Welcome to the Evolution of Medicine podcast! On this episode, James talks with Suzanne Keyes, PharmD. She is a pharmacist and certified functional medicine practitioner (IFMCP) from Oklahoma whose passion for patient care led her to becoming the go-to health resource in her community. In the process, she has transformed the typical pharmacy into a thriving business and wellness hub, complete with professional grade supplements and a vegetable garden. Whether you are a pharmacist or functional medicine clinician, you’re sure to learn something new from this episode—enjoy! Highlights include:

  • A pharmacist’s journey to functional medicine, and how that journey informs patient care
  • How pharmacists are in a unique position to help patients address the root causes of their ailments
  • How pharmacists can deliver health and nutrition information to patients efficiently and effectively
  • How pharmacists play a key role in the evolution of medicine and in community care
  • Why the partnership between practitioner and pharmacist is more important than ever
  • And so much more!

Resources mentioned in this podcast:

Community Cure: Pharmacist Edition

James Maskell: Welcome to the Evolution of Medicine Podcast, the place health professionals come to hear from innovators and agitators leading the charge. We cover the latest clinical breakthroughs and health technology as well as practical tools to help you transform your practice and the health of your community. This podcast is brought to you by the Lifestyle Matrix Resource Center, who provide a range of options to help you deliver successful, effective, functional, and integrative medicine. To find out more and to get started, go to goevomed.com/lmrc, that’s goevomed.com/lmrc.

Hello and welcome to the Evolution of Medicine Podcast. This week, we are talking to Suzanne Keyes. She is a pharmacist and certified functional medicine practitioner from Oklahoma. In this session, we’re going to talk about pharmacists becoming key roles in the evolution of medicine and the community cure. We talked about the simple question that Suzanne started to ask that brought people across to the thinking process of functional medicine, we talked a little bit about how people are hungry for information and how to deliver it. We’re going to talk about the evolution of her physical space and how that made a big impact in delivering full-spectrum care. And you’ll hear a little bit about how you see, instead of Coke and cigarettes and all the things you might find in a CVS, vegetables and other things that you may not consider to be part of a regular pharmacy. Super interesting half an hour. Enjoy.

So, a warm welcome to the podcast, Suzanne Keyes. Welcome, Suzanne.

Suzanne Keyes: Thank you. I’m so happy to be here.

James Maskell: So, last year at the Pharmacy Conference that I went to in Indianapolis, we met and I had a chance to find out a little bit more about your work. Since then, I wrote the book, The Community Cure, and I wanted to kind of come back to this discussion because it just felt like what you had created in your little area and your town was really a community cure kind of pharmacy addition. And so maybe we could just start with a little bit of the story of your journey to pharmacy, your journey to functional medicine, and sort of what prompted it.

Suzanne Keyes: Sure. Thank you for that. Let me just say that, because that’s a huge compliment. My journey to pharmacy, gosh, that’s kind of a funny one. In a nutshell, I was a college student at 21, married at 22, pregnant with twins at 23, pregnant again at 24, divorced by 25, and at 26, I woke up one day and went, “Let’s see if I could work at McDonald’s to support my three kids, or, oh, I’ll go be a pharmacist.” So, that’s literally how it happened.

So, I got all my stuff in order and I ended up with three babies under three years old, 300 miles away from anyone that I knew. Unfortunately, we lovingly call him our sperm donor, has not ever seen my 28-year-old daughter and twin 29-year-olds; he hasn’t seen them since they were nine months old. So, needless to say, I did the pharmacy school thing on my own. So, I became a pharmacist, and I did everything from…I look at my professional career and think I sound like a kid with ADD because I’ve done just about everything. I’ve done retail, nursing home consulting, I was even a prior authorization pharmacist for an insurance company—that was a little bit of a shock. In over 20 years, I finally just got tired of the “pill for the ill” model and decided I was going to, unfortunately, walk away from my career and open a bakery or a pet store.

