Complementary Medicine: The Importance and Its Effects on our Health [transcript][audio]

Guest:  Pam Stone

Presenter: Tabetha Moreto

Guest Bio: Pam Stone is the Director of Education at Blackmores. Blackmores Institute is the academic and professional arm of Blackmores Limited. A naturopath for over 30 years, she sees that education is key to enabling healthcare professionals to effectively integrate complementary medicine into patient care. Pam joined Blackmores in 1987, having found a company that shared her naturopathic values and vision, and that was driven by integrity and purpose to make people healthier. Her career with the company has spanned the Advisory, Public Relations and Education areas and she has lectured extensively to health professionals in Australia and the Asia Pacific region. Her role now includes managing educational partnerships as part of the Blackmores Institute vision to facilitate delivery of quality and accessible Complementary Medicine education to healthcare professionals.

Segment Overview: In today’s interview, Pam Stone of Blackmores comes on the program to discuss about enabling healthcare professionals to effective complementary medicine. She elboartes on its importance and also talks about mindfulness.

Transcript

Tabetha Moreto: Hello everyone, welcome to Health Professional Radio. I’m your host for today Tabetha Moreto. Our guest today is Pam Stone, Director of Education at Blackmores. Blackmores Institute is the academic and professional arm of Blackmores Limited. Today, we’re going to talk about enabling healthcare professionals to effective complementary medicine. She’s also going to talk about her organization. Without further ado, welcome to the show Pam. It’s great to have you here.

Pam Stone: Hello Tabetha. Thank you for having me.

T: My pleasure. So Pam, please tell the audience more about yourself and what you do exactly.

P: Yes, thank you. Well as you say, I’m Director of Education at Blackmores and particularly Blackmores Institute which is the health professional arm of Blackmores. At Blackmores we feel an obligation and the responsibility to support education and to help empower people to have the choices that they need with their health and well-being and we find that education is key to wellness and well-being because as I said, it does empower people to make their own choices and complementary medicine, evidence-based medicine in that area particularly has a role to play within the whole health picture. So we really enjoy being a part of that. I’ve actually been with Blackmores for 13 years. I’m a naturopath and along with other qualifications. So it’s been a great privilege of mine to be able to engage with health professionals, with consumers, with the general public alike in discussing education and the important role that it has, for all of us you know, well being.

T: Fantastic. I agree with you that education is very important especially when it comes to our health.

P: Yes, indeed. And of course most recently, you’ve probably heard that Blackmores is a major sponsor for the Australian Open because we regard tennis players as providing great inspiration particularly the elite players that we see at the moment provide great inspiration how to lead a life of wellness and well being I guess because they model that, they model the fact that not only do they need to be elite athletes and maintain peak fitness but they also have to look at their diet and their nutritional needs and they also have to live with that food, what I regard is the third arm of well-being which is mental health which is where mindfulness comes in as a technique or a tool that we can all use and probably should all use to help with our own mental well-being which then supports our overall wellness.

T: Yes, that’s right. I’ve heard about your sponsorship when it comes to the Australian Open. Pam I hope you don’t mind I know this is not related to our interview, but do you like tennis?

P: I love tennis. These days though I’m more of a couch, a couch supporter. I don’t have the time to play tennis as often as I would but yes, it’s been my sport all along. Myself for fitness, I do run, I do like to exercise that way and I go to the gym to help maintain strength so I do believe in a holistic approach to fitness. So you need the strength, you need the aerobic capacity and so on and tennis is of course a great sport for developing all of that – the flexibility, the strength, the aerobic capacity. So it does inspire us at this time of year to set some health goals I think along those lines.

T: Yes, absolutely. Even though I can’t see you right now, I think you must be in fabulous shape.

P: I try. I must be because it is a daily habit, I always say that to people. Our health and well-being is largely in our own hands of course and it’s built by those daily routines which means we cannot exercise one day or we can treat ourselves to some sort of food that we might not eat regularly, that’s all good. But it’s those daily habits that really make our well being. So yes, I try.

T: Yes, that’s true. And speaking of complementary medicine, is there a difference between complementary medicine and alternative medicine?

P: Look, it’s a very good question and that whole area can be a bit confusing and has different definitions. What we mean, so by and large they are somewhat the same. By complementary medicine what we do mean is that area of natural health which incorporates diet and nutrition but particularly vitamins, minerals, that aspect of nutrition plus herbal medicine, so it’s the evidence-based use as well of supplements and other ingredients. We like to use the word “Integrative Medicine” I must say because it can be an alternative to maybe some other sort of medicines but quite often, it complements other medicine as well. We say complementary medicine in other words, herbal medicine, nutrition and so on. It’s often being very complementary to normal standard pharmaceutical medicines for overall health and well-being.

T: Excellent, thank you so much for explaining the difference between the two. I really appreciate that.

P: So that’s really what Blackmores is. A big part of Blackmores is that education so that people are informed, they see where the evidence lies and where they can incorporate all sorts of medicine to support their well-being. So we’re very much into trying to inspire people to look at their own habits, see where they can perhaps set some health goals. And actually, if I may mention our well-being check that actually is one of the ways in which we’re trying to sort of kickstart our health goals for the year inspired by the Australian Open and the wonderful elite tennis players. We have just launched a wellbeing check which is located, it’s an online interactive questionnaire basically, it’s available at wellbeingcheck.com.au and what that looks at, it acknowledges that there are these perhaps three key aspects of well-being which are the physical, there is a mental emotional and also the exercise part and takes you through a very simple quick interactive questionnaire which will help to focus the areas where you are probably doing well to support your well-being and some areas where maybe it might be nice to tighten up or focus on some areas whether it’s for sleep or something to do with diet or exercise. The well-being check is very good at picking up on those areas and then it simplifies the whole thing, it has to be simple and achievable of course for us to make any change to our health and it also provides you with a personalized health summary so that you can see a couple of key areas which can be achievable in terms of making some changes to the habits that might assist with improving our health and well-being.

