April is Earth Month, and we’re excited to highlight some of our favorite female-founded brands with a focus on sustainability.
Before we were all in lockdown, a super cute, integrative, holistic pharmacy in San Diego caught our attention. Remedy is a fully functioning, traditional pharmacy (they accept prescriptions and take insurance), but their small team is also passionate about using natural approaches first. Remedy integrates the use of supplements and/or herbs into traditional western medicine. We interviewed Remedy’s founder, April Segal, PharmD, BCPS, APh, about holistic medicine, sustainability, and all things hormones.
April Segal, Remedy pharmacist and owner
Remedy offers a holistic approach to health and medicine that so many women seem to be craving right now. Do you think this has always been true or is this response a reaction to a changing sociopolitical climate?
It is true that there is a real trend for more natural treatments. We see if every day at Remedy—people who are so frustrated with the traditional medical system and pharmaceutical medications. I think there are two big drivers. One is the internet and the availability and ease with which people can share information, which really empowers people to choose treatments that more align with their values versus just blindly accepting one doctor’s plan. The second big driver has been the change in the types of conditions we are seeing in developed countries. Traditional pharmaceuticals work great for acute conditions, like a bacterial infection. However, the conditions people are faced with more and more are chronic, life-long conditions. In that case, there are typically root causes that need to be addressed and 9 times out of 10 traditional medications do not get to that root cause. So in addition to resigning to take a daily pill, you are also having to accept the fact that you aren’t even truly fixing the issue, just treating the most bothersome symptom. People don’t want to accept that—and for good reason! Our bodies really do have amazing capabilities to heal themselves if we can get more in-tune with what the imbalance is.
One of Remedy’s core beliefs is “personalized medicine is the future.” Can you tell us more about that, and how you think we’re progressing towards it?
Everywhere you look in medicine, we are using more personal information to guide treatments. From cancer treatment to picking the best probiotic, there are more tests available to allow us to get very specific information about you and then make a personalized treatment. I think that the compounding we do at Remedy is a great example of this. If you have hormone testing done, then your doctor can prescribe a very specific formula at precise doses that helps compensate for deficiencies found. I am also very excited about the functional medicine tests that are available for nutrient deficiencies that allow us to make personalized supplement recommendations.
Another test we do at Remedy is pharmacogenomics which uses DNA from a saliva sample that allows us to look at your genetic makeup of drug enzymes and drug receptors. This allows us to better predict which medications might work best for you as well as which medications may be more likely to cause side effects. The great thing about this testing is that the results remain the same your entire life, so we can use this information going forward for your entire life. You never know what medications you might need or be prescribed in the future but this allows us to be prepared if that does occur.
I think one of the biggest issues facing the healthcare industry and how broken it feels for many Americans is lack of education. How is Remedy working to help your community better understand preventative and holistic health?
Educating people about their health options (holistic vs traditional vs integrative) is part of Remedy’s mission! We love when people who are picking up their medication at the pharmacy start looking around and asking questions about the herbs and supplements. I love that we offer a space where people who might be new to the “alternative” options feel comfortable asking questions and learning. We also offer monthly workshops, which range from making a tincture, taught by our in hours herbalists, to a class on balancing hormones naturally by a guest naturopathic doctor.
You’ve said that you’re passionate about sustainability and conscious consumerism (we are too!). What does that look like in practice at Remedy?
I think the biggest commitment we have made to that is the use of biodegradable prescription vials. In San Diego (and other counties nationwide), prescription vials are taken out of the recycling and put into landfills. These vials are specifically designed to prevent degradation by light and other elements so it takes decades, if not centuries, for these to degrade. We use vials that not only protect the medication but also biodegrade by 50% in 18 months! We absorb the extra cost of these vials so that our patients can feel good about their pharmacy in more ways than one!
In my work at Blood + Milk, I’ve spoken with countless women who have suffered from some kind of hormonal imbalance—whether related to their period or PMS, endometriosis, pregnancy, postpartum, fertility, menopause…the list goes on. What is one thing you wish every woman knew about seeking care or treatment for hormonal issues?
That being placed on birth control is not the only option for hormone issues! I see this soooo often, it’s sad really. While it’s true that hormonal contraception will reduce your natural hormonal fluctuations, it really does not address the root cause of your hormonal imbalance. Not to mention that hormonal contraceptives have their own side effect profiles. If you ask your doctor about other options besides birth control and they don’t give you any other options I would recommend seeing a naturopathic doctor instead!
I’ve loved reading through your blog and learning more about certain herbs that I’d love to try and experience, but I’m not based in San Diego! Do you have recommendations for readers not in the area about where and how to find a quality herbalist and/or a more holistic approach to healthcare?
Well, if you are ever in San Diego please stop by! There is a great tool on the American Herbalist Guild website that allows you to search and find herbalists in your state (that are AHG registered). It can be found here. If you are looking for a physician with a more holistic approach, I recommend looking for those with training in functional medicine. There is an IFM certification that physicians can obtain and that organization also offers a search tool by area here. And last but not least, I love the approach that naturopathic doctors offer so I always recommend that as an option too!