1.800.355.1112 | info@pinepharmacy.com
  • No products in the cart.

Blog

Facing High Drug Costs? Use Pine as a Resource!

You might have experienced it recently. You go to the pharmacy to pick up your prescription that once cost you ten dollars and it now costs you hundreds. This alarming scenario is unfortunately becoming a common trend in the medication marketplace. For reasons that are not always immediately clear to the consumer, generic drugs that are relatively inexpensive for manufacturers to make spike dramatically in price over very short time periods, leading patients to pay an arm and a leg at the cash register. This can be especially problematic for patients without insurance, or with high deductibles. Why is this happening, and more importantly what can you do to limit the impact on your wallet?

The why is not always an easy question to answer.  Each instance is different.  While one drug may spike in price due to a shortage of raw ingredients, another may rise because of increased FDA regulatory requirements. However, more often than not, the rise in price is simply due to consolidation of generic drug manufacturers.  As manufacturers merge, the competition in the marketplace dwindles. Unfortunately, as a result of this, many manufacturers know they are the only “players in the game” when it comes to supplying certain drugs, and therefore raise prices knowing the demand will still be there. Given that the United States is one of the only developed nations to not have regulatory oversight over drug pricing, there is nothing to prevent this price gouging from running rampant.

While drugs such as EpiPen have received widespread media coverage for their price increases, and rightfully so, there are countless others. Steroid creams for eczema, antibiotic creams for acne and rosacea, antidepressants, oral antibiotics, steroid suppositories, gallstone medications, pain relievers, and hundreds of others for many other indications have all seen their prices skyrocket.

Even if you haven’t noticed this yet, you may soon. These price increases are driving healthcare costs through the roof, causing insurers to implement higher deductibles on their plans.  These high dollar deductibles introduce a certain amount of money a patient must pay before the insurance kicks in their coverage, thus often putting the patient in a difficult situation of choosing to pay for their $300 medication, or put food on the table.

So how can this be combatted? Unfortunately, from the consumer standpoint, not much can be done. Ideally, regulatory pressure will force manufacturers to rethink their pricing strategies. Until that time though, you are left to fight for yourself and search for alternative medication options.

However, affordable manufactured alternatives are not always readily available. One avenue to explore when facing high prescription costs is custom compounding.  Compounding pharmacies like Pine Pharmacy are able to access raw ingredients and custom prepare medications to your doctor’s specifications. While a compounding pharmacy cannot mimic a manufactured medication, many times, there are very comparable alternatives that can be prepared at a fraction of the cost of the commercially available options.

A prime example is a drug such as vancomycin which is an antibiotic often used orally to treat clostridium difficile infections. Manufactured oral capsules can cost nearly $1000, but when compounded as a liquid, it can be made for as little as $100.

Unfortunately, rising drug costs do not look to be going away anytime soon. As a patient, it is important to stay educated on your options, and regularly research your alternatives. If you are facing high drug prices, use Pine Pharmacy as a resource. As your partner in health and wellness, we are happy to examine your options for you and will do our best to try and find you and your family a more affordable option.

 

Taking Care of Your Heart

 

The “ticker” is the one muscle in the human body that none of us can afford to ignore. More so than any other organ human’s possess, the heart and its health are the most closely monitored, and for good reason. Cardiovascular disease is responsible for one in every four deaths, and is the number one killer of American men and women. So it is easily understandable why February is declared American Heart Month.

While it may seem obvious, it is important to understand just how crucial the heart is to our overall health. The heart itself is a muscular organ which, when stimulated by electrical impulses, expands and contracts to pump blood to the entire body.  This muscular activity is the “heartbeat” we so commonly refer to.  When beating, the heart first pumps blood to the lungs, where it picks up oxygen.  It then pumps this oxygenated blood out to all of the tissues in the body.  If the heart is malfunctioning, all the systems and tissues of the body become depleted of oxygen and become impaired.

