Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

AHRQ Releases Tool to Help Consumers Reduce Medication Errors

Photo of woman seated behind a glass of water, pills, and a box labeled with days of the week

From the press release

Three out of four Americans are not following their doctor’s advice when it comes to taking prescription medication, according to U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin.  AHRQ and the National Council on Patient Information and Education have released a revised guide to help patients learn more about how to take medicines safely.  “Your Medicines: Be Smart. Be Safe” is a booklet that includes a detachable, wallet-sized card that can be personalized to help patients keep track of all medicines they are taking, including vitamins and herbal and other dietary supplements.  Available in English and Spanish, the guide includes questions that patients can ask their doctors about their medications.  Select to access a copy of the guide.  Print copies are available by sending an e-mail to ahrqpubs@ahrq.hhs.gov.

May 23, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Study Questions Giving Babies Botanical Supplements, Teas

HealthDay news image

Nearly 1 in 10 infants fed these largely unregulated products, researchers say

From the 2 May 2011 Health Day article

MONDAY, May 2 (HealthDay News) — The use of botanical supplements and teas for infants is a surprisingly common practice, new research finds, but experts warn that such products might not be safe for babies.

The study, conducted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, found that nearly 10 percent of babies are given botanical supplements or teas during their first year of life. The researchers found that even babies as young as 1 month old were given these products.

“Our study is the first to examine the prevalence of dietary botanical supplement and tea use among a sample of U.S. infants,” wrote the study’s authors. “The wide variety of dietary botanical supplements and teas given to infants increases the likelihood that some are unsafe.”

Results of the study are published online May 2 in Pediatrics. The report is scheduled to appear in the June print version of the journal.

[The full text of this article is free and may be found here]

Dietary botanical supplements and herbal teas don’t receive the same scrutiny that pharmaceutical products do, according to background information in the study. Use of such products can cause adverse reactions with other medications, and these products may be inherently unsafe themselves.

Some supplements may contain heavy metals or other contaminants, and infants are more susceptible to such toxins, according to the study. In addition, some dietary supplements have caused seizures and even death in previously healthy infants. One dietary supplement was recalled in 2007 because of microbiological contamination…..

Click here for the rest of the article

Related Resources

Somewhat lengthy drug and over-the-counter medicationinformation with these sections: description, before using,
proper use, precautions and side effects. From Micromedex, a trusted source of healthcare information for
for health professionals.  

              Herb and supplement information includes information on uses based on scientific evidence as well as safety and
potential interactions with drugs, herbs, and supplements. From Natural Standard, an independent group of researchers
and clinicians

May 4, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , , | Leave a comment

Antioxidants: Beyond the Hype & Dietary Supplement Web Sites

Antioxidants: Beyond the Hype

Antioxidant pills

From the Harvard School of Public Health Nutrition Source Web page – Antioxidants: Beyond the Hype
This summary includes the following

Excerpt (Bottom Line)

The Bottom Line on Antioxidants and Disease Prevention

Free radicals contribute to chronic diseases from cancer to heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease to vision loss. This doesn’t automatically mean that substances with antioxidant properties will fix the problem, especially not when they are taken out of their natural context. The studies so far are inconclusive, but generally don’t provide strong evidence that antioxidant supplements have a substantial impact on disease. But keep in mind that most of the trials conducted up to now have had fundamental limitations due to their relatively short duration and having been conducted in persons with existing disease. That a benefit of beta-carotene on cognitive function was seen in the Physicians’ Health Follow-up Study only after 18 years of follow-up is sobering, since no other trial has continued for so long. At the same time, abundant evidence suggests that eating whole fruits, vegetables, and whole grains—all rich in networks of antioxidants and their helper molecules—provides protection against many of these scourges of aging.

Information about ingredients in more than three thousand selected brands of dietary supplements. It enables users to determine what ingredients are in specific brands and to compare ingredients in different brands. Information is also provided on the health benefits claimed by manufacturers. These claims by manufacturers have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Check out the Help section for tips on how to browse and search this site.

Prescription and over-the-counter medication information contains answers to many general questions including topics as what a drug is used for, precautions, side effects, dietary instructions, and overdoses. From the American Society of Health System Pharmacists

Herb and supplement information includes information on uses based on scientific evidence as well as safety and potential interactions with drugs, herbs, and supplements. From Natural Standard, an independent group of researchers and clinicians.

Somewhat lengthy drug and over-the-counter medicationinformation with these sections: description, before using, proper use, precautions and side effects. From Micromedex, a trusted source of healthcare information for health professionals. 

Herb and supplement information includes information on uses based on scientific evidence as well as safety and potential interactions with drugs, herbs, and supplements. From Natural Standard, an independent group of researchers and clinicians.

