Summit Health Pharmacy’s Medication Take-Back Service


Oftentimes, unused, unwanted, and expired medications get stored in the medicine cabinet, flushed down the toilet, or thrown in the trash. These may seem like simple solutions, but they can be unsafe for children, pets, and the environment. If you’re part of the one-third of Americans who have not emptied out their medicine cabinets this year, allow us to convince you to do so.

Safely Disposing of Medications is Important for Public Safety

It’s important to dispose of any unwanted or expired medications promptly. Failure to do so could lead to accidental use or intentional misuse of the products.  

Throwing unused medications in the trash can cause serious harm to children and pets. Nearly 60,000 children each year suffer accidental poisoning after finding and ingesting medications at home.

Flushing medications down the toilet can contribute to the contamination of waterways, like rivers and canals, as wastewater treatment plants are not designed to remove medications from the water. This contamination can end up affecting our food and water supply.

Storing medications that are unwanted or expired increases the risk that someone will intentionally misuse the drugs. Two-thirds of teenagers and young adults who report abusing prescription medications admit to getting the drugs from family, friends, and acquaintances. Your medicine cabinet is a temptation to friends and family looking to abuse unused prescription medications.

Bring Us Your Unused, Unwanted, and Expired Medications

Bringing your unwanted medications to a drug take-back service is the safest and most responsible way to dispose of unused medications. Summit Health Pharmacy is a registered DEA drug disposal site in Pennsylvania. This means that we can properly and safely dispose of medications. Even if you’re not a customer of Summit Health Pharmacy, we welcome your unused, unwanted, and expired medications.

Before bringing us your unwanted medications:

-Keep all medications in their original container

-Use a marker to black out all personal information from the packaging. (But do not black out the name of the medication or dose.)

If you’re a regular customer or within local driving distance, we will come to you to pick up your unwanted and unused medications. If you’re not a customer or if you’re outside of a local driving distance, you can visit our pharmacy location and leave your medications in the “Drug Take-Back” bin (resembling a mailbox) in front of our building.
Call us at 866-872-5430 to get specific instructions on what medications are accepted, or to find out whether we can pick up your medications at your home. If you do not live in the area, visit the Drug Enforcement Agency’s Diversion Control Division website to find a registered disposal site near you.


How to Lose Weight and Keep it Off: Addressing the Global Obesity Epidemic, a Major Risk Factor for Serious Chronic Illness


Obesity affects nearly 2 billion adults, 340 million children and adolescents, and 41 million children under the age of five worldwide. It affects both children and adults, men and women, and individuals in both developed and third-world countries. In other words, obesity does not discriminate. The reasons why an individual becomes obese are complex and oftentimes the result of multiple factors. Knowing this, what are ways in which individuals with obesity can lose weight and keep it off?

Focus On Optimizing Your Diet

Researchers have determined that regular exercise does not outweigh the effects of a poor diet and, furthermore, that exercise does not promote weight loss. Exercise is still an essential part of reducing the risk and possibly preventing certain diseases, like cardiovascular disease, certain types of cancer, and type 2 diabetes. But individuals looking to lose weight or prevent weight gain should prioritize their diet.

Important steps for any individuals to take in order to optimize their diet are to:

-Significantly reduce or eliminate packaged processed foods

-Identify and eliminate inflammatory foods

-Eat gut-supporting foods rich in prebiotics (fibers found in plant-based foods), like asparagus, leeks, and dandelion greens.

Manage Stress

Stress has been linked to fat in the abdominal region, a risk factor for chronic illness. Cortisol is one of the main hormones associated with stress and has been discovered to cause the body to redistribute fat to the abdominal region. Fat in the abdominal region is associated with an elevated risk of developing chronic health conditions, like cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.

Learning how to manage stress may have a significant impact on the ability to lose weight and prevent certain chronic health conditions. Some examples of stress management include:

-Setting time aside for hobbies, like reading and doing arts and crafts

-Learning how to manage stress may have a significant impact on the ability to lose weight and prevent certain chronic health conditions. Some examples of stress management include:
Setting time aside for hobbies, like reading and doing arts and crafts

-Practicing relaxation techniques, like meditation and deep breathing

-Fostering healthy relationships by spending time with friends and loved ones

Prioritize Sleep

Sleeping too few hours has been directly linked to weight gain. A study published in 2008 by the journal Sleep shows that both children and adults who sleep shorter hours have a significantly increased risk of obesity compared to children and adults who sleep longer hours.

Scientists believe that lack of sleep causes disruptions in hormones. For example, poor sleep has shown to increase levels of a hormone called ghrelin that is known to increase appetite.

Sleeping enough hours every night is crucial to various processes in the body, including healing and repairing the organs and blood vessels, regulating appetite, and maintaining the health of the immune system.

