A Buff Neurosurgeon’s 4 Most Recommended Drugs For You, Part 2
A neurosurgeon peddling 4 recommended drugs? At 40-something years old, Dr. Brett Osborn takes drugs and is in awesome shape. Now mind you, these are not steroids or human growth hormone, but four safe and highly recommended pharmaceuticals that might let us be healthier and age better.
THE LAST time we visited Dr. Brett Osborn, his “top 10 supplements” were reviewed. That was Part 1. Now it’s time for Part 2 where the focus is on four drugs that this accomplished neurosurgeon and health nut recommends for you.
Both Parts 1 and 2 are distilled from Dr. Osborn’s highly recommended book, Get Serious, A Neurosurgeon’s Guide to Optimal Health and Wellness.
Before we dig into the four drugs recommended by Dr. Osborn, let’s detour into water.
I want to get you thoroughly wet.
Not wet on your body, but inside it. That’s because the majority of us is dehydrated and need to drink 10 to 12 cups of water every day. Doctor’s orders.
Water Does A Body Good
(Pic from the article, How To Lose More Body Fat With Water, Protein and Squats)
In his book, Get Serious, Dr. Osborn emphasizes the importance of consistent hydration, writing that even 10 to 12 cups per day in normal situations is insufficient. If you’re exerting yourself, he recommends twice the typical daily water consumption.
Hydration can affect mental and physical performance in various ways. Dr. Obsborn cites the following unpleasantries ignited by chronic dehydration:
- Impaired gastrointestinal function resulting in delayed fecal transit times and constipation.
- Increased exposure to potential carcinogens and other toxins as they remain in the gastrointestinal tract longer than necessary.
- An increased incidence of fatal coronary artery disease, stroke, hypertension, diabetes-related complications such as ketoacidosis, kidney stones and urinary tract infections.
- Dizziness brought on by abruptly standing up.
- Thin skin (literally) along with a reduced integrity and efficacy as a barrier to pathogens.
One quick way to see if you need to drink more water is to note the color of your urine. Your first void in the morning is likely to be yellow, and that’s fine, as well as after you eat or drink something. In between meals, however, your urine should be clear and pretty much odorless, unless you just took your B vitamins or other supplements that might bring vibrant color to your urine.
Recommendation: Buy a gravity-fed water filtration pitcher or canister and drink the purified water. Do not drink water from plastic water bottles unless you love estrogen-producing chemicals. (More on that here.) I use Clearly Filtered’s water pitcher and lust for Big Berkeley Water Filtration System.
Now let’s turn to Dr. Osborn’s four recommended drugs.
Quick Quiz: What are the two biggest killers in the world?
Click here for the answer.
Ischemic heart disease and cerebrovascular disease are the two biggest killers worldwide.
Ischemic heart disease is also known as coronary artery disease or “hardening of the arteries” and is characterized by reduced blood supply to the heart.
Cerebrovascular disease (typically referred to as “stroke”) is a group of conditions that cause limited or no blood flow to affected areas of the brain. Atherosclerosis is one of the conditions that can cause it.
Aspirin does two things to help prevent both of these blood circulatory oriented diseases that kill so many people, estimated by the American Heart Association to be about 17.3 million each year:
(1) The first benefit derived by aspirin is its anti-platelet (blood thinning) effects.
(2) The second benefit derived by aspirin is its anti-inflammatory properties.
Virtually every disease, particularly those associated with aging, has an inflammatory component to it. Reducing systemic inflammation, the incidence and severity of disease reduces the incidence and severity of disease.
According to Dr. Osborn, aspirin provides health-promoting effects beyond the vascular system, heart attacks and stroke. It even reduces the incidence of some cancers, as illustrated in study published in Lancet Oncology.
A news report at MedPage Today summarized the Lancet study, which concluded that regular aspirin use reduces the risk of colorectal, esophageal, gastric, biliary, and breast cancer, by nearly 40%.
Recommendation: Dr. Osborn recommends – barring contraindications (i.e. bleeding disorder or active peptic ulcer disease). — that everyone over the age of 35 take an enteric-coated baby aspirin every other day as a starting dosage. I use Kirkland Signature’s Low Dose Aspirin, 81 mg before bed.
