Electronic Design

What's All This Doctoring Stuff, Anyhow? (Part 2)

As I said a couple of weeks ago, "You may be the best doctor for you. Or, you may be the worst doctor for you. I can't tell you, but maybe I can help you figure it out." You should at least think about this, because you may need some doctoring when no doctor is around.

Ibuprofen: A long time ago, I got back spasms after some repetitive motions. These painful spasms stayed on for over a month, and no medicine seemed to help. One day I took a 600-mg pill of the new Ibuprofen. Wham, the spasms went away. I was impressed!

Recently, a friend gave me advice on Ibuprofen: "Don't take one pill at a time. Take three at once." I was reminded of this recently when I had a bum elbow. First, I stopped the motion that caused the pain. I'd tried one Ibuprofen pill every two hours—that did nothing. But when I took three pills (600 mg), the elbow pain magically subsided by about 40 dB, and then it went away.

How come? I asked our company nurse. She asked a wise pharmacist who stated that at low levels, 200 mg (one pill) per two hours, Ibuprofen is just an analgesic. But if 600 mg is taken at a time (every six hours), it becomes an anti-inflammatory too. This large dose also seems to be good at relaxing tense muscles that strain at cross-purposes, and various joint pains. This is NOT well documented in the Ibuprofen handout literature available to laymen. Your M.D. might not even know this, if you ask. H'mm. So—people are nonlinear, and/or Ibuprofen is nonlinear.

Now, taking a lot of Ibuprofen may not be good for the lining of your stomach. It can be about as bad for your stomach as large doses of aspirin and similar drugs. Refer to www.rxlist.com/cgi/generic/ibup_wcp.htm. If this doesn't scare you from ever taking Ibuprofen, I don't know what will! For me, I know that Ibuprofen can do a lot of good, and almost no harm. I don't have to worry about every caution raised by lawyers!

Therefore, taking a large dose might not be good for you, especially if you do it repeatedly. But if it actually gives you a big improvement, you might be able to take one big dose and then stop—which isn't such a bad idea!

Magnesium: When I was camped up at 17,100 ft at Gorak Shep, just below Everest Base Camp, I noticed that my heart would occasionally skip a beat. You're lying there at midnight, wishing you could get back to sleep—and you hear a skip when you expected a heart-beat to come. The Mountain Medicine book says there's nothing surprising or wrong with this if it only happens once or twice per minute. It's just a fact that this happens at high altitudes.

I looked in a few conventional medical books. One termed this a "premature contraction." That's baloney, as it's obviously a skipped contraction. If a doctor tells you something stupid, you don't have to believe it. Remember what Mark Twain said: "Be careful reading medical books. You might die of a mis-print."

I discovered that sleeping even at 10,000 ft could cause skipped heartbeats, especially if you drink red wine or beer; or coffee, tea, or something else with caffeine; or any combination of these. They all tend to have an additive effect. Furthermore, it's not the alcohol that does it, because the skipping can start many hours after the alcohol is gone.

Then a friend said that he was taking magnesium to prevent skipped heartbeats. A special type of chelated magnesium was the only kind that worked for him. It had taken a long time for his doctors to figure out this solution. I bought some ordinary drugstore magnesium pills. They were effective in chasing away the skipping problem, within about two hours. So if you're going to sleep above 10,000 ft, of course it's a good idea to cut down on caffeine and alcohol in general. But if you happen to have a skipped-beat problem, try a couple of 250-mg tablets of magnesium oxide. Some people agree that it works.

Books that encourage the use of supplements say potassium and magnesium are "important for good heart function." But they're vague about what pills might treat which problems. As with other "treatments," if you try some magnesium and it works, ask your M.D. why it works. If it doesn't work, ask your M.D. why it failed. If it causes side effects, stop at once and inquire.

I'm not going to be any publisher or clearinghouse for medical advice. But there are some good ideas about medicine out there. Letting the laymen comment on things that seem to work well could be more helpful than just asking your M.D. It's not fair to expect doctors to know everything.

All for now. / Comments invited!
RAP / Robert A. Pease / Engineer
[email protected]—or:

Mail Stop D2597A
National Semiconductor
P.O. Box 58090
Santa Clara, CA 95052-8090

This discussion is just related to my reasons for and my choices of when it's a good time to be taking certain over-the-counter supplements. Using your own judgement to make your own personal choice is always your right. But be aware that over-the-counter medications can adversely interact with some prescription drugs you may be taking. Don't do anything suggested here without checking with your doctor first—and don't do it unless it also makes good sense to you. /rap

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