Side Effects Of Benzodiazepines & Their Effective Alternates

Abstract

The medicine system was introduced to help us so that we can ward off diseases. But 8 out of 10 modern medicines are capable of causing damage to our body. In the race of treating one thing we end up surrounded by many. It is like medications do not fix anything but allow underlying problems to continue uncorrected and actually accelerate things. Meanwhile, new symptoms or totally unrelated conditions arise as an inevitable consequence of such biochemical faux pas. Further, some drugs can lead a person to death. For example if we look into NSAIDs (Non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs) then this class alone is capable of damaging joints, lungs, kidneys, eyes, hearts and intestines. This article is about one such class of drugs commonly known as Benzodiazepines. The article also included best herbal alternatives to Benzodiazepines.

Side Effects Of Benzodiazepines

Introduction

Benzodiazepines is a class of drugs that work on the central nervous system. These drugs are used in a variety of conditions and also act on specific receptors in the brain. These receptors are called GABA receptors (Gamma- aminobutyric acid-A). GABA is an amino acid that functions as a primary inhibitory neurotransmitter of the central nervous system. The function of GABA is to reduce the neuronal excitability by inhibiting nerve transmission. The Benzodiazepines produce their effect by enhancing the binding of GABA to its receptors. Benzodiazepines act preferentially on midbrain ascending reticular formation (which maintains wakefulness) and on limbic system (Thought and mental functions).

Let’s know the basics of Benzodiazepines

Basics of Benzodiazepines

  • In simple and understandable words Benzodiazepines are the drugs that slow down the body and brain functioning.
  • This class of drugs are generally given to patients who are having anxiety or sleep issues (like difficulty getting sleep or staying asleep).
  • These drugs are likely to be abused, can cause addiction, and the body can become tolerant and dependent.

Types of Benzodiazepines

There are different types of Benzodiazepines and each type has its own uses. The types of Benzodiazepines are as following:

  1. Alprazolam (Xanax): In anxiety and panic disorders
  2. Clonazepam (Klonopin): To control seizures or fits in epilepsy, involuntary muscle spasm, panic syndrome and in restless leg syndrome.
  3. Diazepam (Valium): Anxiety muscle spasm and seizures
  4. Lorazepam (Ativan): In anxiety and sleep problems
  5. Midazolam (Versed): To cause drowsiness or to prevent any memory of the event.

Functioning Of Benzodiazepines

The class of drugs works by enhancing the effect of a neurotransmitter. That neurotransmitter is GABA or Gamma- aminobutyric acid-A. GABA are the chemicals that communicate messages between the brain cells which are called the neurons. The neurotransmitters transmit two types of messages or signals either calming or stimulating. The GABA is basically a neurotransmitter which sends calming signals or messages to the body.

When a person feels anxious or nervous overstimulation occurs in the brain. This overstimulation can be the result of low Gamma- aminobutyric acid-A production or maybe it is not able to communicate with its receptors well. Here, the Benzodiazepines plays its role. When taken, these drugs help in overcoming the excessive stimulation by improving GABA communication to its receptors. Aforementioned GABA is a neurotransmitter which sends calming messages or signals to the body thus the anxiety or panic attack subsides.

Coming on to the Uses of Benzodiazepines

Till now we know that uses of Benzodiazepines are the class of drugs that help in altering the activity of neurons that trigger stress and also help in binding the GABA to its receptor. The food and drug administration (FDA).

Has approved them for treating the following:

  • Generalised anxiety or anxiety disorder
  • Post traumatic anxiety or panic disorders
  • Seizures due to epilepsy
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Sleep Cycle disturbances like difficulty falling asleep or recurrent disturbance in sleep (Difficulty staying asleep) or no sleep (Insomnia)
  • Bipolar disorder
  • To manage the effects of Alcohol withdrawal
  • To prepare for certain medical procedures

Now we know all important aspects of benzodiazepines but now we will discuss an important part of this group of drugs about which we are not generally aware of. It’s about the adverse effects or side effects of Benzodiazepines.