Heart disease tends to be a fairly encompassing term with many different issues falling under its umbrella. Most of the complications caused by heart disease are a result of atherosclerosis, a narrowing of the blood vessels caused by plaque buildup.  This narrowing restricts blood flow through the vessel and can lead to issues such as stroke or heart attack.  In addition, heart disease can refer to heart failure (a decrease in the heart’s pumping efficiency), arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat), or heart valve malfunctions.

While many factors can increase your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol), and smoking are, by far, the main culprits. Nearly half of all Americans have at least one of these three factors, and a large percentage are afflicted with two or more.  Also contributing are diabetes, obesity, and excessive alcohol consumption.

The good news is, there are many steps that can be taken to prevent heart disease, as well as correct and improve existing conditions. As is the case with nearly all disease states, the best weapons available to fight cardiovascular disease are healthy diet and exercise.  Exercise can serve to make your heart stronger and more efficient, lower your blood pressure, reduce high cholesterol, and decrease your weight.  Likewise, eating a well-rounded, healthy diet can control weight as well as provide your body with the nutrients it needs to keep your heart at its peak operating efficiency.

Sometimes though, diet and exercise are not enough. For a variety of reasons such as genetic predispositions, issues like high cholesterol and elevated blood pressure can prove to be stubborn, and we need some outside help.

This is where both prescription drugs, and over the counter supplements can provide support. On the prescription front, there are many different options to choose from.  Generally, prescription drugs help to manage the risk factors associated with heart disease such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol.  Doctors may prescribe from an army of agents in these areas, each working in different manners and mechanisms with the goal of reducing your risk of complications such as stroke and heart attack.  Additionally, your doctor may prescribe drugs that help to control and improve the efficiency of the heart’s pumping functions.

Many people however, choose to avoid prescription medication, if possible, and attempt to tackle cardiovascular issues with a more natural approach through nutritional supplementation. Individual circumstance and severity of disease state varies from person to person. However, in many cases, when paired with a healthy diet and exercise, this “natural” approach may prove to be an effective one. Much like prescription drugs, there exist a large number of nutritional options, each addressing different complications of heart disease.

When aiming to target high cholesterol and triglyceride levels, heart healthy omega supplements, as well as those containing red yeast rice are common. Today’s popular statin drugs were actually modeled from red yeast rice, and it, like statins, works to lower your body’s production of LDL. Omega supplements serve a dual purpose in both lowering triglyceride levels, as well as potentially reducing inflammation caused by plaque buildup in the arteries.

Being some of the most commonly used over the counter supplements, it is essential to note that not all omega products are equal in quality or effectiveness. Often derived from seafood sources, thus giving them the common name “fish oil”, each individual omega product contains different levels of the essential omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, which give the fish oil its beneficial effect.  Consumers must be vigilant in reading the label of the product closely, as many omega supplements may list a larger dosage of “fish oil” on the label, but in fact, the active omega-3’s (EPA and DHA) are minimal, and the bulk of the listed dosage consists of inactive omega-3’s poorly utilized by the body.  The typical target dosage for EPA and DHA combined, in those patients with high cholesterol, is 1,500mg to 3,000mg.

Beyond the cholesterol arena, other supplements exist to help support a healthy blood pressure level. For instance, arginine is an amino acid, that when taken as a supplement, can help promote relaxation of the blood vessels.  This relaxation, or vasodilation, helps to ease the flow of blood through the vessels and thus lower the pressure exerted on them.

Finally, other supplements serve to promote overall health of the heart. Coenzyme-Q10 is a powerful antioxidant in the body that plays a role in energy production. This may help to enhance the function and health of the heart muscle.  Additionally, Co-Q10 is commonly given to patients on statin therapy, as these drugs deplete our body’s natural stores of Co-Q10.  This depletion may lead to complications, such as muscle pain and fatigue, regularly associated with this family of drugs.  Supplementing with Co-Q10 while taking a statin may help to limit these complications.

It is important to remember when buying any supplement to consult a health care professional well trained and familiar in their usage. Stores such as Pine Pharmacy in Williamsville specialize in providing these products, and ensuring their quality and safety.

