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Corporate Wellness & Alternative Medicine: Is it Safe?

July 6, 2016

In 2012, Americans spent over $30 billion on alternative medicine. Alternative medicine is typically defined as treatments that are used in place of mainstream treatments and medicines and includes:

  • Natural supplements
  • Acupuncture
  • Homeopathy

So should you incorporate alternative medicine into your corporate wellness program and is it safe? Here’s what you should know:

When Alternative Medicine is a Good Optionbach-flowers-1472825_640

While the health claims of alternative medicine are dubious and sometimes dangerous, it’s not all bad. Alternative medicine options like massage and yoga do work in helping employees relieve pain. Including these options in your corporate wellness program is a good idea in that it will help your employees relax and improve their mental health.

Do Your Research before Investing in Alternative Medicine

Alternative medicine claims are unproven. Before you decide to include alternative medicine in your corporate wellness program, you must be aware of the fact that many of the health claims are unproven or don’t work at all. In fact, many alternative health treatments can interfere with other treatments as prescribed by an employee’s doctor.

Many people decide to include alternative medicine because they assume that “natural” remedies are safer than treatments prescribed by doctors, but natural doesn’t always mean safe. Natural products can cause side effects like:

  • High blood pressure
  • Organ damage
  • Allergies

Thoroughly research alternative medicine before you incorporate it in your corporate wellness program. Doing so can prevent unwanted and unintentional side effects, keeping your employees healthy and safe.

Tips for Reliable Research

When researching alternative medicine, finding reliable sources is important so you can get accurate, trustworthy information to pass on to your employees. When researching health claims, the CDC recommends that you consider the following:

  • When and where was the research published? A lot can change in just a few years. Finding the most up-to-date information from a peer-reviewed source like a scientific journal or medical institution is your best bet for accurate information.
  • Don’t rely on anecdotal evidence. Though it can aid research, anecdotal evidence often takes the form of personal accounts and is non-scientific and often inaccurate.
  • How is the research being funded? Is the information objective and unbiased? Check to see who funded the study and if they benefit from the findings.

By doing your research, you will be able to answer any questions your employees may have, like if a new health fad is safe.

Alternative Medicine to Avoid

Since alternative medicine like natural supplements are not regulated by the FDA as drugs or food, they don’t have to be approved before being put on the market. Also, some herbal medicines have been shown to contain contaminates like lead and mercury.

Alternative medicines like homeopathy, the practice of treating a medical condition through small, diluted natural substances, often contains high levels of alcohol and other ingredients that can cause dangerous side effects and drug interactions. Therefore, it’s good practice to avoid treatments like these altogether in your corporate wellness program.

If you decide to include alternative medicine in your corporate wellness program, arm your managers and employees with complete and accurate information about the benefits and risks. That way, employees won’t unknowingly endanger their health and managers can curb any potential problems.

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