We all know at least one, somewhere in our social circles: The Pill-Popper. He always has a bottle of something in his desk drawer, and he seems to consume medication like candy. People wonder how he makes it through a day without some chemical help.
While these are people who take it to the extreme, everyone is guilty of dependency on medication at one time or another – especially when it comes to trying to avoid using sick days. However, it doesn’t have to be that way. In recent years, many have turned to more natural treatments for their illnesses. These home remedies can positively impact sick time and be easier on the body, and they may soon be introduced into the workplace as a legitimate means of care. Here’s what everyone should know about this growing health trend.
1. All medications have side effects. Medications treat symptoms of illness by blocking or stimulating receptors on cells. While this may sound all well and good, what most people don’t realize is that all the “blockers” are “anti-(something)” and are, therefore, working against natural body processes. For example, an “antihistamine” is a chemical that blocks the receptor for histamine, an amino acid. When histamine can’t bind to its receptor, it can’t initiate the allergic response in the immune system, so the symptoms go away. However, histamine isn’t only used for allergies; in fact, it also acts as the wake-up neurotransmitter in the brain. When it’s blocked, a person feels like he can’t quite wake up. This is why people get drowsy when they take Benadryl or other allergy medications. While histamine-blocking medication is just one example, receptors are found everywhere and perform multiple functions in the body. All medications have side effects of some kind.
2. Home remedies work – just differently. Natural treatments, on the other hand, treat illnesses using vitamins, minerals, and other substances that are normally found in nature. These may include plants, herbs, foods, or isolated nutrients. Because these nutrients provide the building blocks for normal system functions, they don’t create side effects. They may not relieve symptoms with the immediacy of a medication, as it takes time for the natural remedy to build up to a level that allows the body to function normally, but the relief will be more complete and easier on the body overall.
3. Alternative treatments are growing. In America, the use of natural remedies is steadily increasing. The “halfway” point was reached about five years ago, which means more than half of all Americans now seek natural treatments over patented medications. Today, more than half of all healthcare dollars are spent on natural, herbal, nutritional, and homeopathic remedies.
4. The new doctor’s note serves a purpose. I have many patients who come in for a doctor’s note after utilizing natural treatments; they feel fine, but they need a note to return to work. These notes exist because an employer is not allowed to dictate how an employee treats his illness; a physician fills this role instead. In the future, however, employers may need to be more accommodating of those who opt not to go to a doctor, but still need protection from potentially contagious illnesses. In my professional experience, those who use natural remedies may take a slightly longer time to return to work than their pill-popping counterparts, but it’s also been observed that they have fewer illnesses overall.
The face of the workforce’s “sick day” is changing, as natural treatments for illness gain popularity over traditional medicine. While drugs and medications can sometimes cause more harm than good, there are a number of natural equivalents that can help cure illness and treat symptoms, sans questionable side effects. I would advise everyone, from the occasional OTC pain reliever user to the full-blown pill popper, to explore natural, homeopathic, and home-based remedies for traditional illnesses. These treatments are in the body’s best interest, and they can play a huge role in maintaining overall health – which means less sick days, more energy, and greater wellness in general. That’s something every company – and every employee – craves.