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Monday, June 29, 2015

★ Numerous Medications that Mimic Alzheimer's │ Crohn's Disease and Vitamin D │ Warning Against Sleep-Aid Drug Belsomra

I felt that I needed a little more boost than usual from my beer last evening, so instead of the typical three cans at 8% alcohol apiece that I would have allowed myself, I consumed six cans at a 5.5% alcohol potency.

Mark had gotten home around 7:40 p.m., and was soon unconscious in his chair.  However, he revived in time to enjoy Defiance at 9:00 p.m.

Although he was still up when my wife Jack got home, he headed for his bedroom at 10:30 p.m., which is usual for him.  Still, I cannot imagine anything but that today will be especially rough on him.

By the way, I had reported yesterday that 17-year-old Pote was again in bed with a girl.  Jack had phoned me to ask that I bring some chicken legs out of the freezer, which is only accessible by passing the foot of Pote's bed to get to an adjacent room (that is actually just an add-on to the house).

The freezer is in that room.

In the gloom that characterizes the boys' den area when the light has not been turned on, I had been able to see his bared feet extending from the covers, and assumed that since it was after 6:00 p.m., he must have taken to bed with the girl he has shared his bed with at least three times previously in the past couple of weeks.

Well, Jack launched into him about it last night, and he claimed to her that he had been alone in bed.

Granted, I never saw more than a pair of feet; thus, I was likely misconstruing the reason he was abed so late into the day.

Anyway, despite the six cans of beer I drank, after Jack left to return to Vancouver, I sat up until nearly 12:25 a.m. in an unnecessary prurient engagement of self here at my computer.

I think that I rose this morning towards 7:45 a.m., but I was definitely not feeling restored from any kind of good night's sleep.  The thought of getting back into a regular day of exercising did not seem at all realistic.

I commenced a new post at my Amatsu Okiya website this morning, and it became apparent that I was going to be able to finish it because it was going to be shorter than my new posts generally are.

So I stuck with it and published it:  Hannari ─ Geisha Modern II.

About five days ago, the Health Sciences Institute (HSI) came out with a report on Alzheimer's disease, and how certain medications are actually resulting in Alzheimer's disease cases that are not really that specific disease at all.

When Alzheimer's isn't Alzheimer's
It starts with little slips of the memory. Like forgetting where you left your car keys or having trouble recalling your grandkids' names.

But those senior moments aren't going away -- they're only getting worse. And before you know it, you're hit with one of the most frightening diagnoses in medicine today.

Alzheimer's disease.

We've been told that the Alzheimer's rate in America is climbing every year and that more than 5 million people are living with disease.

But it turns out many of those people may not have Alzheimer's at all.

Their condition is being caused by a common class of prescription drugs they're taking every day… dangerous meds that are triggering a growing epidemic of Alzheimer's-like symptoms.

And if you and your doctor aren't careful, you could be next.

"Every Alzheimer's expert living today has been fooled."

That's what P. Murali Doraiswamy, chief of biological psychiatry at Duke University Medical Center, had to say about the countless patients being diagnosed every year with a disease they don't really have.

For years now I've been warning you that the overuse of more than 100 different drugs can mimic the symptoms of Alzheimer's.

And because an Alzheimer's diagnosis can't be confirmed until an autopsy, that means many patients -- and their caregivers -- are left to suffer for years without realizing that their prescription drugs were causing their declining memories and loss of independence.

In fact, a five-year study by the National Institute on Aging looked at autopsies and found that as many as a third of so-called Alzheimer's patients didn't really have the condition. Many of their brain issues were likely caused by the medicine cabinet full of drugs that many seniors are taking today.

But this serious problem may be about to hit epidemic proportions. All thanks to the skyrocketing prescriptions for anti-anxiety meds called benzodiazepines (or benzos).

Last year, for example, research published in the journal BMJ concluded that benzos like Valium and Xanax, as well as other common prescription drugs, can increase your risk of Alzheimer's symptoms by a whopping 84 percent.

Benzos are especially dangerous because they can "cause confusion and slow down mental processes," according to Dr. Anne Fabiny, head of geriatrics at the Harvard Cambridge Health Alliance. And that can be all it takes for you or someone you love to end up with an Alzheimer's diagnosis.

But even though this link has become common knowledge, the crisis may soon become much, much worse.

