The Health Benefits of Herbal Remedies on Staff Wellbeing
Fri, 18/01/2019 - 12:08
Patricia Ferguson Medical Herbalist discusses the benefits of herbal medicine on staff wellbeing and why a timely investment from employers will prevent future financial losses.
A recent report stated that some of Britain’s biggest companies are pressing the Government to honour a manifesto pledge. They have pledged to update health and safety legislation to give mental health in the workplace the same status as physical health.
Currently, 1:6 people at work have symptoms of a mental health condition such as stress, anxiety or depression. A Government commissioned review put the cost of this to the economy between £74 – £99 bn per year.
This new health and safety legislation would oblige employers to provide first aid training to staff to deal with mental ill-health. The companies behind the initiative argue the promised change would help break the stigma of mental health. The recommendations of an independent review into mental health will be brought forward and the Health and Safety executive will update its guidance for employers.
Invest in your staff for the best returns
To be successful, businesses need reliable staff with robust mental health, a level of resilience and good coping skills. As a medical herbalist, my focus is helping clients with stress, anxiety, insomnia and fatigue. These conditions are often inter-related and are best dealt with through an integrated approach.
Herbs have been used for millennia to heal and improve health, utilised as the primary source of healthcare by 80% of the world population. They have the advantage of long and safe usage, with countless documented cases of successful treatment. Herbal treatment typically starts with an in-depth consultation to outline the client’s lifestyle habits. A large part of treatment is assisting the client to adopt practical strategies. Tailored herbal blends are usually prescribed, with follow-up consultations to review progress.
Treatment with conventional drugs
Stress & Anxiety
People will eventually avoid the workplace if that environment becomes overwhelming. Left untreated, fragile mental states will only deteriorate under pressure. Hence, employers benefit from investing in the resilience of their staff. This ensures productivity that would otherwise be lost due to employees’ absence from work because of ill-health or working while ill.
Continued stress and anxiety can cause insomnia or erratic sleeping patterns. It is estimated that 6-10% of adults are taking “hypnotic” drugs for poor sleep. Common among these drugs are the Benzodiazepines, which are often prescribed for anxiety and sleep disorders. Unfortunately, A few weeks of use can cause dependency and withdrawal often results in rebound anxiety and insomnia, problems for which they were initially prescribed to solve. Additionally, withdrawal can be long and difficult and often compared to an alcoholic attempting to give up drinking.
Lack of sleep over prolonged period can lead to:
- Problems with cognitive functioning
- Slower mental and physical reaction times
- Increased errors
- Lack of focus and motivation
- Poor or inconsistent performance
- Weakened immune system (increased susceptibility to infections)
- Rise in blood pressure
- Risk of insulin resistance, leading to type 2 diabetes
- Increased risk of heart attacks
Fatigue is often the result of poor sleep and to compensate, people often use caffeine to perk up and remain alert. Caffeine blocks sedation, which creates a vicious cycle if it is overused, making relaxation and sleep even more difficult.
Every year, many firms offer and / or encourage their employees to have the flu vaccine. However, statistics show that last year vaccine effectiveness was only 15%.
Treatment with Herbs
Insomnia & Anxiety
Nervine, relaxant, sedative and hypnotic (sleep) herbs can be used in place of conventional drugs which are commonly prescribed for anxiety, stress and insomnia. The advantage of using herbs for these problems, as opposed to conventional drugs is that herbs are non-addictive due to their complex action, involving many constituents. Important herbs: One of the best herbs for treating anxiety is Ashwagandha. It is an excellent herb for treating insomnia where anxiety is a feature and has even been used successfully to wean patients from Valium. Other useful herbs for insomnia are Valerian and Scullcap, well-known for quieting an over-active mind.
Stress is a huge problem with approximately 70% of our time spent in a stressed stated. A class of herbs called Adaptogens assist us in adapting to overall resilience to stress whether physical, chemical or mental. Some adaptogens also provide adrenal support, replenishing the vital reserve which can be depleted by longstanding stress. An important herb in this category is Siberian Ginseng, which was widely used by Russian athletes in the 1988 Olympics to great success.
Teaching clients how to sync their sleep cycles to natural circadian rhythms and weaning their reliance on caffeine has a dramatic effect. In just a few days, this practice can correct even the most longstanding insomnia. An important herb is Liquorice root (not the sweet!) which is excellent for providing energy and supporting the adrenal glands.
Immune-enhancing herbs help to protect against bacterial and viral infections, such as flu by increasing the production of white blood cells, which enhance immunity. Tonic herbs and Adaptogens improve immune function and revitalise the system. An important herb for boosting white blood cells which form our immune system is Astragalus.
Unfortunately, over-prescribing of anti-biotics renders them increasingly ineffective and the future of infection control is uncertain. We would be well-advised to be more proactive in protecting their health, rather than relying on outside sources.
Source: This article was written by Patricia Ferguson of Greenleaves Herbal Healthcare.
Want to know more?
If you would like more information, please contact Patricia Ferguson of Greenleaves Herbal Healthcare on 0845 468 0823.
We’re excited to announce we are hosting our first Wellbeing Week from January 28th – February 1st 2019 with workshops from mindfulness to personal excellence. Spaces are limited so book quickly to avoid disappointment.
Please email h[email protected] for more information about our Wellbeing Week, or alternatively if you’d like to host a wellbeing workshop at BQF.