Pharmacology

Marijuana went from being a gateway drug or a dangerous hallucinogen (a la "Reefer Madness") to being a 'safe drug' more recently, which is just as inaccurate,  according to a new review.  

The researchers reviewed over 120 studies that looked at different aspects of the relationship between cannabis and the adolescent brain, including the biology of the brain, chemical reaction that occurs in the brain when the drug is used, the influence of genetics and environmental factors, in addition to studies into the "gateway drug" phenomenon. 

The nature of the teenage brain makes users of cannabis amongst this population particularly at risk of developing addictive behaviors and suffering other long-term negative effects, they note. 


A new paper says that a Chinese herbal medicine called Ji-Sui-Kang (JSK), given systemically for three weeks after injury in rats, improved locomotor function, reduced tissue damage, and preserved the structure of neural cells compared to control rats. 

Their data also claim that Ji-Sui-Kang may first act to reduce inflammation and cell apoptosis and death, and boost local oxygen supply while, later on, it appears to restore function and promote tissue regeneration. The researchers did the study because while Chinese herbal medicines have been used for a variety of ailments, the rationale is based more on anecdotal evidence than controlled experiments.


A team of researchers suggest that increased coffee intake may reduce fatty liver in people with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).


And here you thought it was just delicious.

Worldwide, 70 percent of people diagnosed with diabetes and obesity have  non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, the major cause of fatty liver not due to excessive alcohol consumption. It is estimated that 30 percent of adults in the United States have this condition, and the authors in Singapore say its prevalence is rising there.

There are no effective treatments for
non-alcoholic fatty liver diseas
except diet and exercise. 


Two laboratory studies found that the flavonoids apigenin and luteolin, found in celery, artichokes and herbs like Mexican oregano, kills human pancreatic cancer cells in vitro by inhibiting an important enzyme.


Finasteride, a generic drug used by physicians to treat enlarged prostate and male pattern baldness, was found to significantly reduce the risk of prostate cancer. During the trial of 19,000 men, a slightly higher percentage of those on finasteride developed high-grade cancer than those taking a placebo. This difference shrank in the follow-up analysis, which caused concern and debate in the medical community, and doctors backed away from prescribing the drug.


An investigational malaria vaccine developed by scientists at Sanaria Inc. and known as PfSPZ Vaccine has been found to be safe, to generate an immune system response, and to offer protection against malaria infection in healthy adults, according to the results of an early-stage clinical trial.

Malaria is transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito. After the bite occurs, infectious malaria parasites in the immature, sporozoite stage of their life cycle first travel to the liver, where they multiply, and then spread through the bloodstream, at which time symptoms develop.

The PfSPZ Vaccine is composed of live but weakened sporozoites of the species Plasmodium falciparum, the most deadly of the malaria-causing parasites.


Caffeine drinks are in some kind of arms race and as caffeine levels escalate, so do reports of caffeine overdose. It's not just those terrible-tasting energy drinks, it's also in snacks, candy, and even chewing gum.

EnergyFiend.com has  tracked caffeine levels for the past 8 years and found that the number of caffeinated products does not appear to be slowing down. According to editor Ted Kallmyer, “We’re now tracking over 1,000 items, and among those are some products with very high levels of caffeine. They are clearly targeted to the teen market.”

Antioxidants have been hyped by marketing and mainstream media claims as cure-alls for almost anything, but a systematic review has likely eliminated one - there is no quality evidence that antioxidant supplements help to increase a woman's chances of having a baby and information is still too limited to know if it has potential harms.

The paper says around 25% of couples planning a baby may have 'difficulty' conceiving. Women undergoing fertility treatment often take dietary supplements, including antioxidants, to try to increase their chances of becoming pregnant. Antioxidant supplements taken to improve fertility are unregulated and there is limited evidence on their safety and effects. 


Since the United States lacks regulatory guidelines or a standardized risk assessment for herbal supplement use, it falls on pediatricians to try and recognize what natural pharmaceuticals could be impacting the health of mothers and children during breastfeeding.


There aren't many areas where men and women benefit equally but coffee has always been about bringing people together. Do you think Newton would have done his great work without coffee? No, he would have starved long before Principia. The man ate every meal in a coffee house.

A new review in The World Journal of Biological Psychiatry will get heads nodding among coffee acolytes for finding that drinking lots of coffee daily reduces the risk of suicide in men and women by about 50%. The authors reviewed data from three U.S. studies and found that the risk of suicide for adults who drank two to four cups of caffeinated coffee per day was about half that of those who drank decaffeinated coffee or very little or no coffee.