Work With an Endocrinologist to Check and Monitory Hormones

An imbalance in certain hormones is a common cause of weight gain. For example, an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) is a common cause of weight gain. In fact, weight gain and/or the inability to lose weight is the number one symptom seen in individuals diagnosed with hypothyroidism. But thyroid hormones aren’t the only ones involved in weight gain. Sex hormones, like estrogen and testosterone, can also contribute to weight gain. Bottom line — when the body’s hormones are out of balance, it’s almost impossible to lose weight.


Summit Health Pharmacy Team Attends “Cocktails For A Cure” Event for Mitochondrial Medicine

Summit Health Pharmacy had a great time at the “Cocktails for a Cure” event for Mitochondrial Medicine on Saturday March 23, 2019 in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania!  The event benefits the Mitochondrial-Genetic Disease Clinic at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, which is one of the top research centers in the nation for mitochondrial-related diseases.

Thanks to all who attended and supported the Children’s Hospital.

What Really Causes Autoimmune Disease?


The immune system, when functioning properly, protects the body from infectious diseases caused by bacteria, fungi, viruses, and parasites. Infectious diseases can range from more common illnesses, like a cold or the flu, to less common and even fatal illnesses, like HIV.

The immune system is a complex and vital system that works to maintain optimal health. Sometimes, a trigger can cause the immune system to become overactive and actually attack healthy cells in the body — this is referred to as autoimmune disease. There are more than 100 types of autoimmune disease, each of which affects a specific part of the body or, in some cases, the entire body. Some of the most common examples of autoimmune disease include type 1 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis. In this article, we’ll introduce some of the causes associated with autoimmune disease.


A recent study has found a link between stress and the development of autoimmune disorders. In this study, researchers analyzed more than one million people from the Swedish population using census data and registries that indicated prescription medications and medical diagnoses. The study tracked the health of more than 100,000 individuals diagnosed with a stress disorder and compared their risk of developing an autoimmune disorder to individuals who did not have a stress disorder. Scientists found that individuals diagnosed with a stress disorder were more likely to develop an autoimmune disorder compared to individuals without a stress disorder.

A Gut Imbalance

The gut (or the gastrointestinal tract) plays an important role in maintaining the health of the body’s immune system. Certain tissue found in the mucosal layer of the gut, called lymphatic tissue, constitutes 70 percent of the entire immune system. Moreover, the diverse colonies of microorganisms in the gut, called the gut microbiome, interact with the gut’s mucosal layer to maintain the integrity of the immune system. An imbalance in the gut microbiome affects the body’s immune system and has recently been linked to the onset of autoimmune disease.

Exposure to Toxic Substances

Evidence shows that certain substances in the environment and even certain medications can increase the risk of autoimmune disease. A well-cited example is the onset of a musculoskeletal disease that affected hundreds of people after ingesting contaminated cooking oil in Spain in 1981.


Multiple studies have shown that autoimmune disease can be triggered by infection from bacteria, virus, or parasites. Scientists believe this can happen in one of many ways, including:

Molecular mimicry: Molecular mimicry occurs when a pathogen (like bacteria, a virus, or a parasite) shares structural similarities with one or more of the body’s own cells. In addition to attacking the pathogen, the immune system starts to attack healthy cells that are similar to those of the pathogen.

Sustained immune activation: A persistent infection or chronic infection can trigger autoimmune disease. This occurs when an inflammatory response is sustained by the immune system for a long period of time.

One or More Factors Can Initiate Autoimmune Disease

Autoimmune disease can develop from one or a combination of the factors outlined in this article, in addition to others not mentioned here. There is also a genetic factor involved that increases a person’s risk of developing certain autoimmune diseases. Having one or more of these risk factors does not guarantee the onset of an autoimmune disease, but it may increase the likelihood that one will develop.


How Does Stress Affect the Brain?


Stress is known to affect the body and the mind. But stress, especially when chronic or prolonged, can also have a negative impact on the brain. Most people experience forgetfulness when stressed, but there are also changes happening to the brain that one doesn’t notice. So, what are these changes and how exactly does stress affect the brain?

Stress Changes the Brain’s Structure

Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, have found that chronic stress leads to an increase in white matter in the brain, more specifically in the hippocampus (the part of the brain involved in emotion, learning, and memory). White matter is composed of networks of nerve fibers and makes up about half of the human brain. The white color comes from the substance that coats the nerve fibers, called myelin. An excess of myelin in the brain interferes with communication between the brain’s nerve fibers.

Stress Affects Short-Term Memory and Memory Retrieval

Chronic stress is associated with an increased risk of short-term memory loss. A study conducted by researchers at Ohio State University observed changes in the behavior of mice after repeated encounters with aggressive mice. Before the aggressive encounters, the mice were repeatedly placed in a maze with an escape hole, which they learned very well. After repeated stressful encounters with aggressive mice, the observed mice were unable to remember the location of the escape hole.

