Harvard Health Blog

Join the discussion with experts from Harvard Health Publications and others like you on a variety of health topics, medical news and views.

Resetting your circadian clock to minimize jet lag

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

Traveling across multiple time zones is likely to induce symptoms of jet lag, but making some adjustments before and while traveling can alleviate or minimize the discomfort. One theory suggests that a brief fast may help reset circadian rhythm.

The rise of push-ups: A classic exercise that can help you get stronger

Matthew Solan
Matthew Solan, Executive Editor, Harvard Men's Health Watch

Basic push-ups engage your body from top to bottom. They work several muscle groups at once including the arms, chest, abdomen (core), hips, and legs. How many you can do at one time offers a simple way to evaluate your strength and muscular endurance and is an easy tool to help you improve. To find your starting point, perform as many push-ups as you can with good form.

Why we need to make it harder for parents to refuse vaccines

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

Choosing to vaccinate a child — or not — doesn’t just affect that child, but also undermines the concept of herd immunity that protects others in the community from the spread of certain diseases.

Thinking about joining a clinical trial? Here’s what you need to know

Julie Corliss
Julie Corliss, Executive Editor, Harvard Heart Letter

People enroll in clinical trials for a variety of reasons. Some hope to try a new or innovative treatment. Others hope to advance knowledge about a disease. If you’re interested in volunteering for a clinical trial, you should understand the type of study you’d be participating in and know the potential risks.

Birth control right after having a baby: Why it’s important, why it should be covered

Hope Ricciotti, MD
Hope Ricciotti, MD, Editor in Chief, Harvard Women's Health Watch

Many women may plan to start using birth control at their six-week postpartum checkup, but as many as 40% of women do not go to a follow-up appointment. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists advocates for offering women the option of long-acting, implantable contraceptives in the period immediately following giving birth, before leaving the hospital. It’s safe, effective, and eliminates the need for an outpatient visit during a hectic time. Making postpartum contraception easily available and a covered benefit is essential to reduce unintended pregnancy and rapid, repeat pregnancy rates.

Shining a light on migraine relief

Michaela Kane
Michaela Kane, Contributor

Migraine headaches affect millions of people, and one of the most common symptoms is sensitivity to light. A study tested the reactions of migraine sufferers to different colors of light, and found that some people said one specific color eased their pain somewhat.

An approach to therapy that may make depression treatment more accessible

James Cartreine, PhD
James Cartreine, PhD, Contributing Editor

A recent study showed that behavioral activation can be an effective alternative to cognitive behavioral therapy for treating depression. This type of therapy emphasizes engaging in activities that can improve mental health, for example, connecting with people. Its advantage is that it takes less time and is less expensive to train people in behavioral activation so it may mean more therapists available at lower cost.

Saving lives by prescribing naloxone with opioid painkillers

Sarah Wakeman, MD, FASAM, Medical Director, Massachusetts General Hospital Substance Use Disorder Initiative

Unintentional opioid overdose is now the leading cause of accidental death in the United States. These drugs are prescribed to patients to help relieve pain, but overdoses happen because opioids can also depress breathing, sometimes stopping it altogether. But naloxone, also called Narcan, can help reverse the effects of an overdose. If doctors prescribe naloxone at the same time as opioids, overdose deaths may decrease.

Getting kids back to school: Inside out

Margaret Moore, MBA
Margaret Moore, MBA, Contributor

Harvard Medical School authors have written a new book entitled Organize your Emotions, Optimize Your Life, that explains a way to frame how your mind processes a range of emotions. An adult version of the children’s movie Inside Out, the book proposes that the human psyche has nine inner “voices.” By addressing the distinct needs, agendas, and emotions people can better address life challenges, big and small. In this post we apply this model to getting your kids back to school in a positive and productive way.

Knee replacement: Life changing or a disappointment?

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

Osteoarthritis, the “wear and tear” form of arthritis, can cause pain and restricted movement in the joints. Joint replacement surgery (typically for knees and hips) can restore mobility and reduce pain. However, these procedures involve risk, recovery and rehabilitation time, and the joint may still not feel completely normal. However, for some, surgery may improve quality of life and be better than the alternatives.