A few months ago our good friend Doug Kaufmann, founder and host of the popular daily radio talk show “Know the Cause” and knowthecause.com, e-mailed me the following message: “Go to our Web site and click onto my interview with Suzy Cohen, America’s Pharmacist, watch it, then call me.”
As Doug suggested I accessed the Web site and the interview. The following 20 minutes were an excellent informative dialogue, which I would recommend to our readers and can be accessed on either knowthecause.com or Suzy’s comprehensive Web site dearpharmacist.com.
Then I called Doug whose first words were, “Suzy is truly a modern health care provider. You should really consider her for the cover of an upcoming issue.”
TH: Suzy, welcome to totalhealth magazine. We should thank Doug Kaufmann for introducing us.
SC: Yes, I agree.
TH: Over the past few years you have earned the reputation as “America’s most trusted pharmacist.” Your best-selling book, The 24 Hour Pharmacist was reviewed as follows: “Everyone needs this book, it is truly great! Suzy has learned to ‘think outside the pill’ and recommend natural options that are just as good or better at promoting health without the risk of dangerous, drug-induced side effects. In this comprehensive (and humorous) resource she addresses dozens of health problems including depression, anxiety, snoring, heart disease, high cholesterol, weight problems, hot flashes, fatigue, PMS, fibroids, endometriosis, urinary tract infections, toenail fungus, immune system disorders, heartburn, and so much more. An incredible groundbreaking resource that helps you find alternative cures, and stay safe on the medicine you have to take.”
Do you recall when you began to say to your clients, “Have you considered nutrition and/or a change in your eating habits or other alternatives as opposed to just taking pharmaceutical drugs?”
SC: When I got into pharmacy I had high hopes for curing people with medication. I had this vision that every medicine I had on hand would be given to people and it could help them. I wasn’t as aware of the side effect profile because I was somewhat young, still learning my trade, and earning experience. It was sort of a slow process for me to shed the white coat and look for more natural solutions. But I’m glad I did.
However, there was a pivotal point. I’ve been a pharmacist for 20 years, I graduated from the University of Florida in 1989, and about five years into my clinical training I started to realize I was getting numerous phone calls. I worked in a retail pharmacy and the callers were saying they had just had a prescription filled and they didn’t feel well, they were throwing up or cramping, had a headache or whatever. I would check the order and there was an undercurrent in me that said the prescription was not only not helping the person, it might be creating some additional problems. When I married Sam, my husband, who is a holistic chiropractor, I watched him treat individuals with back pain without drugs. He adjusted them and used other natural therapies, which resulted in the patient feeling whole again. The patient felt good and walked right out. I looked at Sam and said, “You mean we didn’t have to give that person a six day steroid pump? Steroids, which cause insomnia and mental psychosis, you just elevate their problem without medicine?” I was floored.
You know doctor really means teacher so I think you can teach wellness from all different perspectives. There isn’t just one and it is a shame there is such debate around the country within the practice of healing itself where all the different professionals can’t seem to agree. Before we had pharmaceuticals and patented chemicals to sell to people as drugs we had many years of herbal medications and homeopathic therapies.
TH: Absolutely, thousands of years.
SC: Today’s modern medicine is really relatively new and the mind-set that I need a pill for every ill has been hammered into consumers for about two decades. Particularly with the constant television commercials, which by the way are banned in, I believe, all but one other country in the world.
TH: In your interview with Doug Kaufmann you mentioned the need for individuals to understand certain safety tips when using prescription drugs. Please share a few with us.
SC: First, always read the information on the document you are asked to sign at the pharmacy. Also an important safety tip is not to crush, chew or break open any pill which has initials behind it. However that’s not foolproof because there are many medications that don’t have initials, which should not be broken or crushed. Most drugs that are extended release have the initials CR, XR or LA. If you see these it means the drug is going to provide a steady dose over the course of 12 or 24 hours. However, if you break something with initials you are dumping the entire dose into your system all at once. This can be very dangerous and even lethal.
TH: Tell us about stopping medicines when you think you are healthy and don’t need them any longer.
SC: The first thing that comes to mind would be the typical, popular anti-depressants. They should not be stopped suddenly because in doing so could cause a seizure or other problems. You cannot suddenly stop them. You have to wean yourself very, very slowing over the course of several weeks. Also pain medications and most sleep medications should not be stopped suddenly because your body gets use to them. You have to get off of them slowly so your body can train itself to go without the abrasive chemicals.
Steroids are a big one. When you have someone on a steroid their body stops making its own natural steroid so when you stop suddenly the body has nothing on board and it can be very dangerous. You always want to wean off steroids very slowly.
TH: When did you decide to write this book?
SC: I began writing my newspaper column in 1999 and by 2006 I was syndicated in 40 papers nationwide and readers were e-mailing me regularly, “I loved your column on this and that, I want your book.” I would e-mail them back that I didn’t have a book. The fact was I didn’t even have a book written—I just had a book in my brain. We approached the biggest publishing houses in the country and we got a deal with Harper Collins. So I decided it was a good time to write the book. Six months and 80,000 words later, The 24- Hour Pharmacist was completed and released to the public in mid-June 2007; now the doors just keeping opening for me. I was a really good student in high school but I never thought I would be doing interviews on television and radio, book signing, lectures, personal appearances, etc. When I do these things it’s like a party—or reunion is a better word. People bring me Jell-O and tell stories of how I’ve helped them. It is so heartwarming, almost overwhelming at times.
TH: What kind of reception have you had from your peers to The 24-Hour Pharmacist? I would suppose this would be a great manual for any pharmacist to own.
SC: Pharmacists appreciate me because I’m one of them. I have not left my profession. I just happen to be into more natural remedies before I go for the big guns. They appreciate that. I have many pharmacists around the country that support my work and buy my books and they write to me. I haven’t heard anything bad from anyone.
TH: Tell me about your upcoming book, “Drug Muggers.” I understand there are extreme negatives that come from long term effects of taking almost any drug or mixing drugs.
SC: It is a groundbreaking book. It is a one-of-a-kind resource because it is incredibly comprehensive. I emptied my brain into this book. I am so proud of it. For example, people who take antibiotics experience a drug mugging effect because the antibiotic goes off in their gut like a shotgun. It cannot distinguish the bad bacteria from the good so they kill everything. They are drug muggers for your natural, healthy bacteria—your beneficial flora.
This is a useful manual—320 pages. I am proud of it because it is going to change lives. In each chapter I list what can happen to you if you run out of certain nutrients, the drugs that can cause the depletion and then I list food you can eat so you can replenish your stores of valuable nutrients. I also list excellent supplements that I think have a great reputation and will give you the most bang for you buck.
One chapter covers how herbs and foods can interact with your medication. For example, garlic and ginger are excellent at thinning your blood like an aspirin. So you have to be careful. Cheese can interact with certain antidepressants. Grapefruit juice can interact with medication as well. There is a valuable cadre of what you should and shouldn’t eat if you are taking certain medications. I operate from a place of how can I help this person feel better with the regime they are on? Whether it is medication or vitamins or minerals, I will think outside the pill. This is what makes me unique. When you read my book you feel my intentions within it.
TH: I’m sure it will be an excellent resource guide.
SC: Definitely. There is so much momentum behind it. There are many people interested in it. We are self-publishing because we really believe in it.
TH: In that the book is self-published, how can our readers learn more about it and how it can be acquired?
SC: Drug Muggers is available at www.dearpharmacist.com/.
TH: Suzy, thank you for your time and ongoing commitment to educating practitioners and pharmacists, as well as the public. SC: You're welcome and thank you for helping to spread the word about my books.