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Australian Journal of Pharmacy : November 2006
nutrition Grab a slice of the wellness pie An ageing population and increasing research levels which demonstrate how complementary medicine promotes optimal health and wellbeing offers pharmacy an opportunity to become wellness specialists. LISA OFFORD reports P UBLIC interest in nutrition, and how the role of good diet, vitamins, minerals, herbs and other supplements can determine quality of life, continues to grow. Consumers are increasingly searching for advice, fuelled by emerging evidence certain complementary prod- ucts can help prevent illnesses and pro- mote optimal health and wellness. Pharmacists are well placed to claim a larger a slice of the wellness pie. Nutritionist, pharmacist, lecturer and author Lesley Braun predicts there will be more people interested in nutrition and using complementary medicines as the population ages. ‘When you look at the surveys you do tend to find that people with chronic dis- eases are big users of complementary medicines,’ Ms Braun said. ‘This provides a brilliant opportunity for pharmacists to become wellness spe- cialists. They are very accessible, they have the background to understand the evidence and how it works with conven- tional medicine. ‘However, I don’t think enough of them are actually taking on that challenge,’ she commented. The knowledge store Pharmacist Stephanie Bennett is one pro- fessional who prospered by incorporating complementary medicines into a high quality clinical practice. Ms Bennett recently sold her Sydney- based practice to consult and support other pharmacies in complementary medicines. She shared some of what she has learned with the AJP. ‘Essentially you need to have the right people on board to do it well and that starts off with pharmacists who are inter- ested in having some sort of offering out- side of just a dispensing service and that want to value-add more than just with a CMI,’ she said. ‘So you have to have someone who is at least open, or a bit knowledgeable. 48 ? THE AUSTRALIAN JOURNAL OF PHARMACY VOL.87 NOVEMBER 2006 Ms Braun added: ‘At the very least peo- ple should understand how their top-sell- ing products work—identify them and become familiar with them and have a good resource to understand the rest. Ms Bennett continued: ‘Initially we looked at our prescription sales and we broke them up into disease states—like blood pressure, high cholesterol, infec- tions, pain, gastro, sleep, asthma, depres- sion and diabetes. ‘Then we looked at all the companion sellers around those.’ She recommended pharmacists simply start off with a few basic supplements such as glucosamine and fish oil plus probiotics and multivitamins—‘all of which have a heap of evidence now’. Ms Bennett said intervention could be made when scripts were filled or from the other side of the counter. ‘If you are a good enough pharmacist and you are trying to manage health- related conditions on the floor, I think you