All posts by Vishnu Dubakula

Medication advertising on social media

Image result for social media ad

Image from Marketing Land

Vandana Dubakula

The iconic golden arches tend to prompt images of burgers and French fries. A similar thing occurs at the sight of medication advertisements. While a Prozac ad does not trigger a craving, it does serve to identify and educate the consumer about the medication. Social media is currently one of the best methods to advertise products, but with medications, there are benefits and drawbacks.

 Advertising medications on social media makes it more accessible for consumers to gather information about a product. Rather than having to wait weeks to consult with a physician, which is time-consuming, people can immediately learn about the advertised drug. Additionally, even if the patient understood the medication superficially, the knowledge they gain from advertisements can be brought to a physician’s attention. The doctor could more meticulously explain the pros and cons of the medication which makes the appointment more efficient.

However, along with this ease in acquiring information brought on by social media advertisements, there is the disadvantage of possible public harm due to misinformation. Advertisements may cite inappropriate or biased reports to support their promotional claims, leading individuals to make inaccurate conclusions about the medication’s benefits. Additionally, social media ads may also cause danger by spurring high demand for unnecessary treatment. Patients may believe that they have the condition as a result of seeing numerous advertisements.

While advertisements on social media allow individuals to learn more about medications, there are downsides for this type of marketing. It is important to do in-depth research or consult a medical professional when deciding to take a medication that was advertised on social media.

As social media ‘influencers,’ patients are getting a voice. And pharma is ready to pay up


The Practice of Oil Pulling for Oral Hygiene

Image result for oil pulling

Photo from Fashionista

Vandana Dubakula

Coconut oil is a long-standing part of the hair- and skin-care regime in many cultures. It is used to keep the skin and hair moisturized, and is regarded by some as reducing inflammation. The characteristics of coconut oil, specifically the fatty acid chains, have antimicrobial properties that are imagined to protect the skin. More recently, it is suggested to benefit oral health. Derived from India, the practice of “oil pulling” involves swishing a tablespoon of coconut oil around in the mouth. The description “pulling” is associated with claims that this practice “pulls” unhealthy bacteria from the mouth.

         Support for this practice comes from online testimonials from people that swishing oil for 5 to 20 minutes can reduce bad breath, limit cavities, and improve gum health. Proponents of this theory suggest that the oil activates salivary enzymes in the mouth which then absorb  toxins from the blood. But toxins cannot pass from the blood through the mouth via swishing oil. Another theory is that swishing coconut oil moisturizes the teeth and gums which reduces inflammation and prevents bacterial build-up, but that also seems far-fetched.

         A thoughtful consideration of oil pulling reminds us to think twice when it comes to health claims. Health is important, and we all want it to come easily through simple passive strategies such as swishing oil. Your best health comes from healthy habits that you work towards: health intact, healthy activity, healthy mindset, and healthy circumstances.

Spicy Foods

Image result for spicy food

Photo from CNN

Vandana Dubakula

With the new internet trend of trying hot sauces of different levels of spiciness, many spectators are left wondering if spicy foods can be dangerous to consume. On the contrary, there are several studies suggesting that spicy foods have benefits.

For instance, in an experiment in tumor-prone mice, capsaicin (an active component of chili peppers) decreased tumor development. There is also evidence that spicy foods tend to increase satiety via an effect of capsaicin on the nervous system.  This effect may also increase the rate of metabolism. Consequently, some people believe that spicy foods can help with obesity.

One drawback however, is that capsaicin can cause tissue inflammation. A large dose of peppers can irritate the stomach and intestinal mucosa which may lead to the burning feeling you get after consuming very spicy foods. 

In moderation, spicy foods may  have various health benefits. So do not shy away from adding a pepper or two to spice up your dinner!