September 2010

A Unique Approach To WELLNESS: Pharmacists Who Focus On Restoring Health At Any Age

Author: Shelia Shephens, Pharm. D. | Photographer: John Brackett

Today’s headlines center on healthcare and the means to cut healthcare costs. As more cost-effective treatments for diseases are sought, the question rarely asked is how the cycle of poor health can be broken.

At Stephens Pharmacy and Stephens Compounding Pharmacy, Jerry and I are seeking solutions to medication problems. Unlike conventional pharmacies that revolve around the treatment of symptoms, our approach involves determining the underlying cause of the illness and working with physicians to formulate a holistic treatment plan. The plan may include natural hormones, vitamin and mineral supplements and dietary changes as well as conventional medications as a bridge to better health.

I consult with clients to target hormone imbalance. Simple saliva and blood spot testing can help identify a root cause of symptoms such as chronic fatigue, headaches, weight gain, poor sleep and symptoms related to menopause or andropause.

Dr. Shelia Stephens, Pharm. D.

One of my roles is to change clients’ expectations. The acceptance of poor health as a result of aging is not the norm. A common theme is that with each passing year, a few more pounds are added and maybe a metabolic disease is identified, such as diabetes or hypertension. It is also common to find individuals who are experiencing weight gain, hair loss, lack of energy and who feel cold most of the time. By evaluating lab parameters such as TSH, T4 and T3 levels, a cause for the symptoms can be identified.

The human body is wonderfully crafted for healing, and the ability to work with natural products can add a synergy to the process. When I am able to identify a hormone imbalance, such as thyroid deficiency, hope is restored.

The supplementation for low hormone levels centers on natural sources, not synthetic. The endocrine system, which regulates hormones, will utilize the addition of natural and organic sources of replacement. Examples of this can be seen when comparing naturally derived thyroid to synthetic thyroid products. The naturally derived thyroid has a ratio of potential to active thyroid that is not found in the synthetic. When introduced in the body, the natural form can be more readily taken into the cell and used as an energy source. This will result in a return to a more functional state for the systems of the body, which include the heart and brain.

Another key area to evaluate is the functional status of the adrenal glands. Positioned above the kidneys, these glands are responsible for providing hormonal balance to the body during stress. One of the key hormones produced is cortisol, which allows the individual to adapt to changes in the environment. The adrenals are sometimes referred to as the “fight or flight” glands, controlling hormones that are responsible for our responses to anger, fright or fear. They may cause an increased heart rate, increased blood pressure and mobilization of the sugar from the liver to the bloodstream.

Many times the body turns on the production of cortisol because of the chronic stress of our culture (too many demands, not enough time). This can lead to adrenal fatigue. A diurnal saliva test can identify rhythms that are out of sync. Circulating cortisol levels should peak during the early part of the day and gradually decline. A common complaint is the inability to fall asleep and then difficulty waking up. This can be due in part to inverted cortisol levels that are low in the morning and high in the evening. Supplementation with adaptogens—herbal sources that balance cortisol—can be helpful.

The unique role that the Stephens Pharmacy team adds to healthcare is the one of health advocate. Jerry Stephens, R.Ph. helps patients identify medications that may be causing side effects. He is quick to ask about swelling, unusual rashes or changes in overall well-being. He is even interested in the water you drink! He has researched the effects of a change in the pH on the body chemistry.

Water that is derived from the tap or distillation has an acidic pH. The chemistry of the circulating fluids in the body is a basic to alkaline pH. By drinking water with an alkaline pH, better hydration, motility of the gut and potential for inflammation is possible.

Jerry Stephens, R.PH.

Stephens Pharmacy excels in providing patients with great value and cost-effective medications with a priority on the minimizing wait time. Jerry continues to offer a hospitality that speaks of the value he has assigned each person he meets. You will find him quick to offer a rocking chair and a cool glass of his alkaline water plus some interesting conversation.

I am available for consultations to meet the individual needs of each client. Medications are customized based on a physician’s order and can provide solutions that restore health and vitality.

The question, “What does age have to do with it?” is easily answered. It is a minimal part of the equation. The balance of hormones, lifestyle and nutrition is a simple, but effective plan.

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