Adverse Effects of Benzodiazepines

  • Benzodiazepines are considered as safe drugs in modern science. The most common side effects of hypnotic doses are dizziness, vertigo, ataxia (poor muscle control that causes clumsy voluntary movements), disorientation, amnesia (partial or total loss of memory), prolongation of reaction time— impairment of psychomotor skills (Should not drive)
  • Hangovers are less common, but may be noted if larger doses are used, specially of longer acting drugs. Weakness, blurring of vision, dry mouth and urinary incontinence are sometimes complained about.
  • Older individuals are more susceptible to psychomotor side effects.
  • Paradoxical stimulation, irritability and sweating may occur as an occasional patient.
  • Some patients may experience an increase in nightmares and behavioural alterations.
  • Tolerance to sedative effects develops gradually, but there is little tendency to increase the dose. Further, cross tolerance to alcohol and other Central nervous system depressants occurs.
  • They are seldom abused alone.
  • It can cause withdrawal symptoms as well. The withdrawal symptoms may be mild but become more intense in case of ultrarapid elimination of drugs.
  • Anxiety, insomnia, restlessness, malaise, loss of appetite, bad dreams are all noted.
  • Agitation (a state of anxiety or nervous excitement), panic reactions,tremens and delirium can be there as a side effect. Conclusions may be noticed in rare cases.
  • Increase in the birth defects on use of Diazepam during pregnancy. Administration during labour may cause flaccidity and respiratory depression in neonates.
  • As a hypnotic drug it should not be used casually, for every case of insomnia.

Interactions of Benzodiazepines

  • The Benzodiazepines synergise with alcohol and other central nervous system depressants leading to excessive impairment.
  • Its concurrent use with sodium valproate (An Anticonvulsant given in epilepsy) has provoked psychotic symptoms.
  • Oral contraceptives have shown to retard the Benzodiazepines Metabolism.
  • With antipyretics and analgesics their use is banned.

Key highlights this far

  • Benzodiazepines slow down brain function by enhancing GABA interactions to its receptors
  • GABA is a calming neurotransmitter
  • Benzodiazepines are anxiolytic and for day time sedation
  • Acts as anticonvulsant
  • They are centrally muscle relaxant
  • Alcohol withdrawal in dependent subjects
  • Can be given with Analgesics, NSAIDs
  • Fixed dose combination for sedative/ hypnotic/ anxiolytic effect
  • They have side effects with involves dizziness, vertigo, ataxia commonly

Ayurvedic Herbal Preparations as an Alternative to Benzodiazepines

As now we know all about the Benzodiazepines, in which situations they are used, what effect they give, what are their side effects or adverse effects and with which they interact the worst.
Now we will enlighten ourselves with certain herbs mentioned in Ayurveda that definitely are the best alternatives of Benzodiazepines and also give much better effect than these synthetic poisons.

Ayurveda is called the science of holistic healing and has the potential for uprooting diseases and disorders from their root. It is the science that involves internal healing with the use of herbal medicine and mineral based medicine. Modern science calls Ayurveda a pseudoscience but it is not a pseudoscience but its a science that guides you on how you should live your life to avoid every type of disease. Even if a disease occurs this science also mentions about each and every diseased condition and how it can be well managed using Ayurvedic herbs only.

As an alternative to Benzodiazepines there are many Ayurvedic herbs that have a very great and significant role in controlling the excitement of the central nervous system. Every condition related to the central nervous system is understood as the result of vata imbalance in the body. This vata imbalance can be as simple as sleep disturbance or can be as complex as Alzheimer’s (that begins with a small memory loss and may be extensive till the degradation of day to day functions and learning).

Vata imbalance can be successfully managed using certain Ayurvedic herbs like brahmi (Bacopa monnieri), ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), Tagar (Valeriana Officinalis) and many others as well. These herbs are very effective in balancing the vata dosha in the body and thus give very impressive results.

