Archive for March, 2017

Home remedies that may be worth a try

Beverly Merz
Beverly Merz, Executive Editor, Harvard Women's Health Watch

Sometimes a home remedy (one making use of inexpensive items already on hand or easy to obtain) can be as effective as a medical treatment, and far less costly. Because seemingly benign home remedies can have dangerous side effects you may want to check with your doctor to see if there are any risks involved.

Teen drug use is down: Better parenting, or more smartphones?

Claire McCarthy, MD
Claire McCarthy, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

Data from an annual survey show that use of illicit drugs among teenagers is in decline, and has been for some time. It’s possible that this can be partially attributed to the popularity of smartphones.

Can you virtually improve your knee pain?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD
Robert H. Shmerling, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

A study of people with osteoarthritis of the knee found that at the end of the study period, those participants who received more personalized attention via the web (including physical therapy sessions and information about pain management) had less pain and better movement function.

How good is my doctor? Awards, acronyms, and anecdotes…Oh my

Paul G. Mathew, MD, FAAN, FAHS

It’s already hard enough to pick the right doctor for yourself without all these awards and designations to pull apart. Which ones actually mean something and which ones don’t? These awards and the acronyms following a doctor’s name might be easier to interpret than you think. Just make sure not to judge a book by its cover – or a doctor by his or her labels.

Is ADHD overdiagnosed and overtreated?

Updates in Slow Medicine
Updates in Slow Medicine, Contributing Editors

As the percentage of children diagnosed with ADHD has increased in recent years, a new book delves into the connections between pharmaceutical companies and medical experts, and how these relate to rates of diagnosis.

Making health social: Friends and family as part of the health care team

David Scales, MPhil, MD, PhD

Healthy choices can be hard to make, but it becomes much easier when your entire social circle helps you keep up with it. According to a recent study, engaging your friends and family in your lifestyle changes will hold you accountable, and you will be more likely to stick with those changes. Making them a regular part of your “health care team” could go a long way to maintaining your health.

American Academy of Pediatrics urges care and compassion for immigrant children

Claire McCarthy, MD
Claire McCarthy, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

In response to the government’s changes in immigration policy, the American Academy of Pediatrics has released a statement expressing concerns about the treatment of immigrant children.

What’s the evidence for evidence-based medicine?

Monique Tello, MD, MPH
Monique Tello, MD, MPH, Contributing Editor

The history of medicine is filled with remedies that were relied upon for hundreds of years until they were eventually proven ineffective or possibly even dangerous, while legitimate practices and treatments were disregarded or ridiculed until evidence outweighed skepticism. The bottom line is that medical interventions — from tests to treatments — should neither be recommended nor condemned without considering and weighing the evidence. A future post will discuss what physicians look for when evaluating “the evidence.”

White coat syndrome or white coat logo syndrome? The pitfalls of doctor shopping by “brand”

Paul G. Mathew, MD, FAAN, FAHS

Branding has the power to influence people, but it should not necessarily be a significant, or the only, factor when it comes to health care. Picking a physician based on the name of their hospital does not always correlate with quality of care, and it could even cost you a larger copay.

Time spent in “green” places linked with longer life in women

Elizabeth Pegg Frates, MD

Greenery might do more than just cheer us up. A recent study shows it lowers the mortality rate in women. Green spaces decrease levels of depression and pollution while increasing levels of social engagement and physical activity. If you are lucky enough to be surrounded greenery, get out there and enjoy it more. Even urban areas can increase their greenery by planting more trees and shrubs. See if you can get your community to plant more plants. It will help everyone out in the long run.