1. Vitamin C lowers BP

    When a drug drops BP levels by a few lousy points, docs throw a party. When a vitamin does the same thing they claim, "it's only a few lousy points."

    Which is it?

    These days, docs are turning up their noses at an analysis of 29 studies that found 500 mg of vitamin C a day can trim 5 points off the systolic blood pressure (the top number) in patients with "high" blood pressure.

    I'm not one to get excited over 5 points myself, but those same docs will tell anyone 5 points over the threshold -- a threshold that seems to get lower every year -- that they need medication.

    So this should be good news to them, right?


    "(B)efore we can recommend supplements as a treatment for high blood pressure, we really need more research to understand the implications of taking them," study author Edgar "Pete" R. Miller III, MD, PhD, wrote in a news release.

    Really, Pete?

    If there's any vitamin as well understood as vitamin C, I can't name it. You need this stuff, and plenty of it -- and while I've seen analysts claim the 500 mg a day in the study is a high dose, it's nothing of the sort.

    It's what I call a "good start," because most people need about 1,200 mg a day -- and if you get that much, you might even shave a few more points off those BP levels.

    But take it because you need more C -- not because you're worried about BP. In fact, if you're just 5 or so points off the target, you've got nothing to worry about.

    If your levels suddenly shoot up for a reason that's not immediately obvious and then remain high, you might need a little more help -- and I don't mean a vitamin OR a med.

    You need a doctor who can figure out why it happened. I suggest using a naturopathic doctor. You can find one in the directory on the Web site of the American College for Advancement in Medicine.

  2. When two-for-one is a bad deal

    Aspirin-Prilosec duo brings double the risk

    Pills and more pills. First you've got the pills you're supposed to take, and then you've got the pills you've got to take to deal with the side effects from the first ones.

    It would be comical if it weren't so deadly.

    Now, one company is trying to solve the problem -- not by cutting down on meds or making them safer, but by putting both a drug and the drug for its side effects together in one mega-pill.

    How's that for missing the point?

    The first drug is the aspirin millions of heart patients are told to take every day despite all the clear risks. These drugs have a long list of side effects, one of which is that daily use can leave your stomach in shreds.

    If that's not enough, aspirin can cause heartburn -- so the second drug in the new pill is Prilosec, a proton pump inhibitor that's even more dangerous than aspirin.

    As I've been warning you, PPIs can actually make stomach acid problems worse in the long run. It's a problem so common it has its own name: "acid rebound."

    PPIs can also mess with your stomach acid levels so badly that some studies have found a link to the serious infection Clostridium difficile, and they're known to block the absorption of critical nutrients, including calcium and magnesium.

    There's even evidence PPIs block aspirin, which could be why the new pill isn't the standard 81mg "baby" aspirin given to heart patients. It's a whopping 325mg instead.

    So maybe you'll avoid the heartburn -- for now -- but at that dose, you'll have a much better chance of battling the many other side effects of aspirin, such as gastrointestinal bleeding and tinnitus.

    What's crazy about all this is I'm sure the drug will be a big seller despite the fact that there's a much easier way to avoid heartburn and all the other risks of aspirin: Don't take the darned aspirin in the first place!

    Ordinary cod liver oil can thin the blood every bit as effectively with none of the risks -- and you won't need a second pill to counteract it.

  3. The most dangerous way to lose weight

    The drug Contrave has been linked to increased blood pressure levels and pulse rates -- which is why the FDA actually REJECTED it earlier this year. (Trust me, I was as surprised as you are.)
  4. Heart drug, heart risk

    I don't know of too many good treatments for atrial fibrillation -- but I know of one you need to avoid like the plague.
  5. Poking the pregnant

    Would you give your newborn a drug that hasn't been studied in infants? Of course you wouldn't -- and you certainly wouldn't expose a fetus to that kind of risk, either.
  6. Off-label med linked to orgasm disorder

    The orgasm-robbing condition is called anorgasmia, and researchers say older patients who take gabapentin (aka Neurontin) may be getting hit with it at a much higher rate than ever reported -- in part because docs never bother to ask seniors about sexual side effects.

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