You see, for years Congress refused to allow Medicare to pay for benzo prescriptions. And that made sense because, aside from cognitive problems, benzos have been proven to cause dangerous falls and fractures.

But just two years ago, Congress rolled back the restriction and made benzos reimbursable by Medicare. And that's when the real frenzy started.

In that first year, according to research from ProPublica, Medicare footed the bill for almost 40 million benzo prescriptions. And those pills are leaving millions in a near-constant brain fog.

The rise in benzo prescriptions is set to send the number of faulty Alzheimer's diagnoses through the roof. The Alzheimer's Association estimates that we're going to see 44 percent more cases diagnosed in the next 10 years.

And because benzos are so cheap and commonly prescribed, the problem isn't just limited to folks on Medicare. In fact, many people are being told they have Alzheimer's before their first Social Security check arrives.

Health experts say there are more than 200,000 Americans who have been given an Alzheimer's diagnosis before they turn 65. And in the United Kingdom, where benzos are wildly popular, the number of people with early onset dementia is now twice what health officials previously thought.

If you or someone you love is suffering from a declining memory -- or has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's -- it's never been more important to check your prescriptions and talk to your doc about getting off benzos. According to Dr. Gary Kennedy, chief of geriatric psychiatry at Montefiore Medical Center in New York, you might just see a remarkable -- and fast -- difference.

"I have had people referred to me with a clear history of dementia and when I started to peel back the medications, they were much better," he said.

*Brand and generic names of some common benzo drugs include: Ativan, Librium, Valium, Xanax, alprazolam, diazepam, temazepam and triazolam. For a full list, click here.
It seems to me that it should be imperative for everyone to keep the benzodiazepine (benzo) connection in mind if a loved one is exhibiting dementia symptoms.

Also about five days ago, Dr. William Campbell Douglass II reported on a study involving Crohn's disease and vitamin D.

Beat Crohn's with a trip to the beach
When you have Crohn's disease, not even a day at the beach is a day at the beach.

You have to carefully plan everything you want to do around your proximity to bathrooms. If you've planned poorly and your bowels betray you, you face embarrassment and outright humiliation.

There's the body-bending stomach cramps... the awful gas... and of course that urgent dash to the toilet. And if you're on a beach, the bathroom could be far away, have a long line and look like a crime scene inside.

But don't let that stop you. It turns out if you've got Crohn's a day at the beach is EXACTLY what the doctor ordered -- because it's the best source of the leading weapon we have against this disease: The sun!

When you get sun exposure, your body makes vitamin D, one of nature's most powerful inflammation fighters and a potent immune booster. Crohn's, of course, is an inflammatory bowel disorder that's accompanied by immune system dysfunction.

Talk about a match made in heaven.

Americans who live in the sun-soaked South have half the Crohn's risk of those who live to the north. But D can do more than help you avoid this disease. It can treat it if you have it -- because a new study finds that 2,000 IU of vitamin D per day can help you better maintain your intestinal permeability.

That's the "leakiness" of your gut. The more it leaks, well... I think you get the picture.

As a result, D supplements can slash your inflammation and raise your quality of life, according to the placebo-controlled study.

Of course I would encourage you to get a daily dose of D the old-fashioned way, from sunscreen-free exposure to the sun. But since everything from the seasonal angle of the earth to cloud cover to clothing can impact how much D you generate, make sure you cover all your bases by taking a vitamin D supplement.

The 2,000 IU per day used in the new study is what I'd call a "good start." Many people, especially those with chronic disease such as Crohn's, could use double that amount or more.

Your own doc can help you figure out how much you need and the best ways to get it.

Kicking Crohn's,

William Campbell Douglass II, M.D.

First on the list of identified researchers is Tara Raftery, who has evidently been involved for several years in vitamin D and its effect on Crohn's disease.

Tara is certainly cute!

This is a short (2½ minutes) YouTube video of her that was uploaded on May 21, 2013: Why Crohn's Disease Patients Should Consider Vitamin D Supplements.

Obviously vitamin D has been studied for quite some time in relation to its proven ability to improve Crohn's disease.  I located another study that was published over two years ago:  Therapeutic Effect of Vitamin D Supplementation in a Pilot Study of Crohn’s Patients (doi:10.1038/ctg.2013.1).

