2012 is an exciting year for pharmacists. Not only do the latest industry reports show very positive growth in the complementary healthcare market, but there are several big events happening this year including Homeopathy Awareness Week and the London Olympics, which hopefully means a busy and interesting summer.
The latest independent Mintel Report has found that an incredible 12 million adults use complementary medicines in the UK and forecasts that the complementary medicines market will grow by a massive 33 per cent, to £282 million by 20141. In a time where health and beauty sectors and OTC medicines are struggling to increase market share, natural healthcare products are driving growth in pharmacies and increasing revenues in a high value category, whilst providing a service to customers and patients. Customers are demanding natural healthcare products over OTC and allopathic medicines and they want to have more control over their healthcare, so providing choice and information is key for all successful pharmacies.
One of the main complementary health areas that stood out in the Mintel Report is homeopathy. The homeopathy market alone is expected to grow by 29 per cent by 2014 and will take the sector value to £54 million. This is in addition to the 23 per cent growth since 2004, making it one of the most commonly used complementary medicine alongside herbal remedies. So how can pharmacists maximise this opportunity?
Homeopathy Awareness Week
Every year in the UK between 14th – 21st June is Homeopathy Awareness Week and this provides us with a good opportunity to educate the public about what homeopathy is and how it can help with common ailments. The public may not realise that homeopathy has been used around the world for over 200 years and, with an ever-growing number of people seeking a more natural way of maintaining their health, it can be used responsibly alongside conventional medicine2 and it is suitable for all the family.
There are still many myths and misunderstandings about homeopathy, so Homeopathy Awareness Week is a good opportunity to focus some much-needed education on this popular form of natural healthcare through in-store activity, such as expert advice and merchandising. Customers probably do not realise that there is a mounting evidence base to support it. The Society of Homeopaths has 1,300 registered and qualified homeopaths working in the UK whilst the Faculty of Homeopathy has 400 members who are GMC registered doctors which includes GPs.
Providing jargon-free information is essential so that customers can decide if it interests them and ask further questions if it does. Some key first aid remedies that customers can keep in their first aid kit include Arnica for bumps and bruises, bryonia for coughs, aconite and gelsemium for colds, merc sol for sore throats, nux vom for stomach aches, hypericum for toothache and thuja for warts 3.
The Olympic opportunity
In 2012, the theme for Homeopathy Awareness Week is sporting injuries, to tie in with the Olympics and the nation’s new-found enthusiasm for all things active. With remedies such as arnica, rhus tox and ruta, this could be a fantastic opportunity to raise awareness and a chance to make pharmacies relevant, topical and current during a hugely exciting and unique national event. Through in-store promotional activity, marketing and public relations, we are planning to highlight this unusual series of events to maximise awareness and profits.
Traditionally arnica can help relieve the symptoms of sprains, bruising and swelling after accidents such as tumbles when running or working out. This is a homeopathic remedy made from Arnica montana and helps stimulate the body’s healing process. It can also help if you are suffering from muscle fatigue and exhaustion, allowing you to feel more energised. Other traditional remedies include rhus tox, which is a great remedy to relieve any stiffness and for the overuse of muscles and ruta to help ease the pain and is also suitable for strained muscles.
A few areas to consider when recommending homeopathic remedies:
- All medicines (homeopathic or conventional) should be taken in accordance with the instructions on pack or as advised by your doctor or qualified healthcare practitioner
- It is not advisable for people to discontinue any treatment prescribed by their doctor
- Instead, an integrated approach to healthcare is strongly advocated, where complementary and conventional medicines are used responsibly together to provide the best care for the individual
- It is important that members of the public speak to their doctor or qualified healthcare practitioner if this is the approach they wish to take.
So, in a year when people will enjoy watching those professionals in their peak of their physical fitness, their own health and fitness will be at the forefront of their minds and the high street pharmacy will be the first port of call for advice and help. Pharmacists must take their marks, get set and go!
1. Complementary Medicines – Back to nature – Whether it works or not, December 2009 – Mintel Oxygen
2. If you are considering using homeopathy and are taking any medicines either prescribed or bought yourself or herbal products please consult your doctor before taking any homeopathic remedies.
3. If you are concerned about any of your symptoms or if you are receiving any treatment we would suggest you always consult your doctor before using any other medicinal products. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, consult your doctor before using any medicine.
By Susanne Haar, pharmacist, homeopath and Bach Practitioner at Nelsons Homeopathic Pharmacy