Jul 09, 2017 Chris Foley

The new opiate…but it’s not a controlled substance…

The substance above is commonly used to treat “nerve pain” but is also prescribed and used for just about every kind of pain — muscle, joint, headaches, you name it — is the new “companion” drug for opiate users to gain a better “high”.  Gabapentin, aka, Neurontin, is the de rigueur new designer drug to go into your opiate sandwich.  In fact adding some gabapentin — or it’s much advertised cousin, Lyrica — to the treatment mix is frequently the quickest way to end a visit with a chronic pain sufferer whose diagnosis continues to be frustratingly ambiguous.  Hmm.

 

Last December, Ohio’s Board of Pharmacy began reporting sales of gabapentin prescriptions in its regular monitoring of controlled substances. The drug, which is neither an opioid nor designated a controlled substance by federal authorities, is used to treat nerve pain. But the board found that it was the most prescribed medication on its list that month, surpassing oxycodone by more than 9 million doses. In February, the Ohio Substance Abuse Monitoring Network issued an alert regarding increasing misuse across the state.  (Internal Medicine News 7.6.17)

 

Just like the laws of thermodynamics, for every action there is an equal an opposite re-action.  Here, my detective nose is once again going down that road that begins with asking the question, “What is REALLY happening here?”  So often I see patients who have been bounced around from clinic to clinic, specialist to specialist, Mayo to Mayo.  Dust to dust, ashes to ashes.  We live in a medical world increasingly dominated and frustrated by ill-defined, chronic, painful, and dysfunctional conditions for which we have seemingly continued to add one Band-Aid drug after another. Very little gets resolved. Did I mention Lyme disease? Now, we have created a new Pharnkenstein, and there will be more. Until the medical system begins to honestly address underlying causes and reasons for these chronic conditions, the drug industry will continue to spawn new black market epidemics.

So, what could be the harm in this seemingly innocuous add-on medication?   There is strong evidence that gabapentin and its cousin, pregabalin (Lyrica), actually inhibit dendritic plasticity and may also adversely affect reproductive functions. In other words long-term use of these two drugs will create infertility and inhibit one’s ability to learn. One might even say that it would accelerate brain aging and limit cognitive function.  The apparent benefit of these drugs in their use for chronic pain seems to largely come from limiting new “pain synapses”. That is certainly not a bad thing. However, unless the underlying reason for the pain is more aggressively sought, the patient is left to a future of simply covering it all up. Eventually, the brain is affected adversely. But also, eventually, novel and abusive uses of these drugs are discovered. This seems to be just the beginning.

 

 

 

Oct 15, 2016 Chris Foley

The Mayo Clinic takes a Lyme disease bow…

32-pasteur

As you likely have heard, the diligent scientists at the Mayo Clinic have discovered a variant on the organism that causes Lyme disease, aka, Borrelia burgdorfei (Bb). This new spirochete was found when a lab test called a PCR was done on a young boy with profound weakness, fever, and a rash. But the test showed a mysterious organism similar to but different from the Bb bug transmitted by deer ticks. A new species!

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Oct 15, 2016 Chris Foley

Live from the Lyme Conference in St. Paul…

 

nicolauscopernicus

Nicolaus Copernicus

Columbia University sponsors a very well composed conference on Lyme disease annually, and this year it is between the coasts in St Paul. The speakers are very respected members of the scientific community — Robert Moir PhD, Brian Fallon, MD, and many others. Dr Moir began the conference with very compelling evidence that the epidemic of Alzheimer’s disease very likely is from smoldering infections in our brains — not necessarily purely borrelia (Lyme), any number of different pathogens that find their way there thru a leaky gut or mouth in addition to tick borne avenues. The astonishing thing about this conference is not so much the jaw-dropping evidence that much of this infection is both ignored and a challenge to treat, but….

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Oct 12, 2016 Chris Foley

The coming standard of pharmacogenomics…but will your local ACO approve?

double-helix

“Pharmacogenomics” is the term applied to the genetic typing — usually from a simple swab of your buccal mucosa — of individuals for their reaction to and processing of drugs.  This started with the occasional gene test for unusual drugs that were plain dangerous and has not been broadened to most classes of drugs as well as individual members of each class…

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Sep 29, 2016 Jonathan Otten

Another vaccine failure: Novavax’s stock drops 80% ($1.5 billion) as its RSV vaccine fails to offer immunity

vaccine

Last week the vaccine developer Novavax’s stock dropped precipitously when their RSV F-protein recombinant nanoparticle vaccine did not demonstrate vaccine efficacy in the Phase III Resolve trial.  You can read more about the failure at FierceBiotch.  The drug was aimed at treating adults with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). RSV is generally a mild cold-like illness in healthy individuals, but can be much more serious in small children and older adults.

Here’s a thought: What if we were to put just a fraction of the resources pouring into biotech solutions into implementing what is already known to optimize immune function? For example, what if every parent of young children understood the importance of optimizing the health of the microbiome through real high quality nutrition and the profound effect that this has on true immunity?

What if every elderly person in a nursing home was seen by a physician that recognized the significance of optimizing vitamin D levels and the powerful effects that this pennies-a-day solution has on immune system function and our general susceptibility to any pathogen?

Don’t worry…biotech will not give up on seeking to solve every one of your health problems for you.  The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has given $89 million to research a maternal immunization program for RSV, using the exact same Novavax vaccine described above.  But its time for all of us to take a much less passive approach to our “healthcare” and realize the incredible tools we already have within reach for immune system optimization and disease prevention.

Sep 27, 2016 Chris Foley

Poor libido…just shed some light on it…

low-libido

There is no doubt that the male sexual drive — and the capacity to “see it thru” — is big business. From “Low T” to those mysterious pheromes sold in the back pages of Popular Mechanics, the biology of male sexual responses always seems to induce the best and worst in sales and decpetion. But now a study emerges from a legitimate scientific paper in Austria that instructs us to simply get out of the shadows…

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Sep 25, 2016 Chris Foley

The Dementia Forum…

Although it is tempting to simply make this a regular analysis of the Minneapolis Star and Tribune reporting, that would be very disrespectful to those whose families have been devastated by some form of this condition. No, the collective effect, understanding, treatment, and, yes, exploitation of this near-ubiquitous disease demands constant scrutiny and clarification. By ubiquitous, I mean that a day does not go by when we do not see some story re Alzheimer’s disease — both good and bad. I stumbled over one of the “good” stories today while listening to taxpayer supported radio that was quite heart-warming:

The fact that one must listen to a Youtube ad for 5 seconds before viewing this illustrates the “exploited” part a bit…

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Sep 23, 2016 Chris Foley

The mystery diagnosis…

hillary-eyes

…hiding in plain “sight”, as it were, is leaving everyone yet another clue. Hillary’s Eyes are now the topic of conversation as her obvious cranial nerve palsy is picked up by more and more people. Now Powerline has started asking the question about the crossed eyes — cranial nerve paralysis — so evident for months with our favorite female presidential candidate.   As we had previously reported, it’s Lyme disease, Watson… »