#2 A Beta-blocker and/or Ace Inhibitor
I confess that I had no idea what these were. I don’t take pharmaceutical drugs and am largely ignorant about them. (I just begin taking aspirin after reading Dr. Osborn’s book.)
Dr. Osborn didn’t recommend a particular brand, but with Google at hand it didn’t take to long to find a long list of beta-blocker’s and ACE inhibitors with the typical pharmy names, which I’ll present in a moment, but first – why bother to consider them?
The Framingham Heart Study suggests why.
The Framingham Heart Study investigators followed thousands of men and women over several decades and found an increasing relation between systolic blood pressure (the top number in the systolic/ diastolic reading) and all-cause cardiovascular mortality.
The systolic number in a blood pressure test (whereby a pressurized cuff is put around your upper arm) measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats (when the heart muscle contracts). The diastolic number measures the pressure in the arteries between heartbeats (when the heart muscle is resting between beats and refilling with blood).
This relationship between pressure in the arteries upon heart muscle contraction (systolic) and all-cause cardiovascular mortality is not strictly linear, says Osborn, but clearly indicates that hypertension — chronic hypertension in particular — is a key promoter of the atherogenic process (the formation of fatty plaques in the arteries).
Plaque formation begins with injury to the arterial wall as a result of an increased shear force placed upon it. The response to the injury is atherogenesis with progressive arterial narrowing.
To minimize arterial injury, you need to normalize blood pressure by lowering it to the low end of the “normal” range for your age per this chart:
(Chart by Ideal Blood Pressure Info.)
Ideally, lowering your blood pressure should be attained through diet and exercise. If that doesn’t work or you’re unable or unwilling to bring it down naturally, consider a low-dose antihypertensive, says Dr. Osborn, or discuss the merits of ACE inhibitors and beta-blockers with your physician.
Whatever you do, don’t be satisfied with serial blood pressures at the high end of the “normal” range for your age group; if you can, aim for a more optimal blood pressure. And if you have high blood pressure, treat it early and aggressively.
Hypertension is a silent killer.
Recommendation: If your blood pressure is in the danger zone, go to a heart specialist and get on a beta-blocker or ACE inhibitor. If it’s just a bit high, you might try supplements containing nattokinase, an enzyme that helps to maintain healthy fibrinolytic activity and clotting function and promotes healthy circulation and blood flow. Consider Life Extension’s Fibrinogen Resist Formula with Nattokinase and/or Source Naturals’ Nattokinase.
As you may know, statin drugs can lower cholesterol levels. What you may not know, says Dr. Osborn, is that many doctors (like him) take statins, even if they have no cholesterol problems.
Back to that pernicious inflammation.
Statins happen to be potent anti-inflammatory agents. Remember that inflammation is the bane of healthy aging – it underpins nearly every disease, especially those that hurry us to the grave.
Dr. Osborn believes that the anti-inflammatory benefits derived from statins are sufficient to induce you to discuss it with your doctor, as well as the side effects, such as muscle aches, memory loss, drug-induced hepatitis and statin-associated neuropathies.
Yes, he listed all those bad boy side effects, but still feels statins are worth considering given their typically positive impact on inflammation and cholesterol.
Speaking of cholesterol, which we must do given the topic at hand is “statins”, Dr. Obsorn’s view is that cholesterol has been vilified by the pharmaceutical industry, specifically by those companies manufacturing (and profiting from) statins. For a variety of reasons, he says, statins are not the panacea they’ve been touted to be clinically (when analyzing outcome data). Yet they do aggressively lower cholesterol by inhibiting the “rate-limiting step in cholesterol synthesis”.
I really don’t know what that means, but I can tell you that Osborn uses statins to maintain an LDL (the so-called “bad” cholesterol) of 100 to 110 mg/ dL and to drive his CRP (serum inflammatory marker) down to nearly zero.
(From Good Cholesterol.)
The worrisome point regarding LDL is genetics – some us have difficulty reaching a healthy LDL target due to our genes rather than diet. What you don’t want to happen is to have oxidized LDL substrate or atherogenic LDL.
Native LDL unto itself is harmless (particularly the pattern A subtype); it is the oxidized LDL particle that causes problems; therefore, keeping oxidative stress in check is more important than your “cholesterol number.”
