Can drug medication be maintained safely during orthomolecular treatment?
RioCan Yonge-Eglinton Centre
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Toronto, Ontario, M4P 1E4
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The answer is two-fold:
1.) Orthomolecular medicine is well-known, with established safety as a ‘non-drug’ psychiatric alternative or adjunct treatment.
Orthomolecular treatment can be used safely when taking psychotropic* medication.
2.) Yes, clients who have been maintained on psychotropic medication should continue to do so during orthomolecular treatment.
This is the case because most drug maintenance protocols impose a synthetic receptor profile that if you withdraw from the medication, will increase the risk for receptor decompensation and relapse. Not all psychotropic medication is associated with receptor decompensation aspects. The bottom line is that the majority of anti-psychotic, mood disorder, mood stabilizer and benzodiazepine-class medications have a dependency potential as they are often difficult to withdraw from without symptom remergent side effects. The other side of the coin is that appropriately prescribed psychotropic medications can succeed in palliating symptoms to some degree so many patients are leary about coming off a medication and losing palliative benifits. It is not uncommon to see this ‘dammed if you do, dammed if you don’t’ meltdown.
Orthomolecular medicine can help here; those who show 40-60% improvement with orthomolecular treatment are considered best served by maintaining the lowest effective dose of medication under MD supervision
Medication Management Considerations
If you are doing poorly on your psychotropic medication or the medication prescribed is not optimally managed, we suggest you get your medication history assessed and are provided with viable alternatives. Address these concerns with the prescribing MD or get a referral to the CAMH for a Meds Review. You can also make an appointment with a pharmacologist who specializes in psycho-pharmacology.
When Psychotropic Medications are Most Useful
Psychotropic medications are most useful in cases that require a short-term palliative measure to potently suppress presenting symptoms. These cases often present in crisis and sometimes after years of avoiding medical help. Many medications yield marginal improvement and have to be taken long-term due to receptor decompensation and secondary dependency. The cost of palliating symptoms and easing a portion of the suffering therefore needs to be weighed. These drugs assume a synthetic brain chemistry profile that is as with many drugs, not always well targeted. Today we see palliation an integral part of a cyclic relapse syndrome that defines ‘the revolving door era’ of mental health treatment. Unfortunately in crisis situations, nutritional orthomolecular interventions, no matter how targeted, may not act quick enough to achieve an immediate positive response.
In summary, when indicated in crisis, psychotropic medication should be implemented at the lowest effective dose while orthomolecular treatment addresses other causative aspects.* Psychotropic substances alter brain function directly by inducing changes in perception, mood, thinking, consciousness and behaviour.Psychotropic medications include anti-depressants (SSRI’s/NRI’s/SNRI’s/MAOI’s/Tricyclics/etc.), anti-anxiety medications, mood stabilizers (anti-convulsants/lithium/etc.), anti-psychotics (neuroleptics/tranquilizers/major sedative class), sleeping pills, stimulants (Adderall/Ritalin/etc.), etc. Recreational drugs also have addictive and psychoactive components.