And then when I started kind of looking into that, I took my love of baking and cooking and my love of pets, and I was like, “Oh, I’ll be a compounding pharmacist. I’ll do compounding for animals because they don’t talk back and you can always please them.” So, I looked into that and then realized that there was a very high need, and especially in western Oklahoma, in my area, for human compounding as well. So, about 10 years ago, I set my mind and my goal on opening my own compounding pharmacy, and I did that in the midst of something I was unfamiliar to, which was the NECC, the New England Compounding Center crisis, at the time when they were mass producing injectables. And unfortunately, their policies and procedures didn’t hold up and several people actually lost their lives because of their lack of sterility.

So, in the middle of me building a compounding pharmacy, I kept hearing a lot of my colleagues going, “Oh, that’s so brave.” And I always say that God made me just dumb enough to think that there’s nothing I can’t do, so I was just like, “I don’t know what you’re talking about, but I’m going forward.” So, I opened my compounding pharmacy, and within probably the first year or two years, I started seeing trends just in my small community, of people coming in with basically the same symptoms, the only thing that was different was the degree to which the symptoms were occurring. And it didn’t take long before I started questioning everything and going, “Okay. Why is everybody in this small town got Hashimoto’s? Why does everybody in this town have diabetes?”

So, I think I would always go back to saying my passion for functional medicine was because of my questioning and just continuing going, “Okay, what is going on?” It finally led me to seeing that we’re not different, basically, we’re all about the same in what we’re going through. And so what was it that we were all ingesting, or breathing, or doing, or eating? What was it that was creating this…” I used the word pandemic 10 years ago, and now in the middle of the pandemic, but what is creating this pandemic of chronic disease? And that really is where my journey kind of started. I would run the pharmacy 9:00 to 5:00, and then at the end of the day, I would spend hours just in my office going, “Okay, what do these things have in common?” And, inevitably, a lot of my research came back to our environment and our nutrition. And so everything just kind of blossomed from there.

James Maskell: Yeah, that’s awesome. And I think everyone has that kind of “aha” moment when they realize like, “Oh, this isn’t really working.” And I think the pharmacist is kind of in a unique position actually to identify this because, one, they’re seeing people more regularly. That’s one of the things I learned from that conference, was just how much more regularly a pharmacist sees patients than, let’s say, a doctor, and that also you can see the trends across the different areas.

So, what did you do from there and how did it start to evolve into actually helping people with some of the root causes that you were seeing?

Suzanne Keyes: So, I took that same questioning characteristic that I had of why is everybody showing up with the same symptoms and then applied it to just individual…almost like I was doing market research. And so I would just start talking to the patients. And I agree, James, you’re absolutely correct. We are 100% in the perfect position. Because we’re the most accessible healthcare provider, patients are used to seeing their pharmacist sometimes weekly, versus, like you said, every three months, or every six months, or annually with their doctor. And so I just started opening up these conversations with these patients asking them, for instance, “When you’re taking your thyroid. I’m seeing you every month and we’re adding pills, and adding pills. So, how do you feel? Because if I were taking this kind of dose of thyroid, this is what I would expect. I would expect my hair not to be falling out. I would expect to have more energy. I would expect to not be gaining weight. I would expect to not be losing half my eyebrows.”

And when I would start talking to these patients and going, “So, you’re not experiencing any of that, right?” And they look at me with this dumbfounded look on their face, and they’re like, “No, I’m experiencing all of that,” at the same time as I’m passing them their medication. And so, when I would start finding these answers, I would say, “Well, for instance, what I’m giving you is Synthroid levothyroxine, and did you know that that’s an inactive form of the thyroid medicine?” And that simple question would open up the doors for me to go in and tell them, “Your body has to convert that to the active form, and maybe if you don’t have enough of your nutrients on board, it’s not converting, maybe if your guts messed up, we’re not getting a good conversion ratio.” And so it just started with just conversation. And there is no one better positioned to have these conversations than pharmacists.

James Maskell: Yeah. So, what did that look like? How did you start sort of offering…you’re having these conversations now, right? You’re not in the role of the doctor, but you certainly have this relationship with the patients. Was there a kind of a moment when you realize, “Okay. I’m going to kind of step into this a little bit?”

