Health Tips: Malevolent munchies

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Cheech and Chong may have wasted their ill-spent youth “Up in Smoke.” But they didn’t have a clue about the kind of edible marijuana treats that would flood the marketplace in their old age. In the 1960s, there were only homemade hash brownies, thanks to “The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook” with the recipe for Hashish Fudge. These days there are marijuana-infused cookies, gummies, hard candies, pizza, chips, trail mix, ice cream, sodas, coffees, teas, energy drinks and condiments. 

As lighthearted as that all sounds, docs writing in the Canadian Medical Association Journal are sounding the alarm, since folks are not aware that ingested pot can take up to four hours to make its effects felt -- so you eat and eat, trying to get a buzz, and end up overdosing. The effects can linger for up to eight hours, impairing driving, thinking and walking for a long, long time. 

Add to that the risk that pets and kids will gobble down the treats and end up poisoned by the toxic levels of THC they contain. An adult serving of an edible might be one gummy bear (that equals one joint), or one square of chocolate. A kid or pet might eat a bunch or a whole bar and experience dizziness, paranoia, anxiety, hallucinations, difficulty breathing and panic attacks.

So if you’re somewhere that edibles are legal (11 states allow recreational marijuana and 20 OK medical pot), be cautious when ingesting or skip it altogether! Always make sure you keep them away from kids and pets! 

New low-T treatment guidelines

Joe Rogan, 52, actor and host of the hyper-popular podcast “The Joe Rogan Experience,” has proudly declared that he’s been on testosterone replacement therapy since his late 30s. It is, he says, his way to counter so-called male menopause.

A sign of the times! Prescriptions for testosterone therapy among men 40 and older have more than tripled in the past decade.

Now, low testosterone is a real condition -- even though for most guys testosterone declines only by about 2% annually from age 40 to 70. But taking testosterone when your level isn’t measurably low (you need two tests taken before 10 a.m. to confirm it) and/or you don’t have symptoms of hormone deficiency may (it’s not certain) unnecessarily increase your risk for cardiovascular disease, prostate woes and more. But TRT does increase potential clotting. So if you go on it, ask your doc about taking it with a low-dose aspirin and about contraindications with other meds or supplements you’re taking.

Who needs TRT? The American College of Physicians says treatment for guys with age-related low testosterone levels is not an effective way to improve energy, physical function or cognition. But, for some it might cause a slight improvement in sexual/erectile function. Also, they say the real cause of sexual dysfunction is often chronic illness, medications or obesity. Addressing those problems should be your first move. 

So talk to your doc about the possible reasons for your lack of vitality and/or sexual dysfunction, and if you go on TRT, get re-evaluated after 12 months. 

Put your tongue on a diet (to improve your sleep)

The Romanian Tongue Twister is a fantasy gymnastics routine in an animated short called “Tongue Tied” on YouTube. The daring move propels a frog-man creature (or at least his tongue) to a coveted gold medal -- and sends his Eastern European rival into a life-long funk. 

Unusually large tongues can do that apparently, according to researchers from Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. In their recent study they found that in obese folks, a fat tongue is a main cause of obstructive sleep apnea, a condition in which a person’s breathing stops and starts, causing them to wake up sporadically all night long. It can trigger a life-long funk (aka depression), heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, stroke and dementia. 

They also found that putting your tongue on a diet can improve obstructive sleep apnea. Using MRIs to look at study participants’ upper airways, the researchers found that when obese folks lost around 10% of their body weight, the resulting reduction in tongue fat is what improved their symptoms dramatically. 

So, check your tongue: Open wide. Stick your tongue all the way out while looking in a mirror. Can you see your entire uvula (the dangly thing hanging down from the top of your mouth)? If not, you have a too-large tongue, and it may be triggering or worsening your obstructive sleep apnea. Talk to your doc about tongue exercises -- really -- and a realistic weight-loss program. In addition, discuss using a mandibular repositioning appliance, which helps reposition the tongue, and a continuous positive airway pressure device, also called a CPAP machine.

Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit www.sharecare.com.

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