Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Natural Does Not Equal Safe

What is the number one reason some people choose a natural health product (NHP) over a pharmaceutical one? Safety!

It’s a common misconception that a natural product is safer than a “chemical/synthetic” one. There are several natural substances that are toxic and even deadly, like arsenic, lead and venom, just to name a few. Many people fall into this trap and end up choosing a product that is less effective for one they think is safer but it may not be as safe as they think.
 Recently an article was published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal criticizing Health Canada for its leniency when it comes to approving natural health products. The editor of the journal, Dr. Matthew Stanbrook, was quoted as saying "They simply have to show that someone, somewhere once used this as therapy for something". He went on to claim that manufacturers of NHPs have to stop advertizing  that their products are remedies because they have very little evidence for their actual efficacy.  Furthermore, the director of general of natural and nonprescription health products for Health Canada stated that “Health Canada has the power to recall a bag of chips, but does not have the power to recall an unsafe natural health product”.

There is clearly a big safety and efficacy gap that needs to be filled at Health Canada regarding NHPs. I used to think that even though NHP efficacy was questionable their safety was not, but now I’m not so sure.  Thankfully, Health Canada is currently reviewing the regulations that govern the sale of self-care products, which includes NHPs. All products, whether they are termed “natural” or pharmaceutical should follow the same strict and rigorous testing to ensure our safety.  Just because something is chemical doesn’t mean it isn’t natural and just because something is natural doesn’t mean it’s safe.

Chemistry begins in the stars. The stars are the source of the chemical elements, which are the building blocks of matter and the core of our subject.”
Peter Atkins

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Want a Glowing Tan? Head to the Lab!

Everyone wants to look tanned for the summer but we’re all afraid of harmful UV rays. Skin cancer is one of the most prevalent cancers in North America so we do our best to prevent it by lathering on the sunscreen and staying out of the sun but this leaves us pale and pasty during shorts and T-shirt season! What are we to do?? Yes, there are spray tans and moisturizers that gradually tan your skin but most of these products make your skin look more orange than a nice bronze color and they can stain your sheets and clothes.

What if you could have a bronze glow without the damaging effects of UV rays or dyeing your skin? Well thanks to Dr. David E. Fisher and his team of scientists, you may be able to in the near future! They found that inhibiting enzymes called SIKs (salt-inducible kinases) activated the pigmentation pathway in the same way as UV radiation would but without the DNA-damaging effects. They went on to develop a superior version of this inhibitor so that it can be better absorbed by human skin. It takes 1-2 days for the skin to “tan” and it lasts a few days.

In the future, the team will be conducting toxicity studies, and then they hope to move onto clinical trials. Ultimately, they strive to develop a compound that can be added to sunscreenJ
and be used regularly; tanning and skin protection all in one! If it turns out to be safe I’m definitely going to try it

-        Mena


Friday, June 16, 2017

RxBriefCase: the Pharmacy Student’s Perfect Study Buddy

Happy Friday everyone!

I’ve almost completed my first week at mdBriefCase and it’s been great! Looking forward to the next 4 weeks! J

A couple of days ago I was chatting with some of my friends about their pharmacy placements and all of them said the same thing, “I need to go over my notes because I forgot a bunch of stuff that we learned in class”. For example, a customer asked one of my friends about allergy medications and which one she should take but since we covered that topic almost 2 years ago it’s kind of hard to remember. But luckily for us there’s rxBriefCase! All we have to do is log on and click on the topic we need a refresher on and voila! We are saved from the embarrassment of not being able to answer a question and our patients are the better for it. 

Unfortunately there is one issue…. Most of my pharmacy class doesn’t know about rxBriefCase! Before I started my APPE rotation here I didn’t know about it either. Having this resource would have helped a lot for our medication management classes as well as our pharmacy summer placements. But now I’m spreading the word! I posted a link to rxBriefCase to my pharmacy classes’ facebook page so that we can all take advantage of this knowledge source.

rxBriefCase is a valuable resource to have; it’ll help us get through our APPE rotations and continue being a great resource throughout our careers. Register now and gain access to a wealth of clinical knowledge for free! You also get continuing education credits for each program you complete.

“The goal of education is the advancement of knowledge and the dissemination of truth” - John F. Kennedy

Take care everyone!


Monday, June 12, 2017

10 Things About Me

Hi There!

My name is Mena, I’m a fourth year pharmacy student from the University of Toronto and mdBriefCase is my second APPE placement. I’m so excited to get started and try something new! J

Since I’m new I thought I would introduce myself with 10 random facts about me:
  1. For most of my life I wanted to be an astronaut. Unfortunately, at the age of 21 I went to an amusement park for the first time and realized I had bad motion sickness …. So I realized the astronaut thing wasn’t going to happen!
  2. I speak 3 languages; English, French and Arabic
  3. Shopping is both my happiness and downfall
  4. Sci-Fi and fantasy are my favorite genres of movies/shows/books
  5. I got married last summer! 
  6. I used to be a Sagittarius but recently I found out that I’m actually an Ophiuchus, which is the 13th astrological sign that most people don’t know about. If you were born between November 29th and December 17th then you are actually not a Sagittarius but an Ophiuchus… weird!
  7. I love learning about molecular pathways especially when related to the mechanism of action of medications
  8. I believe the Universe is infinite
  9. Red wine is my favorite drink (preferably from California)
  10. I love to cook but I love to eat even more!

Until next time!

-        Mena