Colorado and Washington are the first states to legalize recreational marijuana.  In my state of Colorado, Amendment 64 was passed by 55 percent of voters by ballot referendum last year and took effect on January 1 of this year.  State government officials are giddy with the prospects of increased revenue from marijuana sales.  Marijuana tourism is booming in Colorado, giving new meaning to “Rocky Mountain High.”  Now, four months into this new experiment, it may be worth looking ...

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It’s another Monday morning at the substance abuse clinic. It is my turn as the doctor in the black swivel chair in the corner office overlooking a half-vacant strip mall. Today’s first inductee is a pregnant 22-year-old with track marks on her forearms. Her obstetrician and case worker at the Department of Human Services made her come. It is obvious she is less than thrilled. “How long have you been doing opiates?” ...

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How crazy is it to drug babies? It was shocking enough to discover that 20% of teenage boys get labelled as having ADHD, and 10% are on stimulant medications for it.  That 11% of all kids aged 4-18 get the diagnosis of ADHD, and 6% the drugs.  That stimulant prescriptions and pharma profits are skyrocketing all around the world.  And that ADHD guidelines encourage making the diagnosis and starting the drugs ...

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The United States of America is addicted to narcotics.  I do not mean the millions of individuals who are hooked.  I mean the whole nation is jonesing for the stuff.  I also do not mean the junk that slips into our nation in coffee cans or across midnight borders.  I mean the billions of pills pouring off assembly lines.  I could blame pharma or the FDA, but the truth is ...

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I was recently on the Katie Couric Show to discuss integrative medicine. Somewhat ironically, I returned from Manhattan that same day to a waiting email from a colleague, forwarding me a rather excoriating critique of integrative medicine and asking me for my opinion. The juxtaposition, it turns out, was something other than happenstance. The Cleveland Clinic has recently introduced the use of herbal medicines as an option for its ...

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I give what could be lethal injections for a living. That’s right. Nearly every day I give someone an injection of midazolam, vecuronium, and an IV solution containing potassium chloride–the three drugs in the “cocktail” that was supposed to kill convicted murderer Clayton Lockett quickly and humanely in Oklahoma. Here’s the difference between an executioner and me. I use those medications as they are intended to be used, giving anesthesia to my ...

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I get asked a lot about essential oils.  I answer very little. Why? The answer is simply that we don’t know much about how or if they work.  Except from stories about how they have helped certain people in certain situations, no one has done a large studies to truly evaluate their effectiveness or safety. The main explanation for why they are used is that people (parents) are simply looking for something that’s an alternative to ...

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It is noteworthy how certain vital and effective generic drugs for common diseases have become exorbitantly expensive. We are use to new pharmaceutical brands costing a small fortune. But generics, one of which goes back to use in Egyptian times? Really? Allopurinol and asthma inhalers that are cheap but effective medications have become unaffordable to those that need it the most: Simply stated, those that can't breathe and those that ...

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In November of last year the American Heart Association released to recommendations on who should be taking statins (drugs like Lipitor/atorvastatin), the most common medicines we use to control cholesterol levels. High cholesterol levels are associated with higher risk of heart attacks and strokes, and taking statins, which lower cholesterol, can reduce those risks. The drugs have pretty significant side effects, though, and not everyone with high cholesterol or ...

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Every year, it is estimated that more than 126,000 hospitalizations and nearly 17,000 deaths in this country are linked to overuse of over-the-counter (OTC) pain medicine ingredients -- specifically acetaminophen and NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). In my own practice, it’s not uncommon to find patients who are taking two to four times the recommended doses. This can have tragic results. Recently, we had a young woman with liver failure. She had been ...

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