Proper heart health is as essential to your overall well-being as any other aspect of your life. Be sure to take the time this month to pay attention to your “ticker”, it might just save your life.

 

 

 

Clear Change Metabolic Detox Program!

The Clear Change 10-day Program is designed to enhance the body’s natural metabolic detoxification process while providing energy and support for overall well-being.  Many people benefit from completing a 10-day metabolic detoxification program such as the Clear Change 10-day Program 2-3 times a year.*

$114.50 @ our Williamsville store!

Included in the 10-day Program:

Free shaker cup – convenient way to mix a nutritional powder

Program Guide – easy-to-follow instructions, menu plans, and recipes

Program Diary – for patients to track their experience

 

*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA.  This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

Holiday Hours by Location!

Holiday Hours by Location

Williamsville:

Saturday December 24th:  10a-1p

Monday December 26th:  10a-3p

Saturday December 31st: 10a-1p

 

Niagara Falls:

Saturday December 24th:  9a-1p

Monday December 26th:  9a-3p

Saturday December 31st: 9a-1p

 

Rochester:

Saturday December 24th:  9a-12p

Monday December 26th:  9a-2p

Saturday December 31st: 9a-1p

The Thyroid Gland And Your Health

author-bo

Few glands in the human body affect overall health the way the thyroid gland does. This hard working organ secretes hormones that can affect energy levels, proper metabolism, weight control, proper digestion, mood, and sleep, among others.

Despite this large impact, few people give this small but powerful gland a second thought until problems arise. When your thyroid malfunctions, it can lead to an imbalance in the body of the hormones it secretes under normal healthy conditions.  A decrease in secretion, known as hypothyroidism, can lead to complications such as fatigue, weight gain, constipation, and depression.  An increase in secretion, known as hyperthyroidism, can lead to complications such as jitteriness, weight loss, diarrhea, and manic episodes.

Whether you currently have a thyroid imbalance, or you are an otherwise healthy individual, proactive steps can be taken to promote overall thyroid health. One of the most important steps that can be taken is to de-stress your life.  Stress can play major havoc on many body organs, one of which is the adrenal gland.  This disruption leads to fluctuations in cortisol production which can suppress the stimulation of your thyroid, thus lowering your thyroid hormone levels.  While de-stressing in today’s busy world can be easier said than done, activities such as yoga, meditation, exercise, or maintaining proper sleep cycles can go a long way to improving your thyroid health.

Of course, like any other health condition, a healthy diet and exercise are also essential to overall thyroid health. Regular aerobic exercise can stimulate healthy thyroid hormone production.  Likewise, many nutrients play an essential role in thyroid hormone production.  A healthy balanced diet, including a sufficient amount of Vitamin A, C, D, and E as well as selenium and iodine help to ensure your thyroid gland has the tools it needs to function properly.  For those with gluten sensitivities or intolerances, a gluten reduced or free diet can help to reduce inflammation within the thyroid gland.

Unfortunately, proactive measures are not always sufficient to maintain healthy thyroid function throughout one’s lifespan and medical intervention is required. Prescription drugs such as methimazole can be used to reduce elevated thyroid hormone levels and treat conditions of hyperthyroidism. In some cases surgery or radioiodine therapy may be used.

More commonly, prescription thyroid hormone supplementation is used to treat the symptoms of hypothyroidism. Two types of thyroid hormone are commonly prescribed. The most common is levothyroxine, also known as T4. T4 is what is known as a prohormone, meaning its destination is to be converted in the body into another hormone called liothyronine, or T3.  T3 is prescribed in cases where a patient does not respond to T4 therapy alone, and is the active thyroid hormone.

Prescription treatment with thyroid hormone is highly individualized. Oftentimes, your prescriber will evaluate your blood work and make a dosing determination based upon your levels and results.  Once started on thyroid hormone replacement, it is not uncommon for your dosage to be adjusted during the initial starting months until the proper dosage for you is found. Additionally, once stabilized, your dose may need to be adjusted over the long term, as thyroid gland function fluctuates, or dietary and lifestyle changes affect hormone levels. For instance, major stress episodes, introduction of other disease states, and changes in activity levels can lead to fluctuations.