Suzanne Keyes: Absolutely. That’s a perfect question. And I wish that I could take credit for it, but I can’t. I actually have to give credit to my staff. So, as I was uncovering this new education in functional medicine, I would come out of my office and just be ecstatic from the walls, telling all my staff, going, “Oh my gosh, this is why we’re in this position. This is why we have such a pandemic of chronic disease.” So then I would try it out with them and then I would practice, literally “practice” on my patients.

Well, I found, early on, that people are really hungry for information, and also they are hungry for somebody to listen to their story. And those were the two turning points that my staff was like, “Look, you’re going to have to start doing this by appointment because as long as you’re offering information to these patients, they’re so starved that they’re going to continue to let you go on, and if you go on for an hour and a half at the counter, they’ll let you. And in the meantime, we’re being bottlenecked in the pharmacy and we can’t finish our jobs because our pharmacist is outside giving away knowledge for an hour and a half.”

So, it took me about a year to be convinced that people would actually make appointments for a pharmacist, when historically, we’ve, A, given our knowledge away for free, and, B, it’s always been like a five-minute conversation. So, after about a year of them trying to convince me, I did. I started targeting a very nominal consultation fee and we actually started booking patients from that day forward. And that’s been probably about seven years since we’ve done that.

James Maskell: Amazing. So yeah, so now you’re starting to actually see people and I know going on a professional kind of functional medicine journey to learn this. Before we get onto some of those details, let’s just talk about when you talk to other pharmacists, were they not having the same experience, because it’s not like chronic disease is limited to your corner of Oklahoma?

Suzanne Keyes: Right. So, yes, and no. You have to remember that a lot of the newer grads, and I say newer, probably in the last 10 years, first of all, they’re in over their heads in med, and so the very most appealing thing to do is probably to go work for a big box chain. And like I said, I did that too. Well, in those big box stores, you are held to a lot of metrics that prevents you from having anything longer than a 30-second to two-minute conversation with that patient. “Make sure you take this on an empty stomach.” I remember being actually berated by a company manager because I was spending too much time with the patients.

And so when you look at a patient and they’re desperate because they just got told they had diabetes and have no idea what that entails, and then they’re told to come to the pharmacy to pick up a glucometer and they have no idea how to use it, I learned people are leaving these doctors’ offices after getting these life-changing life sentences and they’re not being educated. And so, yes and no. It depends on what sector they’re coming from, but I will be honest that in the last probably two years with kind of the movement that’s sweeping, we’ve got more pharmacists that are really engaged and they’re seeing that the pill for the ill model is completely broken. It doesn’t hurt that especially in independent pharmacy outside of a big chain, that reimbursements are down, that there’s so many fees through Medicare that people are hardly able to keep their doors open. So, I think that that, in combination with no one’s getting better, has actually helped spark more of an interest. But yes, we are seeing pharmacists that are into functional medicine, those numbers are growing exponentially.

James Maskell: Yeah, that’s really exciting. So yeah, let’s go back to your education now. So, you’ve got some of your appointments, and you’re starting to make appointments, and you’re starting to see people. I know that from that moment, over the next six years, that not just has the sort of way you spend time with patients, but actually the whole pharmacy itself has completely transformed, visibly, organizationally or otherwise. So, talk us through why and how that all went down.

Suzanne Keyes: So, inadvertently, I ended up probably the first year that I was doing my research and, I’d say, self-education outside of any organization, that first year, I would get so excited and passionate over the connections that seemed so easy. Something as simple as depression doesn’t necessarily always have to be a chemical imbalance, it can be inflammation. Inflammation is coming from the sugar. I mean, something like that. And like I said earlier, I would go out of my office and go, “Oh, my gosh, you guys. This is why this is happening. There’s a component in red meat that actually depletes glutathione. That’s the mechanism.” Years ago when they were coming out going, “Don’t eat red meat. It can cause cancer and dah, dah, dah, and the beef industry went off the chain trying to stifle that, I came across several things that showed me the mechanism. I’m like, “Oh, man.”

And so I would go out and I would inadvertently frame, educate and pass on my passion to my staff. And I think that that, as a pharmacist, especially an independent pharmacy, that is incredibly critical. I can’t do my job without a support staff. And that holds true whether I am at a big chain or in a tiny independent, but it’s even more critical in my position because there’s only one of me and I have four auxiliary staff. And so if I’m busy in a consult and Mrs. Jones walks in, and she wants to know what she’d heard something about berberine, then my staff can actually come out and give her all the information. And so training my staff was pivotal, and I didn’t know it until I had already watched the fruit of my labor, I guess. So, that was the first big thing. And then you’ll have to repeat that second part of the question.