Herbal Formulations By Planet Ayurveda as a Substitute or Alternative to Benzodiazepines

Planet Ayurveda is a ISO certified company and manufactures classical as well as patent Ayurvedic products. These products are known to create a very good effect on the body and thus give fruitful results. The herbs which are used in the manufacturing of these herbal products have impressive results and are completely natural. Moreover, there is no addition of dyes, fillers, adulterants, additives and flavour enhancers in these formulations. As a substitute or alternative to Benzodiazepines Planet ayurveda offers some of its products which will definitely help in clearing out the metabolic disturbances going on inside the body. These herbal preparations also help in detoxification of the system. The herbal preparation are as follows:

  1. NeuroGenie Capsules
  2. Calm Easy Capsules
  3. Pitta Balance
  4. Indian Valeriana

Benzodiazepines

Product Description

1. NeuroGenie Capsules

The neurigenie capsules as their name suggests are a kind of genie for your entire central nervous system. These capsules are prepared using herbs like Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri) and ashwagandha (Withania somnifera). These two herbs have an amazing effect on aggravated vata dosha. They work by pacifying the vata dosha. The brahmi in this formulation is one of the medhya rasayana which are known to enhance the working of the brain. All over the Neurognenie capsules help in subsiding the over activity of the brain and hence maintains the normal functioning of the brain along with neural transmission.

Dosage: One capsule twice a day after meals with lukewarm water.

2. Calm Easy Capsules

The calm Easy capsules are prepared from the standardised extract of potent herbs which are known to work on the neurotransmission and also on glands like pineal gland which is situated at the midline of the brain. The calm easy capsules work by stimulating the proper production of GABA that is gamma aminobutyric acid-A and also its interaction with its receptors. The formulation has ingredients like brahmi (Bacopa monnieri), ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) and tagar (Valeriana willichii). The herbs work by cooling down the brewing storm in mind, relaxes the body, reduces anxiety and number of thoughts. It is a very useful formulation in restlessness and sleeplessness.

Dosage: One capsule twice a day after meals with lukewarm water.

3. Pitta Balance

Pitta balance is helpful in balancing the pitta dosha in the body. You might be thinking why we are talking about pitta dosha all of a sudden. Then, pitta dosha is responsible for metabolic instability in the body as well. The GABA disturbances can also be the reason for pitta disturbance along with vata dosha. This formulation has ingredients like Akik pishti, Mukta pishti (paste of pearl), shankh bhasma (calx of conch) and other effective ingredients which help in keeping digestion stabilised and also balance the imbalance of pitta dosha at the same time.

Dosage: One capsule twice a day after meals with lukewarm water.

4. Indian Valeriana

Indian valeriana capsules are prepared using tagar (Valerian wallichi). This herb is known to solve all the problems related to disturbed sleep cycles. Moreover, the herb is also having a very good effect on the central nervous system and plays an important role in anxiety as well. Not only on CNS the herb also has its effect on the digestive tract. It works by eliminating the toxins present in the digestive tract due to its laxative effect. This herb is known to nourish the central nervous system.

Dosage: One capsule twice a day after meals with lukewarm water.

Conclusion

The Benzodiazepines might help you initially but later on their true colours will reflect in your system. Modern medication is good if you want to have instant results but you want to completely eliminate the disturbance going on in your system then its better to opt for Ayurveda. The Ayurvedic herbs do not have any wrong effects, adverse or side effects neither after using herbal formulations a person will develop nay kind of tolerance. In case of any queries kindly visit www.planetayurveda.com

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Dr. Vikram Chauhan

Dr. Vikram Chauhan (MD - Ayurveda) is the CEO and Founder of Planet Ayurveda Pvt. Ltd. He is Author of the Book "Ayurveda – God’s Manual For Healing". He is an Ayurveda Expert Serving People worldwide through all the Possible Mediums, Operating from Main Branch in Mohali, India. With his Vast Experience in Herbs and their Applied Uses, he is successfully treating Numerous Patients suffering from Various Ailments with the help of Purest Herbal Supplements, Diet, and Lifestyle, according to the Principles of Ayurveda. For More Details, visit www.PlanetAyurveda.com.

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