An integrated world

Integrative pharmacy and why we practise it?

Integration – the bringing together, blending, combining of the different for the best outcome of a whole. The mere definition evokes thoughts of an embracing approach, the consideration of all aspects of a person and supporting them in the most suitable way for their health and wellbeing.

Integrative medicine is not merely the combination of conventional or traditional medicine and complementary and/or natural medicine. It places emphasis on the relationship between practitioner and patient, focuses on the whole individual, is evidence-based and makes use of all available therapeutic options, healthcare professionals and disciplines to achieve optimal health and wellbeing.

The gap between conventional and complementary medicine is getting smaller every year, which makes it ever easier for the consumer to find the right approach for them. It’s not that one needs to be chosen over the other, as mentioned above, the best approach is finding the right combination for you.

The complementary industry is growing rapidly

Current statistics put the complementary medicine industry in Australia at around $3.5 billion and it is expected to grow to $4.6 billion by 2018. It is estimated that 2 in every 3 Australians use complementary medicine each year and 42% do so to prevent or manage a chronic health condition. This is one of the highest consumption rates per capita in developed nations.

These high usage rates have lead to some positive steps to further integration between all forms of medicine, with 90% of conventional medical practitioners expressing an interest in increasing their understanding of the area. Also, 80% of GPs have reported referring patients for some kind of complementary therapy within the last 12 months.

Looking out for your own health and wellbeing

Whatever approach you choose, it is very important to mention to all your healthcare practitioners what medicines, treatments, herbs and supplements you are taking, as there can sometimes be unwanted reactions and side-effects between certain combinations of products. For example:

- Echinacea, chamomile and milk thistle all have an effect on the liver, which can reduce the effectiveness of some prescription medications or increase the risk of their side-effects

- Gingko – those people taking any kind of blood-thinning medications such as warfarin, should not take gingko as it also thins the blood and decreases its ability to form clots

- Chamomile can also increase the risk of bleeding in some people who are taking blood-thinning medication such as warfarin.

- St John’s Wort – may reduce the effectiveness of the oral contraceptive pill and digoxin (heart medication). Also using St John’s wort along with certain antidepressant medications can lead to some potentially nasty side effects.

It is also important to note that you should never stop taking your prescribed medications or change their dose without consulting with doctor.

Many nutrients, supplements and herbs can have a beneficial effect on prescription medication, enhancing absorption and improving the way in which the body deals with the drug. Examples include:

- corticosteroids and selenium: oral corticosteroids reduce the amount of available selenium in the body, so supplementation whist on the steroids can be beneficial

- hormone replacement therapy and vitamin D: vitamin D assists in calcium absorption which in turn enable oestrogen to maintain bone mass

- antihypertensives/calcium channel blockers and quercetin: quecertin may increase the bioavailability of the drugs

So what is integrative pharmacy?

At the Natural Chemist we bring together traditional pharmacy and a modern, integrative-medicine practice. Our team includes pharmacists, nutritionists, naturopaths, baby-health nurses, and skincare specialists, all working together for your health.

We offer a caring integrative approach and we won’t limit your choice to either mainstream or complementary approaches. Instead you’ll learn about the options available to you so you can make informed decisions about your health. Mind, body & spirit.

Visit us at: or call us on T: 1300 882 303, to discuss your healthcare options with one of our team of experts.


Braun L and Cohen M, 2010. Herbs & Natural Supplements – An evidenced-based guide, 3 rdEdn, Churchill Livingstone, Sydney

Dobos G, Tao I, 2011. The model of Western integrative medicine: the role of Chinese medicine. Chin J Integr Med.2011 Jan;17(1):11-20.

Hao Xu, 2010. Making evidence-based decisions in the clinical practice of integrative medicine. Chin J Integr Med,16, 6: 483-485

Hechtman L, 2014. Clinical Naturopathic Medicine. Churchill Livingstone, Sydney

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