What’s ‘supp? Find out if your supplements are really working for you

A while ago we told you about a great database called Natural Standard. Recently that database was re-branded and re-released as Natural Medicines. A new, better-fitting name notwithstanding, this is still a terrific database that everyone should keep bookmarked.

Natural Medicines database provides clinically relevant, bottom-line-focused information and ratings on over 90,000 commercial dietary supplements, natural medicines, and complementary alternative and integrative therapies.

If you ever wondered whether that gingko you’ve been taking for memory, or that St. John’s Wort you thought about trying are worth a trip to the drug or health store, try Natural Medicines Effectiveness Checker. It gives you a quick comparison of the effectiveness of different natural medicines for specific conditions. You can also check interaction between drugs and supplements.

I personally used this database (as Natural Standard) quite frequently for its Pregnancy and Lactation Checker feature during both of my pregnancies. You can search for safety data on specific integrative therapies that have been studied for use during pregnancy and lactation. Now you don’t have to worry about whether goji berries are safe to consume during pregnancy (hint: probably not!).

For those of our readers not affiliated with UCF COM, Natural Medicines does have a free consumer website you can check out here.

Wait, I Can Borrow That?

If our library is any indication, library services aren’t entirely what they used to be. We only have around 1,200 or so physical books, but did you know that the items that get borrowed from our library most frequently are actually technology related? Librarians are working really hard to expand the functions of libraries, and find new ways to attract patrons. One way to do this is by providing innovative new technologies in order to bring the library into the 21st century. It’s not just about providing books anymore! We wrote a bit last year about two Florida Libraries expanding their range of services, the Melrose Center at the Downtown Orange County Library, along with the University of South Florida’s library, to include cool things like recording studios, camera equipment, and drones.

In case you weren’t aware, patrons in our library (that’s students, faculty and staff) can check-out laptops, laptop chargers, mice, and even camera tripods from us (amongst a slew of other things – email medlibrarytech@ucf.edu for details). In fact, this past month, the items that circulated the most out of our entire collection of books and technology were Dell laptop chargers – they were borrowed 89 times!

Another way to re-energize a library is to start providing things that one wouldn’t necessarily associate with libraries. Recently, a survey was sent out across the mailing list of the Florida Library Association, asking about what sort of things our fellow libraries let patrons borrow that could be considered “non-traditional”. The responses received were pretty unique, and a far cry from just electronics; here are a few of the really interesting answers:

  • Vegetable seed packets
  • Ukuleles
  • Umbrellas
  • Exercise equipment
  • Power Meters
  • Museum Tickets
  • Cake Pans

It’s not just libraries in Florida either. Plenty of other libraries are finding ways to connect with their communities by providing them access to things they may need, but never thought to ask for. At one point in the Toronto Public Library, you could even check-out a person for half an hour.

We’ve just finished preparing to start lending out our first “non-traditional” item. Here’s a picture of our stylish new Rolling White Board!

Our New Rolling White Board

“ROBOTKat” makes his first mainstream appearance in Health Sciences Library advertising!

This board has a 24 hour checkout period and can leave the library (but not the Medical Education building itself). It even comes with a package of markers. An item like this really speaks to the “Information Anywhere” part of our library motto.

What are some non-traditional items you’d like to see our library let you borrow? Leave us a comment on this post, or send us an email at medlibrary@ucf.edu!


Apple’s Spring Forward Event Big Topic Recap

In case you missed it, Apple held an event on Monday to make some announcements about the new products it will be soon releasing. So naturally, we fired up our Apple TV and connected it to the big screen in the library to broadcast to anyone interested. We had a bit of fun live-tweeting portions of the event on Twitter.

