Medications in the benzodiazepine family exert calming and sedative effects and are used to treat anxiety and insomnia . Benzodiazepines are also used as muscle relaxants and anticonvulsants. They work by increasing the effects of the neurotransmitter (a chemical messenger) GABA. Benzodiazepine drugs include:
- Alprazolam (Xanax)
- Chlordiazepoxide hydrochloride (Libritabs, Librium, Limbitrol, Lipoxide, Mitran, Reposans-10, Sereen)
- Clonazepam (Klonopin)
- Clorazepate dipotassium (Gen-XENE, Tranxene-T, Tranxene-SD)
- Diazepam (Diastat, Valium, Valrelease, Vazepam)
- Estazolam (ProSom)
- Flurazepam hydrochloride (Dalmane, Durapam)
- Halazepam (Paxipam)
- Lorazepam (Ativan)
- Oxazepam (Serax)
- Quazepam (Doral)
- Temazepam (Razepam, Restoril, Temaz)
- Triazolam (Halcion)
- and others
Because of this risk, if you take benzodiazepines, the safest approach is to avoid grapefruit juice altogether.
The herb kava ( Piper methysticum ) has a sedative effect and is used for anxiety and insomnia.
Other herbs with a sedative effect that might cause problems when combined with benzodiazepines include ashwagandha ( Withania somnifera ) , calendula ( Calendula officinalis ) , catnip ( Nepeta cataria ) , hops ( Humulus lupulus ) , lady's slipper ( Cypripedium ), lemon balm ( Melissa officinalis ), passionflower ( Passiflora incarnata ), sassafras ( Sassafras officinale ), skullcap ( Scutellaria lateriflora ) , valerian ( Valeriana officinalis ), and yerba mansa ( Anemopsis californica ).
Because of the potentially serious consequences, you should avoid combining these herbs with benzodiazepines or other drugs that also have sedative or depressant effects unless advised by your physician.
Melatonin is a natural hormone that regulates sleep.
Warning : It can be dangerous to stop using benzodiazepines if you have taken them for a while. Consult your physician before trying melatonin to help handle benzodiazepine withdrawal or before trying to stop benzodiazepine medication under any conditions.
Although they are highly effective for anxiety, benzodiazepine drugs can cause unpleasant and dangerous withdrawal symptoms when they are discontinued.
Note : This trial involved close medical supervision and very gradual tapering of benzodiazepine dosages. Do not discontinue anti-anxiety medications except on the advice of a physician, as withdrawal symptoms can be life threatening.
- Reviewer: EBSCO CAM Review Board
- Review Date: 07/2012 -
- Update Date: 07/25/2012 -