The 25 Murki­est Meds

Some deal stealth dam­age, oth­ers sim­ply fail to jus­tify a spot in your stash. We pre­scribe swot­ting up on the sci­ence

Men's Health (UK) - - The Best & Worst Drugs For Men 2018 -


Staving off your legs-day DOMS by dos­ing up on anti-in­flam­ma­to­ries comes with un­ex­pected side ef­fects. Swedish sci­en­tists found that gym-go­ers who took a stan­dard 24-hour dose for eight weeks ex­pe­ri­enced half as much mus­cle growth as a con­trol group, plus gained less strength. That’s gotta hurt.


Though com­monly sold as a testos­terone-booster, this plant has been shown to have no real ef­fect in tests, ac­cord­ing to Wake For­est Bap­tist Med­i­cal Cen­ter. Not to men­tion there have been two re­ports of liver and kid­ney tox­i­c­ity in young men tak­ing overzeal­ous doses. Dis­re­gard the bro sci­en­tists.


The anti-anx­i­ety drug is widely pre­scribed in the US and ever more pop­u­lar on the Bri­tish black market, of­ten coun­ter­feit or laced with painkillers. The char­ity Ad­dac­tion has seen many cases of peo­ple over­dos­ing, par­tic­u­larly when mix­ing it with al­co­hol – which will do any­thing but chill you out.


Gov­ern­ment agen­cies have seized mil­lions of pounds worth of il­le­gal fat-loss pills in the past five years, the ma­jor­ity of which con­tain this in­gre­di­ent. Sibu­tramine re­duces ap­petite, sure, but it has also been linked to heart at­tacks, strokes and con­sti­pa­tion. That’s not a healthy compromise.


We’ll spare you any lec­tures on the evils of so­cial smok­ing – nico­tine patches and gums are in­creas­ingly be­ing used as men­tal sharp­en­ers, due to their stim­u­lant prop­er­ties. But, while there’s some ev­i­dence to sup­port this, the drug has also been shown to in­ter­fere with hor­mone bal­ance.


Has the sup­ple­ments in­dus­try been oil­ing a few palms? A re­cent meta-re­view of 79 tri­als found that omega-3 oils of­fer lit­tle ben­e­fit to car­dio­vas­cu­lar health when taken in cap­sule form. It’s also not es­pe­cially eco-friendly com­pared to eat­ing, say, an oily fish. We’d ad­vise keep­ing it real.


Any chem­i­cal once used in mil­i­tary ex­plo­sives isn’t fit for con­sump­tion in our books – and 2,4-dini­tro­phe­nol is no ex­cep­tion. Later sold as a fat­loss drug, and sub­se­quently made il­le­gal, its side ef­fects in­clude dizzi­ness, over­heat­ing and even death. Boom.


These com­pounds are cre­ated when your body starts burn­ing its fat for fuel, and ke­tone pills have re­port­edly been used by le Tour cy­clists look­ing to steal an edge. How­ever, Fron­tiers in Phys­i­ol­ogy found they can ham­per per­for­mance. Not ideal for climb­ing Alpe d’huez.


Be­fore you file this one un­der “no shit”, al­low us to ex­plain. Heart con­cerns aside, stud­ies sug­gest that even those who use a non-de­pen­dent 1-5g a month are more an­ti­so­cial and self-cen­tred than peo­ple who don’t par­take. You’ll be more awake but far less woke.

Ac­ti­vated char­coal

You may have seen it pushed as a liver detox­i­fier; some­times in pill form, of­ten in­fused into hip­ster soft drinks. But, while it may ex­or­cise the evils of the night be­fore, it has a dark side, in­hibit­ing the ab­sorp­tion of nu­tri­ents, an­tiox­i­dants and even some pre­scrip­tion meds.


A catch-all term for za­le­plon, zolpi­dem and zopi­clone – all of which, ap­pro­pri­ately, help you catch more Zs. Ac­cord­ing to a Univer­sity of East Anglia study, they sig­nif­i­cantly in­crease the like­li­hood of bone frac­tures, while re­views have linked them to car crashes.


This tree bark ex­tract is of­ten sold as a fat-loss aid or a drug to “strengthen mas­culin­ity” and “ig­nite pas­sion” (not our choice of phras­ing). How­ever, side ef­fects in­clude high blood pres­sure, anx­i­ety and – in one odd study – al­co­hol crav­ings. You’d have to be bark­ing.


