Integrative Medicine – Setting the Standard For A New and Better Pharmacy
By: Amy Greeson –
While exploring in the Galapagos Islands, I spent some time at the Charles Darwin Observatory. I have always been fascinated with this “survival of the fittest” environment with its simplicity and the peace, harmony and balance that exist so naturally. Perhaps my intrigue could be summarized by the powerful words of Charles Darwin himself (1835): “It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the most responsive to change.” For isn’t this the same wisdom that has been spoken by many enlightened souls throughout the time of man? And isn’t this responsiveness to change what we are witnessing now with health and healing? There has been, and continues to be, a dramatic shift as we explore, experiment, and incorporate a wide variety of healing practices. And although survival is one outcome of such measures, perhaps even more powerful may be the heightened quality of life.
I find this time exciting and eagerly explore the possibilities. My practice of pharmacy has shifted tremendously as I focus on the individual, on balance and on individual levels of optimal health. Working as a member of this holistic healthcare team is a privilege. I strive to help others understand some of their options regarding herbal, botanical, and nutritional products – often in combination with pharmaceutical and prescription products. When properly integrated, these combinations have the potential to safely and effectively produce incredible results. Guidance and teamwork are vital because often times more harm than good may result if done incorrectly. It’s a very beautiful, yet very delicate, balance.
These balance combinations, referred to as a component of integrative medicine, have the potential for tremendous benefits. Often, such combinations have been possible only because of the teamwork of prescribing physicians and practitioners who have admirably permitted the compounds to be dispensed. One such compound, formulated for a woman battling the cancer in her body, was prepared by combining prescription medications with the healing properties of several “natural” compounds. The mixture was designed to soothe and heal her gastrointestinal tract (throat and esophagus) from the damage caused by her radiation. The prescription compound alone would have been ideal for decreasing the inflammation and numbing the area – vital for her quality of life. However, we would have failed her by not giving her something more to help heal the area. By digging a little deeper, we not only suppressed her symptoms, but also helped her body to begin to repair itself. Initially, the ingredients and their amounts were ideal; however, it was a far cry from anything anyone would want to swallow. (One of my trustworthy pharmacy technicians, Nita, ended up with the dry heaves after tasting the first batch for me. I was nauseated after the second batch.) We changed the recipe seven times, each time targeting and improving the ingredients and the flavoring. With effort and time, we had a formula that we were proud to dispense.
The name of the compound was “Pearl’s Compound,” named after this woman’s magnificent daughter. Pearl (also known as Aprille) never gave up on her mother or a possible solution. I believe that if it were meant to be, the power of her love alone would have instantly cured her mother. The family, especially Pearl, understood that “modern medicine” doesn’t have all the answers. Yet, perhaps those answers could be found on a different path, with a different perspective, and a different vision. At the very least, we would explore the possibilities. To me, Pearl is the epitome of Charles Darwin’s responsiveness to change – and survival.
Another compound was created for a gentleman with a skin condition for which five different prescription medications failed to produce the desired results. Unfortunately, it was a facial condition that made him quite uncomfortable in public settings. It was interesting, even with the prescription creams continuing to increase in strength, the results had remained the same. By combining a pharmaceutical cream with several “natural” ingredients, including tea tree oil, we finally succeeded in clearing his skin and restoring his normal blemish-free skin. What was needed was not a more potent product, but a different approach – an approach that utilized some of the strength of the pharmaceutical creams and combined it with the healing forces of certain “natural” ingredients. By combining the “best of both worlds” we were able to correct the problem. Combinations of similar topical ingredients have given superb results with dry skin, fever blisters, poison oak/ ivy, and so on.
The practice of integrative medicine goes far beyond the scope of compounded products like these. Everyday I assist others who desire to utilize integrative medicine, for example, by combining glucosamine sulfate with an anti inflammatory medication for arthritic conditions. Quite often, I help people who desire to come off of prescription medications; or to decrease their dose, if possible; or to assure them that the combinations of products that they are taking are indeed complementing one another. As we continue to open up our minds and our hearts to other practices and cultures, we will find more of the answers to the problems that we so desperately seek. For I believe that only when we truly begin to utilize the strengths of these entities, will we understand complete healthcare. And with this understanding – and this responsiveness to change – we will not only survive, but flourish.