cell production. Now Vitamin C is being used by natural detox methods.

Vitamin C for Opiate Withdrawal

High doses of Vitamin C have been shown to block receptors in the brain from responding as severely to opioids and increase endorphin levels. Increasing these levels is an essential effect because opioids mimic endorphins. When going through opiate withdrawal, the body is severely deficient in endorphins.

A study conducted in early 2000 tested the effects of high doses of Vitamin C on the withdrawal symptoms. Patients in the experiment group received Vitamin C a dose of 300 mg per kg of body weight per day along with Vitamin E.  A control group was given only conventional medication. Patients in the Vitamin C group experienced mild withdrawal symptoms for about 50% of participants while only about 15% expressed significant withdrawal symptoms. Compared to the control group, where over 56% of participants reported significant withdrawal symptoms, the study concluded that high doses of Vitamin C might help reduce withdrawal symptoms.

In a study from 2008, researchers sought to study the effect of Vitamin C on the development of tolerance and dependence to opiates and its mechanism of action. Mice were made physically dependent on opioids from the repeated administration of morphine. Vitamin C doses ranging from 400 mg per kg of body weight up to 1600 mg per kg of body weight were administered to an experimental group. The researchers concluded that Vitamin C, even in very high doses, helped to inhibit the development of tolerance and dependence to morphine and may be used therapeutically to treat morphine addiction.

The theory that Vitamin C might block opioid receptors in the brain and reduce withdrawal symptoms is based on experiments performed by Dr. Alexander Schauss at the University of New Mexico. The hypothesis was that opioids bind to specific opioid receptors and that Vitamin C can bind to these receptors, thereby blocking the neuromodulatory effect of the opioid.

National Institute on Drug Abuse and Alcoholism

In 1979, Dr. Schauss gave a presentation on the results of his vitamin C studies. He reported that out of 20 addicts that complied with the high doses of Vitamin C protocol, each one reported few symptoms commonly experienced during heroin withdrawal. Dr. Janice Keller-Phelps, the medical director of the King County Center for Addiction Services, petitioned the NIDAA to review her findings after hearing Dr. Schauss’ lecture and trying it for herself.

The NIDAA was very impressed with the results, but several months later refused to endorse the treatment. It was later discovered that they were testing a semi-synthetic partial opioid for the treatment of heroin withdrawal called buprenorphine. In 1990 the NIDAA created the Medication Development Division, and in 1994 they formed a partnership with the first manufacturer. In 2002, Suboxone was approved by the FDA.

Natural Detox Methods

Detoxifying from drugs is an essential step in recovery. If traces or residue of prescription or recreational drugs remain in the addict’s system, cravings and withdrawal symptoms continue. Some drugs, like diazepam, marijuana, cocaine, and phencyclidine, accumulate and stay in the system for long periods of time. This is especially true in cases of long-term drug use. Using natural detox methods is a safe way to clean out the entire body, improve overall health and maintain recovery.

Detoxification is like giving your body an inner makeover. It’s about cleaning out those unwanted toxins that are detrimental and harmful to your health. This means feeding yourself a proper diet, exercising, adding other healthy habits to your lifestyle, and bringing your alcohol/drug use to a halt. Essentially, doing all this will clean out the impurities in your blood and allow your body to heal itself. Listed here are a few natural detox methods:

  • Drink lots of fluids. A daily intake of eight to 12 glasses of fluids each day flushes out the toxins and chemicals. All healthy fluids–water, fruit juices, vegetable juices and herbal teas–are good for cleaning the body internally. The wastes, impurities, and drug residues are washed out of the cells, tissues, and organs.
  • Fasting. Going on a fast accelerates detoxification. Because you are not eating food, the body doesn’t need energy for digestion. Instead, the body uses the energy to clean and heal itself. A fast gives the body a short rest period. Fasting for one or two days is safe for most people, but you should always consult a medical professional before starting something new.
  • Lose fat by exercising. Even if you aren’t overweight, losing fat will help with detoxification from drugs. Most chemicals and toxins that enter the body are stored in the fat cells. By losing excess fat, a person also loses toxins. To lose the fat, do aerobic exercise. Swimming, running, dancing and cycling are good cardiovascular exercises that help to burn calories and fat. During a high-impact workout, a person also builds up a sweat. Toxins are released through the sweat glands. Building muscle with weights or resistance training also burns fat. In time, the muscles replace the fat deposits. Breathing deeply during any type of exercise helps to expel toxic carbon dioxide from the lungs. On inhalation, more oxygen enters the body.
  • Eat Healthy Foods. Eating fruits and vegetables gives the body the nutrients it needs to repair itself and carry out its many functions. Organic foods are more expensive, but they are better for the body because they contain fewer chemicals like preservatives and pesticides. Adding fiber to the diet also helps in moving wastes and debris through the intestines and out the body.
  • Take herbal supplements. There are a few well-known herbs that are good for detoxifying the body. Milk thistle cleans out the liver, a filtering organ that removes toxins from the body. Uva ursi cleans the kidneys and keeps them functioning at a high level. This is important because the kidneys filter the bloodstream every day, removing wastes, toxins, and impurities like drugs.
  • Juicing. Drinking all-natural juiced fruits and vegetables is basically a short cut to getting all the vitamins and minerals your body needs. You can drink about five times the vegetables and fruits than you can eat simply because your body is only filling up on the juice. This is one of the most beneficial of the natural detox methods because it allows you to get the vitamins in larger amounts and allows you to consume a larger variety in a day, which is key to proper nutrition.
Other Habits That Can Help While You Practice Natural Detox Methods
  • Lessen your stress. In the hectic world in which we live , it can be hard to remember to find the time for yourself. So, make sure to take a chunk out of the day to unwind and treat yourself well, as stress hormones, such as cortisol, are detrimental to your health and path to detoxification.
  • Stay away from coffee and cigarettes. Not only are they harmful toxins in themselves, but they can also be addiction triggers, possibly causing you to relapse.
  • Get a massage. This is another great stress-reducer and can aid in the release of toxins from your body.
  • Get more sleep. Most of us are sleep-deprived. Ideally, you should be getting 8 to 9 hours of sleep a night to keep your body in peak health and to reduce stress.
  • Get your family and friends involved. Anyone can take these natural detox methods to a healthier life. By participating in this together, you can offer each other support and help keep yourselves on track.

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