Dr Sohère Roked is a General Practitioner with a specialist interest in Integrative medicine. Her passion is to help empower patients to take control of their healthcare, using a range of tools to achieve this.
Born in England and brought up in Wales, she studied medicine at Southampton University and graduated in 2003. She has worked across hospitals in England and Wales, in the specialities of A&E, general medicine and surgery, women’s health, otolaryngology, and spent 3 years working as a psychiatrist before becoming a GP. It was this broad knowledge of medicine that made her realise that the current conventional medical practise is far from complete.
1. Could you tell us a bit about your background and why you decided to become a doctor?
I’m from South Wales and always wanted to be a doctor so I could help people. My dad is a GP and I grew up watching him be a valued and respected member of the community and I wanted to emulate this.
2. Could you explain what integrative medicine is and when it was first introduced?
Integrative medicine involves looking at a person as a ‘whole’ and using the best of conventional and alternative therapies that have scientific evidence. The main principles are that the practitioner and patient work as partners to achieve the healing process. All aspects are considered to achieve good health, such as the mind, spirit, social factors as well as the body. Both conventional or alternative medicine should be considered to help stimulate the body’s innate healing response, and wherever possible natural options that work in synergy with the body should be used. These principles have been around for years but integrative medicine was first introduced into clinical practice in the 90’s.
3. How has your prior experience in psychiatry influenced your current practice?
I think the mind has a very powerful influence on the body and my experience of psychiatry definitely made me more aware of this. With 1 in 4 people suffering with depression and mental illness in general on the increase, my experience in mental health is very beneficial in all my interactions. However when I worked in psychiatry, I saw a big focus on Pharma and little emphasis on the mind-body connection and psychological therapies, mainly due to finding, and that is why I could no longer work in that environment.
4. Your blog has been a very powerful medium to spread your ethos across the globe. What
role do you think social media will play in the way that patients interact with their doctors and other medical staff?
I think due to the internet and social media we have more ways to connect with people across the globe than every before and ‘spread the message’ – whatever yours may be. I think that as doctors and health care professionals, we need to be responsible with how we use social media – for example I don’t give out individual medical advice on twitter or Facebook. We also have to be responsible with the way our public profile represents us. Our patients can see our Facebook etc so having drunken photos or nightclub photos could influence the way they see us, rightly or wrongly. Patients also come in with information from the internet about conditions etc. I always praise them for taking enough interest in their health to spend time researching their condition, but if I don’t agree with the information I explain why and don’t berate. We are moving away from the model where patients listen to everything their doctor says and don’t know anything about their health and follow the doctors advice blindly, and we have to accept this and work in partnership together.
5. What role do you think holistic medicine should play in the medical education system in the UK?
I think as a basic, all doctors need a good grounding in nutrition. I also think being taught how to manage stress – both ours and our patients – would benefit hugely no matter what specialty you go in to in the future. I think there should be an option for special study modules for those more interested in this field, as there are in medical schools in the USA and Australia.
6. Some of the services you offer are not typically taught at medical schools. How can future physicians acquire this knowledge and implement it into their own healthcare framework?
Everything I have learned about integrative medicine has been in my own time and cost me over £15,000 of my own money, so far! I think that if you have a passion for something you will seek it out. There are lots of good books out there and resources from Dr Andrew Weil who is the world’s leading expert on integrative medicine. I am keen to teach some day training courses myself for students and doctors. The USA and Australia are leaders in this field and I look to them to advance my own knowledge.
7. If a patient came to your clinic with hypertension, how would you manage that differently
compared to a clinic that only offers western medicine?
If a patient has hypertension, as well as being aware of their possible need for medication, I would tell them to cut out salt, drink 2 litres of water a day and lose 10% of their body weight which has been proven to reduce hypertension. You may think most conventional GPs would do this – which they should. The further steps I would take would be to go through in depth what the person was eating and with their cooperation devise them a meal plan that fit in with their life, figure out how to implement more exercise in to their routine and how to manage their stress. If needed I would look for chemical and hormonal imbalances and areas of low grade inflammation that could be contributing to high blood pressure.
8. Most readers of this blog are medical students. Many of them find it difficult to manage
stress from medical school and relationships. How do you manage stress on a day-to-day basis?
I manage stress by having a good work-life balance and making sure I get enough ‘Me’ time. I also do daily breathing exercises and make time to meditate and do some walking or yoga, even if it’s only 15 minutes a day. I have close friends and family I can confide in. I also make time to do things that make me happy, like watch my favourite show or see friends for dinner. I make sure I laugh every day.
9. In a recent article you wrote for ‘WalesOnline’ you shared some tips on how people can become happier and healthier, one of which included eating organic food. In your opinion is it still possible for people from low-income households to eat healthy?
Yes it is. For example frozen vegetables are nutrient rich and cost less. It is just about being more creative.
10. Could you briefly describe the process of Bioidentical Hormone therapy.
This is the process of using plant based hormones which have the same molecular structure as the hormones your body makes naturally.They are then compounded into creams that you use on your arms or lozenges, and are custom made for the individual based on their blood test results and symptoms.Can be used to enhance fertility, for women suffering with fibroids or endometriosis or other gynaecological problems, for men suffering with low testosterone, and for menopausal women to reduce the symptoms such as flushes and mood changes, without the same risks of conventional HRT.Over a million women take these hormones in the USA. They are also often parts of conventional HRT drugs and hormone treatments used in the NHS. The difference is how they are compounded and individualised.
11. You made a comment on your website, “In order to achieve true health, you must look at
the physical in conjunction with the mind as the two are closely linked and impact on each other’’. Do you think it is possible for someone to ‘think’ themselves into a diseased state?
The mind is the most powerful tool we have. Research has shown that negative thinking and stress has an influence on our genes and immune systems so I definitely believe that attitude and beliefs influence health. Psychoneuroimmunology is the study of this concept.