Break the Habit

Quitting smoking can be the best thing you can do for your health. Here’s what happens when you quit:

Within 8 hours, the carbon monoxide levels drop in your body and the oxygen levels in your blood return to normal.

In 48 hours, your chance of having a heart attack drops. Food will taste and smell better.

In 3 months, your lungs will work up to 30% better.

In 1 year, your risk of heart attack is cut in half.

Within 10 years, your risk of dying from lung cancer is cut in half.

Having said that, quitting smoking is one of the hardest things to do because nicotine is highly addictive. At Intrepid Pharmacy, we can help make quitting easier. Our trained pharmacists can recommend the right quit smoking product for you and prescribe a quit smoking medication. We can also sit down with you and design a Quit Smoking Action Plan with effective strategies specifically for you. This type of consultation, combined with the right quit smoking medication, is the best way to quit smoking. This service is also covered by Ontario Drug Benefit and covered for seniors.

Our team is here to help. Call or visit Intrepid Pharmacy to book an appointment today.

Written by Baris Huner, pharmacist at Intrepid Pharmacy.

Exercise and the Brain

The benefits of exercise on the brain

There is an old myth that once you lose brain cells you’ll never get them back.  Modern science has shown this to be false. We all know that exercise has many benefits for cardiovascular health, but we are also learning that exercise can have a great impact on your brain!  Many studies have shown that regular exercise can actually grow the size of your brain and improve your memory. How is this impossible? We now know that exercise boosts your levels of brain derived neurotrophin factor (BDNF) which stimulates the growth of new brain cells and new connections between neurons in your brain. 

So the next time you workout, remember it’s not just your biceps getting bigger, but your brain too.  Happy exercising!

Written by Baris Huner, Pharmacist at Intrepid Pharmacy Oshawa

Sleep is Your Super Power

Science is now showing that sleep is an essential pillar of health.

I recently watched a  fascinating TED talk by sleep scientist Matt Walker.  He shared many studies showing just how important sleep is for our health.   Here’s a quick fact – a man who routinely sleeps 4-5 hours a night will have the same level of testosterone as a man 10 years older.  Guys, that should get your attention!


A good night’s sleep not only helps us process what we’ve learned the day prior but good sleep also helps us learn the next day.  A study showed that students who pulled an all nighter scored 40% lower on memory tests compared to students who slept 8 hours. This could be the difference between students who score an A versus one that fails!  We now know that good sleep improves the ability of the part of the brain called the hippocampus to retain memories.  

Heart Health

Sleep affects our heart health as well and we see this with daylight savings time.  When we lose 1 hour of sleep in the spring there is a 24% increase in heart attacks that day.  In the fall, when we gain 1 hour of sleep we see a 21% reduction in heart attacks.  The same pattern is also seen with car accidents and suicide rates.

Immune System

A lack of sleep can also have a significant effect on our immune system and our ability to ward off cancer cells.  In our bodies, we have what are called natural killer cells which attack cancer cells. A four hour night of sleep was shown to reduce activity of natural killer cells by 70%.  The link between the lack of sleep and cancer is strong enough that the World Health Organization has classified night shift work as a probable carcinogen.  

Sleep also directly affects our DNA and gene activity.  In a study where people got 6 hours of sleep for 1 week, half of the genes affected resulted in poor immune function and the other half resulted in increased tumour promotion, inflammation, and cardiovascular disease.

The scientific evidence is now clear that shorter sleep predicts a shorter life. So what can we do to improve sleep?  Matt Walker provides two important tips. First, go to bed and wake up at the same time regularly, even during weekends.  Second, keep the room temperature cool and aim for a bedroom temperature of 18 degrees celsius. 

For me, I know that getting 7 to 8 hours of sleep helps me think clearer, be more productive, and deal better with the problems of the day.  Here’s a challenge if you’re skeptical – commit to 7 to 8 hours of sleep for 1 week and see how you feel. Your body and your brain will thank you.

Written by Baris Huner, pharmacist at Intrepid Pharmacy

Link to TED talk Sleep is Your Super Power, by Matt Walker

Is Sitting the New Smoking?

