Pharmacology


Matthew Miller, M.D., Sc.D., of the Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, and colleagues, writing in JAMA (doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2014.1053) analyzed data from 162,625 people (between the ages of 10 to 64 years) with depression who started antidepressant treatment with a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor at modal (the most prescribed doses on average) or at higher than modal doses from 1998 through 2010. 



The latest fad in implied health benefits that can slip under the regulatory radar are edible flowers from China. 

Why implied? Because they are rich in phenolics and have good antioxidant capacity.  What will that do? No one knows. Antioxidants haven't been shown to help anyone at all and phenolics claims were how the rationalization that organic food was healthier arose - and then debunked. To maintain a level of credibility the key phrase "may be partly responsible" is liberally applied.

Some edible flowers, which have been used as ingredients, seasoning and garnish in Chinese food for centuries, contain phenolics that 


Emergency contraceptive pills haven't reduced teen pregnancies or abortions but at least in America those incidents have not risen - in South America, unprotected sex is really taking a pregnancy gamble, even if there is access to a morning after pill.

A survey of emergency contraceptive pills in Peru found that 28 percent of the batches studied were either of substandard quality or falsified. Many released the active ingredient too slowly, others had the wrong active ingredient, one batch was basically homeopathy contraception - the researchers couldn't find an active ingredient at all. 


Colic affects about one in five infants in the United States annually and accounts for numerous pediatric visits during the first several months after birth.

Among the many claims of probiotic marketing is that it helps with reduction of colic symptoms but a phase III, double blind, randomized placebo controlled trial published in the British Medical Journal concluded that the use of the probiotic L reuteri for infant colic did not reduce crying or fussing in infants nor was it effective in improving infant sleep, functioning or quality of life.

The results were no different for babies receiving breast milk or formula.


Though measles outbreaks remain somewhat under control, they aren't going down. Deaths have held steady at around 150,000 per year since 2007.

The developing world can get something of a pass for not being able to contain measles. In anti-science hotbeds like the coasts in America and some countries in Europe, it's unforgivable. What was once only the domain of religious fundamentalists is now dominated by wealthy elites who count on the herd immunity of commoners to protect their children and refuse to vaccinate. But that clearly does not work.


Young adults who used marijuana recreationally show significant abnormalities in two key brain regions that are important in emotion and motivation, according to a study in the Journal of Neuroscience.

The authors document how casual use of marijuana is related to major brain changes and showed the degree of brain abnormalities in these regions is directly related to the number of joints a person smoked per week. The more joints a person smoked, the more abnormal the shape, volume and density of the brain regions.


The 15% fall in dietary salt intake, which is implicated in increased blood pressure, over the past decade in England is likely to have had a key role in the 40% drop in deaths from heart disease and stroke over the same period, according to a paper in BMJ Open.

Average salt intake across the nation is still far too high, the authors warn, and much greater effort is needed to curb the salt content of the foods we eat. 

The authors base their findings on an analysis of data from more than 31,500 people taking part in the Health Survey for England for the years 2003—when initiatives to curb population salt intake began across the UK—2006, 2008, and 2011.


Sleep aids are a more than <

It’s been all over the news. 

Depending on the accuracy of the headline, you may conclude that worms live longer when exposed to glucosamine, mice live 10 percent longer when fed glucosamine or that YOU will live 8 years longer if you take the stuff.

As usual, the devil is in the headlines.

Some were pretty accurate: Glucosamine promotes longevity in worms and mice, study says (from the L.A. Times). 

According to the FDA, a drug is a substance (other than nutrients) intended for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease, or to affect the structure or function of the body. Seems clear enough -- that is, until politics and big money get involved. 

Then you get special dispensation. It’s called the dietary supplement industry. And what they get away with is astounding.

Last May a cluster of liver failure was attributed to a supplement called OxyElite Pro, sold by USPLabs of Dallas.