Feeling fine

North Shore Pharmacy wants people to be their best. Dr. Martha Harkey is leading several services to help them get there.

The pharmacist is a believer that diet and lifestyle can keep folks sharp. It’s one of the reasons she enjoys biking, hiking, swimming, surfing, paddleboarding, and lives for yoga, particularly ashtanga yoga.

“It keeps my mind clear and helps maintain flexibility and strength,” she said. “It just really makes me feel good.”

She is also busy at North Shore Pharmacy in Kilauea, where she has worked seven years, offering various therapies, practices and programs that could benefit someone’s overall health.

Bioidentical hormone therapy

Bioidentical hormone therapy is often called “natural hormone therapy” because bioidentical hormones are identical to the hormones the body produces and act in the body in the same way. 

“We like to focus on bioidentical hormones,” Harkey said. “These usually have less side effects than synthetic hormones and can be given in doses which are similar to what the body naturally produces.”

Each Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., at North Shore Pharmacy, Harkey is offering free discussion and consultation for men and women who would like to learn more about bioidentical hormone therapy and discuss whether it would benefit them. She hopes to answer questions and balance out information one might find on the Internet about it. She held her first free consultation day last week and was fully booked.

North Shore Pharmacy has long been answering patient questions about their prescriptions. To assist patients even more, Harkey is coming in on Saturdays for four hours. Patients can sign up for one-on-one consultations with Harkey, who has a Ph.D. in pharmacology and is board-certified in anti-aging medicine.

As men and women age, their bodies produce less of all the hormones — for women, less estrogen, progesterone and testosterone, and for men, less testosterone. That can affect their bodies in many ways. For women, it can affect memory, bone health, sex drive, mood and energy levels. For men, studies have show that lower testosterone levels can lead to an increased probability of stroke or heart attack. It can also lead to weigh gain.

Men over 50 and women over 45 can be affected by declining hormone levels.

“We’re beginning to see some relationships between decreased hormones levels and increases in some symptoms,” Harkey said.

She doesn’t recommend hormonal therapies for everybody. It depends on symptoms. For some, changes in diet and adding exercise might be all that’s needed.

“It’s not all things to all people, but appropriately used for patients with certain symptoms, it can, I think, improve their lives considerably,” she said.

Pharm2Pharm

Another program offered at North Shore Pharmacy is Pharm2Pharm, a service provided by a CMS award to the University of Hawaii College of Pharmacy. It is a designed to follow a patient for a year after they are discharged from the hospital, and coordinate the changeover from hospital pharmacy to community pharmacy.

“The program, Pharm2Pharm, will integrate pharmacists into hospital and ambulatory care teams and use health information technology for decision-making support and to enhance communication, particularly between hospital pharmacists, community pharmacists and physicians,” according to www.pcpcc.org.

Harkey is one of the consulting pharmacist contracted to provide these services.

She said when patients go into a hospital, they see multiple doctors and there are usually changes in their medication.

“So it’s really useful to have one pharmacist who is monitoring all their medications,” she said.

Monthly reports are submitted to a patient’s doctors and pharmacies regarding any changes in medication or any adverse drug reactions that might have occurred.

“So the idea is to prevent hospital readmissions and maintain optimum drug therapy in this group,” she said.

Harkey is working with a number of patients in the program. If she sees problems or has concerns about their medications, she contacts their physicians and recommends any changes of drugs or in the dosage.

Another program is medication therapy management for patients with multiple disease states who are taking multiple medications.

These patients are identified by their insurance company as being high risk. The insurance company will pay for a pharmacist to review these patients’ medications once a year. Harkey is consulting with several patients weekly at North Shore Pharmacy through these programs.

Ayurveda

Ayurveda is a system of natural healing whose origins can be traced back thousands of years to India. The idea is to help patients identify their basic body constitution and determine the right type of foods to keep the body in balance.

“I really like to look at diet and lifestyle and herbs as much as possible,” Harkey said.

“We’re not all the same,” she said. “Just because one food is healthy, doesn’t mean it’s good for everybody.”

Harkey said certain symptoms, such as a migraine headache, can often be corrected by a change in diet. Harkey will look at someone’s diet and lifestyle. Sometimes, herbal therapy may be what’s needed to help balance energies within the body.

“Once you know your constitution, what foods are best for you, you can learn how to tell those first signs when body is starting to get out of balance,” she said.

Harkey has been working with patients through ayurveda for three years and has seen its impact.

“It sounds so simple, diet and lifestyle, but actually, it’s not simple.  It can be difficult for people to change their diet and lifestyle” she said.

A consultation, generally an hour or longer, costs about $100. Followup consultations are about 15 minutes and cost about $35.  

North Shore Pharmacy is at 2460 Oka Street, Kilauea.

Info: (808) 828-1844

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