This herbal supplement ‘poses a public health threat’

Kratom, which is a plant-derived supplement, is growing in popularity. A new report provides further evidence of its adverse effects and calls for more research.

Kratom is an extract from the tropical tree Mitragyna speciosa, a relative of the coffee plant.

Historically, manual laborers in Southeast Asia have used the compound — either chewing the leaves or making them into tea — to soothe aches and pains and boost energy levels.

As it stands, kratom is not illegal in the United States, and people can easily purchase it online.

Full story at Medical News Today

Teens abusing painkillers are more likely to later use heroin

A USC study in the July 8 issue of JAMA Pediatrics shows that teens who use prescription opioids to get high are more likely to start using heroin by high school graduation.

“Prescription opioids and heroin activate the brain’s pleasure circuit in similar ways,” said senior author Adam Leventhal, a professor of preventive medicine and psychology and director of the USC Institute for Addiction Science at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. “Teens who enjoy the ‘high’ from prescription opioids could be more inclined to seek out other drugs that produce euphoria, including heroin.”

Leventhal said the study, conducted from 2013-2017, is the first to track prescription opioid and heroin use in a group of teens over time. In 2017, 9% of the nation’s 47,600 opioid overdose deaths occurred in people under the age of 25, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In addition to overdose, health risks of heroin use are devastating and include severe addiction, hepatitis C, HIV and other infections.

Full story at Science Daily

Problematic smartphone use linked to poorer grades, alcohol misuse, more sexual partners

A survey of more than 3,400 university students in the USA has found that one in five respondents reported problematic smartphone use. Female students were more likely be affected and problematic smartphone use was associated with lower grade averages, mental health problems and higher numbers of sexual partners.

Smartphones offer the potential of instant, round-the-clock access for making phone calls, playing games, gambling, chatting with friends, using messenger systems, accessing web services (e.g. websites, social networks and pornography), and searching for information. The number of users is rapidly increasing, with some estimates suggesting that there are now more than 2.7 billion users worldwide.

While most people using smartphones find them a helpful and positive part of life, a minority of users develop excessive smartphone use, meaning that smartphone use has significant negative effects on how people function in life. Previous research has linked excessive smartphone use to mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and problems with self-esteem.

Full story at Science Daily

What are the differences between Prozac and Zoloft?

Prozac and Zoloft are common antidepressant drugs. Although they have similar effects on the body, their specific uses, side effects, and dosages are different.

Prozac and Zoloft are both selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). This class of medication is among the first options for treating major depressive disorder, which people usually call depression.

Fluoxetine is the generic drug name for Prozac, and sertraline is the generic name for Zoloft.

In this article, we discuss the differences between Prozac and Zoloft.

Full story at Medical News Today

Brain structure may play key role in psychosis

New research finds that having a larger choroid plexus, which is a vital brain structure, could be involved in psychosis.

Variations in the structure of the choroid plexus, which produces cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), could play a key role in psychosis.

A team that Dr. Paulo Lizano — of the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, MA — led has now investigated this vital structure.

In doing so, they found that there could be a link between its size and the development of psychosis.

Full story at Medical News Today