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  1. Opioid painkillers linked to low testosterone levels

    Painkillers linked to sex problems

    One day, you're battling back pain. The next, it's everything from memory loss to physical weakness to erection problems and low testosterone levels.

    "Well, that's it," you might think to yourself. "I guess I'm just falling apart!"

    I can't tell you how often I've heard that from my own patients, especially first-timers who've come to me after getting nowhere with a mainstream doctor. And if you've ever felt that way yourself, I have some good news for you today: You're not falling apart.

    In fact, the problem may not even be you at all.

    It's your meds -- because the painkillers given for chronic conditions such as back pain can lead to a downward spiral of poor health, and new research shows how it can even ruin your sex life.

    Men who take opioid painkillers such as hydrocodone and oxycodone have a 50 percent higher risk of both low testosterone levels and bedroom problems, according to the study of 11,327 men with back pain.

    It doesn't take long before those risks kick in, either -- just three months of normal use. And for the highest doses (120 mg of morphine-equivalent drugs per day or more), those risks kick in almost immediately, according to the study in the journal Spine.

    But low testosterone levels and bedroom problems are risks you don't have to face yourself.

    In many cases, opioid painkillers aren't even necessary in the first place. I find that nondrug treatments such as acupuncture, natural anti-inflammatories, and cold laser can often bring real and lasting pain relief.

    (Prescription meds such as opioid painkillers kill more Americans than illegal drugs. Shocked? Click here to learn more.)

    And in the rare cases where opioid drugs are needed, they should be restricted to the lowest dose for the shortest period to prevent low testosterone-- a stopgap measure to manage severe pain while you and your doctor work on finding and correcting the cause of your pain.

    Of course, even if you take no painkillers at all, you could still find yourself battling low testosterone levels and everything that comes along with it -- including erection problems, memory loss, and general weakness.

    So if you're on one of these drugs and you feel like you're falling apart (or worse) don't worry, a holistic physician can put you back together with a natural testosterone replacement regimen. And if you're in the Southern California area, I can help -- because I happen to run one of the most complete hormone testing and treatment programs around.

    Contact my clinic at 855-DOC-MARK for more information or to make an appointment.

  2. Medical marijuana can limit pain meds

    This one's bound to make some pretty big waves: Yet another new study backs marijuana for medicinal purposes in a big way.

    This time, researchers have found that pot can not only help beat pain -- as people who already take it for that purpose, legally and illegally, have been saying all along -- but it may even help steer patients away from dangerous and addictive painkillers.

    And that includes the meds responsible for some of society's biggest drug problems: opioid painkillers.

    Twenty-one chronic pain patients who were already taking either long-acting morphine or long-acting oxycodone were given marijuana vaporizers to use for five days -- in a hospital, where they could be carefully monitored in case any complications arose.

    Researchers were especially worried that the pot might boost levels of opioids in the blood to dangerous levels. In reality, it led to no changes at all -- while delivering 33 percent more pain relief to the morphine patients and 20 percent more pain relief to the oxycodone patients.

    The patients didn't experience any major side effects, beyond feeling "high" after getting their marijuana dose.

    No one in the study actually took fewer meds -- but since the patients were already growing more resistant to their opioid painkillers and got extra relief from marijuana, the indication is that eventually they could cut back on the meds if they were allowed to stick with the pot.

    Of course, the study does have its problems: It didn't have a placebo, for one. And it was small -- but size is almost always a problem when it comes to studies on medical marijuana.

    Researchers simply can't get the funding they need for bigger studies since marijuana isn't exactly popular with the folks who control the purse strings.

    But the studies we do have are pretty clear: Medical marijuana comes with some very real benefits... and minimal risk.

    Despite what you've heard, it's not even addictive in most cases. Sure, people can overdo it -- but that's a risk we already take each day with every drug already on the market (especially opioid painkillers).

    This isn't a popular opinion, but it's a scientific one -- not to mention a humane one: For some conditions, especially chronic pain, marijuana is safe and effective -- and that means it should also be legal.

  3. Avoid the "new" aspirin

    The one-time wonder drug -- Bayer even uses "wonderdrug.com" to promote its nonsensical aspirin myths -- has fallen on hard times as Americans turn to more powerful painkillers.

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