1. Good news from the land of brandy-wine

    Good News From the Land of Brandy-Wine

    Urgent dispatches from the "brandy-wine" valley

    Good news from the land of brandy-wine!

    Well, not literally from that fabled, historic region of southeastern Pennsylvania where the revolutionary continental regulars fought a valiant (albeit losing) day-long campaign against the British redcoats in September of 1777, but rather from the realm of science - a landscape that more and more often in the last decade prominently features encouraging research about the benefits of alcohol. Most recently, these studies have focused on two of my favorites

    Brandy and red wine.

    Technically, both of these beverages are grape-based - which may in part explain the findings of a pair of recent studies, one Australian, and one European. According to the down-under research (appropriately released just before Christmas), a nightly shot of brandy packs an antioxidant punch equal to the recommended daily intake of vitamin C. This is similar to a glass of red wine, which derives its antioxidant power in large part from the polyphenols in grape skins.

    What's really interesting is that the research maintains the better quality the brandy, the greater the antioxidant benefit. Their theory is that the liquor leeches extra antioxidants from the copper in the stills during the distillation process - which tends to be longer for better quality brandy. Also interestingly, the study found similar benefits in shots of whiskey, which is made with no grapes (or any other fruits) at all, yet very definitely distilled in copper

    Meanwhile, a separate study in Italy found that adding red wine to the daily diets of a group of non-drinking test subjects spurred a decrease in inflammatory bio-markers, and a boost in plasma antioxidant levels, which translated into lower LDL levels (something mainstream medicine believes is good for the heart), and a more desirable (again, by mainstream standards - not mine) LDL/HDL ratio. But no matter how you interpret the LDL/HDL ratio, increased blood antioxidants is a good thing for your ticker.

    What's all this add up to? Something I've been telling everyone for years: Moderate daily alcohol consumption - be it wine, brandy, beer, whiskey, or whatever - is good for the heart, body, soul, blood and mind, for all kinds of medically relevant reasons!

    But leave it to the mainstream press to find the cloud in the silver lining. Find out what I mean in the next Daily Dose


    LDLderly medicine

    Remember above, when I was qualifying the red wine studies conclusions about what the mainstream calls "good" (HDL) and "bad" (LDL) cholesterol? You might be wondering why I did this. It's because the true role and value of cholesterol is misunderstood by most of the medical establishment. Case in point

    A recent Italian research study of 3,120 subjects over 12 years concludes that for both men and women above age 65, the risk of fatal heart failure DECREASES as LDL cholesterol levels INCREASE.

    Hmmm. I've only been saying this for 30 years or so.

    Reported in the Journal of the American Geriatric Association, the study's findings argue against the use of lipid-lowering drugs (the world's most common patent medications) in the elderly of either sex.

    My advice on this topic is the same as it's always been: Unless your cholesterol's OVER 300 or more, ignore it. And if it plummets to less than 200 - either naturally or from the use of those cursed statin drugs - you better start chowing down on some foods rich in animal fats and proteins if you want to dodge a heart attack

    Especially if you're over 65.

    Distilling the liquid truth from the lipid lies,

    William Campbell Douglass II, MD

  2. Drug Peddling Senior Citizens Syndicate

    Drug Peddling Senior Citizens Syndicate

    Geriatrics behind bars - and in front of them

    Appalachian Sting

    I've written before about the illicit prescription drug trade in this country. It's a little-known blight on mainstream medicine - and it gets nowhere near enough play in the mainstream media, which nets a lot of money from drug ads. In past Daily Doses, I've warned about middle- and high-school kids hawking their anti-depressants to other children who are looking for a high. I've also sounded the alarm about college-aged students hording and selling their ill-begotten ADHD stimulants Ritalin and Aderall to their fellow pupils for "all-nighter" study sessions (Daily Dose, 10/24/2005).

    But I never thought prescription pushing would sink this low: A recent Associated Press article reveals that authorities in Kentucky have busted a drug peddling syndicate that rivals a New York narcotics ring - among senior citizens in dirt-poor Appalachia!

    As it turns out, a large number of elderly patients in that region have been selling their prescription painkillers and other medications to young pill addicts, in some cases for years. According to the piece, a Bluegrass State anti-drug task force has charged more than 40 senior citizens with criminal re-selling of prescription drugs - including the sometimes deadly OxyContin (the same painkiller that some tabloids linked with larger-than-life talk show host Rush Limbaugh several years ago).

    Apparently, the drug-related arrests of these seasoned felons have been so frequent that the already-taxed local jails have struggled to adapt to the increased cost of servicing the needs of elderly inmates. And according to sources cited in the article, the practice is almost certainly not limited to the Appalachian region.

    Other sources in the piece all but absolve these geriatric felons of their closet sales enterprise - insisting that for many, the supplemental income garnered by selling off their pills for as much as $10 a pop is necessary for those on fixed incomes to help make ends meet. The irony of this is so thick: If you buy into this twisted logic, these seniors are being forced to deal drugs in order to pay for the high cost of living

    Especially their ever-more expensive PRESCRIPTION DRUGS!

    Here's an idea for these folks: Do a little digging to find the natural cures that can treat you just as well for pennies on the dollar (oh yes, they exist). After all, if you take fewer drugs, you won't need to shell out so much for them.

    But this is moot advice. I think the problem's nowhere near as spurred-by-necessity or nobly tragic as what some of the article's sources point to as causational factors. I simply believe that the criminal urge knows no age threshold - and that there are bad apples among all demographics, young and old alike. But what makes it doubly bad is that these aging criminals are enabling the rise of a whole new generation of addicts, who will no doubt turn into pushers themselves once they hit Social Security age.


    Lifting spirits lifts spirits in one old-folks home

    Nobody likes a nursing home. They're just not fun places, for the most part.

    But at least one of them on the Emerald Isle (where else) is most certainly a lot cheerier than most others. It's the one where residents are "nursing" pints and shots from the full-service pub in the back!

    That's right, according to a recent Reuters article, the St. Mary's Hospital facility for the aged in Ireland's County Monaghan has enjoyed great success at keeping its patients peppy - by giving them regular access to not only pints of beer, but the daily social atmosphere at an on-site pub.

    The home's Directors and staff insist it's good for the patients, and may even make them live longer. I'd definitely buy that - the antioxidants and health benefits in good stout, whiskey, and wine have proven their worth in my eyes (and even in the eyes of many in the mainstream) many times over.

    But even if it didn't add one minute more to life spans of the lucky denizens of this one happy nursing home, it would still be worth it. The enhanced quality of life a good pint with good friends gives is more than benefit enough, if you ask me.

    Always lifting spirits - and never pushing pills,

    William Campbell Douglass II, MD

  3. Drug Peddling Syndicate Among Senior Citizens

    authorities in Kentucky have busted a drug peddling syndicate that rivals a New York narcotics ring - among senior citizens in dirt-poor Appalachia!

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