The Forgotten Treatment: Overcoming Opioid Dependence

I want to make myself useful and I want to build up a steady source of income. For this reason, I’ve been pondering a suggestion people offered me in the past, which is to set up my own substack. The idea I have is to write a newsletter, The Forgotten Treatment, where I look at treatments for medical conditions that have been forgotten about, from the perspective of a medical historian.

I don’t want to be a grifter and knowledge should be free, to promote the flourishing of all of humanity, so all the articles would be publicly available. Rather, paid subscribers would get to vote on what I should sink my teeth into next. You’d be paying to steer my mental effort in a direction.

And obviously, I would adhere to basic standards of professionality. For example, I would refrain from referring to my readers as “low IQ low status white males”. It’s the difference between doing a job and revealing the depths of your soul. You’re the employer, so I will have to work on meeting your expectations. I managed to hold onto an office job for four years, so maybe I can meet your expectations for four years too.

You can’t offer someone medical advice for a treatment that hasn’t been sufficiently studied. That would be irresponsible and I don’t want to go to prison for trying to help people. I’m not going to do anything stupid like telling someone to ditch his chemotherapy either.

Rather, my goal would be to get people who ran out of options and medical professionals to discover potential treatment avenues that have been lost to history. And then perhaps, in consultation with a medical professional, you may find out you discovered a new option.

Some people, lackeys for the system, tend to argue that alternative medicine would be called medicine if it worked. However, I disagree. The incentives of the industry favor treatments that can be patented. There are plenty of forms of alternative medicine that would be called medicine, if they could be patented.

I feel as if by now at age 32, I have built up sufficient knowledge from consistent reading about a range of disciplines for almost two decades that I have something useful to contribute. So with no further ado, I want to share a trial article, then you can judge in the comments here whether you think this would be useful and worth setting up a Substack for.


The Forgotten Treatment: Overcoming Opioid Dependence

The ongoing opioid crisis is symptomatic of the failure of the American healthcare system. Provisional data suggest that in the past 12 months, 108,000 Americans died from drug overdose. Not all of these deaths are the result of opioids, nor are most opioid deaths the direct result of prescription opioids.

However, the overdose epidemic is the direct outgrowth of a for-profit healthcare model that allowed the Sackler family among others to earn billion dollar fortunes by promoting the use of opioids for people in circumstances where the benefit to be gained was modest and the risk of addiction severe.

Between 2006 and 2014, 226 million prescription opioid pills were distributed in Spokane county, 54 pills per person per year, an absurd amount. Once people are hooked they tend to become dependent on the black market, where the profit incentives and the risk of getting caught favor highly potent opioids that can be easily sent across the country, like fentanyl.

The crisis is now a reality and a major cause of the severe decline in American life expectancy. Someone who dies at forty of an opioid overdose has a greater impact on measured life expectancy than someone who dies at ninety of Alzheimer’s disease. The question I’m interested in is: How do we get people off opioids again?

We wouldn’t have an overdose crisis, if getting people off opioids was easy. The reality is that it isn’t. The best established treatment with the longest history of use is Methadone, but even Methadone is not highly effective. People on methadone are 33% less likely to test positive on tests. And keep in mind, Methadone itself is not a harmless drug. It works because Methadone itself is an opioid. When we treat addicted people with Methadone, we’re not so much curing opioid addiction as we are substituting one opioid for another. And people die of Methadone as well.

The question I’m interested in asking is: What are the alternative routes we have available to us? How do we move towards getting people off opioids, rather than just filling the void left by withdrawing people from dangerous opioids with safer opioids?

To answer that question requires me to delve into what we know about human neurochemistry. But first, I wish to briefly mention a treatment that has been argued to work well at achieving complete remission of addiction: Iboga.

Iboga is an African plant that leads to an intense visionary journey, it has been used by Pygmy tribes for generations. It is in some aspects comparable to Ayahuasca, but it affects a much wider range of receptors in the brain and last much longer. In the 70’s heroin addicts discovered they lost their cravings after taking Iboga, so today there are centers around the world where people receive Iboga.

