Subject: Marijuana Withdrawal, Adrenal Exhaustion
Answered by: Christine Dennis


Question from: Maggie
Posted on: February 21, 2008

My daughter had been smoking strong marijuana for some time and has stopped 7 days ago, as she has gone abroad to study. She has started to experience anxiety, sleeplessness, diorrhoea, and panick attacks. The death of her father by suicide 4 years ago has been brought very much to the fore, and she is experiencing the loss much more acutely. I feel certain that these are symptomatic with withdrawal from the substance, and I wondered whether there are any herbs and/or homeopathic remedies that could help her overcome these awful symptoms. I would be very grateful for any advice I could pass on to her.

Oh my. Such challenging times for you both. In my experience in my practice, the side effects from excess marijuana use and extreme stress are the same -- adrenal burnout. Once adrenal burnout occurs, it can be a long road back to health if one is not diligent at stopping and taking care of themselves whilst listening to their body. The anxiety, sleeplessness, digestive upsets and panic attacks are all symptoms of adrenal burnout.

The first thing I suggest is regular sleep. To do this calming herbs such as wood betony, lavender and passionflower are recommended. These can be taken 1 hour prior to bedtime. If waking up throughout the night is a problem, it is best to have a sleep aid formula ready and taken for up to 3 doses over the course of an 8 hour night. If she is waking up with anxieity and heart papitaions the following herbal tincture would be ideal -- wild lettuce, linden flower, passion flower and scullcap in equal parts. The other important factor is to keep her blood sugar levels even throughout the night so that the stress response blood sugar swings are not waking her up. Smaller more frequent meals throughout the day comprised of complex carbohydrates, lots of vegetables, fibre, good fats and no refined foods, sugar or caffeine is key. A small handful of almonds before bed will also help here. If during the day time she is tired -- have her take a nap.

Gentle exercise, whilst listening to her body will begin to help the adrenals get stronger again. Walking, swimming, cycling, yoga are nice examples. Deep breathing will help to naturally massage the adrenals and gently stimulate them.

Diet is very important. Good fats (Omega 3 essential fatty acids) such as fish, nut and seed oils such as salmon, anchovy, walnut and flax seed oils will provide the essential ingredients for the adrenal hormones -- 1 to 3 T of these essentail fatty acids per day with meals. Avoid ALL refined foods as they just play havoc on blood sugar swings. Stick with a variety of whole grains, legumes, fish, eggs and chicken as man protein sources, a vareity of vegetables and fruits and pure wholesome drinks such a nutritive herbal teas like long infusions of nettles, lemon in water, pure vegetable juice and only a small amount of pure fruit juices. Avoid all caffeine and artificial sweeteners and flavourings.

To support the nervous system whist making these changes and building herself back up again B vitamins ( she can take a "B 50’s" supplement three times per day), magnesium (400 to 600mg three times per day - epsom salt baths are also a good source of magnesium) and essential fatty acids as stated before are a must. The calming herbs suggested can be taken throughout the day when she feels stressed, anxious and getting close to a panic attack. Nerve tonics like milky oat seed tincture would be very beneficial here. To help clear the mental fog that can come along with the withdrawal periods - fresh basil tincture has been used for this.

My favourite herbs to help restore the adrenal glands for your daughter would be nettle seed, milky oat seed, gotu kola, ashwaganda and siberian ginseng taken three time per day.

Flower essences such as olive, sweet chestnut, star of Bethlehem and honeysuckle are recommended to help heal your daughter on the emotional level. I also suggest she speaks to a therapist to help her through these tough times. Reminder her that this too shall pass...

Supporting the thyroid gland would also be indicated here -- no fluoride, eat sea vegetables and mineral rich foods/herbs.

Good luck.

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