Your body was designed to move, and spending a lot of time sitting increases your risk of many health problems.  According to some studies, it increases your risk of premature death from all causes as much as smoking!

Here are some stats: 

  • sitting for more than eight hours a day is associated with a 90 percent increased risk of diabetes
  • People who sit the most have a 147 percent increased risk of cardiovascular events relative to those who sit the least
  • Women who sit more than six hours a day are 37 percent more likely to die prematurely than those who sit less than three hours a day

These are some pretty scary numbers! But here’s a simple thing you can do to help your health – after 20 minutes of sitting, get up and walk around a minute or two, maybe have a few sips of water while you’re at it.   Taking these kind of breaks has also been shown to increase the brain’s blood flow, so you may even feel more alert and focused. If you’re really ambitious, do a set of 10 push-ups, sit-ups, and squats and you’ll be super fit in no time.

Baris Huner Intrepid Pharmacy

Written by Baris Huner, Pharmacist at Intrepid Pharmacy Oshawa

Be a Lifesaver – get a Free Naloxone Kit

Would you like to have the ability to save someone’s life?  Well, you can with a naloxone kit. The opioid epidemic has affected many communities and families in Canada, and an opioid overdose can happen to anyone taking an opioid.  You are eligible for a free naloxone kit if you are a current opioid user, if you are a past opioid user and at risk of returning to opioid use, or if you are a family member or friend, or someone in a position who can help a person at risk of overdose from opioids.  

You might be asking what is naloxone and how does it work? Naloxone can save lives by temporarily blocking the effects of the overdose on the body.  Keep in mind, however, it doesn’t work for overdoses from alcohol or other kinds of substances.

Anyone taking an opioid can have an overdose even when using it properly.  Opioids can cause death by slowing or stopping breathing, leading to loss of consciousness or death.

Naloxone kits come in two forms – an injection and a nasal spray.   If you are eligible, speak with Intrepid Pharmacist Baris Huner, who can provide you with a free kit and training.

Baris Huner Intrepid Pharmacy

Written by Baris Huner, Pharmacist at Intrepid Pharmacy Oshawa

Top 5 Mistakes with Medications

Prescription medications can help you stay healthy and even save your life.  But, they also come with risks and need to be taken properly.  Here are the Top 5 mistakes people make with medications and how you can prevent them.

  1. Not following the directions on the label.

Your doctor prescribed this medication to be taken in a specific way. Taking too much may cause serious side effects or taking too little may not help at all.  Be sure to talk with your helpful Intrepid Pharmacist so you understand how your medications can be taken properly.

2. Combining medications inappropriately

Many medications can interact with other medications.  This means that when you take two or more medications they may not work well together or worse, the combination can make you very sick.  This can also happen with certain foods and alcohol.  Your Intrepid Pharmacist can advise you on what to avoid with your medications.

3. Not taking your medications long enough

A common mistake I often see is when people stop their medication too early.  Sometimes they may start feeling better and stop their antibiotic.  This may cause the infection to come back even worse. Another example can occur with quitting smoking medications.  At a minimum, most people should be on the medication for 12 weeks but many stop taking the medication very early on feeling they have broken the habit.  Unfortunately, they are often back to smoking in just a few days or weeks and are less motivated to try again.  Take a moment to discuss how long you should take your medications with your Intrepid Pharmacist.

4. Forgetting to take medications

Many of my patients are on several medications a day.  I have some that are on 15 to 20 pills a day.  Anyone can miss or forget a dose when they have a complicated medication regimen.  This can be a serious problem especially for medications to treat seizures or prevent blood clots.  Our Intrepid Pharmacist can dispense your medications in a blister package, to help you remember when to take your medication.

5. Sharing Medications with Family or Friends

It’s normal to want to help a loved one when they are not feeling well.  However, giving them some of your medication may make them feel worse.  You may not know how their body will react or whether they are taking another medication that may cause a bad interaction.  It’s best to advise them to see a health care professional or check with your Intrepid Pharmacist for an over-the-counter treatment.

Baris Huner , Intrepid Pharmacy

Written by Baris Huner, pharmacist at Intrepid Pharmacy Oshawa