To my mind, anyone suffering from the ailment who does not start taking therapeutic amounts of the vitamin (as vitamin D3) are beyond helping.

Here are a couple of other reports concerning the more recent study:
The Health Sciences Institute (HSI), who are a member site of NewMarketHealth.com, came out with a second noteworthy report on the very same day that they offered the report about benzos and their ability to cause a condition mimicking Alzheimer's disease.

The second report was an alarm concerning a dangerous new sleep aid that should never have been allowed production.

The report also illuminates a new advertising ploy whereby a conscienceless drug company can market their killing poison without having to include any sort of caution or disclaimer about the 'medication' whatsoever.

Nightmare on Main Street
If there's anything we could use more of, it's sleep.

We're bombarded daily with messages about how to catch more Zs. Everything from space-age mattresses to powerful prescription pills.

But there's a shady commercial making the rounds now that's promising a new scientific discovery that will help you sleep better. And it sounds great -- until you read the fine print.

Because the only breakthrough discovery here is how drug giant Merck has found a way to gut FDA rules meant to warn you about dangerous drugs.

And how they're using a secret marketing campaign to sell you a potentially deadly sleeping pill -- all while making sure you never understand the risks.

It's Big Pharma's greatest dream. A world where drug commercials could run non-stop on the Internet, television and even your mobile phone -- all without having to breathe a word about debilitating and even fatal side effects.

And you can bet some ad executive at Merck has a hefty bonus coming this year. Because the company has found a way to skirt FDA requirements about including side effects in ads -- and Merck may be building a dangerous marketing template for the entire industry.

It's called a "disease awareness" campaign, and it's meant to promote Merck's new sleeping pill Belsomra without ever warning you about its dangers.

Merck is flooding the airwaves with what appears to be a cartoon public service announcement called "Why am I so awake?" Maybe you've even seen it.

The ad never mentions Belsomra by name, so it doesn't have to include any of the side effects. But it describes exactly how the drug works, by interfering with a key brain chemical called orexin.

Merck's stealth commercial ends by inviting you to talk to your doctor. But trust me, Merck's been talking to our doctors plenty.

The company recently did a presentation about Belsomra at a major sleep conference, and has dispatched its army of thousands of sales reps to pitch the drug in every corner of America. They've wooed doctors so quickly that when the drug was first approved last year, docs were writing 4,000 prescriptions a week -- and that was during the first month alone.

Even if you just want to Google orexin and learn more about it (go ahead and try a search after you read this message), you'll find yourself knee deep in a sales pitch for Belsomra.

It's all part of a cleverly designed marketing campaign to sell you on the merits of the drug… and get you in your doctor's office asking about orexin… while making sure you know as little about Belsomra's side effects as possible.

And who can blame Merck for trying? Because the side effects of Belsomra are terrifying.

I'm talking about depression, suicidal thoughts, problems breathing, sleep paralysis, and even a disturbing condition called cataplexy. That's a sudden loss of muscle function that can happen if you get too happy or even angry. Laugh too hard and your legs can give out, triggering a dangerous fall or even a bone break.

But the really big problem with Belsomra, the one Merck is thrilled its cartoon characters need not mention, has to do with just how easy it is to kill yourself -- and others -- when taking this drug.

The FDA calls the problem "psychomotor impairment" and that means that you're not fit to do anything that requires thinking or coordination like driving a car. Even the next day.

Belsomra's clinical trials found it was the most common side effect. The problem is so serious that an FDA reviewer who studied the drug said, "I think that some patients will drive who shouldn't be driving and some of those patients will crash."

Look, we're bombarded by drug advertising day and night. But Big Pharma seems more intent than ever to find ways to keep us from learning about side effects, and that's a whole new level of deception.

Any time you see an ad for a health condition online or on TV, always check the fine print on the bottom to see who paid for it. And if it's a drug company, it's best to ignore what they're telling you -- and to worry about what they're not.
Any pharmaceutical advertised on television is something everyone should do their best to avoid.

I managed to shake off enough of the aftermath of the past two days' worth of beer-drinking, and towards the mid-noon hour, I essayed a dumbbell session of one-arm knee-curls with my 42½-pound weight.

It is at least 30º Celsius outside this afternoon.  I sat in a chair on the backyard lawn while I was wearing just a pair of shorts, and probably acquired well over 20 minutes of solar exposure.

I'm finally feeling recovered from the weekend's excesses.

