Personalised Medicine? You Could Be Practising It Now
Now, this week, I had the pleasure of speaking to Gerald Quigley, holistic pharmacist, herbalist, media personality. Gerald appears on radio and TV regularly. He’s a great communicator, and in this particular instance, we touch on another nutrient. We’ve been exploring vitamin C, magnesium, and zinc and talking about nutrient density and another nutrient that is important as there are many, many is CoQ10.
Now, CoQ10, when you look at the bottle. It usually has ubiquinone as its active ingredient. In the body, it needs an enzyme to convert ubiquinone to ubiquinol biochemistry of it but as we get older, that enzyme is less active, and so they form of ubiquinol is a more bioavailable form Q10, which we can take now as a supplement and can Gerald talks about that.
Gerald also reminds me about how pharmacies used to be. If you are older than, say, 40 or 50 years, you may remember walking into a pharmacy with a prescription that your doctor has written out with several active ingredients that were barely legible, but somehow the pharmacist managed to read it and would go in the back and put together a compound, one ingredient with another ingredient, and another ingredient, and that would come either a tablet or an ointment or a liquid. That’s how pharmacy used to be.
Of course, along came the pharmaceutical industry on an industrial scale and developed ready-made products, which were then marketed to the medical practitioners through the journals flooded with research that’s done by the pharmaceutical industry to show how effective that is.
Thought leaders are then engaged to talk and educate the medical practitioners about the wonderful new drug. The pharmacy carries the new drug, and it’s all streamlined so that it facilitates a five or 10-minute consultation from you.
Initially walking into a doctor’s surgery with a particular symptom, the doctor having only five or 10 minutes to talk to you, listens to that symptom and knows that there is a medication to help manage that, manage it, not cure it and the pharmacy stocks it. A compounding pharmacy is a way of, as the name implies, compounding various products into one particular tablet.
This is where I think we touch on this with Gerald that pharmacy is going to get back to this as medicine becomes more personalised. The whole issue of personalised medicine is an interesting one because it is invariably where medicine is headed.
In fact, I was looking at The Garvan Institute here in Australia. The Garvan Institute of Medical Research. Personalised medicine is the future of health and medicine that uses uniquely personalised information about an individual, such as genetic information, to help guide health-related decisions.
“When personalised medicine becomes a reality,” I’m quoting here, “information from an individual’s genome, their complete set of DNA will be read and analysed, and this information can be used to diagnose illnesses, estimate disease risk or to predict how an individual may react to therapies. Understanding an individual’s risk of developing the disease may make it possible to intervene early – monitor, minimise or ideally prevent disease.”.
This obviously holds great promise for the future, although it holds great promise on many different levels. One, you could be diagnosed even well well before you even have the condition, purely because your genes indicate that you may be predisposed to. I think there’s great potential in that to say, “Hey, you are more predisposed to it,” and I have been exploring this genetic testing.
I always like to explore these things on myself and my family. I drive my family crazy with these kinds of things, but you know, it’s good to do studies of any cause. One, where one is me, and sometimes in my equal two or three where my wife and my family, or four or five or six are included.
I’m exploring SelfDecode, which is a DNA programme that takes a saliva sample and then gives me an idea of my own genetic profile makes suggestions about lifestyle and nutritional interventions, which may be appropriate and that is a form of personalised medicine, which The Garvan Institute is referring to. I must say the alarm bells go off a little bit for me on this.
I think it has great potential on one level to inform our risk, but on the other level, it is a way of medicalising, pathologising people before they even get in or they have a problem. This is why taking a family history is so important in health care, and this is why you know, I often encourage, you may have heard me talk about listening to your body and observing it, and we’ve done programmes on what does your poo say about you?
There is an excellent report card that you get each and every day as you look at what is in the toilet bowl and how that informs how you are. This is a form of personalised medicine that is happening each and every day for you, and it’s a question of whether you want to listen to it and I would refer you. At this date, we’re not going to do a whole programme now on it.
The Bristol Stool Chart
The Bristol Stool Chart is an excellent way of looking at your bowel movement on a daily basis to interpret what you are eating is affecting you. You should have regular bowel movements and they should be well-formed. They should be launched easily. They should float and then sink and that is a healthy bowel movement. If your bowel movements are like that, then what you are eating, is a form of personalised medicine, by the way. This is a way of interpreting what you are eating.
Now, if you are constipated, that is a problem and you need to explore that. Perhaps you’re not drinking enough water. Perhaps you’re not eating enough fibre. Perhaps there are issues around your gut microbiome that need to be explored. If you have runny stools or diarrhoea, there is another thing I know in my own case I love chilli, but chilli doesn’t love me, and I could easily put chilli on absolutely everything I eat.
I love it, but it is not good for me, and my report card on a daily basis reminds me of that and I temperate as well. How tired are you? Do you wake up feeling refreshed? This is another report card. You don’t need a genetic test to tell you that. How are you sleeping at night? Is it easy for you to fall asleep? That’s called sleep latency. How long does it take you to fall asleep? And ideally, you should be falling asleep within 20 or certainly within 20 or 30 minutes.
That’s important. Do you wake up through the night? There’s another sign and symptom of your personalised approach to your own health. That is important. And most importantly, do you wake up feeling refreshed? Another thing that’s important is do you wake up with a headache, neck or jaw pain, which indicates that you may be clenching or grinding in your sleep.
Example of personalised medicine
Here’s another example of personalised medicine and listening to your body. Listening to what it is your body is telling you. Your skin is another excellent indicator of personalised medicine because 80% of skin conditions are a reflection of poor digestion. There is another example. Do you suffer from reflux, heartburn or indigestion?
