1. Constipation remedy could pack kidney risk

    New warning over common remedy for toilet troubles

    Here's a friendly reminder that just because something is easily available... and just because you've used it for years without a problem... doesn't mean it's safe.

    That's true of any number of treatments, from painkillers to the cold remedies that are so popular this time of year.

    But that's also true of some things you might never suspect would cause problems.

    Every day, millions of Americans turn to common over-the-counter treatments to help with a condition they're often a little too embarrassed to mention to a doctor.

    It's constipation -- and if you're plugged up, you might have some milk of magnesia on standby to help get things moving again.

    For most folks, it's a relatively safe option (although boosting fiber and taking probiotics are much better choices).

    But there's also a dark side to milk of magnesia, as a new warning shows how it can pack a potentially deadly risk, especially if you have kidney disease.

    It could hurt you... and maybe even KILL you.

    The report finds that a 73-year-old man with kidney disease went into cardiac arrest after taking too much milk of magnesia to help with some toilet troubles.

    His heart rate plunged, and only advanced cardiac life support saved him.

    As it turned out, his weakened kidneys weren't able to handle the excess magnesium. His blood levels of the mineral jumped by FOUR TIMES the normal limit.

    The patient recovered after emergency dialysis, but it could have easily gone the other way, especially if he wasn't able to get help in time.

    The man in this case had end-stage kidney disease, but any level of kidney disease could lead to at least some degree of risk from using too much milk of magnesia.

    And that's where the bigger problem comes into the picture: Many older folks are in the early stages of kidney disease and don't know it.

    You could even be one of them.

    There are two steps you can take right now to protect yourself from this and similar risks.

    First, if you haven't had your kidney function checked lately, make it a point of doing so during your next physical. Early diagnosis is the key to preventing it from progressing.

    Second, reassess everything you're taking every now and then... especially the “standby" meds you might turn to without thinking much about them.

    Over time, your risks change. Something you tolerated when you were younger might be a little tougher on your body today.

    Work closely with a holistic medical doctor who can help get you off potentially risky medications and onto safe natural options for everyday ailments such as constipation.

    If you're in the San Diego area, I can help. Make an appointment to see me here at the Stengler Center for Integrative Medicine.

    Not in Southern California? I'm also available for advice by phone. Call 855-DOC-MARK to schedule a consultation.

    And don't forget to connect with me on Facebook!

  2. Probiotics ease constipation

    Flush away toilet troubles -- for good!

    It's the "c" word most patients will never dare to mention.

    No, it's not cancer. It's not even cold sores.

    It's constipation!

    Stubborn bowels might be responsible for more day-to-day misery and pain than just about anything else out there, in large part because so many folks suffer in silence and never seek help.

    They're just too embarrassed to talk about a "poop problem."

    But there is something you can do right now that can ease your toilet troubles or even flush them away for good.

    Best part of all? You won't have to say a word!

    You just have to provide your belly with what it really needs -- as new research confirms that probiotic supplements can give you smoother moves in all the right ways, especially if you're a little older.

    Take these supplements yourself, and you could increase your bowel movements by up to 30 percent.

    That's a big improvement right out of the gate, but I believe the true benefit is even bigger.

    This new study wasn't a look at a specific probiotic blend but an analysis of nine earlier studies of seniors.

    Sometimes, combining data like that is a great way to get a look at the big picture.

    But in this case, the studies looked at different bacteria, different supplements, and different amounts, and that's not the best way to handle probiotics, as each change in both type and amount can lead to vastly different results.

    If you focus on getting the right bacteria -- and the right amount -- instead of the hit-or-miss supplements in these studies, you'll see a much bigger improvement than 30 percent.

    Odds are, the answer for you won't be in getting just a single strain of bacteria, but several of them.

    When we're born, we're given all the bacteria we need for digestion and overall good health. But as we get older, they start to get a little long in the tooth.

    In some ways, they age much more rapidly than the rest of our bodies, because years of exposure to antibiotics, poor diet, hidden toxins in food and water, and more can all take a toll on bacteria.

    What started out as an army of microbial warriors fighting for your health turns into a ragtag band facing a growing number of enemies, such as the "bad" bacteria that can disrupt your digestion and make you sick.

    A quality probiotic can give them much-needed reinforcements, but that's ONLY if you get the right strains in the right amounts.

    The new study confirms that one of the most effective is Bifidobacterium longum (which I call the "Genesis strain" because it's one of the first to colonize the gut), as well as several strains of Lactobacillus.

    Shop around carefully, and look for a quality supplement built around those essentials. In most cases, you'll enjoy so much improvement that you'll never have to worry about that "c" word again.

  3. Constipation linked to kidney disease

    Constipation isn’t just a gut problem, as the latest research shows how it can also damage your kidneys. It may even set the stage for kidney failure.
  4. Chronic constipation eased with electro-acupuncture

    Constipation is painful, debilitating and embarrassing – but new research reveals a drug-free therapy that can offer real and lasting relief.
  5. Rejected diet drug returns from the grave

    A "no" from the FDA never quite means "no" -- not when it comes to the agency's drug-industry pals, anyway. Case in point: The feds said "no" to the diet drug Contrave earlier this year over its potential for heart risk -- even after an FDA panel signed off on it.
  6. Natural solutions for gout

    Gout used to be known as "the rich man's disease" because it usually struck the wealthy -- the only ones who could afford to over-consume the foods that cause this painful form of arthritis. Today, you don't have to be rich (or even a man) to suffer from gout -- just fat. And since more people are fatter than ever before, more people are also battling the foot pain that marks this condition.

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