The Filipina is undeniably exceptional. Young or old, a professional, a student, a beauty queen, a blue-collar employee, a homemaker, she exudes beauty, intelligence and strength wherever she sets foot in the world. But no matter her courage and strength, she remains vulnerable.
Many Filipinas ignore health issues to focus on family or work. To help women look after their well-being and address any health concern, medical experts have developed modern solutions. One of these is compounded medicines, or medicines produced through the pharmaceutical process of compounding or customizing medicines based on a patient’s needs. Apotheca Integrative Pharmacy (AIP), the pioneer specialty compounding pharmacy in the Philippines, is helping Filipinas look after themselves more easily and effectively through its wide range of compounding medicines and services.
This International Women’s Month, let’s take a look at some of the health concerns women continue to face and how these can be addressed through these modern solutions.
Thyroid disorders continue to affect many Filipinas today. These often-neglected disorders, which include goiter, hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, thyroid cancer and thyroid nodules, affect more women than men, with incidence among women three times higher than for men.
Thyroid disorders and iodine deficiency are considered public health threats because when left untreated they can lead to more serious problems such as thyroid cancer, goiter, reproductive failure and even mental deficiency. Thyroid cancer, for one, is the most common cancer among women 15 to 24 years old, based on Department of Health (DoH) data.
Goiter, another common disorder in the Philippines, is linked to overproduction of thyroid hormones, called hyperthyroidism. Hyperthyroidism can lead to a stroke, congestive heart failure and atrial fibrillation if left untreated or undertreated.
Women with thyroid issues can also experience menstrual irregularities. Because the thyroid controls many parts of the body, too much or too little thyroid hormones can make a woman’s period too light, too heavy or irregular, which can then affect a woman’s ovulation and make conceiving difficult.
AIP’s thyroid medications can address thyroid issues by stabilizing blood pressure, improving endocrine function and reducing hyperthyroid symptoms.
Using thyroid medications to treat menstrual irregularities and problems in conceiving birth can also help improve emotional disorders and fertility.
Hormonal Imbalance and Menopause
Many Filipinas silently suffer from hormonal imbalance or do not realize they have it. Polycystic ovarian syndrome or PCOS affects about 4.5 million Filipinas and is a major cause of infertility among women. Besides irregular cycle and weight gain, Filipinas with PCOS experience bloating, hyperpigmentation and baldness.
Meanwhile, the imbalance of hormones related to menopause creates harsh physical changes and can affect a woman’s mental health. During this stage, women experience hot flashes, vaginal dryness, sleeplessness, fatigue, memory loss and weight gain.
Women often turn to hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to treat these symptoms. One form of HRT, Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT) or the process of replicating hormones using natural resources, supplements the body with the hormones it lacks. AIP’s BHRT replicates hormones such as liothyronine, levothyroxine, progesterone, melatonin, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and pregnenolone.
Undergoing BHRT can increase the core temperature and basal metabolic rate, reduce gall bladder activity, normalize blood clot and vascular tone, strengthen the immune system, and improve mood, vision, energy, clarity of thinking and overall well-being. It also assists in thyroid function, slowing natural changes that occur in the body with age and building up bone and muscle strength.
Obesity remains a major health issue among Filipinas as it can lead to other more serious concerns. The adult obesity increase rate in the country has been experiencing “very rapid growth,” according to the March 2021 report of the World Obesity Federation, with the growth rate among women between 1995 and 2015 at 3.7 percent. Obese women are at a high risk of developing diabetes, coronary artery disease, low back pain and knee osteoarthritis.
Compounded medicines are also used to treat obesity. AIP’s portfolio of weight management solutions includes Phentermine, Phentermine and Topiramate, Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG), Methionine Inositol Choline (MIC), Methionine, Inositol,Choline, L-Carnitine and Cyanocobalamin (Vitamin B12).
These solutions can cater to different concerns such as obesity related to diabetes, high cholesterol or high blood pressure. AIP’s weight management services help patients lose weight easily by burning and breaking down fats within the liver to lower cholesterol, assisting the metabolism of fats and supporting the liver in excreting chemical waste products. Some medicines promote the health of cell structures and reduce blood cholesterol or boost overall metabolic rate, assist in burning stored body fat and regulate sleep, appetite and energy.
Acne, dry skin, hyperpigmentation and dark spots are just some of the common skin problems that Filipinas face. Having sensitive skin is a major concern for many as it can also mean having to be very picky with skin care products to use. Compounded dermatological preparations can cater to a patient’s hiyang and consider which ingredients might trigger allergies or negative reactions from a patient. These medicines can also be tailored to achieve the patient’s desired results.
AIP’s compounded dermatological preparations include tretinoin, vitamin C serum, glutathione and hair loss dermatology related products such as minoxidil, minoxidil with finasteride. There are solutions to replace older skin with new skin and treat acne, whiteheads and blackheads, wrinkles, dark spots and rough skin. Other treatments produce a smooth and glowing complexion, promote collagen production, tighten the skin, provide hydration and antioxidants, treat hair loss and neutralize free radicals.
AIP hopes to make a difference in Filipinas’ lives through its range of compounded medicines and services. Among its 13,000 patients, 63 percent are female. AIP houses female doctors who specialize in gynecology, endocrinology and dermatology. It also has integrative and functional doctors.
“Everyone should have access to better healthcare,” said AIP Managing Director Sophia Lista. “We want to make it easier for our fellow Filipinas. Apotheca Integrative Pharmacy empowers women through better and accessible health. Through this advocacy, we hope to become a significant part in their journeys.”
AIP works closely with doctors and its customers and considers factors such as patient age and allergy history in order to customize medicines to a patient’s needs. The pharmacy believes in the pharmacy triad or finding accountability with doctors, patients and pharmacists to provide superior pharmaceutical care, strengthening patient confidence and compliance.