Pharmacology

Everyone loves D, the sunshine vitamin. Doctors, patients and the media have been enamored with vitamin D supplements for decades. As well as their clear benefit in curing severe vitamin D deficiencies, endless headlines hail their magical ability to reduce a vast range of conditions from dementia to cancer.

Medical specialists such as myself have been promoting supplements to our patients with osteoporosis and other bone problems for decades.

Folic acid has long been touted as an important supplement for expectant mothers, to prevent defects in the baby’s developing brain and spinal cord. It is added as a supplement to breads, pastas, rice and cereals to help ensure that women are exposed to sufficient amounts of this nutrient even before they know they’re pregnant.

psychedelic drugs via shutterstock

LSD (Lysergic acid diethylamide), ecstasy (MDMA), magic mushrooms (psilocybin) and marijuana have long been designated as drugs of abuse, but they didn't start out that way.

Epigenetics is spreading its wings out to the painkiller world, at least in an animal model. Of course, it is well-known that just about everything has been linked to causing cancer in rats. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has studied hundreds and hundreds of compounds and only one substance has been placed into group 4 (probably not carcinogenic) so if your name gets mentioned in a meeting, you are going to be found to cause cancer.

So don't worry just yet. Unless you are raising money for an environmental group or work at a law group, there is a huge gas between rats and humans. 


There are not many "nicotine naïve" teens using e-cigarettes - who have never tried cigarettes - but of those few who do, they are more likely to try the real thing a year later than those who have never vaped, indicates survey results in the journal Tobacco Control.

However, subsequent regular smoking is linked only to higher levels of e-cigarette use at the outset, which sends statistical experts into all kinds of alarm.


Ayahuasca, known by various names by different indigenous groups in South America, is a generic term commonly associated with preparations of the mildly psychoactive vine Banisteriopsis caapi.

Ayahuasca literally translates from the Quechua language of the North Andes as “soul vine” or “vine of the dead” and has traditionally been consumed by indigenous communities such as the Aruák, Chocó, Jívaro, Pano, and Tukano across the upper reaches of the Amazon River system in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru.

Over the last few decades, medicine has witnessed a sea change in attitudes toward chronic pain, and particularly toward opioids. While these changes were intended to bring relief to many, they have also fed an epidemic of prescription opioid and heroin abuse.

Curbing abuse is a challenge spilling over into the 2016 political campaigns. Amid calls for better addiction treatment and prescription monitoring, it might be time for doctors to rethink how to treat chronic pain.

Recreational marijuana use is now legal in four states and "medical" marijuana in 23 states. Research on legalization policies has focused largely on direct impact - how they impact marijuana access and use. What is little discussed is that marijuana increases alcohol use.

Alcohol is the world's  most popular drug, the majority of adults in the U.S. imbibe to varying degrees and drinking accounts for almost one-third of driving fatalities annually. If you like pretend money estimates, it is claimed that alcohol use cost $223.5 billion in 2006 alone.


Palbociclib, a new oral drug with efficacy in combating breast cancer both alone and in combination with endocrine therapy, also has potential to combat other types of cancer, according to a literature review and additional research in JAMA Oncology.

Palbociclib targets the rapid division of tumor cells by inhibiting the activity of the enzymes CDK4 and CDK6, which propel cell division and increase in number in most cancers. It is the first CDK4/6 inhibitor to be approved for the treatment of breast cancer.


Supplement fads come and go and the most recent one to take the U.S. by storm has been to list vitamin D as both cause and cure of just about everything - and make some money selling vitamin supplements. It takes a while for science to catch up to spurious correlations and a recent study of elderly men found no evidence that obstructive sleep apnea increased in severity (or prevalence) as a result of vitamin D deficiency, despite what Joe Mercola or other health frauds are claiming this week.

The researchers also found no evidence to support a link between vitamin D deficiency and increased risk of OSA in non-obese study participants.