Episode 2: Trained Pharmacist talks about Alternative Medicine, Essential Oils and Supplement

Dr. Lindsey Elmore, a chemist and pharmacist, discusses the myths and facts about essential oils and supplements, as well as their benefits.

Lindsey Elmore has a distinguished background in pharmacy practice. She has a degree in chemistry from the University of Alabama Birmingham and a Doctor of Pharmacy from the University of California San Francisco. She completed a PGY1 at Princeton Baptist Medical Center and a PGY2 in Ambulatory Care at New Hanover Regional Medical Center. Following residency, Dr. Elmore was an Assistant Professor of Pharmacy Practice, Director of the Community Pharmacy Residency Program at Samford University, and a Transitions of Care Clinical Pharmacist at St. Vincent’s Medical Center.

Dr. Elmore is a speaker, author and owner of her own integrative wellness company. She shares her passion for natural wellness solutions on stages around the world, and online on her viral Facebook Lives. She is fascinated with natural products, food as treatment for chronic disease, and integrative therapies, and she has spoken on these topics on 5 continents. She is certified in Aroma Yoga and a certified 200-hour yoga teacher. In her spare time, Dr. Elmore enjoys gardening, singing, dancing, and watching her brother play professional baseball.


Neal Howard: Welcome to the program. I’m your host Neal Howard here on Health Professional Radio, glad that you could join us today. I am going to have a conversation with a woman who’s got a distinguished practice. She’s a chemist and a pharmacist joining us today to talk about some of the myths, some of the facts surrounding essential oils and supplements as well as their benefits. Please welcome to the program Dr. Lindsey Elmore, welcome.


Dr Lindsey Elmore: Thank you so much for having me here today.


Neal: Now as a chemist and a pharmacist, give us just a bit of your background and let’s talk about essential oils and other supplements.


Dr Elmore: So I am originally from Birmingham, Alabama. I have a degree in chemistry from the University of Alabama Birmingham and then I have my Doctorate in Pharmacy from the University of California, San Francisco. Did two years Post-Doc, one in Internal Medicine and then my second year Post-Doc was in Ambulatory Care. And when I was in Ambulatory Care, I saw patients with the disease states that everybody has diabetes, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, asthma, COPD and I would sit with patients and we would aim to change their life. How do we make them healthier people? And one of the things that became very frustrating for me as a pharmacist is people say they want to change their life but then they don’t really take any action to empower those choices. And so I started just giving people other options and I started doing tons of research about essential oils, herb supplements, their interactions with medications, their interactions with disease states because I felt like there was a relative lack of understanding among healthcare providers about how do we, if we choose to, integrate these two worlds. And I felt that patients were asking the questions and not finding answers and so I went about trying to find the best answers that I could and sometimes those answers are “Hey there’s great evidence.” Sometimes those answers are “There’s really not good evidence at all.” So that’s a bit of my background and now I speak and teach people about essential oils online and on stages around world.


Neal: So how do you end up talking to your patients about these alternative medicines, these essential oils and other supplements? And you’re a pharmacist but you’re talking about herbs and some of these other things that could be considered alternative? How do you get that conversation started and build some trust in this alternative?


Dr Elmore: Sure. So one of the things that I think is so important for healthcare professionals is we must ask our patients about alternative medicines because a lot of the times, especially in varieties of cultures and races and ethnicities – people are shy about telling you what kind of herbs and supplements that they’re using. So step one, we as professionals have to say “Tell me more. I see that you listed these medicines here, do you take any herbs? Any supplements, any remedies that your mother gave to you?”  Ask it in a wide variety of ways because once we get the patient talking, then we will open up the conversation and the dialogue. And then once you have that dialogue open, it’s so important to be respectful and non-judgmental. I think it’s a tragedy when patients walk in to their primary care provider or their family medicine doctor or even a dentist or whoever, and they say “Hey I’ve got this bottle of supplements and I’m thinking about taking it. What do you think Doc?” When they are met with utter resistance and told like “Oh it doesn’t work,” “Oh don’t try it,” “I don’t know anything about it. It might be dangerous.” That’s not doing them fair justice as a patient. They are are taking a step to say “Hey, I’m empowering my own wellness.” And so we’ve got to be respectful and non-judgmental. And then I think that the other thing that we have to do is explain the science that we know when we don’t know, say that if you’ve never heard of these herbs and supplements, then just say that and that’s okay. But then, commit to doing a bit of research, be it following somebody as simple as me on my blog and just say “Hmm I wonder if there are some writings about this.” Or it’s simply looking up that supplement online while they’re in your office. I know when I was when I was practicing pharmacy, patients would bring me medications all the time directly from the shelves and they say “How do I take this?” I can’t tell you how many times I just turned the bottle around and read the instructions to them. And so once we open dialogue, are respectful of the patient’s choices, explain what we know, then we are at a point when we can collaborate with them. If you’ve got a patient on a blood thinning medicine and they bring you a supplement that has garlic and gingko and you just go”Wow this is a lot of drug interactions going on.” If they’re committed and they’re like “Doc I’m going to take this no matter what you say.” Then it’s up to you as a care provider to say “Alright, well then that means that for the next six weeks I need you to commit to taking it every day and I need you to commit to coming in and getting your INR checked more frequently.” That collaboration and that compromise and negotiation is how we can empower our patients to safely use herbs and supplements and essential oils alongside their medicine and it also helps you as a care provider know that you are doing what you are mandated by your license, by your ethics and principles to take care of that person.


Neal: Would you say that you are an alternative pharmacist, in that you try to integrate as opposed to eliminate one or the other?


Dr Elmore:  I think that there is a place for herbs, supplements, natural remedies and I think that there is definitely a place for medication. I am not someone who is going to say “There’s only this one way.” My opinion on everything in life, not just healthcare, but on everything is ‘there is no right choice, there is no wrong choice.’ There is only the choice that you make and if that for some people means “I’m going to take every medicine that I’m given. I’m never going to use an alternative. I’m never going to explore. I’m never going to change my diet.” That’s one choice. On the absolute opposite end of the spectrum are the people that say “You know what, I am never going to take a medicine. I don’t care if my blood pressure is high, I’m going to get some magnesium supplements and I’m going to start meditating and I’m going to eliminate caffeine from my diet and that’s going to be my choice.” I think both of those are valid. I certainly am against the culture of shame within the natural product community and I’m a very avidly outspoken about it among my peers is if you’re in this community and somebody gets a rip-roaring pneumonia and chooses to take an antibiotic or if someone gets terrible postpartum depression and chooses to take an antidepressant – that is their choice and that is totally a valid voice. I think that there is room for conventional approaches and I think that both are valid solutions to help.


Neal: Where can we go and learn more online about your point of view and about the essential oils as they relate to our wellness overall?


Dr Elmore: Absolutely. So you can find me online at www.lindseyelmore.com. You can also find me on Facebook and Instagram @lindseyelmore.


Neal: Thank you so much for coming in and speaking with us today Dr. Elmore, it’s been a pleasure.


Dr Elmore: Absolutely. It was my joy and my honor and I hope that everyone takes away, just one small thing to help improve their practice. Thank you.


Neal: You’ve been listening to Health Professional Radio, I’m your host Neal Howard. Transcripts and audio of this program are available at healthprofessionalradio.com.au and also at hpr.fm. Subscribe to this podcast on iTunes, listen in and download at SoundCloud. And visit our Affiliate Page at hpr.fm and healthprofessionalradio.com.au 

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