When it comes to selecting a career path in the field of pharmacy, there are plenty of choices – community pharmacy, hospital-based, industry, and many others. One path that students may not have a great deal of exposure to includes the addition of holistic pharmacy as an added component to caring for patients.
Zoom Heaton, who earned her bachelor’s degree in pharmacy from the University of South Carolina College of Pharmacy in 1992, discovered that she could significantly help many of her patients through the use of natural therapies in combination with traditional medicines.
While earning her degree, Heaton also gained valuable experience working at Middleburg Pharmacy working under the guidance of John Owen, ‘73.
“He showed me the ropes in diabetes education and taking care of patients,” Heaton recalls. “That inspired me to get my certification in diabetes education. I’m so grateful for that first opportunity.”
Heaton went on to advance her experience by working in a pediatrician’s office compounding children’s medicine. Eventually, that led to establishing TLC Medical Centre Pharmacy in Aiken, South Carolina along with a compounding pharmacy, Custom Prescription Compounders, LLC, located within. That was nineteen years ago.
It is our job to look at everything our patients are taking and how they interact with each other. Medications are important but there are other ways to think about health.
Zoom Heaton, R.Ph. TLC Medical Centre Pharmacy
“I began attending compounding seminars on anti-aging, hormone management, vitamins, supplements and nutrition,” says Heaton, who is board certified following a fellowship in anti-aging, metabolic and functional medicine.
“I realized these therapies work by integrating them in with the medications my patients were taking and understanding drug-induced nutritional deficiencies,” she adds.
Heaton has a tremendous passion for helping her patients find a better quality of life and advises students and practicing pharmacists alike to understand that there is more than one way to care for their patients.
“Our role is to take care of people. That is what pharmacy is about,” she says. “It is our job to look at everything our patients are taking and how they interact with each other. Medications are important but there are other ways to think about health.”
David Foreman, ‘87, found his way into holistic pharmacy following a ten-year career as an independent pharmacy owner. “I have people’s health at the forefront of my soul,” Foreman says, “and the community pharmacy was a great way to have a solid impact in my community.”
Foreman spent a great amount of time reading historical texts and learned that many medicines are plant-based, prompting him to add a botanical section to his pharmacy.
“I knew that my patients would have questions and I would need to be able to answer them,” he says. "There is so much science based on herbs that many only think of as weeds and seeds.”
Modern medicine and holistic medicine can be married to each other very happily.
David Foreman, R.Ph. Herbal Pharmacist
He founded Herbal Pharmacist to provide educational services to corporations, groups, and all forms of media about natural health and healing, including his own Sirius/XM radio show. Foreman then developed the company TriCeutics after realizing the need for better nutritional supplements containing multiple clinically proven ingredients.
“If people have the right lifestyle - eating correctly and exercising – their health can change with the addition of the right supplements in the correct amounts,” he says. “Pharmacists need to understand that these supplements do work. Modern medicine and holistic medicine can be married to each other very happily.”
Foreman encourages pharmacists and students who are just beginning their careers to keep an open mind.
“Fellow pharmacists are usually the hardest of those to embrace natural medicine,” he says. “Whether you believe it or not, it is important to be open to it, because you need to understand what your patients are doing. It is all about education and teaching patients about their health challenges and what they can do to support the treatment so they can make an educated decision about what is right for them.”