Of course, if you go to the doctor, you may be prescribed an antacid. One of the biggest sellers in the world, and certainly some blockbuster drugs are what are called proton pump inhibitors. Somac Nexium is an example of that, and this is a symptomatic approach to health care. But maybe what’s better to do is to find out why you suffer from reflux, heartburn and indigestion. When you address that issue in a personalised medical approach to your health, then you are also doing yourself a great favour because you need acid in the stomach to help you digest your food.
When you take into acids or proton pump inhibitors, yes, you may get less reflux, but you may not be digesting and absorbing your nutrients as they should. It also may make you more susceptible to infection because another reason why your stomach is so acidic is that it really does ensure that your chances of getting an infection are much less from the food you are eating. There is another form of personalised medicine.
Another form of personalised medicine is to look back in your family and see whether your family has a history of heart disease. You actually don’t need a genetic test to tell you that you just need to look at your family. Does your family, do your mother or father or any of your siblings have a history of heart disease? If that is the case, then yes, maybe you need to be taking heart disease a lot more seriously. Similarly, with cancers.
I know in my own family I have a very, very strong family history of prostate cancer. My father had it when he was 16. My uncle had it and died of it. He got it when he was 60, died of it in his mid-70s. My brother got it when he was 60. I got it when I was 60. There’s something about family history, and if I ever needed a reminder of how important that was, that was it.
Now, interestingly, if I had been really listening to my family history, I would have been exploring and reducing my chance of having problems. Now I’ve done various podcasts on Vitamin D, on methylation and every time I do a podcast, I do a test myself, and my wife has told me I really should stop doing these things because every time I do a podcast, something else comes up. It turned out that I had been vitamin D deficient.
Now I did my first podcast on vitamin D about eight years ago, and I had never really tested my vitamin D levels. Very remiss of me. I really should have known better, and I think I would encourage you to do the same to test your vitamin D levels. My vitamin D levels were at 40. Now that is extremely low, and that would have been my vitamin D levels for the last 20, 30 or more years in my life because I’d done nothing differently. Vitamin D is implicated in all sorts of every diseases.
In fact, it’s an important anti-cancer nutrient vitamin D. There is one thing I could have done or should have done differently. I also did a programme about seven or eight years ago on methylation and looking at how we methylate or make our nutrients available to us. It turns out that I have a genetic predisposition for poor methylation, so I should have been taking a methylated form of B group vitamins, particularly or other methyl factors. I really should never have been drinking alcohol unless I did that, and all of that would have predisposed me to my family history.
I’m encouraging you to do in this Healthy Bite, if you haven’t had a listen, we didn’t actually go into this in great detail with Gerald. It’s a great episode. I’d encourage you to have a listen to it, but it reminded me of personalised medicine and where we are headed. It also reminded me that actually, it’s something that I’ve been talking about for some time and that is practised personalised medicine yourself by looking back in your family history and recognising what your family history tells you and taking that seriously.
Listen to your body
Also, listen to your body. How are you sleeping? What is your skin condition like? What is your digestion like? All of these things set you up for a personalised approach to your own medicine. And yes, genes. Genetic testing is going to be very exciting. I’m exploring it, but I also recognise that it may be a loaded gun as well, that may medicalise and pathologise as before where it needed to be.
Another interesting thing about personalised medicine is personalised devices. Now, this is the thing that I’m exploring and I’ve bought a Whoop band too. I have no interest or commercial interest in that. I explored it because it was said to be a great personalised device. I wanted to track my sleeping and it was very interesting that I became obsessed with it.
My wife again warned me not to keep wearing this thing, so I stopped wearing it because I agreed I became too obsessed by it but it did give me a snapshot of my sleep quality to some degree. Then I moved to an Oura ring because I love gadgets and I love exploring Oura rings. Again, I have no interest in that, but I liked Oura rings because I never go to bed with a watch on.
So wearing a watch, which is what basically a Whoop band is, goes around the wrist is not really comfortable for me and a ring, even though I do take my wedding ring off at night to go to bed. I don’t sleep with my wedding ring on. I don’t sleep with anything on. I thought an Oura ring is an interesting thing because it’s the least invasive thing. I have explored both Oura 1 and 2, and the more recent version Oura 3. And I’ll do a whole programme on this.
The thing that concerns me about it is two things. That concerned me about it. One, the electromagnetic radiation and I do have an EMF (electromagnetic frequency) radiation detector. And make no mistake about it, these bands and these rings are putting EMF radiation on your body 24-7. I don’t think that’s a good idea.
And the second thing I don’t like about it is that you become so obsessed. My wife will ask me, “How did you sleep at night?” And I almost go, “I’m just going to check that on my phone.” As my daughter downloads before I get into that. Before I answer that. And actually, I am going to do a whole programme on it because it is very interesting.
I’m going to only use my personal device for a limited period of two months and then maybe only use it for one or two months a year. I do not want to have it on my person 24/7 for the radiation and the obsession that it can become. So personalised medicine is definitely where we’re headed. You could be there already yourself just by listening to your body, looking at your family history and taking it all seriously.
Anyway, this week’s episode with Gerald Quigley was a good one. It touched on some of those issues. We talked a little bit about the pandemic as well and how that was managed, and Gerald shares with us some of his own personal experiences with his aged mother, who was in low care.
Anyway, always great to talk with Gerald. Always great to talk with him and get his insights. I hope you find that episode informative. I hope you find this one as well. Practised personalised medicine. That’s the message. Until next time.
This podcast provides general information and discussion about medicine, health, and related subjects. The content is not intended and should not be construed as medical advice or as a substitute for care by a qualified medical practitioner. If you or any other person has a medical concern, he or she should consult with an appropriately qualified medical practitioner. Guests who speak in this podcast express their own opinions, experiences, and conclusions.