Drugs and Supplements

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.

Opioids in the household: “Sharing” pain pills is too common

Monique Tello, MD, MPH

Contributing Editor

Many people have taken a friend’s or family member’s pain medication on occasion, but the ongoing opioid crisis has drawn attention to such behavior, forcing doctors, hospice workers, and other care providers to tighten their procedures and track quantities and dosages of pills more carefully.

What patients — and doctors — need to know about vitamins and supplements

Monique Tello, MD, MPH

Contributing Editor

While certain groups of people, and those who have certain conditions, can benefit from taking vitamins or supplements, most people will do better obtaining the nutrients they need from eating a health, balanced diet.

CGRP: A new era for migraine treatment

A new type of medication for migraine headaches is currently being reviewed by the FDA, and if approved may provide safe, long-lasting relief for many by blocking the activation of a molecule involved in the pain process.

Calcium, vitamin D, and fractures (oh my!)

Monique Tello, MD, MPH

Contributing Editor

People over 50 who want to keep their bones healthy may be tempted to take calcium and/or vitamin D supplements, but recent research found that these are not likely to be effective; for most people, getting these nutrients from food is a better strategy.

Medical marijuana

Peter Grinspoon, MD

Contributing Editor

Medical marijuana is controversial, in part because many people aren’t aware of how and why it is used. Most commonly it is used to ease pain, and doctors need to be prepared for the questions their patients will have about it.

Fish oil capsules: Net benefits for the heart are limited

At one time there was hope that omega-3 supplements in the form of fish oil capsules might prevent heart disease, but 15 years of research has found this belief to be untrue, and taking fish oil could even be harmful to some people.

Taking an anticlotting drug? If you need a procedure, be prepared

People who take an anticlotting medication are at higher risk of bleeding if they need an invasive procedure, but stopping the drug ahead of a procedure carries its own risks.

Genetic testing to predict medication side effects

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Genetic testing may help identify when certain people may be at risk of having an adverse reaction to medication. Researchers hope that such testing will eventually be lead to the ability to recommend the most effective medication that has the fewest side effects for a specific person’s condition.

When a drug does serious harm, the FDA wants to hear from you

If you’ve had a reaction or other issue with a medication, the Food and Drug Administration wants to know about it. The FDA provides tools for health professionals and consumers to report adverse reactions to drugs and medical devices.