Yellow Card

In my last article, Hello World! the merits of integrating Eastern and Western medicine were discussed, particularly, to help reduce the burden on the NHS of chronic conditions and minimising adverse drug reactions. This article continues by looking more closely at chronic conditions and adverse drug
reactions (ADRs) and how these may be managed. The hope is that this will be informative and helpful to readers.

A chronic condition is a persistent health condition or disease lasting longer than 3 months, such as heart disease, cancer, pain conditions, diabetes, stroke, dementia and arthritis. Although these are common, unpleasant and costly, many are preventable and linked to lifestyle. They take up 70% of the NHS budget. Often patients are also taking
medications long term, which can cause side effects.

One cause of chronic health conditions is stress. Stress changes the way our genes are switched on or off (expressed). Studies have shown, that when comparing the gene expression of people who are stressed with those who are relaxed, stressed people have more pro–inflammatory genes switched on and more anti- inflammatory genes switched
off. Those who are relaxed have more anti-inflammatory genes switched on and more pro-inflammatory genes switched off. We know that many chronic health conditions start with inflammation and that pain signals are increased when we have inflammation.

It stands to reason that by reducing our stress, we can reduce inflammation and in doing so, reduce our risks of chronic health conditions as well as pain. In turn we can reduce our need for medications, thus protecting us from their side effects; for example, long
term use of non–steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) more than doubles the risk of renal cell (kidney) carcinoma.

The good news is that there are natural, healthy and enjoyable ways of reducing stress levels, and it is important to take time out for activities like yoga, regular walking, exercising at a local fitness club, an art class, mindfulness, massage or regular reflexology treatments well known to promote relaxation, reduce stress, improve sleep and mood or indeed a combination of these. It is also helpful to reduce caffeine, alcohol
and nicotine, as well as pro-inflammatory foods such as sugar which lessens a person’s ability to cope with stress:

“it is perhaps no coincidence that stressed spelled backwards is desserts.”

It is always important to discuss your medications with your GP and if you are taking any medications long term, have regular liver and kidney function tests and have your medicines reviewed at least annually to check whether you still need to be taking them.

If you are referred to a hospital or consultant for specialist care, it is your legal right as a patient to choose which hospital in England to go to as well as choose which consultant led team will be in charge of your treatment, to ensure you receive the best possible care. For example, for Endometriosis care, a BSGE (British Society of Gynaecological Endoscopy) accredited centre will be the best option, such as St Marys in Manchester.

mhra-yellow-cardIf you believe you are suffering any side effects from a medication, you can now fill in a yellow card on the government website. This is vital in enabling the drug regulatory agency to monitor safety of healthcare products and minimise risks for patients. If in doubt whether to report a suspected adverse drug reaction (ADR) the agency prefers that you complete a Yellow Card.

The agency are especially interested in monitoring any effects in
• children because their metabolism isn’t fully developed and many drugs routinely used in children are not tested for their use in children.
• people over 65, because they may be more susceptible to developing
reactions as they may metabolise medicines less effectively and be more
sensitive to their effects.
• Drug-drug interactions because side effects can increase with the number of medications being taken
• Delayed drug side effects because these can occur months or even years
after drug exposure, eg cancers. Reye’s syndrome was associated with
aspirin eight decades after it was first marketed.
• Vaccines & Biological Medicines (such as antibodies, blood products or gene therapy). These vary from batch to batch and brand and must be monitored.
• Herbal Remedies require monitoring too as only some are actually licensed and it is important to ensure their safety. Also, herbal medicines may interact with conventional medicines; St Johns Wort affects many other medicines, such as the birth control pill which is less effective with St Johns Wort.
• E-cigarette products are now also being monitored for any side effects by the agency.

The yellow card can be completed online on the government website or by telephone or via the downloadable app on a mobile device.

The MHRA may be contacted by phone on 0808 100 3352 (10am to 2pm Monday-Friday only)

By taking the time and trouble to fill in a yellow card you will be
providing valuable data which can help improve the drug labelling and
how a drug is prescribed.

Tracy is a full time holistic therapist passionate about helping you improve your health. She brings the knowledge from her research career in Biomedical Genetics into her practice. She discovered a gene
responsible for pain sensation and specialised in the genetics of drug safety and metabolism, for personalised medicine. Her main treatment is Reflexology which is complementary to conventional medicine.

Tracy Mills BSc (Hons, Genetics) MFHT, MAR, BFRP
Reflexology, Bach Flower Remedies, Indian Head Massage
Treatment rooms in Bollington, Prestbury and mobile to your home.
Tel: 07811 153380

Hello World!

worldIn this health article, I will take a look at Eastern and Western approaches to Medicine and how Medicine might look in the future.

Medicine in the East has tended to work with the whole person and their environment, looking at the big picture, working on the principle that everything is connected and nothing is separate.

This is what is meant by holistic. It is approached with intuition, from a creative, right brain perspective. It treats each person as an individual, owing to the wide range of variables that may be contributing to a person’s health, which will be unique to each person. Therapies are tailored to the individual.

Examples of holistic treatments include Acupuncture, Reflexology, also herbal medicine, which uses the whole plant, with many ingredients working, to balance different parts of the body, to work better together. They are often subtle and gentle in their effects and recognise the mind:body connection and that our emotions and beliefs can affect our physical health. Physical symptoms are seen as helpful signals, informing us to get back into balance, tune into and respond to their signals.

Traditional Eastern holistic medicine is derived from ancient cultures and is preventative, encouraging balance in the body, promoting and maintaining health. The Eastern way is to adapt to and live in harmony with the environment.

yinyangMedicine in the West as we know it, by contrast, started very recently, at around the turn of the twentieth century with the advent of the modern pharmaceutical industry. It has tended to look in detail at parts of the body in isolation, approached from a logical, linear, left brain perspective.

Western medicine is based on a single purified chemical drug targeted to the specific part of the body showing a symptom. These have tended to be made as a “one size fits all” drug, designed to use in all patients with a particular symptom, without needing to know too much about the individual or the route cause of their symptom. These medicines are prescribed, to remove the symptoms, but not the underlying cause. As such symptoms will persist unless the patient identifies the cause or continues to take the medicine, which may cause side effects due to the targeted nature of a drug.

The western drug model, is now starting to become more personalised, by understanding variables, such as genetics to stratify patients with a symptom into subsets and identify those likely to benefit from a drug and those that wouldn’t benefit or may have side effects. This would require a genetic or blood marker test at the doctors to prescribe a drug. This is still a long way off actually happening routinely in clinical practice and requires much research and resource. It is still not truly individualised but based on population subsets.

Interestingly there seems to be a global shift in approaches to medicine with an upsurge of interest in holistic person centred approaches in the West and a rapid expansion of the pharmaceutical industry in the East. Just as we need the left and right hemispheres of the brain to work together to give full meaning of a situation, we need both the Eastern and Western medicine approaches to come together and improve healthcare provision.

With the burden on our NHS of long-term chronic health conditions, as well as side effects of long-term use of drugs such as pain killers, not to mention the cost to the NHS of hospital admissions due to adverse drug reactions, there is great merit in integrating well regulated traditional medicine (TM) approaches with Western medicine. Indeed the World Health Organisation has put in place a TM strategy 2014-2023 which aims to integrate TM to “capitalise on the potential contribution of TM to improve health services and health outcomes.”

Written by Tracy Mills MAR, B.Sc (Hons, Genetics) for Macclesfield Local People Magazine.
September 2016