It doesn’t work for everyone and it can hardly be considered a desirable treatment option for most people. An estimated 1 in 300 people don’t survive an Iboga experience. The impact of the cardiovascular system is severe and so you can imagine that if middle-aged people with pre-existing conditions like obesity received Iboga, the risk of death would be even higher.

There is also of course Kratom, which appears succesful in weaning people off more dangerous opioids. However, it doesn’t cure the addiction cycle, it is again a case of choosing the lesser of two evils. In a world where profit incentives did not dictate medical policy, we might see Kratom used on a wider scale. But Kratom is quite well known about by now and so it doesn’t fit the conditions of what I wish to offer you, namely, a Forgotten Treatment. What do we know, that we forgot we know about?

This is where we have to get into neurochemistry. The general tendency for the nervous system is to aim towards homeostasis. When we administer a psychoactive chemical on a regular basis, the brain will attempt to compensate for this in one way or another, often with the involvement of other organ systems as well. Suddenly withdrawing a drug can be sufficient to kill a person, as is seen in alcohol withdrawal. The body has grown accustomed to the drug and can no longer function without it.

Similarly, the dose of opioids taken by an opioid addict is often enough to kill an inexperienced user. As a person consumes opioids more often, the m opioid receptor is downregulated and becomes less sensitive to the administered opioid. It thus takes more of the drug to achieve the same effect and the natural opioids produced by the human body are no longer sufficient to perform their required functions.

So how do you break that cycle? How do you resensitize the Mu opioid receptor, so that it can depend on our endogenous opioids to properly perform its function again? That’s where the Kappa opioid receptor comes in. The Kappa opioid receptor is often thought of as the body’s natural control mechanism for addiction. Activating it upregulates the sort of receptors that are downregulated in addicted people, like the Mu opioid receptor and the Dopamine 2 receptor.

We don’t know exactly why Iboga works to treat opioid addiction. However, it is known that the Kappa opioid receptor is one of the locations where it binds most strongly. It’s thought this receptor may be responsible for the unique effects Iboga has on the human mind. The Kappa opioid receptor makes people feel disconnected from the world. After taking Iboga it’s common to hear experiences where people feel as if they were another animal, like a gorilla in the African forest.

And this brings me to a special plant, which has unique effects on the human mind because of its focused effect on the Kappa opioid receptor through a terpenoid known as Salvinorin A: That plant is Salvia Divinorum. This plant became popular among teenagers in the early 2000’s, where extremely high concentrated doses were smoked and led to bizarre behavior in videos that went viral.

This is entirely contrary to how it is used by the Mazatec, who cultivate this plant. They don’t like smoking it, they prefer to chew the fresh leaves. Smoking the Salvia Divinorum Plant versus chewing the fresh leaves leads to two very different experiences. Because the effects slowly introduce themselves when chewing, they do not terrify the user. It is perhaps best thought of as the difference between going on a train journey and entering a rollercoaster.

What you’ll notice after chewing Salvia Divinorum, which is preferably done while laying down in a dark room, is that you feel rejuvenated after you stop chewing and the effects stop. It’s not easy to feel the effects, it takes a bit of technique. You need to chew a lot and use your tongue to press the plant matter against your gums to draw in enough of the active chemical, but it does work. In my own experience chewing Salvia allows me to gain pleasure again from things I grew disinterested in.

It would obviously be reckless to encourage heroin addicts to switch to chewing Salvia to cure their condition. That’s not what I’m proposing. But what I can envision, is that after weaning people off severe opioids, the final step would be for people to chew Salvia, so that the Mu opioid receptors are sensitized again and can function properly through our endogenous opioid system again.

Presumably because it upregulates the Dopamine 2 receptor, there is also evidence to suggest it works well in people who have abused stimulants. Cocaine craving appears to be gone after a single administration of a Kappa opioid agonist in rodents.

What other options are there? Well, chewing Salvia can feel a bit like walking into a sauna. Your body feels warm. There is evidence to suggest taking a Sauna releases large amounts of Dynorphin, the natural ligand for the Kappa opioid receptor. You may thus find that sauna bathing would help people recover from opioid addiction too. Some people addicted to Kratom report that sauna bathing helps them.