T: That’s right, I agree with you. Physical and mental health are both connected that’s why we have to make sure that both aspects of that are in check.

P: That’s correct, very much so. Which is where mindfulness comes in as well, we very much support the concept of mindfulness which I think is partly just a modern-day definition of something that has been around for thousands of years really in the form of various meditation techniques. But I think in our modern lives, we don’t all have time to sit down for 20 minutes and close our eyes and that’s a good thing to do, I’m in favor of that. But mindfulness can be something that if I may talk about mindfulness as well, mindfulness is a concept that can be actually practiced daily and from moment to moment. In other words, there’s just two simple parts to mindfulness – firstly, you need to be simply paying attention to the present moment. Noticing what’s going on within yourself in the moment. But the very important thing is that you’re not being judgemental, you’re simply noticing, you’re not trying to change, you’re not thinking “Ah, this is this or I don’t like this or whatever,” you’re just noticing what’s happening. And it’s quite a powerful process of actually just noticing and that in itself has the power to sort of unwind, and undo and defuse some of the feelings or experiences that you might be having that you might want to relax or something but the more you try to do something like that, the less you achieve often in that capacity. I often think if people could take away a simple technique in the mindfulness area, I think breathing is a really good way of incorporating mindfulness which can be done when you stop at the traffic lights, or if you’re in a meeting, or cooking, or whatever you’re doing during the day that you need to close your eyes. All you do is to come back to your
breathing and just notice, “Oh how am I breathing?” Notice the breathing and you’re not changing the breathing, you’re not trying to slow it down or do anything, just being aware of your breathing in itself tends to focus the body quite naturally in the present moment and it induces a feeling of well-being. It helps to have a calming sort of clarifying effect which I think why tennis players find it useful as well.

T: Yes and aside from tennis players, I think that would be very useful for me like what you said earlier, I’m the kind of person who doesn’t have time to sit on the floor, close my eyes, and raise my hands up and meditate. Thanks for your tips, I will apply that especially when I’m cooking at nighttime, I will close my eyes and breathe a little bit while I’m cooking and enjoy myself.

P: Exactly. You can just do it moment by moment. So you’re not trying to necessarily take the deep breaths, I mean that’s okay too but it’s just the mindful awareness on your breathing in and of itself actually allows things to slow down and you become more centered and then you’re more effective as well. So it can be something you do for 20 minutes but can equally be, it’s something done in the moment because it makes mindfulness more a way of life that way really, so it’s worth doing.

T: Yes, I love it. And speaking of mindfulness, what is the biggest misconception about mindfulness or even complementary medicine that drives you crazy and it keeps you up at night Pam?

P: Great question, thank you. How did you know? So the misconception with mindfulness is that you have to put effort into it because the moment you try and put effort into something like mindfulness, you won’t succeed. You’ll undermine your efforts and be more uptight or whatever than ever. So with mindfulness, it’s the no effort, it’s not judging what’s happening, it’s just the noticing so that’s the mindfulness part. But what really I find frustrating and disappointing in terms of aspects of complementary medicine is the comment that we still get from health professionals I have to say and the general public is it there is no evidence behind it when these days it has such a scientific basis. There are aspects of complementary medicine that are sometimes brought up to defend that like homeopathy or something like that but we’re not talking that, we’re talking about evidence-based complementary medicine in the area of nutrition and herbal medicine where there is very strong robust clinical evidence, clinical trials have been performed hundreds and thousands of them so that the evidence is strong and that’s where education comes in of course because understandably, a lot of people who are not experts in this field don’t see the evidence or don’t know how to interpret the evidence. So a lot of work still to be done in that area I must say.

T: Great. Thank you so much Pam for clearing up those misconceptions, I really appreciate that.

P: I appreciate the question, it is a good question.

T: My pleasure, okay. So Pam, since we’re running out of time but before we go, what is your main takeaway message to all of our listeners out there? What would you like to tell them?

P: I’d love to tell them that well-being is largely in our heads. It’s in our control and it’s made up by our daily habits, it’s a combination of good nutrition, exercise and mental well-being. So it’s mindfulness plus diet, supplements where they are appropriate to restore balance, so there’s a lot we can do ourselves to stay healthy.

T: Fantastic message, thank you so much. I’m sure that everybody who’s listening will follow this not just tennis players but everybody.

P: I hope so. We can all live that way.
T: Yes, that’s right. And before we go, for those who want to contact you – how can they do that?

P: Well, look the best thing is the Blackmores website blackmores.com.au. We also have a free advisory help service located on that website, that’s a good way to get in touch with me or any other of our naturopaths and of course, the wellbeingcheck.com.au is a good way to go in as well and undertake that interactive health check and that will also lead you back into Blackmores if you want to follow up with any further information in any of those areas.

T: That’s excellent. Thank you so much Pam for coming on the show.

P: I appreciate the opportunity. Thanks Tabetha.

T: And that was Pam Stone, Director of Education at the Blackmores Institute. We just had a fascinating conversation regarding complementary medicine and mindfulness as well. If you like this interview, transcripts and archives are available at www.hpr.fm. We’re on all social media platforms, so don’t forget to follow, like and subscribe. We’re also available for download on SoundCloud and iTunes. I’m Tabetha Moreto and you’re listening to Health Professional Radio.

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