    March 29, 2011 Posted by | Health News Items, Nutrition | , , , | Leave a comment

    Drug Information Product DailyMed Mobile Version Launched

    DailyMed Mobile Version Launched

    From the National Library of Medicine (NLM)  March 4 announcement

    NLM® released DailyMed® Mobile on January 31, 2011. DailyMed provides access to over 20,000 structured product labels (SPL) from the Food and Drug Administration. DailyMed mobile features a simplified design enabling easy search, retrieval and display of SPLs from any Web-enabled mobile device (see Figure 1). Users can also e-mail SPLs to themselves or colleagues for later viewing on other platforms.

    Editor Flahiff’s note:  You also cannot go wrong with these nonmobile(at least for now!)  resources (via a Consumer Health Library Guide

    Dietary Supplements Labels Database

    Information about ingredients in more than three thousand selected brands of dietary supplements. It enables users to determine what ingredients are in specific brands and to compare ingredients in different brands. Information is also provided on the health benefits claimed by manufacturers. These claims by manufacturers have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Check out the Help section for tips on how to browse and search this site.

    Drug Digest

    This noncommercial consumer health and drug information site provides information about drugs and treatment options to be discussed with your primary health care provider or a pharmacist.  Information about over 1,500 drugsas well as common herbs and supplements. The check interactions tab (potential interactions between drugs)  and conditions/treatments area provide easy-to-read overviews. Information provided by Drawing pharmacy experts, licensed doctors of pharmacy, and physicians. From ExpressScripts.

    Drugs and Supplements (sponsored by the Mayo Clinic)

    Somewhat lengthy drug and over-the-counter medicationinformation with these sections: description, before using, proper use, precautions and side effects. From Micromedex, a trusted source of healthcare information for health professionals. 

    Herb and supplement information includes information on uses based on scientific evidence as well as safety and potential interactions with drugs, herbs, and supplements. From Natural Standard, an independent group of researchers and clinicians.

    Drug Information Portal

    A good central source of drug information by the US government (the National Institutes of Health). It links you to information on over 12,000 drugs from trusted consumer drug information sources, the US Food and Drug Information, and LactMed*** (summary of effects on breastfeeding i), It also gives any summaries from medical and toxicological articles (however, some whole articles may not be for free on the Internet).

    PillBox Beta

    Aids  in the identification of unknown solid dosage pharmaceuticals using images to identify pills (color, shape, etc) as well as a separate advanced search (imprint, drug manufacture, ingredients, etc)

    HMO Collaboratory Videocast

    Announcements

    Beware of Fraudulent Weight Loss “Dietary Supplements”

    The Food and Drug Administration warns that false claims and tainted products can cause serious harm to consumers.
    http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm246742.htm

    Consumer Update: Dietary Supplements

    The Food and Drug Administration has found nearly 300 fraudulent products—promoted mainly for weight loss, sexual enhancement, and bodybuilding—that contain hidden or deceptively labeled ingredients.
    http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm246744.htm

    ***As of July 2011…The National Library of Medicine Drugs and Lactation Database (LactMed)
    has added complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) products. CAM
    products generally consist of dietary supplements derived from botanicals
    (herbals), “nutraceuticals” (natural and synthetic nonherbals, such as
    coenzyme Q10), and related products.
    http://toxnet.nlm.nih.gov/cgi-bin/sis/htmlgen?LACT

    March 9, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

    Online Medical Advice Can Be a Prescription for Fear

    Online Medical Advice Can Be a Prescription for Fear

    From the Resource Shelf news item of February 7, 2011 17:04

    Online Medical Advice Can Be a Prescription for Fear

    If you’re looking for the name of a new pill to “ask your doctor about,” as the ads say, the Mayo Clinic Health Information site is not the place for you. If you’re shopping for a newly branded disorder that might account for your general feeling of unease, Mayo is not for you either. But if you want workaday, can-do health information in a nonprofit environment, plug your symptoms into Mayo’s Symptom Checker. What you’ll get is: No hysteria. No drug peddling. Good medicine. Good ideas.

    This is very, very rare on the medical Web, which is dominated by an enormous and powerful site whose name — oh, what the hay, it’s WebMD — has become a panicky byword among laysurfers for “hypochondria time suck.” In more whistle-blowing quarters, WebMD is synonymous with Big Pharma Shilling. A February 2010 investigation into WebMD’s relationship with drug maker Eli Lilly by Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa confirmed the suspicions of longtime WebMD users. With the site’s (admitted) connections to pharmaceutical and other companies, WebMD has become permeated with pseudomedicine and subtle misinformation.