An opi­oid up to 50 times more pow­er­ful than heroin – which is a ter­ri­fy­ing thought in it­self – fen­tanyl is near im­pos­si­ble to self-in­ject in safely judged doses. The Na­tional Crime Agency re­ported that the drug caused more than 60 deaths within an eight-month pe­riod.


Con­trary to pop­u­lar be­lief, dos­ing up on Ca pills won’t bul­let­proof your skele­ton. A Cam­bridge Univer­sity study found no link be­tween cal­cium in­take and bone loss in men. You’d be bet­ter off achiev­ing this with ply­o­met­ric moves in the gym. Jump to it.

Mary Joy

With cannabis oil edg­ing closer to le­gal­i­sa­tion, we might soon be able chill out about weed. But be­ware of mis­tak­ing it for man-made al­ter­na­tives. Sold un­der var­i­ous names, syn­thetic cannabi­noids can cause mem­ory loss. Medic­i­nal it ain’t.


Ear­lier this year, a Bri­tish man was the first to be di­ag­nosed with su­per-gon­or­rhoea – not ex­actly great trivia for his Tin­der bio. New strains seem re­sis­tant to the an­tibi­otic treat­ment azithromycin, cast­ing doubt on the drug’s ef­fec­tive­ness. Play safe.


This post-party pill is touted as a nat­u­ral liver detox­i­fier. The prob­lem is in­sta­bil­ity – the nu­tri­ent’s, that is, not your own. When ex­tracted as a supp, sul­foraphane be­comes in­ac­tive and in­ef­fec­tive. Get your dose from kale, cauli and kohlrabi in­stead.


This steroid-alike was ini­tially de­vel­oped to treat asthma… in horses. Since adopted as a per­for­mance en­hancer, it has led to the ban of mul­ti­ple New Zealand rugby play­ers. It’s also been linked to an en­largen­ing of the heart. Not the kind of hy­per­tro­phy you want.

Myo­statin in­hibitors

These drugs – de­vel­oped to treat mus­cle wastage – take off the body’s brakes when it comes to adding bulk. In mice stud­ies, side ef­fects in­cluded brit­tle ten­dons and a higher in­jury risk. Need­less to say, it’s on the naughty list of the World Anti-dop­ing Agency (WADA).


While pop­ping an en­er­gis­ing B vit af­ter an all-nighter might func­tion as a psy­cho­log­i­cal prop, don’t make it too much of a habit. The Jour­nal of Clin­i­cal On­col­ogy linked long-term use to a 30% higher lung can­cer risk among male smok­ers. We’ll stick to Be­rocca.

Mon­key dust

Use of this ridicu­lously monikered Class B drug, also known as MDPV, is on the climb among young peo­ple. A stim­u­lant that can be swal­lowed or snorted, it has also been linked to vi­o­lent, para­noid and – ac­cord­ing to po­lice – “highly un­pre­dictable” be­hav­iour. Don’t go ba­nanas.


A grow­ing body of ev­i­dence sup­ports the fact that the placebo ef­fect is very, very real. Which some­what ex­plains why we’re all still mer­rily pop­ping 70 parac­eta­mol tablets a year, de­spite a Cochrane re­view re­veal­ing the drugs don’t work. At all.


How’s this for cold com­fort? The nasal de­con­ges­tant found in many over-the-counter medicines is no bet­ter than a placebo, ac­cord­ing to a Jour­nal of Allergy and Clin­i­cal Im­munol­ogy: In Prac­tice study – even when used at four times the usual dosage. It’s a find­ing not to be sniffed at.


Ac­cord­ing to WADA, HIFS are es­sen­tially the new EPOS. “Hy­poxia-in­ducible fac­tor” drugs, some­times re­ferred to as “oxy­gen in a pill form”, have a sim­i­lar func­tion, rais­ing your lev­els of red blood cells to help boost your stamina. They’re un­reg­u­lated and the risks are un­known – so steer well clear.

Oral SPF

Ap­ply­ing sun cream, even in the cooler months, is proven to slow skin age­ing. But just be­cause it’s te­dious, it doesn’t mean you should seek out short cuts. Sun­pro­tec­tion pills were re­cently de­nounced by the FDA for “putting peo­ple at risk” with un­proven claims. That’s throw­ing some shade.


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