This one happened a little later, too:

Image courtesy of Tech Radar

Image courtesy of Tech Radar

Seriously though, the Apple representatives had a few interesting things to talk about and unveil during this event, including the long-awaited Apple Watch, which we previewed back in September.  Apple’s first smartwatch will come in three different models, the Watch, the Sport, and the Edition. These styles also dictate the price of the watch; the Sport starts at $349, the Watch at $549, and the Edition at $10,000. The watch will connect with your iPhone (specifically iPhone 5 and above), and you can download apps for it via the Apple Watch Store; a new iOS, 8.2 has just been released in preparation. It boasts an 18-hour battery life time and will connect via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. It can play music, act as a fitness tracker with heart-rate measurements, receive messages and communications, and make payments via Apple Pay, amongst other features that make use of its connection to your phone. And, of course, being a watch, it can tell time for you. The watch releases on April 24; pre-orders begin on April 10. CNET.com has an excellent and in-depth review of the device and all it has to offer on it’s website, so be sure to read all about it.

Image courtesy of Engadget

Image courtesy of Engadget

One of our fun tweets referenced the fact that Apple is also releasing a new MacBook, and it’s even thinner than the MacBook Air. Weighing in at just 2 pounds, it features a 12-inch screen with Retina display and a ultra thin keyboard which runs the width of the entire machine. New “Force Touch” (cue the Star Wars jokes) technology allows the trackpad of the device to be pressure sensitive instead of clickable. Apple has also removed the fan which is typical in laptops to keep them cool, and done away with all ports except the headphone jack and a dual charging/USB connectivity port. New colors are available as well that you’ll recognize if you have an iPhone 5 or above – silver, space gray and gold. The laptop will start at $1,299. Here’s what Engadget has to say about the device.

We were also really interested in the possibilities of using Apple’s new open-source software platform, called ResearchKit. In essence, it’s meant to allow medical researchers to create diagnostic iPhone apps. People downloading the apps for use can essentially become a part of studies and tests without ever having to set foot into a laboratory. This of course means that a lot of potentially highly sensitive information will be transmitted through these apps, which could get complicated in terms of ethics and privacy, but Apple has insisted that only the researchers will have access to the information, not Apple. 5 apps are already available in the App Store that have been developed using the ResearchKit, and you can read all about their features here.

Oh yes, and if you’re an HBO fan and happen to have or want an Apple TV (the price has been lowered to $69 from $99), you can watch all your favorite HBO shows using HBO Now, a cable subscription-free version of HBO that will stream videos to your device for $14.99 a month. Just in time for Game of Thrones season 5.

Wouldn’t it be great to get some of these things in our Library Technology Lab to try out? We’ll be sure to keep you posted if any of that is on the horizon.



Tech Talk Thursday: The Latest Throwback in Technology

Tech Talk banner

An interesting new wearable is soon to be released. There are those who think that I might be referring to Apple’s new entry into the smartwatch field. The release of that new device is indeed imminent. In fact Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, has said that the Apple Watch will be released in April. To that end Apple will be holding a “Spring Forward” special event on Monday, March 9 (the very day after we all spring forward in time and lose a precious hours of sleep). During this event Apple is expected to release new details about Apple’s forthcoming smartwatch.

But, while I am certainly interested in Apple’s new device, the wearable of which I speak is the Runcible, a new smartphone that saw its public premiere this week during Mobile World Congress. What is so interesting about another smartphone? First take a look at a couple of pictures.

The front

The Front

The back

The Back

Pictures from PCMag.com.

This new smartphone/wearable is a throwback of sorts to the day of the pocket watch. It is in fact a modern smartphone outfitted with all of the technology expected including Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and LTE. The Runcible, a creation of a company called Monohm, runs the Firefox OS. The makers of this smartphone feel that the other smartphones of today immerse us in notifications to the point of overwhelming us. The Runcible, while technically capable of providing these notifications, chooses to take a step back and allows us to stay connected to the data that we need through our smartphones while not losing focus with the real world around us.

For more information on this new phone click through the following links.



Your Prescription for March: Get Some Vitamin Zzzzzzzzz

March 2-8 is National Sleep Awareness Week! 

Sleepy Cat

This cat definitely has the right idea

Students: are you taking catnaps between classes in your car or in the library (you know who you are)? Staff and faculty: are you getting drowsy during your 10am meeting? I know I’m guilty. This month, let’s all focus on getting some much needed sleep.