James Maskell: Yeah, no. I guess the training of staff is huge to pass on the passion, but let’s just talk a little bit about how…I’d love to just have the listeners understand a little bit of how your physical space is transformed. Because now you’re a business owner, you have this independent pharmacy, but from what I remember of our first conversation, there sort of came a moment when you realized that the physical layout of the store was not creating the kind of health that you were looking to create.

Suzanne Keyes: Exactly. So, we actually moved into a bigger space January 2019. And so prior to that, we were in a, number one, smaller space. So, when I built it, I did not account for a large front end because I didn’t want to be associated with your typical pharmacy. I didn’t want to carry a bunch of gifts and a bunch of nonsense and a bunch of food and everything like that. So, I made the front-end very small.

James Maskell: What? No candy, no tobacco?

Suzanne Keyes: No candy, no tobacco, no alcohol sales.

James Maskell: That’s not your average CVS, I’ll tell you that.

Suzanne Keyes: Exactly, exactly. I’m glad you said it and I didn’t have to. So yeah. Then when I really started getting into functional medicine and really started to learn about the nutritional supplements and how in other countries, they’re actually used as almost like prescriptions versus here where they’re not even FDA approved, most of them, and I started seeing the importance of just supporting the biological pathways and just that nutrients are depleted by the drugs that I was dispensing, I realized I’ve got to have a bigger front end.

So, when we moved in January, we actually took over a 2,800 square foot convenience store that was literally a rectangle. And so it was we wiped it clean and then built in our USP 800, non-sterile hazard room. We built a separate compounding room. We built a separate retail where all of our retail drugs are. And then my whole front…and I’ll send you some pictures if you want…but my whole front is loaded with walls and spin racks of professional grade supplements. We have a VO2 max. I don’t know if you’re familiar with that. But you see sometimes the athletes wearing the mask and they’ve got a tube and they’re jogging on the treadmill, so we have a VO2 max. We have a resting metabolic rate analysis machine that tells people the caloric intake that they need to stay in to either gain or lose or maintain, and that’s based on their actual metabolism or air exchange.

We’ve got a bio impedance analyzers that patients can actually see their fat composition, their whole total body composition. We have a tower garden, which really draws a lot of attention. It’s sitting right in my front. And so it’s six and a half feet tall and about four feet around in circumference, and every day it we’ve got…I don’t know, seven different varieties of lettuce, chard, spinach, kale, and every day we go in there and that’s where we eat our salads. So, my pharmacy actually looks completely different when you walk in from your average community pharmacy.

James Maskell: Yeah, I love that. I think one of the things you said is that people have to come back to the back to get their pharmacy prescription.

Suzanne Keyes: They have to walk through all that.

James Maskell: Yeah, they have to walk through. So, let’s have them not walk through candy, and cigarettes, and all that other stuff, but walk through vegetables, and supplements, and all those other kinds of things. And I love that look, because, we know what a big deal the way that you organize the physical space makes on decisions. I mean, Whole Foods just probably spent billions of dollars working out the exact way to have everything you walk straight into the fresh food, and then you…they’ve spent this before, and so little thought has been given to the pharmacy. Actually, a lot of thought has been given to the pharmacy, but the goal has been to profit maximize the most profitable products, which is like breakfast cereal and not actually health creation. But what I really appreciated about your thinking was, it was how do we facilitate the most health through the design of the store? Which I think is something that every practitioner that’s in private practice could be thinking about.

Suzanne Keyes: Absolutely. I don’t mind being known as the pharmacist that hates pills. A colleague of mine, Jeff Robins, was one of the first people that I heard actually say that, and I was like, “Oh my gosh, that’s me.” So, I don’t mind walking into a conference to teach, or to speak, or even my patients knowing that yes, you can feel your blood pressure medicine here, and you can fill your statin, and your blood sugar here, and I’ll give it to you, but I also am probably going to ask if you want to know how to get off of those medications with help of your physician. And I think that that’s really a big draw.

