Changing the conversation about health

Beyond Pills Campaign: Actress Jenny Seagrove tells IPM Congress 2023 how ‘polypharmacy’ negatively impacted her mother’s health

Actress Jenny Seagrove told audience members at the Integrative & Personalised Medicine conference 2023 in London last week that her own approach to health was radically impacted by watching her mother being prescribed ‘pills, pills and more pills’ when she was younger.

Jenny, who was a Keynote Speaker on the first day of the event, told the College of Medicine that she believed the mis-management of her mother’s health by doctors had contributed to her early death.

She said: ‘My journey into integrated health began because my mother died young, due partly – not entirely – to polypharmacy. She had various conditions and she was given pills, pills and more pills, and often with no check-ups that the medications worked okay together’.

Actress Jenny Seagrove on stage with Dr Harry Brunjes at IPM 2023; she told the audience how seeing her mother being prescribed ‘pills after pills after pills’ had influenced her own approach to health

Polypharmacy describes how multiple medicines – often five or more – are prescribed to one patient at the same time.

Read more: Our highlights from IPM Congress 2023

Jenny added that she had been acutely aware growing up that her mother would go to the GP and ‘they’d give her more pills just to get rid of her.’

The West End star said there would often be side-effects from the medication too, saying: ‘My mother needed pills but she probably didn’t need that many of them’.

On stage at the event, held at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre on Thursday 29th June, Jenny was in conversation with the College of Medicine Vice President, Dr Harry Brunjes.  

The actress said she vowed to take a more integrated approach to health after her mother’s early death, and developed a strong interest in how prevention, diet and alternative medicine play a key role in well-being

Dr Brunjes introduced Jenny as a ’star of stage, screen and TV’ and she talked about her interest in complementary medicine and integrative health, explaining to the audience that her mother’s experiences had hugely influenced her.

She said: ‘I decided not to use conventional medicine if I could avoid it. There is a place for it, of course, but I started to learn about prevention, how important diet is, and alternative medicines. For example, I didn’t know when I was younger just how important the gut – and the microbiome is – and now we hear physicians referring to it as the “second brain”‘.

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It was clear from the conversation that Jenny has a profound knowledge of herbal remedies, vitamins and minerals and she explained that international conferences such as IPM Congress 2023 offer a great platform for both patient and practitioner experience, saying she was delighted to be on stage: ‘I feel very humble because I’m not an expert and this is a room filled with experts.’

Finally, Dr Brunjes asked Jenny whether there was any time in her career when herbal remedies, vitamins and minerals actually treated a medical problem and kept her on stage? Jenny replied that in four decades of work, she had never missed a single performance or film shoot.

Dr Brunjes quipped: ’Not a career move to be your understudy then!’