Monday, February 11, 2013

Procalm* (for Proclam*)

When it comes to keeping one's cool, I am definitely, completely, 100% pro-calm. Got a problem with that? Okay, good, good. Because calm is good. Although pharmacologically induced "calm," maybe not so much. There were five hits on Procalm* in OhioLINK today, and 42 in WorldCat, which is duly noted, but hardly worth issuing a proclamation over, especially since two were for a drug called Procalmadiol. I feel distinctly un-calm just trying to suss out how to pronounce that "word": I keep hearing comedy in there. Which in a way seems appropriate when you consider all those scarily absurd TV ads where the side effects of the remedy are worse than the symptoms of the malady, or where the drug itself sometimes causes the very condition it's supposed to cure. This is true of antidepressants like Prozac (provoking suicidal or homicidal "ideation"), along with numerous other nostrums, like the ever-popular cholesterol-lowering statins. Fully one in four Americans over the age of 45 is currently on a statin drug to help prevent heart attacks, which are commonly believed to be caused by high cholesterol. (Although this may be a case of which comes first, the chicken or the eggs, if you'll pardon the pun.) There's a recent push to start giving them to kids as well. Admittedly, this whole cholesterol mishegas is really confusing, but here are a few things you probably should know. Firstly, your numbers mean almost nothing in and of themselves. It's all about the ratios between them. Secondly, there's no such thing as "bad" cholesterol per se. LDL is only bad when the particles are small and dense; you want them large and "fluffy." (Ask your doctor about the mysterious VAP test.) Also, cholesterol that's too low (although what constitutes "high" and "low" in this regard is an ever-shifting matter of debate) can actually bode far worse in terms of overall mortality. Finally, for the millions of people who take these drugs every day, some say it's important to supplement with Coenzyme Q10. That's because statins deplete your body's natural reserves of this important element, and too-low levels have been shown to actually promote things like heart disease and diabetes. Check with your health practitioner, especially if you have other conditions that are being treated with prescription drugs, but you might want to give it a try. Generally speaking, you should avoid statins if possible (doctors recommend you keep taking them if you've already suffered a heart attack), and load up instead on the dietary cholesterol and healthy fats found in eggs, olives, coconuts, avocados, nuts, seeds, sardines, organ meats, and so on.

(Many folks get all worked up while encountering other cars and drivers, so this seeming reminder to stay calm is a welcome one, although it actually refers more to the flow of traffic than the ticked-off motorists who get stuck in it. From Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

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