It is important to note when taking prescription thyroid replacement that these hormones are best absorbed when taken on an empty stomach, generally 30 to 60 minutes before breakfast. This often leads to questions on how to take other medications and supplements when on a thyroid hormone.  While the proper procedure can vary depending on your medication regimen, it is generally recommended to take the thyroid hormone prior to any other medication, then take your other medications with breakfast 30 to 60 minutes later.  Likewise, supplements can lead to variances in thyroid absorption.  For instance, when taken too close to thyroid hormones, calcium, magnesium, and iron supplements can bind to the hormones in the gastrointestinal tract leading to a decrease in absorption and thereby a decrease in effectiveness.  Conversely, iodine supplementation can increase thyroid functioning, leading to a rise in thyroid hormone. It is always essential to consult your doctor or pharmacist when starting any new supplement or medication to understand the best way to take it in conjunction with your thyroid medication so as to limit any effect on your overall thyroid level.

Because of the highly individualized nature of achieving normal thyroid hormone levels, there is no “one size fits all” approach. While proper levels can often be achieved through commercially available prescription options, sometimes patients require further customization.  In such instances, a compounding pharmacy can produce a custom mixture of T4, T3, or a combination of the two which further helps the prescriber and patient to find the right level.  These compounding pharmacies specialize in taking pure drug sources and mixing them to meet an individual patient’s needs.  This ability allows a prescriber to prescribe precise doses down to the microgram, as well as to combine the prohormone T4 with the active T3 into one dosage form, at a customized ratio, to further enhance the patient’s outcomes.  Additionally, many patients may have sensitivities to ingredients such as gluten, casein, or dyes.  Compounding the thyroid hormones to exclude many of the excipients found in commercially manufactured versions may help to enhance absorption and subsequently patient response.

Finally, over the counter supplements can sometimes be used to enhance thyroid function in cases of hypothyroidism. Taking supplements such as Thyroid Synergy by Designs for Health, or Iodoral by Optimox, can provide the body with essential nutrients and beneficial herbal ingredients for thyroid hormone production such as iodine, selenium, chromium, vitamin A, D, and E, and ginseng.  These types of products can be found at pharmacies which specialize in nutrition, such as Pine Pharmacy in Williamsville.

Proper thyroid functioning is essential to your overall health, from both a physical and mental aspect. If you suspect issues with your thyroid, talk to your doctor or pharmacist today.

 

 

 

It May Not Just Be Food Causing Tummy Troubles…

Your body may not be producing enough digestive enzymes. Specialized cells in the salivary glands and pancreas produce digestive enzymes. The stomach also secretes hydrochloric acid (HCl) that activates enzyme production. Over 20 identified enzymes in the body, plus enzymes in uncooked live foods like fruits and vegetables, facilitate the breakdown of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates so the body can absorb important nutrients and produce energy for vital functions. How well we digest any particular food is dependent on the quantities and types of enzymes the body produces. Within the body, HCl and enzyme secretion generally decline with age. And genetics can negatively influence digestive enzyme production as well.

Certain foods can add discomfort. Some people may not produce enough enzymes to comfortably digest lactose in dairy foods, gluten in grain products, or certain acidic foods (citrus, tomatoes). Raw nuts and seeds also contain enzyme inhibitors that may make them harder for some people to digest. And humans don’t produce the enzyme cellulase that helps break down cellulose fibers in plant foods, which slows digestion and may cause discomfort with higher fiber consumption. Plus, when enzyme-rich foods are cooked at 118° F or above, naturally occurring enzymes are destroyed.

Do you notice

·  Trouble digesting meals or post-meal discomfort that negatively impact living quality (especially as you age)

·  Known or suspected sensitivity to lactose or gluten

·  Occasional indigestion or a feeling of fullness that lasts 2-4 hours after eating

·  Occasional bloating or abdominal cramping

·  Undigested food in the stool
Stop in today if any of the above feels familiar so we can discuss nutritional strategies for digestive health, including supplementing with digestive enzymes and simple dietary and lifestyle changes.

