Traditionally prescribed as a treatment for heroin addiction and alcoholism, naltrexone has been in the news a lot lately, as a treatment for ailments from kleptomania to fibromyalgia. Since it’s approval by the FDA in 1984, the drug has been used in low doses as an immune system booster helpful for diseases like HIV, pancreatic cancer, melanoma and ALS, it’s been studied as a treatment for Crohn’s disease, and the Internet is awash with testimony about it’s effectiveness in treating multiple sclerosis. So is naltrexone really a potential panacea, or just the latest flavor of the month wonder drug?

Naltrexone, marketed as Revia and Depade, is an opioid antagonist, meaning it blocks the opioid receptors that are activated by heroin use. Put simply, it’s a feel bad pill preventing users from feeling the enjoyable high of heroin, thereby discouraging use. It works in a similar, if less well understood, fashion in the treatment of alcoholism and kleptomania, killing the ‘top of the world’ buzz of booze and inhibiting the giddy, naughty high often associated with petty theft.

What’s even less clear, and significantly less studied, is the effect of the very low doses of naltrexone (4.5 mg daily, as opposed to the 50mg dose prescribed for addiction treatment) that some MS sufferers swear by and which may hold promise for treating the chronic pain associated with fibromyalgia. The treatment, first offered by New York neurologist Dr. Bernard Bihari, is being studied around the world, from Italian studies of it’s use in treating MS to an ong0ing Penn State clinical trial testing the drug’s effects on patients suffering from Crohn’s. 

But for right now, many neurologists and medical practitioners remain rightly skeptical of the drugs veritable rainbow of supposed uses. There remains a lot of research to do on why a drug that was meant to block the high of opium would combat everything from central nervous system pain to lymphatic cancer. And while it’s certainly interesting to hear people’s personal experiences with the drug (especially well documented accounts by reasonably well qualified individuals), it’s going to take years more of looking into the why and how for the medical community to believe there is a pill can treat multiple sclerosis and Internet porn addiction in one fell swoop.

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People suffering from fibromyalgia are big winners this week, thanks to wonder drug naltrexone. Usually used in the treatment of alcoholism or heroin addiction, the drug has recently proven effective in treating kleptomania by numbing the giddy high associated with compulsive theft. Recent studies indicate that naltrexone, which acts on receptors in the brain, may also be effective in treating the chronic pain associated with fibromyalgia and may also strengthen evidence that the disease is one of the brain and nervous system, rather than the musculoskeletal condition it has previously been understood as.

While Hulk Hogan is more famous for dealing out pain than suffering  from it, he’s a winner this week, too. Why? Because he didn’t brutally murder his wife and her lover! And according to an article in Rolling Stone this week, he really goddamned wanted to. But you see, he didn’t! You know why?  

Hogan, proudly sporting the Not Killing My Wife Championship Belt

Hogan, proudly sporting the 'Not Killing My Wife' Championship Belt

Because he is a Real American! Gold Star, Hulkster!

Americans who don’t drive are also among this weeks winners, thanks to a spate of stories, the most notable being the Obama administrations new plans for connecting America with high speed rail lines.Life may be getting more convenient and safer for pedestrians with the introduction of a collision system for cars that acts like an airbag for pedestrians. Even people who want to be pedestrians but can’t could be getting in on the act, thanks to Honda’s Robolegs, which will not only be a mobility assisting boon to the elderly or disabled, but provide a completely unfair advantage to users in dance contests. Unless it’s a dance contest against this guy.

Though Seattle is a winner in getting a piece of the planned high speed rail system, the Emerald City has more than it’s fair share of losers this week, starting with the city’s skyline. While buildings constructed after 1994 will probably not crumble and slide into the Puget Sound in the event of a serious earthquake, those built prior to the more strict building codes will probably not be so lucky when a major quake hits the region. Seattle’s buildings aren’t the only things in town whose stability is being called into question, as the city continues to feel the economic pinch with Seattle based companies Onvia and Targeted Genetics both being threatened with delisting by the NASDAQ Stock Exchange.

I know it’s not nice to pick on people who can’t defend themselves, but hey – fetuses aren’t people. And thanks to the prenatal effects of Hong Kong flu and methamphetamine on the developing brains of fetuses, people getting dumber with each passing generation might go from a myth bandied about by the elderly to science fact.

Despite promising results from an electrical implant that could provide relief from a lifetime of embarassment, the incontinent find themselves once again lumped in with the rest of the losers. Because they’re incontinent.

But hey, things could be worse. They could be small, hairy, flightless birds who are getting eaten en masse by weasels imported to New Zealand in the 19th century to combat the plague of rabbits the island had unwittingly unleashed upon itself. Then they’d be kiwis.

Kiwis who pee themselves.