Pharmacology

In the 1960s, "speed freaks", people hooked on amphetamines, still avoided Ritalin. It was too dangerous. In the 1990s, Ritalin suddenly became a medication. For kids diagnosed with ADD, it sped them up so much it basically slowed them down.

But for people who don't need it, ADD medication is just a stimulant, and nearly 20 percent of students at an Ivy League college reported misusing a prescription stimulant while studying, and one-third of students did not view such misuse as cheating according results presented today at the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) annual meeting in Vancouver.


In the 1950s and 1960s, pregnant women with morning sickness were often prescribed thalidomide. Shortly after the medicine was released on the market, a reported 10,000 infants were born with an extreme form of the rare congenital phocomelia syndrome, which caused death in 50 percent of cases and severe physical and mental disabilities in others.

Although various factors are now known to cause phocomelia, the prominent roots of the disease can be found in the use of the drug thalidomide.  It ignited the anti-pharmaceutical cultural firestorm that still burns today.


Tart cherry juice in the morning and evening may help you sleep better at night, according to a paper presented today at the
American Society of Nutrition
meeting.

Insomnia is a common health problem among older adults, impacting an estimated 23 to 34 percent of the population ages 65 and older. Insomnia – defined as trouble sleeping on average more than three nights per week – can be an annoyance for some, but long-lasting sleeplessness can seriously affect health, especially in the elderly.



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.