People really are sick and tired of being sick and tired, and they’re just absolutely over the top sick of just getting another medication. And so along with that, I think that there’s a modicum amount of discernment a pharmacist has to have because not everybody is ready for a lifestyle change, and there are people that if they’re honest with you and honest with themselves, they do just want a pill for the ill. And that’s fine. I’ll give it to you and then I’ll save my energy for the next guy who’s like, “I really don’t want to be on this statin.”

James Maskell: Yeah. I’m willing to bet that you have higher rates of cross-referral to people that decide to do that.

Suzanne Keyes: Yes.

James Maskell: …because it’s remarkable, right, in the way that Seth Godin would call remarkable, is that it’s easy to remark on it to other people. “Have you seen this pharmacy? They’ve got vegetables and salad and chard up front, not cigarettes and soda.” I just think that that’s like a remarkable thing that people would talk about. And I’ve definitely seen on my journey through the functional medicine ecosystem, people who have created sort of remarkable experiences at their clinics certainly grow faster. And so I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that that’s been a good source of growth in the last two years since you moved into the new space.

Suzanne Keyes: Absolutely. And what helps too is that I do go to a lot of the doctors. I’m in western Oklahoma. So, Oklahoma City is about an hour and a half to two hours away, and so a lot of my functional medicine practitioners reside in Oklahoma City. And so I will reach out to them, whether it’s in person or just a marketing call. But the idea is I go to those… because I get asked a lot, like, “How do you market your services? How do you get doctors to send people to you?” Well, easy. I first pick out the doctors that I’m important to.

So, I go to those doctors and I’m like, “Look, I’m functionally trained. I’m certified in functional medicine. I’m an IFMCP and I know what you’re doing when you sit in the office and discuss lifestyle changes with this patient, I also understand that there’s only so much you can discuss in an hour, I also understand that you’re probably not going to see that patient for three months. So, why not send them to my pharmacy where I can, A, check in on them probably weekly, but, B, I can reinforce everything that you just spent an hour going over, and then I can make sure they’re following it through. I can help hold their hand until they see you in three months?” And that’s all I have to say.

And those doctors who value the root cause are…I’ve got doctors in Oklahoma City that actually draw the labs that I request and then they just send the patient to me to get the lab interpretation and then they count on me to give the lab interpretation to them for the patient’s chart. So yeah, you can grow this into any size. But again, it comes with discernment. I realized early on that there were some doctors, just like some patients, that just wanted to see me in a white coat counting extremely fast, and I’m not that guy.

James Maskell: Yeah, no, that’s good. Well, let’s talk a little bit about…I just want to get into kind of…before that, I got one more topic I want to ask you about. What do you do about education and groups? Obviously, we’ve talked about group visits, I know group education is something. Can you tell us a little bit about how you ventured in that direction?

Suzanne Keyes: Absolutely. So, I started about five years ago kind of speaking around the country, and it started out kind of slow, but I got quite a few of our community, they were following me on social media and they would make comments like, “I wish I could be in that conference and hear the topic you’re talking about.”

And after a while, a friend of mine who has a venue actually offered to let me host…especially in the summer, we get a couple of summers where, every four to six weeks, I would post a new selection of topics for my community to pick from, and then I would just do a community conference, and I would limit it to 20 or 50 people to where it was intimate enough, to where they could get some one on one time and get some personal questions answered. But it was also a good way to kind of bring them in and say, “Look, if you need more information, then we need to sit down and do a consultation in my office.” But yeah, that was kind of a game changer in the community because we just did the education, and we have healthy beverages and healthy snacks and everything, and we let the community pick the topic that they wanted to talk about. But I haven’t done it in about two years. I’ve been a little bit busy. But yeah, I think they really enjoyed that.

James Maskell: That’s great. Well, look, I guess I want to talk…for the final thing here, is just talk about the plight of the independent pharmacists, right? Just for a moment, because in my first book, Evolution of Medicine, I talked about how the plight of the primary care doctor meant that you could achieve both your personal, financial, and career objectives by leaving your job in the hospital and starting your own functional medicine micro practice and sort of going on this journey to be able to build your own life and career.