    Because of the way WebMD frames health information commercially, using the meretricious voice of a pharmaceutical rep, I now recommend that anyone except advertising executives whose job entails monitoring product placement actually block WebMD. It’s not only a waste of time, but it’s also a disorder in and of itself — one that preys on the fear and vulnerability of its users to sell them half-truths and, eventually, pills.

    Source:  New York Times

    Shirl’s note:  You can’t go wrong with MedlinePlus, from the National Library of Medicine. Every site linked there has been vetted by a reliable professional.

    Editor Flahiff’s note: You also cannot go wrong with these resources (via a Consumer Health Library Guide

    Dietary Supplements Labels Database

    Information about ingredients in more than three thousand selected brands of dietary supplements. It enables users to determine what ingredients are in specific brands and to compare ingredients in different brands. Information is also provided on the health benefits claimed by manufacturers. These claims by manufacturers have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Check out the Help section for tips on how to browse and search this site.

    Drug Digest

    This noncommercial consumer health and drug information site provides information about drugs and treatment options to be discussed with your primary health care provider or a pharmacist.  Information about over 1,500 drugs as well as common herbs and supplements. The check interactions tab (potential interactions between drugs)  and conditions/treatments area provide easy-to-read overviews. Information provided by Drawing pharmacy experts, licensed doctors of pharmacy, and physicians. From ExpressScripts.

    Drugs and Supplements (sponsored by the Mayo Clinic)

    Somewhat lengthy drug and over-the-counter medicationinformation with these sections: description, before using, proper use, precautions and side effects. From Micromedex, a trusted source of healthcare information for health professionals. 

    Herb and supplement information includes information on uses based on scientific evidence as well as safety and potential interactions with drugs, herbs, and supplements. From Natural Standard, an independent group of researchers and clinicians.

    Drug Information Portal

    A good central source of drug information by the US government (the National Institutes of Health). It links you to information on over 12,000 drugs from trusted consumer drug information sources, the US Food and Drug Information, and LactMed ***(summary of effects on breastfeeding), It also gives any summaries from medical and toxicological articles (however, some whole articles may not be for free on the Internet).

    For information on how to obtain medical and scientific articles for free or at low cost, click here
    ***As of July 2011
    The National Library of Medicine Drugs and Lactation Database (LactMed)
    has added complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) products. CAM
    products generally consist of dietary supplements derived from botanicals
    (herbals), “nutraceuticals” (natural and synthetic nonherbals, such as
    coenzyme Q10), and related products.
    http://toxnet.nlm.nih.gov/cgi-bin/sis/htmlgen?LACT

    February 16, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Finding Aids/Directories | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

    Herbs at a Glance – Sage

    Sage

    The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine has published a new Herbs at a Glance fact sheet focusing on Sage.

     

    A few herb related Web sites

    Information about ingredients in more than three thousand selected brands of dietary supplements. It enables users to determine what ingredients are in specific brands and to compare ingredients in different brands. Information is also provided on the health benefits claimed by manufacturers. These claims by manufacturers have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Check out the Help section for tips on how to browse and search this site.

     

    This noncommercial consumer health and drug information site provides information about drugs and treatment options to be discussed with your primary health care provider or a pharmacist.  Information about over 1,500 drugs as well as common herbs and supplements. The check interactions tab (potential interactions between drugs)  and conditions/treatments area provide easy-to-read overviews. Information provided by Drawing pharmacy experts, licensed doctors of pharmacy, and physicians. From ExpressScripts.

    Prescription and over-the-counter medication information contains answers to many general questions including topics as what a drug is used for, precautions, side effects, dietary instructions, and overdoses. From the American Society of Health System Pharmacists

    Herb and supplement information includes information on uses based on scientific evidence as well as safety and potential interactions with drugs, herbs, and supplements. From Natural Standard, an independent group of researchers and clinicians.

    Somewhat lengthy drug and over-the-counter medicationinformation with these sections: description, before using, proper use, precautions and side effects. From Micromedex, a trusted source of healthcare information for health professionals. 

    Herb and supplement information includes information on uses based on scientific evidence as well as safety and potential interactions with drugs, herbs, and supplements. From Natural Standard, an independent group of researchers and clinicians.

    • Natural & Alternative Treatments**
      Contains detailed information on almost 200 different conditions and the conventional and natural treatments used to treat them, over 300 herbs and supplements, plus drug-herb and drug-supplement interactions for more than 90 drug categories.


    February 9, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Finding Aids/Directories, Librarian Resources | , , , , | Leave a comment

    Herbs at a Glance: A Quick Guide to Herbal Supplements

     

     

    Herbs at a glance: a quick guide to herbal supplements is a 100 page indexed PDF document which gives the basics on the most common herbs in dietary supplements – historical uses, what they are used for now, scientific evidence on effectiveness, and potential side effects.