However, I wish I had the extra beers to indulge in later this evening.  Once I have had my limit of three cans of the 8% potency, I only have one can remaining of the 5.5% strength that I had taken to the barbecue on Saturday.

Although the weather is record-breaking for heat, the morning started off somewhat overcast.  In fact, the sky was entirely clouded over by the arrival of last evening, and my brother Mark observed that we might even be in for a thunderstorm.

But nothing came of it at all ─ not even some needed rain.

If things are this hot already, what is in store for July and August?

I want to post an entry from my journal of 41 years ago before I close today, but first I would like to post the two sides of an old Gold Key comic-book cover ─ it's the back cover.

Gold Key had a Star Trek series that was based upon the T.V. series.  From what I remember, the Gold Key series initially had their comic-book covers sporting stills from the T.V. series, and that is why I kept them ─ I loved that T.V. series back then!

I never cared for the comic-book ─ I never even bothered reading the stories.  I just wanted the covers.

Unfortunately, the use of T.V. stills was short-lived, and Gold Key started sporting nothing but drawings on the covers, and thereby completely lost my interest.

I actually kept about nine covers, and foolishly separated the front from the back covers, thereby making it impossible for me now to associate the appropriate back cover with the front cover.

Thus, I have no idea where this back cover fit in the sequence:

Okay, now here's that journal entry.

Back exactly 41 years ago, I was 24 years old, and living in a cheap housekeeping room in New Westminster

I normally worked just one day per week ─ usually Friday ─ at a charitable organization in New Westminster called S.A.N.E. (Self Aid Never Ends) as a truck swamper on their blue pick-up truck.

I sometimes worked other days when they had a shortage of manpower, but I was a hard guy to get hold of ─ I had no phone.

My employment with them was part of an employment initiatives programme that was in place between New Westminster's social services and S.A.N.E.  Thus, my paycheque actually came from social services, and I had no compunction at all identifying that it was social assistance or welfare, even though I was demeaning myself by labeling it as such.

Often, I would drink after work with Art Smith, another part-time S.A.N.E. employee who was nearly 20 years older than I was.

Today, S.A.N.E. calls itself Fraserside Community Services Society.
SATURDAY, June 29, 1974

Same as usual, last night.  Apparently I got so bombed, I passed out in the bathroom.  I was near evicted.  He woke me up, and gave me a real hassle.  I feel so humiliated, and resentful.  Supposedly I puked abundantly in the toilet.

I got my welfare cheque yesterday; $160!  So I'll have to face him when I pay the rent. 

Georgina was at work, and was trying, I guess, to talk to me.  I missed all this.  Art said early in the week she asked him for my phone number so that she could relieve her horniness; he was to get me to call her Thursday night.

Today I must work ─ moving Myrna.
I was speaking of the caretaker in the early part of that journal entry ─ as I recall, I believe that I lived at 333 Pine Street.

I now do not remember, but I think that normally my monthly pay was a mere $60...or maybe as much as $90.  Thus, $160 meant that I had put in considerable extra time.

Georgina Junglas was a beautiful young woman who also worked at S.A.N.E., and for whom I felt extremely ─ almost supernaturally ─ drawn to.

She had made it known that she wanted to 'get it on' with me, but I was far too timid despite my nearly overwhelming interest in her.

When I say that she had tried on this day to talk with me, but "I missed all this," I meant that I was too oblivious to recognize her efforts.  Art must have clued me in later ─ and letting me know that she had sought my phone number from him because she was horny would have truly brought me to attention.

But too late, of course.

Since he was telling me all of this on Friday, and I was to have given her a call the evening before, it is apparent that Art never managed to get hold of me.

She and I never did manage to make a physical or romantic connection, alas.

I saw her some years later in New Westminster ─ maybe around 1985 or so.  

It is possible that she has since passed on ─ if so, then a date I have is March 2, 2013.  If this truly was my lady Georgina, I see that she was about six months older than I was.

It has always been one of my regrets that we got nothing happening together.

"Myrna" was another part-timer at S.A.N.E. 

One of the duties we used the S.A.N.E. pick-up truck for was to move a needy household, if the job was going to be manageable.  It seems that Myrna was taking advantage of the service, and I was having to put in some extra time on a Saturday.

If Art was also involved, then there would likely be more drinking in store.
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