I would just love for you to talk a little bit to sort of, what has been happening to the independent pharmacist, and what is the opportunity today for pharmacists in functional medicine to really step into a role of transforming their community? I mean, I watched the Netflix show, “The Pharmacist,” and you just see that pharmacists are kind of spunky and I think have the first have the first view as to what’s going on in the world. In that case, it was the opiates, and in this case you’re seeing the chronic disease. What role for the pharmacist in this evolution of medicine and this transformation of healthcare?

Suzanne Keyes: Oh my goodness. Okay. So first, the plight of independent. I kind of touched on it a little bit before, but my colleagues will echo the sentiments. The plight for community pharmacists right now in this day and age is not good. Like I said, reimbursements were ending…there’s probably four two six patients a week. I don’t feel very many prescriptions. We maybe do 60 a day, and four to five of those scripts a week, I’m actually paying that customer to fill their prescriptions with me. Not because I’ve lost profit, but I’m literally paying them to come here. So, that is running rampant. So, reimbursements aren’t well. And the fees that Medicare are every quarter taking out…I got some colleagues that are looking at the end of the year, and Medicare was taking back $200,000 in fees. So, the plight of the community pharmacists is not looking good. That’s one reason why I started to diversify my practice that many years ago.

Now, on the other side, because that kind of doom and gloom story is out there, it’s either going to paralyze or propel. I always say that there’s two types of people in this world, those that fear paralyzes and those that fear propels. So, which one are you? So, those that it paralyzes, they’re likely going to shut the door. I think it’s like 5% of independents every year in the last five or 10 years, maybe it’s 10 years, have closed, have closed their doors permanently. We see it all the time.

Now, if you’re one of those that fear propels, then I would encourage you to get out and find a niche, whether it’s a board certification, whether it’s a certification in functional medicine, whether it’s just educating yourself as an expert in a field, whether it is autoimmune, or diabetes, or just that you’ve done several studies in functional medicine. But diversify yourself, make yourself different. Those opportunities can show up in like my practice where I’m still going to hang in there and run a pharmacy and have that patient access, or we’ve got pharmacists who are shutting their brick and mortar and then doing nothing more than just online virtual consultations. There’s opportunity for functional medicine pharmacists to actually work inside doctors’ offices and clinics and be the expert that’s covering the supplements as well as the medication. The possibilities are just endless and they’re growing.

So, anyone in any setting, that’s the thing. You don’t just have to be in community pharmacy in order to be a specialist in functional medicine. You can take that to the VA and change formulary. You can take that to your local hospitals and change the readmittance statistics. You can take this and actually do it in a high-volume retail store.

The whole reason we get into pharmacy in the first place, most of us, is, A, to help people, but also because we’re good communicators. And a lot of functional medicine has to do with that two way relationship and that communication. And so the opportunities are endless, in my opinion.

James Maskell: Beautiful. Well, look, just before we finish, let’s just talk about the economics, because what I learned at that conference was, how much money do you make prescribing a statin, and then how much money could you make if you prescribed a statin and CoQ10, right? I feel like that it’s just such an obvious thing for every pharmacist who’s listening to say, “Look, the reason why you have to shut your doors is because that the margins on the drugs is so small because everyone else is taking the pie that you don’t get, and yet it’s better clinically to provide the statin with the CoQ10 because it helps to deal with the loss of CoQ10 that comes from taking the statin, but that also it can transform the economic transaction.”

Suzanne Keyes: Absolutely. You’re right, it’s twofold. And this is what I tell almost every pharmacist that comes and says, “How do I get started?” And I’m like, “If you know that statins deplete CoQ10, you’ve already started. So now, you just have to broaden that.” In pharmacy school, we were really not given an entire course on drug induced nutrient depletion, but that’s the easiest place for pharmacists to start.