The poor Salvia Divinorum plant can not be patented, nor can its active chemical, Salvinorin A. Scientists have experimented with various derivative chemicals, but these tend to be more potent and last much longer, which is not desirable. Sadly, it seems to me the profit incentives of modern healthcare leave this plant isolated from the people who would benefit the most from it.

15 Comments

  1. I think this is definitely a worthwhile endeavor and a good start. However, I would suggest that you quote academic literature the same way you do in your covid posts, and maybe break down the various receptors the way you did the different types of antibodies… right now it just sort of sounds like a smart druggie trying to explain away his salvia dependence. There’s not enough detail there to be taken completely seriously.

  2. I think your Substack idea for a newsletter on “Forgotten Treatments” could be a valuable resource!!

    You might consider having an option whereby paid subscribers not only can ‘steer’ you toward future topics, but also engage in conversation with you in discussing whatever topic is at hand…That way, you also may receive variations on your information, which lead to new, helpful insights.

    You might also consider taking subscriber questions regarding their specific needs relating to the topic at hand, for example:
    I am a 59 year old chronic pain patient, reliant on 25mcg Fentanyl patches(for the past ten years) –
    – my question relating to this current topic would be: Could the Salvia Divinorum be used to ‘rejuvenate’ opioid receptors so as to prevent growing tolerance to my medication? (As I currently have an appointment with my Pain Management doctor to discuss moving to a higher dose patch.)

    One last suggestion: If your newsletter turns out to be successful, you might consider offering a limited number of free inquiries per topic…My situation (common to women my age) is that my husband handles all our internet ‘purchases’ and unfortunately would not consider a Substack subscription a worthwhile expense.

    Lastly, I would like to say that I highly appreciate all the well-informed information in your writings – I think you are an amazingly intelligent young man, and I hope your parents are very proud of you!!

    • >Could the Salvia Divinorum be used to ‘rejuvenate’ opioid receptors so as to prevent growing tolerance to my medication? (As I currently have an appointment with my Pain Management doctor to discuss moving to a higher dose patch.)

      Yes, you would expect that Salvia Divinorum can increase sensitivity of the opioid receptor, thereby potentially preventing the need to increase dosage, but there may be other ways to avoid having to increase the dosage too.

  3. I am very interested in homeopathic/traditional medicine.
    The current rockerfeller criminal allopathic medicine is mostly garbage, where the revenue stream is more important than the patients’ health.

    I’d buy! (subscribe to your substack)

  4. I came across your writings a year or two ago via the weekly Covid discussion on Ecosophia Dreamwidth. I take what you say seriously. Pilgrims on the path together. I will subscribe.
    I have been using SD for a few months – microdosing. It is gently reducing my anxiety. I am planning on doing similar with San P. Your writings on these matters have been most helpful.
    Maybe have a read of Desert Ascent by Simon Parke, if it appeals to you…

  5. Considering the selection bias filters, what number of people you’ll get that are the right audience: having an opioid addiction problem and want to treat it, having some disposable income to treat, having enough incentives to pay to try some random internet posters’ ideas, AND with enough internet savvy to find you on substack. Nobody asked for my opinion, but you need to rebuild your business model to even have a chance at succeeding in building steady income, but it’s a good start trying. And better get yourself educated on licensure requirements in your local area to do paid consulting.

  6. The “I would refrain from referring to my readers as “low IQ low status white males”” got me in.
    On a separate note, the “forgotten treatments” is both genius and danngerous for the same core reason: our health care systems are desperately commercialised and therefore do not offer treatments. They merely try to manage diseases as opposed to cure them, simply because this path is more profitable.
    Therefore, researching and sharing forgotten treatments is a fantastic idea. It is however dangerous, because people with severe health issues tend to be desperate: they suffer a lot, pay a lot for treatments that merely slow down the progression of their disease or offer temporal relief at best. Having desperate customers is only good if you a sociopath, which you are not. That’s why I think this substack can become very challenging for you.
    I will gladly become a paid subscriber, both for the forgotten treatments idea and as a means to say “thank you” for your sane voice during the covid madness – there were not so many like you and without this community, I would have gone truly mad.

