Tag: herbal medicine

How to Interrogate an Herbal Medicine: Thunder God Vine

Thunder god vine may not be a useful herbal medicine but the compounds isolated from it are fascinating – if not as medicines, then most certainly as laboratory tools. Nature Chemical Biology recently published an article where a research team from Johns Hopkins, the University of Colorado at Boulder, and Drew University in New Jersey, has determined the molecular mechanism of action...

/ March 18, 2011

What’s with the new cough and cold products?

One of my earliest lessons as a pharmacist working in the “real world” was that customers didn’t always act the way I expected. Parents of sick children frequently fell into this category — and the typical vignette went like this for me: Parent has determined that their child is sick, and needs some sort of over-the-counter medicine. Parent asks pharmacist for advice...

/ November 26, 2010

Sunscreen in a Pill?

I’ve previously described the consequences of acute and chronic sun exposure, and the rationale for topical sunscreen products. But wouldn’t it be easier to just take a pill that can boost our skin’s resistance to to the harmful effects of the sun? Is it possible to get all the benefits of sunscreen without the bother of creams, or even clothing?

/ July 8, 2010

Mixed Messages on Campus

The past two months have been my first time working in the hospital, as a third-year medical student in my Internal Medicine clerkship. It’s been exciting not only to see how medicine works but to be a part of the action! It really is striking to see the dramatic increases in proficiency and confidence with each stage of the training. From junior...

/ October 20, 2009

Trick or Treatment

I’ve just finished reading Trick or Treatment: The Undeniable Facts about Alternative Medicine by Simon Singh and Edzard Ernst. I’d been looking forward to the publication of this book, and it exceeded my expectations. Edzard Ernst, based at the University of Exeter in England, is the world’s first professor of complementary medicine, a post he has held for 15 years. An MD...

/ August 26, 2008

An Herbal Cure for Peanut Allergy?

Peanut allergy is uncommon but devastating. Even a tiny trace of peanut can cause an anaphylactic reaction and death. That’s why labels specify “produced on shared equipment with nuts or peanuts” or “produced in a facility that also processes nuts.” There is no effective treatment: patients have to rely on avoiding peanuts and carrying emergency epinephrine injectors. Parents of peanut-allergic children live...

/ July 29, 2008

The Plant vs Pharmaceutical False Dichotomy

A recent New York Times piece promotes the idea that herbs are safer and more effective than pharmaceuticals. The reality is, both are drugs, with risks and benefits that need to be assessed and considered. Where they differ is in the degree of scrutiny and evidence required - extensive amounts for drugs, almost none for herbs.

/ January 2, 2008