Drugs and Supplements

Is Coca-Cola really putting pot in its beverages?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

News reports that Coca-Cola is considering offering a beverage containing cannabis or one of its derivatives were definitely exaggerated, but the “functional wellness” portion of the beverage market is growing, and other companies are considering products containing cannabidiol.

Cannabidiol (CBD) — what we know and what we don’t

Peter Grinspoon, MD

Contributing Editor

Cannabidiol (CBD) is an active ingredient in cannabis that is derived directly from the hemp plant, but it does not cause a high and is not addictive. CBD is drawing attention because it has been shown to be effective in helping people treat conditions like pain, insomnia, and anxiety.

Omega-3 fatty acids for mood disorders

The observation that people in populations that eat more fish seem to have lower rates of depression led researchers to investigate whether omega-3 acids may be beneficial for people with depression or other mood disorders.

Depression: Common medication side effect?

Monique Tello, MD, MPH

Contributing Editor

Many medications list depression or suicidal thoughts as a possible side effect, even those for unrelated conditions like high blood pressure or allergies. A recent study found that these side effects may be more prevalent than previously believed, particularly among those taking multiple medications with these side effects.

Prescription monitoring programs: Helpful or harmful?

Prescription monitoring programs are databases that keep track of prescriptions issued to individuals. While their intent is to identify drug misuse, a PMP may incorrectly flag certain people as misusing medications that they legitimately need.

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.

How to talk to your doctor about medication

When your doctor prescribes medication for you, it is important to ask questions. Understand exactly how to take it and what side effects to watch for. If you feel a drug isn’t working for you, or you are experiencing new symptoms, speak up and tell your doctor so she can address the issues and consider other options.

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.