 

 

Blood Sugar Concerns Start Long Before Diabetes….

MetaGlycemX_60T_LME042R6_150cc_copy_0

Do you know if you have elevated blood sugar levels? According to the American Diabetes Association, over 160 million American adults may have elevated blood glucose, putting them at increased risk to serious health concerns. Blood sugar is the basic fuel that all cells in the body use to make energy. In an optimal state, the body maintains the blood sugar level in a fairly narrow range: not too low (hypoglycemia) and not too high (hyperglycemia). Stability is important because imbalances, particularly hyperglycemia, can cause serious health problems, including metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. Even short spikes or dips in blood sugar levels can cause symptoms that can impact daily living.

Control what you eat to control blood sugar levels. Insulin is a hormone that responds directly to what you eat. Among its many roles, insulin regulates fat metabolism and controls blood sugar levels. A leading diabetes research center and other recent guidelines recommend a daily macronutient ratio of approximately 40% carbohydrates, 30% proteins, and 30% fat to help manage blood sugar levels. Just as important: the proteins should be high quality; the fats should be primarily “healthy” monounsaturated fats; and the carbohydrates should optimally be slower to digest (like fiber-rich fruits and vegetables). Calorie count is also important, because shedding excess weight can help bring your blood sugar levels back in a healthy range.

Exercise and nutritional support can help. Exercise helps your cells take glucose out of your blood, so it’s helpful in controlling blood sugar levels. Plus, it supports muscle growth and retention to burn more calories and maintain a healthy weight. Medical foods and targeted nutraceuticals may provide nutrients like key vitamins and minerals that support insulin and blood sugar control. They may also provide ingredients like slow-digesting carbohydrates, fiber, and branched-chain amino acids (found in proteins) to provide enhanced support.

Stop in today to discuss nutritional and lifestyle therapies to help you manage blood sugar levels and promote overall health.

Ask us about Metagenics MetaGlycemX!

Managing Your Psoriasis

pineblog-josephCantanese

As a pharmacist, I frequently get questions from patients suffering from psoriasis about what they can do to improve their condition. Since August is National Psoriasis Awareness Month, I thought it would be a great time to share some of these tips.

Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition that causes inflammation leading to the formation of red, scaly patches on the body that bleed and itch. It is the most common autoimmune disease in the United States, affecting as many as 7.5 million people. Approximately 30% of people with psoriasis will go on to develop psoriatic arthritis.

While there is no cure for psoriasis, a number of nutritional supplements and dietary changes can help reduce the severity of the symptoms, greatly improving overall quality of life. These include:

Fish Oil: Omega 3 Fatty Acids, such as those found in fish, have many anti-inflammatory effects in the body, and also have a positive impact on the body’s immune system. To get these anti-inflammatory benefits, it is recommended to get around 3000mg a day of EPA and DHA, the two active components. This equals about 4 capsules of Metagenic’s OmegaGenics EPA:DHA 720 Capsules.

Vitamin D: Psoriasis increases the rate at which skin cells grow, and Vitamin D has been shown to slow this growth. Vitamin D may also help counteract the body’s response to inflammation associated psoriasis. Try increasing your blood levels of Vitamin D in the range of 30-60ng/ml. For most people, this may require 2000-4000IU daily. Since D3 is as much as 3 times more potent than D2, be sure to take a supplement containing this form, such as Protocol For Life’s High Potency Vitamin D3.

Probiotics: Probiotics are the good bacteria found throughout the body. While most think of their health benefits being localized to the gut, they have effects against non-gut inflammation and have a positive impact on the immune system as well. Studies have shown decreased inflammatory markers in psoriasis patients taking probiotics. Be sure to get a high potency probiotic containing several strains of bacteria, such as Metagenics UltraFlora Spectrum.

