Entrez PubMed and MEDLINE
Entrez PubMed is part of the The Entrez Global Query Cross-Database Search System.
This search system is a powerful and quite elaborate search engine that allows its users- doctors, researchers, medical students and general public - to search simultaneousely, with one quiery, many health sciences databases of the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI).
NCBI is part of the National Library of Medicine (NLM) which in its turn is the department of the US National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Entrez PubMed is a hub for medical citations, abstracts and some full texts of medical research and clinical trials with free access.
Entrez PubMed also searches MEDLINE (Medical Literature Analysis and Retrieval System) - a bibliographic database of articles published in academic journals around the world covering medicine, pharmacy, health care, nursing, dentistry, veterinary medicine, biology, and biochemistry.
MEDLINE is a very reputable and influential database. It covers approximately 18 million records published in about 5,000 publications that date back to 1950. Most researchers would not publish their results in a journal that has not been indexed for MEDLINE because their research will not be noticed by other researchers. Entrez PubMed has over 20 million citations, a few of them going back to the 19th century.
How can Entrez PubMed be useful to you with all this wealth of medical research and more information added almost daily? If you are like us and don't believe everything you hear about a particular nutrient, food, supplement, or treatment unless it is backed up with research, then PubMed should become your friend and be saved into your Favorites. Because there you can search the published clinical trials and weed out unsubstantiated health claims you hear every day! Isn't this great? By the way, "entrez" is translated from French as "come in". So, let's come in...
HOW TO SEARCH ENTREZ PUBMED
To search PubMed effectively you need to narrow down your term to a very short one that describes accurately a specific area of interest to you.
For instance, if we type in "glutathione" the system with return 94,220 articles citing this key word (as of February 2011). If we narrow it down to "glutathione cancer" we will still have too many results - over 14,000. So, we can narrow it further to "glutathione breast cancer". Now we have 1,193 results. "Glutathione breast cancer prevention" will return 109 results - which is more realistic to look through to figure out the role of glutathione in breast cancer prevention.
Another example: let's see how extensively the popular acai berries have been researched. Our term "acai" returned only 72 papers. Can we prove that acai helps in weight loss - a claim widely spread in the media? Our terms "acai weight", "acai weight loss", and "acai dieting" returned zero results that would prove that eating acai berries leads to weight loss.
If you know the name of a researcher you can look up all of his or her published papers by typing the name with initials without periods into the search field, for example - Bounous G, Baruchel S or Kongshavn PA .
All papers are also assigned a number in PubMed database that is preceded by the abbreviation PMID. Research papers can be looked up by this number if it is available to you.
INTERPRETING THE RESULTS
The most recent papers are displayed first in the results, which is convenient for those tracking newest research in a particular field.
It is sometimes difficult for someone without medical background to understand the results. But it can be done - with time and possibly a dictionary at hand. PubMed papers are presented as short abstracts that contain a brief summary of the purpose, methods used and, most importantly, the results - this is more than enough for someone like you and me. Full texts are available too, some of them for free, for those (usually medical professionals and students) who need to examine all the details.
The existence of Entrez PubMed has made it possible for an ordinary person to research medical topics that interest him or her not relying on information they hear from others. I think it is a great opportunity to be able to stay truly informed!
Search PubMed/MEDLINE here.
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