And exactly like you said, you can just start with simple medications that deplete things. Methylphenidate depletes magnesium. I’ve done a chart and it starts off with before a child is three, the statistics, I think, as of 2017, said that…I’m sorry. Before a child is two, they’ve already received three rounds of broad spectrum antibiotics. That broad spectrum beta-lactam antibiotic is going to not only deplete all the key nutrients, all your B’s, your B vitamins, but it’s also going to deplete your microbiome. So, when you deplete those B vitamins and the microbiome, you could get a whole host of things like neurotransmitter imbalance. So, now we’ve got a kid who’s a toddler who’s got a neurotransmitter imbalance that could look like ADD. So, what do we do? We give them methylphenidate, except methylphenidate depletes magnesium. So, now we’ve got a kid who is restless, can’t sleep, isn’t pooping, all of these things, probably have headaches.

We’ve also seen that a lot of the asthmatics, actually they think that a depletion in magnesium has precipitated asthma in children. So, now we’ve got a child with asthma or had a propensity for it. But don’t worry, now we can give them a corticosteroid. And now that steroid is going to deplete a number of things, which is going to cause some thyroid imbalance, and so then we give an SSRI. And then the SSRI actually displaces iodine, and when we give the SSRI and it depletes the iodine, we’ve got thyroid imbalance again. And one of the key things of iodine imbalance is depression. And then with those nutrients depleted, then we’ve got restlessness. So, then we give them another medication. It just goes on and on.

So, we’re in a key position to actually just start this, and pharmacists are doing and don’t even know that they’re doing functional medicine. When you’re looking at a 17-cent margin and no dispensing fee, selling a $60 CoQ10 really makes…there’s been a lot of times where my supplements have actually made payroll because my prescription is wrong.

James Maskell: Yeah. Well, look, I really appreciate you sharing and coming on the podcast. I would just use this opportunity to shout out to any pharmacists who’s listening to get in touch and to let us connect with you. There are conferences, there’s a Facebook group that I’ve become part of called Functional Medicine Pharmacists, that has over 1,000 pharmacists in it now that are sharing best practices, and resources. And I really feel, like you said, I think there is a movement occurring from the people who are on the front lines and who really do want to help people and are seeing maybe even more clearly than doctors, just the scope of the problem and actually have a solution to do about it.

And yeah, please, we’ll have on the show notes, some of the pictures from your pharmacy so that people can actually visualize what it looks like. I guess I just want to acknowledge you, Suzanne, for being on the front lines and for doing things differently, and I hope that it’ll be a sort of a marker for hundreds, if not thousands, of pharmacists here in the future, to start to build community centers full of education and health creation tools, and to be able to play a role wherever they are to create health in their community. So, thank you.

Suzanne Keyes: Well, that’s what we’re counting on. I mentioned Jeff Robins and my other colleague, Lara Zakaria, the three of us together are actually creating, and hopefully by the end of this year, the first fully accredited functional medicine training for pharmacists created by pharmacists. And so we are actually really excited about that. So, giving pharmacists that are looking to reach out and how it can play in their pharmacy, a platform to actually learn. So, be watching us. We’re Pharmacy Evolutions as a collective, and we are hoping to release our first beta this fall. So, it’ll be a comprehensive course, and we’re going over cardiometabolic disease, autoimmunity, hypothyroidism, adrenals, and everything like that, to kind of teach pharmacists how to not only know what’s going on physiologically, but then actually know how to put it into practice in their practice.

James Maskell: Beautiful. Well, thank you for being here on the Evolution of Medicine Podcast. Really excited to have you and to have this conversation about the potential of pharmacists in the ecosystem. Huge opportunity for pharmacists to join the Functional Forum meetup groups and meet practitioners who think the same way, and referrals, and cross-pollination and connection. Huge opportunity for pharmacists to connect with non-prescribing doctors like chiropractors and other types of alternative providers that don’t prescribe medication to have good relationships locally. So, we look forward to seeing much more of that in the future.

In the meantime, this has been the Evolution of Medicine Podcast. I’m your host, James Maskell. Thanks so much for listening, and we’ll see you next time.

Thanks for listening to the Evolution of Medicine Podcast. Please share this with colleagues who need to hear it. Thanks so much to our sponsors, the Lifestyle Matrix Resource Center. This podcast is really possible because of them. Please visit goevomed.com/lmrc to find out more about their clinical tools like the group visit toolkit. That’s goevomed.com/lmrc. Thanks so much for listening and we’ll see you next time.

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