Anti-inflammatory Diet: Since psoriasis is an inflammatory disease, many individuals have benefitted from following an anti-inflammatory diet to help reduce their symptoms. Avoid foods such as fatty red meats, dairy products, processed foods and refined sugars, and instead focus on foods that reduce inflammation, such as fish, nuts, and fresh fruits and vegetables.

Gluten Free Diet: Research shows that up to 25 percent of psoriasis sufferers have a sensitivity to the wheat protein gluten, and that celiac disease (a condition caused by intolerance to gluten) and psoriasis share many common genetic and inflammatory pathways. While there are not conclusive studies showing a gluten free diet helps psoriasis sufferers, many patients have experienced an improvement in symptoms.

In addition to the above, our pharmacists frequently compound many different prescription combinations for psoriasis, including steroids, zinc pyrithione, Vitamin B12, Salicylic Acid and Tacrolimus, among others. Give us a call and see if we can help you.

 

Do You Suffer From Chronic Inflammation?

Carolyn Huntress 0014  Carolyn Huntress, RPh – Rochester location

 

Inflammation and its associated pain, both chronic and acute, is a common complaint for many, especially adults. While it is an appropriate and critically important immune response to a stressor on the human body, the resolution of inflammation is also critical. Chronic inflammation due to constant activation of the immune response may lead to long term health concerns. Many diseases have origins in or are aggravated by chronic inflammation; these include arthritis, peripheral vascular disease, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and autoimmune diseases such as IBD.

The immune response has two phases, initiation and resolution. The initiation phase is the body’s natural protective response to an injury where mediators in the body orchestrate a response whereby neutrophils (white blood cells) converge on the affected area. The resolution phase is essentially when the inflammatory response is curtailed and the affected area is cleaned of debris from the inflammatory response.

While traditional anti-inflammatory medications such as NSAIDs work to reduce the pain and swelling of an injured or stressed area of the body, they do not specifically address the resolution phase. Until recently scientists believed that the resolution of inflammation was a passive process. Newer research has discovered that there are specific mediators that can target the area of immune response to actively promote the resolution of inflammation. The mediators are called specialized pro-resolving mediators (SPMs) and are found in variable amounts in the body.

SPM production in the body is dependent on age, diet, stress and other environmental irritants. Because of this, the body does not always have enough of these important mediators to fully resolve the inflammatory response. The body can also convert Omega 3 fatty acids such as EPA and DHA into the necessary SPMs, however, this process is inefficient in the face of chronic inflammation and other co-morbidities. Nutritional supplementation with SPMs can address these deficiencies and actively work to resolve inflammation.

The specific mediators identified to resolve chronic inflammation, 18-HEPE and 17-HDHA, are found in a new Metagenics fractionated fish oil product called OmegaGenics SPM Active.

Call or stop in to Pine Pharmacy to learn about this new option for the resolution of chronic inflammation

Men: Start taking better care of yourselves!

Pine 0045 CD

By:  Alfonse Muto, RPh President/Owner

I hate to say it, but your wife, sister, daughters, and mother are all right, our gender is stubborn! Men in their youth tend to have the feeling of invincibility. That “Superman” feeling often leads to stupid decisions with risky consequences:  excessive drinking, smoking, poor eating habits, lack of exercise, and many others. The prevailing thought regarding those consequences is always “it will never happen to me”.

Unfortunately, oftentimes, the poor decisions continue into later ages in life in a different form.  Too often, middle aged and older men get into a pattern of reactive healthcare, only responding to health concerns as they pop up, rather than proactively taking an active stance on preventative measures to protect their bodies. Unfortunately, it often takes significant medical issues such as heart attacks or strokes to open their eyes, and by then, it’s too late. The years of poor lifestyle choices have already taken their toll, and the damage that has been done is difficult, if not impossible to repair.

Men of all ages need to develop habits that foster this preventative mentality to prevent the damage before it is done.  Balanced diets, regular exercise, limited alcohol consumption, and proper dietary supplementation are keys to ensuring we protect our bodies.

Stop in one of our stores today and ask us about some preventive things you could be doing to get back on track!