    It is published by the US National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCAAM).
    The NCAAM Web site includes links to information under titles as

    A few related Web sites

    and a related news item…

    From the December 16, 2010 Health Day news item U.S. Spending Millions to See if Herbs Truly Work

    THURSDAY, Dec. 16 (HealthDay News) — People have been using herbal supplements for centuries to cure all manner of ills and improve their health. But for all the folk wisdom promoting the use of such plants as St. John’s wort and black cohosh, much about their effect on human health remains unknown.

    But the federal government is spending millions of dollars to support research dedicated to separating the wheat from the chaff when it comes to herbal supplements.

    “A lot of these products are widely used by the consumer, and we don’t have evidence one way or the other whether they are safe and effective,” said Marguerite Klein, director of the Botanical Research Centers Program at the U.S. National Institutes of Health. “We have a long way to go. It’s a big job.”

    In August, the U.S. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine and the Office of Dietary Supplements awarded about $37 million in grants to five interdisciplinary and collaborative dietary supplement centers across the nation. The grants were part of a decade-long initiative that so far has awarded more than $250 million toward research to look into the safety and efficacy of health products made from the stems, seeds, leaves, bark and flowers of plants.

    Reliance on botanical supplements faded in the mid-20th century as doctors began to rely more and more on scientifically tested pharmaceutical drugs to treat their patients, said William Obermeyer, vice president of research for ConsumerLab.com, which tests supplement brands for quality.

    But today, herbal remedies and supplements are coming back in a big way. People in the United States spent more than $5 billion on herbal and botanical dietary supplements in 2009, up 22 percent from a decade before, according to the American Botanical Council, a nonprofit research and education organization.

    The increase has prompted some concern from doctors and health researchers. There are worries regarding the purity and consistency of supplements, which are not regulated as strictly as pharmaceutical drugs.

    “One out of four of the dietary supplements we’ve quality-tested over the last 11 years failed,” Obermeyer said. The failure rate increases to 55 percent, he said, when considering botanical products alone.

    Some products contain less than the promoted amount of the supplement in question — such as a 400-milligram capsule of echinacea containing just 250 milligrams of the herb. Other products are tainted by pesticides or heavy metals.

    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned supplement makers on Dec. 15 that any company marketing tainted products could face criminal prosecution. The agency was specifically targeting products to promote weight loss, enhance sexual prowess or aid in body building, which it said were “masquerading as dietary supplements” and in some cases were laced with the same active ingredients as approved drugs or were close copies of those drugs or contained synthetic synthetic steroids that don’t qualify as dietary ingredients.

    But even when someone takes a valid herbal supplement, it may not be as effective when taken as a pill or capsule rather than used in the manner of a folk remedy. For example, an herb normally ground into paste as part of a ceremony might lose its effectiveness if prepared using modern manufacturing methods, Obermeyer said.

    “You move away from the traditional use out of convenience, and you may not have the same effect,” he said.

    Researchers also are concerned that there just isn’t a lot of evidence to support the health benefits said to be gained from herbal supplements. People may be misusing them, which can lead to poor health and potential interactions with prescription drugs.

    “Consumers often are taking them without telling their doctor, or taking them in lieu of going to the doctor,” Klein said……

     

     

    December 22, 2010 Posted by | Consumer Health, Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Finding Aids/Directories, Health Education (General Public), Librarian Resources, Medical and Health Research News, Professional Health Care Resources | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

    Vitamin and Dietary Supplement Information

    Confused about claims about Vitamin E? Wondering how much Vitamin C you need?  Does feverfew prevent migraines? Thinking about taking  iron supplements but want to act on good evidence?

    The Office of Dietary Supplements just might have the information you need to discuss with your primary health care provider or other trusted health professional.  While scientific evidence is inconclusive for many substances, this Web site is a great starting place for current objective information.

    Health information for consumers and health professionals is offered for dietary supplements (as cranberry and ginseng), vitamins and minerals, and botanical supplements (as ephedra and soy).

    Additionally, the health information page provides links to assist with informed decision making (as fraud detection), consumer safety, and Nutrient Recommendation Reports & Tables (DRIs & RDAs), and more.

    Excerpt:  “To put it simply, people who take dietary supplements may have the misconception that they are invulnerable to health problems and may make poor decisions when it comes to their health – such as choosing fast food over a healthy and organic meal. “

    September 28, 2010 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , , | Leave a comment

       

    Follow

    Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

    Join 166 other followers

    %d bloggers like this: