Harvard Health Blog

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

Keeping children safe around cosmetics

Claire McCarthy, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Between 2002 and 2016, over 4,000 children under 5 were treated each year in US emergency departments for cosmetics-related injuries. Take precautions with your cosmetic products to keep children safe.

Want a sharp mind, strong memory? Ramp up activities

Research shows that older people who are socially engaged and keep their minds active are more likely to remain mentally sharp. But what specific activities should people do? And does it matter if they start late in life or sooner?

Kratom: Fear-worthy foliage or beneficial botanical?

Peter Grinspoon, MD

Contributing Editor

Kratom has been used for hundreds of years for various conditions, and today many people are using it to treat chronic pain and mitigate opioid withdrawal symptoms. But there is no control or regulation of the product, and it can have serious side effects.

Are antibacterial products with triclosan fueling bacterial resistance?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

The FDA has banned the antibacterial agent triclosan from soaps starting in 2020. It’s still used in mouthwash, cosmetics, toothpaste and other household products and there are still concerns that striving to rid our environment of bacteria and germs helps fuel bacterial resistance to antibiotics.

What should you do if your blood pressure medication has been recalled?

The FDA has recalled certain kinds of blood pressure medications due to the presence of impurities that occur during the manufacturing process. The added risk from the presence of these substances is low, but it’s important to know which medications are affected, and what you should do if you are taking one of them.

Why do parents worry about vaccines?

Claire McCarthy, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

The ongoing measles epidemic spotlights the importance of vaccinations –– and the concerns some parents have about vaccine safety. If you have such concerns, talk to your child’s doctor and learn more about vaccine safety.

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?

Keep using sunscreen while FDA updates recommendations on safety of sunscreen ingredients

A recent study has left many people concerned about whether the sunscreen they use is safe, but until results of further testing are available, the protection offered by sunscreen outweighs any potential risk.

Should you see a chiropractor for low back pain?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Nearly everyone has experienced some sort of back pain, but unfortunately there is no single best treatment for it. Researchers seeking to evaluate the worth of chiropractic care as an option for back pain treatment studied military personnel, but the study did have some limitations.

New FDA-approved weight loss device shows promise

Not everyone who needs to lose weight is a good candidate for either surgery or medications, so more treatment options are valuable. The FDA has approved a new device to help people lose weight, a capsule containing particles that expand in the stomach.