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Functional Medicine Pharmacy: The Future of Health Care


Zoe Schilling

PharmD. Candidate

4/12/2022



My grandma sees separate doctors for her heart, thyroid, and other neurological pain management. Each specialist prescribes their own medications and each visit is limited to 30 minutes. I’ve also noticed that NONE of these “specialists” counsel on diet, stress, or other lifestyle factors. My grandma gets prescribed additional medications to treat the side effects from her current medications. She went from two medications to twelve medications in the course of six months. Can you or a loved one relate?


Unfortunately, health care is monetarized in America. We treat the diseases when they are already the worst, rather than focusing on preventing them in the first place. Yes, medications can do GREAT things! I’m a future pharmacist, I am fully aware of the life-saving potential of medications. However, I am also fully aware of the detrimental side effects that medications can generate.


What if I told you that you can reverse diabetes? What if I told you medications did not have to be continued long-term? MOST chronic disease states have an underlying, root cause that can be fixed, rather than prescribing a medication to serve as a temporary "band-aid". This is exactly why functional medicine practices are revolutionizing the future of health care.



Functional Medicine compared to Conventional Medicine:

Functional medicine is an approach to medicine that looks at a patient as a whole and treats the ROOT CAUSES of health conditions rather than covering up the symptoms.





The Institute for Functional Medicine (IFM) defines the practice as “an individualized, patient-centered, science-based approach that empowers patients and practitioners to work together to address the underlying causes of disease and promote optimal wellness.”


Unlike conventional medicine, where treatments only address the symptoms of a disease, functional medicine focuses on treating the ROOT cause of the problem and relates it to biological and environmental factors.


What condtions can be treated/ prevented with functional medicine?

  • Adrenal disorders.

  • Alzheimer's disease and dementia.

  • Arthritis.

  • Asthma.

  • Autoimmune diseases.

  • Cancer prevention.

  • Cardiovascular disease.

  • Diabetes.

  • Digestive disorders.

  • Fibromyalgia.

  • Environmental and food allergies.

  • Women’s health disorders (PMS, menopause and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

  • Metabolic syndrome, prediabetes and insulin resistance.

  • Thyroid disorders.

  • Migraines.

How do pharmacists play a role in functional medicine?


Deprescribing: Carefully stopping medications that are no longer needed.


Medication Therapy Management: Optimizing medications and supplement regimens with dose timing, frequency, and paying attention to mealtimes. This allows the drugs/ supplements to be maximally absorbed into the body and gain full therapetics effects.

Example: Calcium is best absorbed twice daily. Vitamin D helps to absorb calcium.


Drug Supplement Interactions: Ensure supplements and medications work together safely.


Drug Nutrient Depletions: Replace vital nutrients that medications may be depleting.

Example: Metformin and Proton Pump Inhibitor type medications are notorious for causing vitamin B12 deficiency.


Mind your MEDS: Mindfulness, Exercise, Diet, & Sleep are just as important as taking your medications and supplements as recommended!


Professional Grade Supplements: Quality Matters! To access quality supplements, visit a secure, Online Dispensary at www.FMPhA.org/supplements.


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Example of Functional Medicine: My boyfriend Jake used to suffer from debilitating migraines with aura for several years. His migraines happened quite frequently and I could not exactly understand why. He eats extremely healthy, gets enough sleep, etc. However, we found out that he was magnesium deficient. Stress also appeared to be a trigger for him. By supplementing with the correct dose of magnesium and fish oil capsules, as well as actively taking measures to reduce stress in his day-to-day activities, Jake has been migraine-free for over 2 years.


One of my mentors Sujata Patel, who is a functional medicine pharmacist has an amazing story how she overcame fluroquinolone toxicity from a medication called ciprofloxacin.

Visit her full story here: https://floxiehope.com/sujatas-story-cipro-poisoning-and-recovery/


Sources:

Functional Medicine: IFM. (2022 April 10). Retrieved April 10 2022, from https://www.ifm.org/functional-medicine/

Briyce Lyndum. Why Pharmacists Have Begun Embracing Functional Medicine. Pharmacy Times: (2020, December 16). Retrieved April 10, 2022, from https://www.pharmacytimes.com/view/why-pharmacists-have-begun-embracing-functional-medicine

https://my.clevelandclinic.org/departments/functional-medicine/about