Moreover, acute stress (short-term stress) has been shown to affect how the brain collects and stores memories. Even stress lasting as little as a few hours can disrupt how brain cells communicate in the hippocampus region.

Stress Kills Brain Cells

A study published in 2005 showed that a single stressful social encounter is enough to lead to nerve cell death in the hippocampus from surviving. During this study, researchers placed a younger rat in a cage with two aggressive older rats for 20 minutes, then examined the brain of the younger rat under a microscope. Researchers found that the stress in the younger rats did not inhibit the hippocampus from generating new cells, but it did prevent a portion of the new cells from surviving — as little as one-third of newly generated cells survived one week later. Scientists also noted that the ability of the new nerve cells to survive was even affected one month after the stressful encounter, with as many as one-third having died.

Stress Shrinks Certain Areas of the Brain

Chronic stress is associated with the loss of brain volume and eventually cognitive impairment. A study conducted on rats showed that chronic stress resulted in a loss of volume in the hippocampus region of the brain. Studies on humans show that individuals diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder have a significant reduction of the hippocampus region of the brain. Loss of brain volume in the hippocampus affects its ability to make and store memories.

What Do These Findings Mean?

The relationship between stress and brain function could lead to new therapies that may help reduce the risk of developing long-term changes to the brain after experiencing stressful events.


4 Nutrients That May Help Protect Against Memory Loss


Currently, Alzheimer’s disease (the most common cause of dementia) and mild cognitive impairment affect more than six million people in the US. Contrary to popular belief, memory disorders are not an inevitable part of aging. In fact, a number of research studies are showing that certain nutrients may help protect against a decline in cognitive function. Below are four nutrients that may help prevent memory loss.

1. Phosphatidylserine

Phosphatidylserine is a phospholipid (fatty substance) found in high concentrations in brain tissue – it can make up as much as 15 percent of the human cerebral cortex (the outer nerve tissue layer of the brain). Phosphatidylserine is important because it forms part of the cell membranes covering and protecting the brain’s cells, and helps carry messages between brain cells.

Phosphatidylserine supports numerous functions related to memory, such as:

-The ability to create new memories

-The ability to retrieve memories

-The formation of short-term memories

-The consolidation of long-term memories

-The ability to learn and recall information

How to incorporate phosphatidylserine into your diet: Phosphatidylserine is found naturally in certain foods, like soybean, egg yolks, and chicken and beef liver. It can be taken as a supplement but should be done so under the care of a physician or licensed practitioner, as it can react negatively with other medications like antihistamines and antidepressants.

2. Choline

Choline is an essential nutrient for normal bodily function and health. It is the precursor to various substances found in the body, like acetylcholine (an important neurotransmitter). One study shows that increasing choline intake earlier in life may protect the brain from cognitive impairment and certain types of dementia, like Alzheimer’s disease, later in life. The body produces a small amount of choline, but needs supplemental amounts from food.

How to incorporate choline into your diet: Choline is found in many foods, including eggs, peanuts, spinach, salmon, and beets.

3. Boron

Boron is a trace mineral that is an essential part of the body’s metabolic processes. Although the body doesn’t need much of it, boron is vital for human life. Boron wasn’t always recognized as an essential nutrient, but scientists had recognized its effect on cognitive function. A recent study shows that decreased levels of boron lead to poor performance in attention and short-term memory tasks. The body does not produce boron and must receive its daily intake from food.
How to incorporate boron into your diet: Boron can be found in plant-based foods, like avocado, red kidney beans, lentils, prunes, and various other foods.

4. Magnesium

Magnesium is a mineral that supports plasticity in the brain (the ability of the brain to form new connections and the foundation of memory and learning). Deficiencies in magnesium have been associated with memory conditions, like Alzheimer’s disease. Furthermore, one study showed that by increasing levels of a specific magnesium compound, called magnesium-L-threonate, in mice, scientists were able to enhance working memory and short and long-term memory.
How to incorporate magnesium into your diet: Magnesium is found in a wide range of nuts and seeds, including pumpkin seeds almonds, cashews, and peanuts. It can also be found in other foods, like spinach, black beans, and dark chocolate.

Not Sure Where to Start? Ask Your Pharmacist, or Consider Working With a Licensed Nutrition Educator

If you’re looking for ways to incorporate more brain-boosting nutrients into your diet, you can contact us online, or by calling (866) 872.5430, to receive a Nutrition Consult from our Pharmacist/Nutrition Educator here at Summit Health Pharmacy. You may also wish to consider working with a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN), Nutrition Educator, or Anti-Aging Specialist. Your nutrient needs depend on your age and gender. These nutrition experts will work with you to help create a well-balanced diet plan that includes essential nutrients for healthy brain function.


Welcome to the Summit Health Rx Blog!

In our new blog, we’ll share helpful tips, health news, and other important information for your medications and well-being. Check back soon for new posts.