Health trends

Dopamine fasting: Misunderstanding science spawns a maladaptive fad

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter involved in the body’s system for reward and pleasure. A recent trend has people avoiding stimulating activities in the belief that doing so allows the body to reset from being overstimulated, but the original idea has been misunderstood and wrongly applied.

Brain-based devices: How well do they work?

Srini Pillay, MD


Brain-based devices claim to offer all kinds of enhancements and improvements, but how can consumers interested in such a device separate legitimate science from mere hype?

Ketamine for major depression: New tool, new questions

The drug ketamine is a promising treatment for some people with major depression. It can be given as an IV infusion or a nasal spray. Because it works quickly, it could be an important tool in helping people who are suicidal.

The latest deadly superbug — and why it’s not time to panic

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Infections from a drug-resistant fungus have been occuring around the world for the past decade. It’s not cause for panic, but it’s wise to understand the facts and ways to protect yourself.

Inducing labor at full term: What makes sense?

Toni Golen, MD


A large study of first-time mothers compared inducing labor with waiting for labor to begin. Under certain circumstances, it found inducing labor may be safer for some women. A pregnant woman considering induction should discuss the option with her doctors and providers.

A soaring maternal mortality rate: What does it mean for you?

Since 1990, the maternal mortality rate in the United States, while still relatively low, has risen by 50%. Meanwhile, many other women experience pregnancy-related conditions that cause serious injury, and thousands more struggle with illnesses and a lack of support.

The real link between breastfeeding and preventing obesity

Claire McCarthy, MD

Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Research into the connection between breastfeeding and obesity in children found that babies who got milk directly from the mother’s breast for the first three months of life had the lowest risk of becoming obese, because they are less likely to overfeed.

Drip bar: Should you get an IV on demand?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Receiving IV fluids without a specific medical need or reason is a new trend, and while it’s possible that such a treatment might help you get some relief from jet lag or a hangover, it’s easier and much cheaper to simply drink whatever fluids you need.