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The science of complementary medicines with pharmacist, Jacqui Hagidimitriou

14 Aug 2019 10:02 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

Pharmacist Jacqui Hagidimitriou was looking for a career that encompassed her love of biochemistry and interaction with people. She found it in pharmacy.

When she was left in charge of the pharmacy for the first time seven years ago, Jacqui realised there were many natural medicines that she didn’t know much about.

“It was a small store, and I decided to find out more about natural medicines. I have a creative streak, so it was clear that I wanted to learn a bit more.”

She started going to seminars and trying products herself.

“There was quite a lot of biochemistry involved and that sparked my interest in nutrition and naturopathy. I could see the results for myself, and that just made me want to know more.”

Her journey has led to tertiary education in Nutritional Medicine, to be able to provide the most up to date complementary medicine advice in the pharmacy.

The right advice

“Probiotics are very popular with patients because there is more acceptance around their use now. I find that doctors recommend that pharmacists help patients to choose the right probiotic for each individual’s needs. Asking questions is important, but asking the questions that patients don’t know the answer to is vital to get a complete picture of a person’s needs.”

“For example, if a patient came to get some advice on using complementary medicine for the relief of inflammation, it’s crucial to find out if that inflammation is acute or longstanding etc. This is because while fish oil may work, it takes a longer time to bring about an effect. And, large doses are needed for pain relief. If the patient wants faster relief, I would recommend turmeric – it’s all about what the individual needs.”

Complementary Medicines in Australia 

“Patients often ask about the use of supplements, and I think that here in Australia, we have an effective and stringent system in place. Patients often come and talk about products that they have seen in overseas websites and I tend to steer them back to Australian products.’

Too much of a good thing?

“Even with natural medicine, there are issues with taking too much, but that can be the case with everything not just complementary and conventional medicine. I think it is important to take the time to talk with the patient and understand the whole picture for safe and effective recommendations.”

Is there a knowledge gap?

“I think that it is vital to be open-minded about learning the biochemistry and the mode of action of so many products and even nutritional mechanisms of action – from herbs and spices to nutritional supplements. It’s important to understand their mode of action and the potential for interactions.

To be honest, I simply didn’t know about the complex method of action. I think complementary medicines are useful either taken alone or in conjunction with conventional medicines in the right circumstances. But you can have too much of a good thing – whatever kind of medicine you’re talking about. That’s why understanding more about natural medicines is so important.”

To find out more, Jacqui would recommend the textbook by Braun and Cohen, Herbs and Natural Supplements. Plus, more and more education events are being organised by companies.

"Depending on banner group, a pharmacist will also have, a range of company-wide learning opportunities." says Jacqui.

"And most pharmacies have MIMs which has IM Gateway; this is quick and easy to use.

Last word

Jacqui is the managing pharmacist at TerryWhite Chemmart Samford, where they have launched The Clinic Hub -  an allied health and integrative space for additional pharmacy services. This has allowed Jacqui to develop nutritional programs to improve their customer’s wellbeing.

"We provide services in the pharmacy setting and can delve deeply into a patient's diet and lifestyle, and we offer a range of programs including digestive and menopause wellbeing programs."

Find more information at TheClinicHub.com.au.

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