Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Robert Shmerling, M.D., is associate physician and clinical chief of rheumatology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and an associate professor in medicine at Harvard Medical School. He is an active teacher in the Internal Medicine Residency Program, serving as the Robinson Firm Chief. He is also a teacher in the Rheumatology Fellowship Program and has been a practicing rheumatologist for over 25 years.


Posts by Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Could medications contribute to dementia?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

A study found that people over 65 who were taking an anticholinergic medication (drugs that block the chemical messenger acetylcholine) were more likely to eventually be diagnosed with dementia, but these results don’t show that this class of drugs definitively causes dementia.

Knuckle cracking: Annoying and harmful, or just annoying?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Some people do it regularly, while others can’t stand the idea or sound of it, but either way, there is no evidence that knuckle cracking is harmful to your joints, or increases your chances of arthritis.

Chondroitin and melanoma: How worried should you be?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Research in mice found that the supplement chondroitin sulfate led to the growth of melanoma cells, and though this does not mean it will do the same in people, there isn’t much evidence to support taking chondroitin anyway.

Aerobic exercise or tai chi for fibromyalgia — which is better?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Physical activity is beneficial for people with fibromyalgia, but the pain caused by the condition makes exercise difficult for many. A new study compares the benefits of aerobic exercise and tai chi as treatments for fibromyalgia.

Apple cider vinegar diet: Does it really work?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

The popularity of apple cider vinegar to aid weight loss has risen recently, but a small study where participants consumed vinegar daily found that people only lost a few pounds after three months, and there are also downsides to consuming too much vinegar.

Cryotherapy: Can it stop your pain cold?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Cryotherapy is a relatively new type treatment for sore muscles. It involves stepping into an extremely cold room or chamber for a few minutes. Some people say cryotherapy is effective and offers many benefits. But is it worth your time and money?

Celebrities get shingles, too

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Shingles is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox, though it can be dormant in a person for decades before flaring up suddenly. Not everyone who has had chickenpox will develop shingles, but it is more common in those who are older or who have a weakened immune system.

Are you taking too much anti-inflammatory medication?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are widely used and generally safe, but they can cause problems, especially if the recommended dosage is exceeded. A new study found that a significant percentage of people were doing this, sometimes intentionally but not always.

Where do you stand on bystander CPR?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

A survey about CPR found that just over half of those who responded knew how to perform it. Many people are concerned that they will do it wrong, or don’t feel comfortable getting involved, but learning and performing CPR is now easier than before.

Why it’s so hard to lose excess weight and keep it off: The Biggest Losers’ experience

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

As a person loses weight, the body reacts by lowering its metabolic rate to conserve energy, an evolutionary adaptation that makes it harder to lose additional weight. A study of participants from The Biggest Loser found that this metabolic adjustment persists for years.