Working with illness: chasing red herrings?

red herrings

A red herring is something that diverts us off a trail or distracts us by its presence. With years of experience as an EFT and Matrix Reimprinting practitioner and META-medicine health coach, clinical pharmacist Megan Smith believes medicines could give us a clue about how to get back on track. She sees it’s not as a criticism, but rather a huge opportunity for practitioners.

by Megan Smith

As well as working in EFT, Matrix Reimprinting META-medicine and clinical pharmacy in Birmingham, I am also founder of UK Medicines Advisory Service, which advises, informs and trains holistic practitioners about medicines. And I feel there is something we’re missing out on here.

This something is the integrated approach of looking at all aspects of the client in front of us and seeing what fits best. Sometimes this can be allopathic (the mainstream medical use of pharmacologically active agents, or modern medicine), and sometimes this can be EFT. Sometimes it can be a completely different therapy or modality. EFT is very good at what it does and I am very much in favour of it, but there are times when we could make other interventions.

Before I came to EFT, I was a clinical pharmacist, a specialist pharmacist of around 18 years experience in the NHS working in all sorts of areas including surgical and medical specialisms, cardiology, children’s, intensive care, psychiatry, and recently in chemist shops as well. This background has given me a good insight into how medicines are used in general practice and specialist areas, where they can fit in and how best we can work with people who want to take medicines. If medicines are part of the equation of many illnesses (and in the UK, let’s be realistic, they are: many consultations with GPs and other doctors result in a prescription for a medicine which is then taken on a regular basis) then we need to look at the client holistically while using EFT with them, we need to take medicines into account.

Never advise your client to stop or change the way they are taking their medicines; this must be done only with their prescriber. Medicines could be affecting what we’re doing, we could be affecting the need for medicines, and we could be working on things such as side effects of medicines. In some cases it might be better to find a more appropriate medicine rather than use EFT. EFT would be effective at minimising the side effects at least for a while but I would question whether that is getting to the true cause of the issue, the medicine itself.

There is huge potential for integrated working with traditional medical doctors and other healthcare professionals, a huge ‘way in’ of working with people, perhaps with chronic diseases, who are taking medicines long-term. Integrative working also ensures the safest and the best outcome for the client in front of us all times. An awareness of a client’s medication can enhance the service we provide as practitioners: the icing on the cake and something they will appreciate. Doctors and other healthcare professionals out there will respect us for it, too. Medicines are an area that they understand and use every day of their working lives and we could use this common ground to help integrated working.

As a health coach I am able to do an assessment of people’s health using META-medicine. A plan is devised from this assessment and a holistic therapy plan for the client is created that looks at the body, mind and spirit, as well as social and environmental factors that could be affecting their health and perhaps the things to look at to get them back to wellness.

With additional information about the medication we can hone this model even further and ensure that all aspects of the client is looked after. As an example perhaps the simplest case of integrated working was one that got me into EFT.

My first EFT experience was for a health issue when began integrated working with my GP to ensure that I was healthy, safe and happy with the outcome in all respects.

In late 2006 I had a severe chest infection and developed asthma. This was quite severe: I needed four different inhalers to control it and over a four-month period I often found myself in A&E or my GP’s surgery requiring high-dose inhaled medication to stave off an asthma attack. At a personal development weekend one of the leaders introduced me to EFT. I“d never heard about it before: at the time I was a total scientist.

My asthma made me so breathless that I was oftem barely able to string a sentence together. My first reaction with the onset of an attack was to reach for of all the inhalers under the sun, or even phone for an ambulance.

I was led through the EFT tapping points and the wording that I now know as part of the technique. Within 10 minutes I could hold a conversation comfortably without getting out of breath. It went against everything I’d trained for, but it showed me that EFT works.

I was very very apprehensive about reducing my medication, but I was also keen to get myself off it because within days I felt the asthma had settled. I consulted my GP about doing this and together we devised a plan of how to achieve that. Integrated working with GPs is something you can do with your own clients, on their behalf when their underlying health issues are resolved. I was a knowledgeable patient, but many patients these days are knowledgeable about their own conditions and they can help with this process.