The National Institutes of Health has helpful guidelines on how much sleep we should all be getting, how to get your sleep cycle back on track, and how to tune in to your body’s clues for more sleep (hint: falling asleep at the wheel):

  • 50-70 million Americans are affected by sleep-related problems
  • The cumulative effects of sleep loss and sleep disorders can lead to hypertension, diabetes, obesity, stroke, heart attack, and depression
  • Adults (even medical students) need 7-8 hours of sleep every day
  • Napping does not provide all of the benefits of night-time sleep – you cannot make up for lost sleep
  • You might be sleep deficient if you feel like you might doze off while studying or watching TV, sitting in traffic for a few minutes, or sitting quietly after lunch

Here are some helpful strategies for getting more sleep:

  •  Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day
  • Try to keep the same sleep schedule on weeknights and weekends, or try to limit the different to no more than an hour to avoid disrupting your body’s sleep-wake rhythm
  • Limit alcoholic drinks and caffeine before bed – the effects of caffeine can last 8 hours!
  • Be physically active every day, especially outside
  • Keep your bedroom quiet, cool, and dark to promote sleep
  • Avoid artificial light from TVs, laptop screens, phones, or tablets before bed – the light can signal your brain to stay awake
  • Try some relaxation techniques like meditation, or take a hot bath, before you go to bed

Check out Your Guide to Healthy Sleep from the National Institutes of Health.

Good night!

Spotlight on Health: American Heart Month Resource Roundup

Healthy LifestyleWith only about a week left in February and American Heart Month, we wanted to compile a list of great resources and information floating around on the internet to do with heart health and battling heart disease for your reference. Happy browsing!


The Basics:

About Heart Disease – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Heart Disease – Mayo Clinic

What Are Heart Disease and Stroke? – American Heart Association

Warning Signs of Heart Attack, Stroke, & Cardiac Arrest


Understanding Your Risk:

Heart Disease Risk Factors – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Heart Attack Risk Assessment – American Heart Association

Heart Disease Risk Questionnaire – Siteman Cancer Center


Live a Heart Healthy Life!:

Getting Healthy – American Heart Association

Dietary Guidelines for Americans – United States Department of Agriculture

ChooseMyPlate.gov – United States Department of Agriculture

Physical Activity and Your Heart – National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Stress and your heart – MedlinePlus


Other Interesting News and Facts:

Being active a few days a week lowers risk of heart disease, stroke in women

Paramedics may be first source of treatment for stroke patients

Spotlight on Health: National Cholesterol Education Month

Did you know…Certain chocolate is better for your heart health?

Interactive Cardiovascular Library

MedlinePlus: The Best Database You’re Probably Not Using

MedlinePlus: It's like you have a medical professional right in your computer

MedlinePlus: It’s like you have a medical professional right in your computer

Did you know you can access up to date, authoritative information on nearly 1,000 health topics in easy to read (i.e., non-medical jargon) language for FREE? The U.S. National Institutes of Health and the National Library of Medicine have a terrific resource called MedlinePlus geared toward the general public, and not health professionals.

Health topics in MedlinePlus are available in many different languages, from Japanese to Samoan, even Swahili and Polish. Topics are categorized by body location/system, disorders and conditions, diagnosis and therapy, demographic groups, and health and wellness. You can also find information on drugs and supplements, and watch videos and tutorials.

Although the content in MedlinePlus is not meant for health professionals, the information found here can be very useful for physicians and nurses. Materials in MedlinePlus are typically written at a 5th to 8th grade reading level, making them perfect for use as patient handouts. According to the National Assessment of Adult Literacy, about 36% of adults in the U.S. have limited health literacy, or the ability to understand basic health information needed to make health decisions. In fact only 12% of the U.S. population is proficient in health literacy.

The next time you need basic information about your heartburn, are curious as to whether you’re getting enough calcium, or want to learn more about a family member’s recent Celiac Disease diagnosis, check out MedlinePlus.

And remember, if you need any help locating good, reliable health information online, stop by the health sciences library and speak to a librarian.

