5 Tips from an Integrative Pharmacist for Managing Prescriptions

5 Tips To Manage Medications Safely for Anyone Taking more than one prescription

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Integrative Pharmacist Dr. Nguyen.  Dr. Nguyen shared 5 tips (and more) for managing medications safely at home during her podcast interview with me. Anyone taking more than one prescription should be aware of potential interactions with multiple medications and food. In this article, we will 5 tips Dr. Nguyen frequently shares with her clients to manage medications safely.

Dr. Nguyen is a board certified geriatric pharmacist. In 2017, she founded Mimosa Health LLC. Her mission is to provide expert advice in the use of medications by older adults promoting healthy aging and educating seniors about polypharmacy as well as medication safety.  Integrative Pharmacy approaches patient care holistically. Pharmacist such as Dr. Nguyen train to approach the patient as whole, examining their diet, activity level, and overall health.
Currently, she is a consulting pharmacist for skilled nursing facilities and a fellow in training at the Academy of Integrative Health and Medicine.

Here is some of the information Dr. Nguyen shared during her interview with me:

What Type of Drug Interactions should a person be aware?

According to Dr. Nguyen, prescription medications can interact with many things other than other prescriptions.  According to Dr. Nguyen, these are the possible interactions that can affect how well a prescription is working:

  • Drug-Drug Interaction
  • Drug-Vitamin Interaction
  • Drug-Gene Interaction
  • Drug-Disease Interaction
  • Drug-Herb Interaction
  • Drug-Alcohol Interaction
  • Drug-Food Interaction

How Does an Integrative Pharmacist Approach Proton Pump Inhibitors?

Dr. Nguyen and I discussed a type of medication that is frequently prescribed for heartburn, ulcers, and esophageal disorders, Proton Pump Inhibitors.

Common Proton Pump Inhibitors

  • Omeprazole (Prilosec)
  • Omeprazole with Sodium Bicarbonate (Zegrid OTC)
  • Esomeprazole (Nexium)
  • Lansoprazole (Prevacid)
  • Pantoprazole (Protonix)
  • Dexlansoprazole (Dexilant)
  • Rabeprazole (AcipHex)

Proton Pump Inhibitors, also known as PPI’s are great for treating heartburn, ulcers, and esophagitis. They should not be taken long term as they can create other problems.

According to Dr. Nguyen “if you take a proton pump inhibitor for more than 12 weeks, you start losing vitamins such as magnesium, iron , calcium, and your bones will have issue. You will have nausea, vomiting, or you may have anemia.”

“If you take more than 12 weeks, you start losing vitamins such as magnesium, iron , calcium, and your bones will have issue. You will have nausea, vomiting, or you may have anemia.”

-Dr. Nguyen, Art of Healing Podcast, Season 3 episode 2

Can Food Interfere with Prescription Medications?

I asked Dr. Nguyen about common interactions between foods and medications. Sometimes you get a prescription and the pharmacist makes it clear to avoid certain foods, such as Coumadin and Leafy Greens. Dr. Nguyen shares with the listeners that other foods can interact with medications and have an impact on how effective the medication can be.

According to Dr. Nguyen, foods high in calcium or iron may weaken the effect of antibiotics. It may be a good idea to avoid consuming dairy when taking an antibiotic such as Amoxicillin.

How Does an Integrative Pharmacist Recommend Managing Multiple Medications?

People taking multiple medications often must make the choice of taking medications that interact. I asked Dr. Nguyen what is her advice for people that take multiple medications. She recommends first speaking to your pharmacist about which prescriptions interact, then getting your prescriptions organized. Many dangerous interactions can be avoided by simply not taking medications at the same time. She describes a common scenario which a patient is prescribed Fluconazole for a yeast infection and also takes simvastatin for high cholesterol. She recommends discussing with the pharmacist if simvastatin should be held while on fluconazole.

What is Deprescribing?

Starting a prescription medication is a big deal. Although millions of prescriptions are done daily, patients and doctors often take for granted the significance of starting a prescription medication. It is also significant to discontinue a medication. Many medications can not be stopped without a complete medical plan, medical supervision, and frequent exams. Deprescribing is developing a plan to lower a medication dose, or to slowly discontinue the medications.

It is very important to understand that you need to be working with your physician on deprescribing a medication. Many medications can be dangerous is stopped suddenly.