The plan I created was as follows:

  • Which inhalers to start with? I was on four at that point, so went with the philosophy of last in, first out.
  • I was to monitor my breathing if I had any signs of asthma at all, and use my reliever medication (blue inhaler) to stop any wheezing or chest or breathing problems
  • If after two weeks I had no wheezing, no breathlessness, no cough at night was not staying awake with symptoms I could then remove the next inhaler. During this I had only one blip when I needed to take my salbutamol. Again I discussed this with my GP, and we agreed that I’d go back one step.

Within three months of my first EFT session I was off all inhalers and now, more than four years later, I’m taking no medication for asthma at all. Doctors now regard my asthma as in remission.

We all know the types of things that EFT can be successful with: each practitioner will have their own specialties and ways of using EFT. What I’m talking about here can be integrated into any model, looking at health issues whether using EFT or some other holistic therapy.

My specialty is in medicines and well-being and I very much advocate for individualising therapy (medicines or otherwise) for patients and the integrated approach can halp us better achieve this.

When considering medicines, we must go back to fundamentals and ask ‘What do medicines do?’. Medicines only treat a symptom – that is all they are designed to do. Symptoms are generally bothersome, troublesome, painful, something we don’t want to go through. A symptom is pain, it is swelling, it’s a cough or fever, it’s a skin allergy. It can be anything at all uncomfortable, the kind of thing we complain to the doctor about. Medicines are designed to take those symptoms away. They are not designed to get to the root cause in the same way that EFT or other energy psychology techniques can.

Medicines are very, very good at what they do but they are not the answer to everything. It is a risk versus benefits decision each time they are prescribed. Each time a medicine is prescribed the benefits of reducing the symptoms, making the patient feel better, prolonging life or getting the body out of a dangerous situation have to be balanced against the risks associated with it.

This can be quite complicated picture, especially in a case where several medications are prescribed at once: occasionally one medication is used to overcome the side effects of another. This is part of the risk-benefit analysis that goes on. However the client is not always fully aware of the risks and benefits of medication but is simply asked to make a decision whether to take medication or not.

That’s why I ask, are we sometimes chasing red herrings when working with illness using EFT?

Some of the issues that present as physical ailments could actually be caused by the medication the client is taking. They may well be unaware of this but I feel as a EFT practitioner when working with this type of issue we should certainly be aware of this and its potential to interact with what we do. I covered another example of this in an earlier article in EmotionalBuzz.

As clinical pharmacist I have spent a lot of my working life in a consultant led team trying to individualise medication and using my knowledge of medicines to get the best result for the patient. I was at times an advocate for the patient about medication, which occasionally means negotiating a compromise on behalf of the medication, but usually there is some kind of answer out there. After many years I have found some ways work, which ways don’t!

So what’s the future? For me it is to increase this awareness of medicines among EFT and other holistic practitioners. Much more detail can be found at my website about trainings, webinars and free resources to raise awareness of this important area, as well as a specialised individualised query service available around medication.

One area that really interests me, and on which I would like to work with the EFT community, relates to the side effects of medication. We all know people that have suffered side effects, but generally only a small percentage of people suffer a specific side-effect (for example, the patient taking statins who I wrote about earlier).

The number of people that experience muscle pain for instance is well documented, but also actually quite small. What is it about that one person in 100 that makes them different to the other 99? My belief is, it is something to do with their energy state, something is going on for them psychologically emotionally, internally that means that they will experience that physical problem and side-effect.

What if we could change that energetic/emotional/internal experience? I believe there are also people out there already doing this using EFT and other therapies. A good example might be the nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy in cancer treatment. Not every single patient that has chemotherapy will experience nausea and vomiting. There are already well-established EFT practices out there that specialise with such side effects and they can be very successful in helping.

In conclusion, yes, we are chasing red herrings, but we just need to be aware that we may be doing it, too. And ask ourselves, ‘ould this be the medicine?’ I think that will lead to fewer red herrings.

Megan Smith
EFT practitioner (Adv), META medicine health coach, Matrix Reimprinting practitioner and practising clinical pharmacist and clinical psychiatric pharmacist.
Megan runs UK Medicines Advisory Service, putting holistic healthcare advisors at the forefront of integrative health solutions.
Visit for more information.

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