I have often joked that if it weren’t for employers and families, my clinic would be empty and I would be out of the job!
The beauty of any lifestyle medicine such as TCM is that we get to spend 90 minutes with our clients at their first appointment and then about an hour a week for a while after, so we get to know not only their symptoms, but the underlying cause of the problem as well.
The vast majority of my clients talk about stress in the workplace and we see from statistics that employers are also in a difficult situation with ineffective workers going off sick on a regular basis. No-one is winning from the current situation, so the Fly on the Wall in my clinic has some insight for HR Managers to improve the working environment, the health of their staff and the productivity of the business.
Scenario 1: Do you know how many of your staff have some kind of digestive problem such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome? A vey high percentage of people come to clinic with this diagnosis and they have been prescribed lanzoprazole by their GP and are told to avoid stress and eat sensibly. The first problem with this is that it does not solve the problem and the second is that people cannot just ‘avoid stress’ because either they put up with the stress at work, or they resign and have the stress of unpaid bills. By contrast, I have found that using functional medicine tests to get a scientific report on the state of the gut and then using acupuncture to treat the digestion, metabolism and stress levels, I have got very good results in a relatively short period of time with IBS patients who are then able to go back to work with few if any symptoms.
As an HR Manager, you may or may not be aware that any given employee is suffering from IBS because people are often embarrassed to talk about it, yet if you have senior managers who are stressed at work because of tight deadlines or managing tight budgets and who skip lunch or eat junk food at their desk, they are at a very high risk of developing IBS because the stress hormones over-ride the digestive hormones, so they not only get digestive pains, alternating constipation and diarrhoea and eventually become malnourished and unable to think clearly, but they are also not going to be focused on meetings if they are worried about rushing out to the toilet before some very embarrassing symptoms appear! None of this is an exaggeration, this is a painful reality for a great many people and as an HR Manager, you need to know if people’s productivity is being affected by something that could be overcome relatively easily.
Scenario 2: Infertility is on the rise because stress hormones override sex hormones. Furthermore, people are choosing to have children later in life so their fertility levels are naturally lower anyway. A lot of men and women who come to my clinic do so because they have been ‘diagnosed’ with Unexplained Infertility. Firstly, I must say that in TCM and functional medicine there is seldom such a ‘diagnosis’, but aside from that, most people follow advice from their GP and just ‘keep trying’. In the work environment, unless you have an extremely good relationship with your staff, few women and even fewer men are going to tell you that they are desperate to have a baby. Anyone who has never experienced this situation cannot imagine how all-consuming it can become. Suffice to say that I have had to start running my clinic on a Sunday to accommodate people in this situation because they do not want to tell their employers that they are having any kind of fertility treatment and they do not feel able to take the time off work on a weekly basis to get treatment.
The emotional impact of infertility or IVF treatment is so extreme that many people decide to resign in order to lower their stress levels and increase their chances of falling pregnant. For them, family is more important than work, especially if they are unhappy in their job. As an HR manager, it would cost you far more to replace them and train someone up than it would cost in ‘down time’ for people to get the support they need by having 1 hour per week of acupuncture, nutrition or functional medicine consultations, but if they do not feel able to talk to you about it, then you cannot support hem and neither party wins!
But there is a solution that benefits both the employer and the employee!
What would your HR budget look like if you had fewer people off sick with backache or stress? Or if you had fewer resignations, or fewer new staff to train up? How would meetings go if your staff were focused, happy and healthy? Where would your business be if you had your pick of the best staff because of high employee satisfaction ratings? Who could you attract if you had a reputation for being an excellent employer with excellent employee satisfaction feedback?
One answer could be that happy, healthy people who are not feeling stressed are productive and content. The fly on the wall sees how people genuinely WANT to do a good job, they get their sense of satisfaction through doing a good job, so as an employer if you facilitate these feelings, everyone can win.
At Barefoot Medicine I have found that the Corporate Packages we offer are proving very popular to help combat these issues. Acupuncture, nutritional therapy, functional lab tests and relaxation can all help improve health and wellbeing. By taking out a Corporate Package for your employees, the timely healthcare they would receive would help to prevent them from getting ill. Acupuncture can help with stress as well as any medication (see the AcuDep research from York University), and it can also help with many other health problems such as headache, fertility, digestive problems etc. For those with more chronic long-term health conditions, there are functional medicine tests that can be done to measure stress hormones, digestive hormones, sleep hormones and gut function.
Given the long waiting lists to see GPs, consultants or get treatment through the NHS, a Corporate Package with Barefoot Medicine would enable you to keep your staff healthy, you would be able to meet your Corporate Responsibility requirements, you could help your staff by incorporating it into a Return to Work package so you can cut costs on staff absences, recruitment and training etc. Furthermore, your staff would feel valued and instead of leaving your employ due to stress, they would want to stay with you because of the health benefits.
To find out more about the Corporate Packages, please visit www.BarefootMedicine.co.uk or telephone Simone Bühner on +44 7715 239 999.
When we talk about stress, what we are actually referring to is a hormone in our body called cortisol which is triggered when we need to be alert or on guard over something. This hormone over-rides all other hormones because it is related to our very survival, alerting our body to a threat. If we are under threat, then it is obvious that our body is going to use all its resources to get away from the danger and we go into fight, flight or freeze mode. At this time, it stands to reason that it would not be in our interests to expend energy on non-essential functions such as conception, sex drive or even digestion. This is where the expression to xxx oneself with fear – our body evacuates itself with anything that is not needed that could slow us down.
In ancient times when we were running away from a wooly mammoth, this served us well because we would run away to safety then the adrenaline and cortisol would go back down to normal levels, the quick burst of energy and high pulse rate would flush out the unwanted byproducts of the energy expenditure (oxidative stress) and homeostasis would return and our daily bodily functions return.
In today’s society, however, so many people have a constant drip-feed of adrenaline either through stress at work, worry about money, stressful relationships etc so the effect of the adrenaline is longer term and leads to a lowering of fertility hormones, lower libido, poor digestion and hence a less healthy body.
When this is looked at in the context of conception, there are usually heightened stress levels anyway due to the intense desire to fall pregnant, but this pressure, too, becomes counter-productive which is why it is so common to hear about women falling pregnant once they have given up trying.
In the fertility unit at Adenbrooks in Cambridgeshire, they have introduced a programme to reduce oxidative stress for everyone who is about to undergo IVF. Oxidative stresses when we inhale oxygen and use it up as our ‘fuel’ so anything that makes us get out of breath. The by-products or ‘exhaust’ are not needed by the body much like an apple that you bite into comes into contact with oxygen and turns brown, or metal comes into contact with water and oxygen and it rusts. A similar process takes place in our body and releases something Kon as free radicals, which contribute to the ageing process. This is when our body needs ANTi-oxidants to flush them out.
It therefore follows that if you want to concede you need to reduce the external factor that are causing the stress in the first place and you also need to reduce the free-radical damage inside your body and restore homeostasis to get your hormones and general health to its optimum level, not just to fall pregnant, but to maintain a healthy pregnancy as well.
Top Tips for improving your fertility naturally.