Tech Talk Thursday: Google Glass – A Step Back for Reflection

Tech Talk banner

Welcome to our first monthly Tech Talk Thursday! On the first Thursday of each month, the health sciences library’s technology experts will update you on the latest happenings in the world of tech.


google-glassOn January 15th Google announced that it was ending the Google Glass Explorers Edition program – we’ve talked about the program a little before in a previous blog post. The product had been released in limited fashion to the public in April 2013. Google Glass was billed as a hands-free solution that could get you through your day by helping you to navigate city streets, keep in communication with your friends, and stay updated with the latest news and information. People even filmed themselves skydiving with the devices. Controversy over Google Glass arose as well. For example, there were privacy concerns over the built-in camera which made people uncomfortable about the potential of being surreptitiously filmed. Businesses began to preemptively ban the devices even before they were in the hands (and on the faces) of the public at large.

Google stopped short of saying that the program was being cancelled; rather it was to be folded into another division within Google. Further Google Glass development will be moved from the Google X, where Google houses experimental projects, to its own division under the Nest division which is overseen by Tony Fadell, formerly of Apple, Inc. where he helped in the development of the original iPod. The aim is to take what was learned during the Google Glass Explorers Edition program and put that technology and knowledge to create new technology to enrich us on a daily basis.

To be sure, the wearables markets is in its infancy. There are tons of devices coming out that seek to make technology a more integral part of your everyday life such as Android Wear devices, Apple Watch, FitBit activity trackers, and the Facebook-owned Oculus Rift. Time will tell what will become a part of everyday life for millions and what will end up in a dusty drawer. And for now you will need to use GoPros to record your skydiving adventures.

You Asked, We Answered: Copyright edition (Part I)

We’re taking time this week to answer some of the questions we get asked most frequently. Copyright questions are certainly at the top of the list. Today we tackle the basics of Fair Use.

Question: What is Fair Use?


Fair Use is an exception to the rights of copyright owners and allows the public to make limited uses of copyrighted work.

In determining whether a particular use is “Fair Use,” a court weighs four factors:

(1) Purpose and character of use (commercial or educational)

(2) Nature of the copyrighted work

(3) Amount and substantiality of portion used in relation to the work as a whole

(4) Effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of copyrighted work

Fair use is a balancing test – does the overall use after evaluating and applying all four factors lean in favor of or against fair use? As you can imagine, this is very fact-specific and there is no one right answer. The bottom line: think of fair use as a defense – it is always better to obtain permission or have a license to use copyrighted work (or use a work in the public domain); if not, then we may rely on fair use after balancing the four factors above.

For more information, check out:



Spotlight on Health: Stand up before you read this

Ever felt like this? Get up and walk around for a bit!

Ever felt like this? Get up and walk around for a bit!

Did you make a New Year’s resolution on January 1st? Was it to exercise more? New research published in the Annals of Internal Medicine finds that instead of just exercising more, we may actually need to sit less. The systematic review and meta-analysis synthesizes the results of 47 studies and comes to the conclusion that sitting for long periods of time can lead to an increased risk of early death, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes. This is true even for those of us who are already active. The research finds that those who are physically active on a regular basis but still spend the majority of their time being sedentary, still have greater risk for adverse health effects than those who are not sedentary for long periods. Even those who exercise vigorously but still sit for long periods, have a greater mortality rate than those who are not sedentary for long periods of time. The bottom line seems to be that getting our 30 minutes of daily exercise is not enough to stay healthy in the long term. We need to move more and sit less all day, every day.

To reduce the time you spend sitting down during the day, try some of these tips:

– Get a standing desk or treadmill desk

– Take regular breaks when sitting at your desk to get up and walk around

– Use your smart phone or smart watch to remind you to get up every 10 or 15 minutes

– Instead of calling co-workers on the phone, make a habit of getting up and walking to their offices

– When watching TV at home, get up during commercial breaks and stretch or walk around your house

– Set a goal to try to reduce sedentary time by 2-3 hours in a 12 hour day