As we are burdened by and bombarded with oxidative stress daily, our antioxidant systems may be overwhelmed (hence the need for supplements) and LDL particles oxidized. And thus, Dr. Osborn utilizes statins with the intention of lowering his LDL to “target” levels (100 to 110 mg/ dL ) and increases his HDL (the “good” cholesterol) by taking niacin.
Warning: If your doctor wants you on statins and you choose to take them, you must supplement with CoQ-10 in the ubiquinol form. This will reduce the incidence of muscle-related side-effects (pain and dysfunction). You may know someone who developed leg pain after being placed on statins and stopped the medication. CoQ-10/ubiquinol might have relieved them of this side-effect and allowed continuation of statins.
Recommendation: Take 200 mg Ubiquinol daily should you choose to use a statin; don’t even start the statin otherwise, says Osborn. Try Life Extension’s Super Ubiquinol CoQ10.
Yes, metformin is a diabetic drug, and a good one at that.
Metformin (generic name: “Glucophage”) increases insulin sensitivity, and thereby reduces the insulin signal; a good thing. Yes, you need insulin, but just the right amount. Too many of us develop insulin desensitivity due to consuming too much sugary foods, and that means the pancreas has to produce more than normal insulin to do the job of shuttling blood sugar into our cells for energy, or storing it in fat tissue.
Excess insulin is associated with type II diabetes, atherosclerotic disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and hypertension. Reducing the insulin signal makes us healthier, leaner and, secondarily reduces inflammation in animal models, and likely in humans as well, given the anti-tumoral effects metformin has on a variety of cancers.
Dr. Osborn thinks that one day metformin will be relaunched as an anti-aging drug, something I delved into in Do These Two Anti-aging Pills Really Work? His view is informed by the science that says metformin does more than affect insulin signaling pathway; when it comes to anti-aging, it mimics the effect of caloric restriction, the only proven means of increasing the healthy lifespan of primates.
By reducing the insulin signal and therefore the risk of cancer, diabetes, vascular disease and obesity, metformin will likely have similar effects in humans.
In his case, Dr. Osborn is not waiting for the final test, the final verdict. He’s been using metformin for years and has not experienced a single untoward effect.
As I wrote in this post about metformin, Scottish aging expert Professor Gordon Lithgow said:
If you target an ageing process and you slow down ageing then you slow down all the diseases and pathology of ageing as well. That’s revolutionary. That’s never happened before.
I have been doing research into ageing for 25 years and the idea that we would be talking about a clinical trial in humans for an anti-ageing drug would have been though inconceivable. But there is every reason to believe it’s possible.
The future is taking the biology that we’ve now developed and applying it to humans. 20 years ago ageing was a biological mystery. Now we are starting to understand what is going on.
He and Dr. Obsorn are not alone in their praise and high expectations for metformin. One of the leading anti-aging medical doctors in the world, Dr. Ward Dean, puts it this way in a conversation with Phil Micans, PharmB, Vice President of IAS:
… as we age, we are all becoming diabetic, and some of us are just more diabetic than others. I consider Metformin to be a ‘metabolic rejuvenator.’ It actually restores our ability to handle carbohydrates to a more youthful state. In addition to normalizing blood sugar and insulin, it lowers cortisol, helps to normalize blood pressure, lowers cholesterol and triglycerides, stimulates the release of growth hormone, and enhances the immune system.
Even though it’s so highly touted as a recommended drug that we should all consider taking in the second half of life, I’m personally not ready for metformin, mostly because I’m up to my eyeballs in researching and writing my book. My intention, however, is to dig deeper and perhaps try it in the future.
You, however, might want to ask your doctor about it.
Recommendation: Try a starting dosage of metformin of 500 mg twice daily. You must supplement with additional B vitamins, particularly B12 and folate, says Dr. Osborn, though he doesn’t elaborate. You can’t reliably purchase metformin online without a prescription, but MegaFood Balanced B Complex is worth checking out for your B12 and folate.
And with that, so ends Part 2. If you haven’t done so already, read about the supplements Dr. Osborn recommends in A Buff Neurosurgeon’s Top 10 Supplements Recommended For You, Part 1.
Thanks for reading, and if you have any questions or comments suspend your shyness and type them in below.