  7. Maybe I read too much into the way you are releasing comments, it seemed to me that you are purposefully releasing comments in response to what I wrote that you didn’t release here. But ok. Assuming I have the right hypothesis on this, I saw the newest comment on a potential subscriber. I still doubt this exact model is a viable business — these positive potential subscribers already found you, which means they have passed all the bias filters today! The question is how are you going to get potential subscribers who are totally blocked by other bias filters due to their own habits, education, interests, etc. PS. I request this comment to remain private and not be released even if my encrypted conversation hypothesis is wrong here. Thanks.

  8. Yes, you should open a substack with a paid option.

    I have such a substack, and my paid subscribers get exactly ZERO benefits. They only pay because of the goodness of their hearts. The only benefit is that I say a big thank you to them. The reason for this is that the unpaid subscribers are good people too, possibly they would pay but have no money. So I do not want to discriminate against them.

    I would probably make more $$ if I had paid-only articles or paid-only commenting, but I do not want to do that.

    Also, in my opinion, you do NOT need to hold yourself back all that much. Not insulting your subscribers is a good idea, but other than that, you can talk about whatever you want.

    Whatever you talk about will determine what subscribers you will have.

  9. Yes, a health substack produced by you would be of great social benefit.

    Help for cognitive problems would be essential, so that people could be put in a position to make use of the other treatments.

    It would be best if the substances used were generally legal.

  10. Hello Radagast,

    In response to this thread, can I ask you to look into why so many people are sick with repeated, persistent respiratory infections at the moment? If I saw this happening in either only the gene-therapied population or vice-versa, I’d have an idea what’s happening, but I see it in both groups. My family is un-gene-therapied, and my 3 year old son entirely unvaccinated, yet both my partner and son have had repeated, persistent respiratory infections during the past few months. My son has spent 1 week in the last 3 months not coughing. These infections are not bad, indeed quite mild, but it’s the constant nature and extended periods of time that concern me. I’ve tried ivermectin, nigella sativa, garlic, lemon, Xlear, zinc + plus ionophores (quercetin and cinchona bark, the origin of chloroquine), buckwheat honey, colloidal silver both ingested and nebulized, iodine, ginger, cinammon, essential oils of thyme, clove and ginger, just about everything I can think of with my son, and nothing seems to help him shake this persistent cough. I’m at a loss as to why he’s been sick for so long, and speaking to friends on other countries, the same situation is happening everywhere. Which I find all quite disturbing, and I’ve seen no good investigation or explanation of.

    As you might imagine, your audience is quite eclectic, and in my case, that means I haven’t paid tax nor had a bank account in over a decade. As such, making a financial contribution is complicated for me…perhaps I can contribute some knowledge instead. You recently asked your readers to be as privacy-conscious as possible, and to use a VPN; I’m certainly doing that, but another way to uniquely identify users that most people are unaware of is based on their canvas fingerprint:

    “The Canvas API, which is designed for drawing graphics via JavaScript and HTML, can also be used for online tracking via browser fingerprinting. This technique relies on variations in how canvas images are rendered on different web browsers and platforms to create a personalized digital fingerprint of a user’s browser.”

    If you go to https://browserleaks.com/canvas, regardless of the browser, OS or IP you use, you’ll see that your canvas fingerprint is identical in all cases on the same computer, i.e. it’s a unique identifier. You can block this with this addon or extension:

    https://mybrowseraddon.com/canvas-defender.html

    Other things I recommend people to use, Linux first (Linux Mint is pretty user-friendly), then Firefox with any to all of these addons:

    NoScript
    Adblocker Ultimate
    Decentraleyes
    Disconnect
    Ghostery
    Privacy Badger
    UMatrix

    and of course a VPN, Softether has many possibilities that use OpenVPN (probably the most secure VPN software available):

    https://www.vpngate.net/en/

    cheers.

    • Try Mullein extract for the persistent cough. I had a cough for 3 months back in 2021 and after taking this for 2-3 days it was gone. I’ve used it for my kids successfully as well.

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The patients in the mental ward have had their daily dose of xanax and calmed down it seems, so most of your comments should be automatically posted again. Try not to annoy me with your low IQ low status white male theories about the Nazi gas chambers being fake or CO2 being harmless plant food and we can all get along. Have fun!

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