Drugs and Supplements

Pills and the planet: Environmentally-friendly steps for your medicine cabinet

Wynne Armand, MD

Contributor

The key factor causing climate change is greenhouse gas emissions, and the health care industry plays a significant role, with drugs and chemicals being the biggest contributor. While the benefits of medications to the world can’t be overstated, here’s how to balance the need for them with concern for the environment.

What’s new in the updated asthma guidelines?

Recent updates to asthma management guidelines produced by the National Asthma Education and Prevention Program reflect advances in understanding of the mechanisms that cause asthma and current best practices to manage asthma symptoms.

Omega-3 fatty acids and the heart: New evidence, more questions

Omega-3 fatty acids from fish and fish oil have been recommended by the American Heart Association for the past 20 years to reduce cardiovascular events in people who already have cardiovascular disease. But the results of studies of omega-3 supplements have been mixed, leaving both doctors and patients still wondering what to do.

Beyond CBD: Here come the other cannabinoids, but where’s the evidence?

Given the interest in CBD and the exploding popularity (and big business) of products that contain it, it was only a matter of time before new cannabinoids were discovered and commercialized. But many of these substances have been studied only in animals so far, meaning it is too soon to say if any of their potential benefits will apply to humans.

Lowering cholesterol protects your heart and brain, regardless of your age

Studies have consistently shown that lowering LDL cholesterol reduces the risk of cardiovascular events and death. But do older adults — even those with existing cardiovascular disease — get the same benefits from lowering cholesterol, and do they face any additional risks from taking cholesterol-lowering medication? An analysis of data from previous studies reached some favorable conclusions.

Can dust mite allergy be treated with a pill?

For decades, people with an allergy to dust mites took over-the-counter medications for relief, and if those were not effective they could choose to receive a course of immunotherapy shots that lasted years. A newer form of treatment is available in pill form and is taken at home.

CBD and other medications: Proceed with caution

Products containing cannabidiol (CBD) are very popular, promising relief from a wide range of maladies. But if you are considering taking a product containing CBD, be aware that if you are taking any other prescription or over-the-counter medications, supplements, or herbal products, CBD can interact with them and cause unexpected side effects.

Treating neuropathy: Which medication is best?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Millions of people suffer from the burning, tingling, and numbness of a form of neuropathy called idiopathic sensory polyneuropathy. A recent study directly comparing four medications produced disappointing results, but is a step in the right direction.

Type 2 diabetes: Which medication is best for me?

Samar Hafida, MD

Contributor

When diet and exercise are not enough for a person with diabetes to manage their blood sugar, one or more medications may be needed. Adding a second medication can offer additional benefits beyond blood sugar control, but the benefits and risks of these newer classes of drugs must be weighed for each person.

Treating mild hypothyroidism: Benefits still uncertain

More than 10 million adults in the US have hypothyroidism — when the thyroid gland fails to produce enough thyroid hormone to meet the body’s needs — but the vast majority of these cases are considered mild. Whether or not to treat mild hypothyroidism is an ongoing debate. There is a possible link between mild hypothyroidism and coronary artery disease, but researchers found that treating it in older people did not provide any benefit.