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Workplace Strategies To Boost Your Bottom Line Without Firing Anyone!

Even though we are all familiar with the economic uncertainties that time has brought, particularly in the face of downsizing and restructuring the gravitational pull is now towards the optimisation of workspace and human capital.

In this edition of series of guides we present 23 workplace strategies to boost your bottom line without firing anyone.

1 – Let offsite storage companies free up expensive desk, floor and office space

If you are like most organisations you and your staff will have perfected the art of negotiating a route around the bundles and boxes of documents and files that have become an accepted part of everyday life at work.

You probably realise that most of the information is hardly ever needed, know it should not be clogging up corners, cupboards and corridors; accept that it is a health and safety hazard and would wager that no-one could lay their hands on information quickly even if they needed to do so.

So why not free up expensive desk, floor and office space by calling in a team of document management and storage experts.

Storage enables those records that are no longer current, but which cannot be destroyed for reasons of infrequent administrative use or legal imperative, to be stored in a secure, monitored environment at a rate much cheaper than office rent.

All good offsite storage companies understand that the control of your files is as much a part of the management function as control of any other vital asset. They treat records as a significant corporate resource, and have developed solutions that will boost your efficiency levels and reduce occupancy costs.

Most will have both large areas of warehouse space for non-current records, and

environmentally controlled media rooms for the storage of vital electronic data at the correct environmental conditions.

2 – Sublet vacant or unused space

The sublease market has been a consistent growth area in the office sector during the past few years, driven mainly by corporate restructuring and downsizing, but also by companies seeking to convert surplus office space into additional income.

Before considering subletting or assignment, it is wise to have the relevant clauses in your lease scrutinised by a competent commercial property lawyer. A consultation with a commercial property agent will enable you to be realistic about the availability of suitable tenants and the terms you should offer – particularly in a tight market. Also, factor into your budget the cost of any refurbishment work required, together with professional fees and marketing costs.

Your property agent will advise you whether to offer different rents for subdivided space on different floors or with different views. If the premium space is leased first, make sure you are not left with remaining space rendered almost unlettable.

Your sublet space should be in a well-maintained, marketable condition. Always take professional advice from your appointed property agent, and a reputable firm of office fit-out consultants, to clearly ascertain what works need to be carried out prior to putting the space on the market.

In short, configure your space so that it hits the hot buttons:

• Refurbished ready for occupation

• Light, bright and airy

• Fixed service charge

• Flexible terms

• Accommodating landlord

• Furnished

3 – Invest in the latest technology

We have not just been imagining it – as far as working life goes, everything is getting smaller.

The cutting-edge products on the market today, from mobile phones to laptops, are more compact and bijou than ever before and have transformed efficiency and productivity levels.

Among the best examples of the contribution made by IT to space optimisation is the advent of compact and lightweight LCD monitors.

Not only do they take up less of your desktop space, they can also be used in many places where a larger monitor cannot fit. Typically, a 12″ LCD monitor with a stand takes up only about one-third of the desk space of a typical 14″ CRT monitor.

Besides being compact and space saving, LCD displays offer several other benefits. For one, LCD monitors consume much less energy than CRT monitors which, of course, has made them great for laptop and portable computers. Secondly, CRT monitors are known to emit harmful radiation, whereas LCD monitors do not and thirdly, the development of LCD monitors has spawned a raft of space saving furniture and storage systems, which allow more people to work in less space.

An LCD monitor will cost more up front, but they will produce far less heat than CRT monitors, which will generate savings from reduced office cooling requirements. So, although on the face of it the savings may not seem much for an individual user, in an office where 50 displays are in use the savings can quickly become much more of an issue.

4 – Renegotiate with your landlord

The current recession has confronted landlords with the need to be much more flexible in the lease terms they were prepared to agree, and many continue to understand the need for a realistic and commercial outlook.

Whether you want to reduce your rent in return for a longer term, or take advantage of your landlord’s plans to redevelop the building, it is worth consulting with him and learning more about his long-term plans for the building.

In some circumstances you might also want to take advantage of the current market by extending the lease or creating an opportunity to renegotiate some of the nastier lease clauses out of the agreement – e.g. introduce a Service Charge cap or renegotiate onerous dilapidations clauses.

If you meet with your landlord often, have good dialogue with him and feel confident handling the negotiations yourself, it might be wise to consult a commercial property lawyer to review the covenants within your lease to ensure you get the best deal.

If your landlord is a faceless name, it will be wise to instruct an experienced commercial agent with whom you can discuss options, learn about prevailing market conditions and benefit from similar deals secured by him for clients in situations such as yours.

5 – Investigate relocating to new offices

When market forces place the balance of influence in the hands of the tenant, it is an excellent time to prospect the market for alternative space.

If you are not using all your existing space, moving into smaller premises, for instance, could make a dramatic contribution to reducing overheads without any commensurate loss of productivity. Indeed, having staff working closer together in well-designed space, can actually improve morale and efficiency levels.

If space is not your issue, moving could be an option if the original benefits of your prime address are now outweighed by the reduced rent or property costs of a less prestigious part of town or an out-of-town site.

And as a flip side to that coin, if you do feel the need to move to a high profile location, be sure to launch marketing and awareness-building campaigns to leverage the prestigious address or landmark building you have chosen. The additional kudos and new business that may stem from your choice of up-market location could offset the higher occupancy costs.

Of course, before considering relocation always ensure that you take professional advice from a property agent and an experienced fit-out consultant to make sure that all aspects of the project have been taken into consideration, planned and accurately budgeted.

6 – Consolidate premises

If your business is multi-sited, perhaps as a result of acquisitions, consolidating facilities can quickly strip superfluous costs and make a significant contribution to profitability.

The downside is that the process of combining even two locations can often become a logistical nightmare, so it is just as well that there are experienced fit-out firms with move management expertise available to advise you and project manage the entire process.

The good ones understand that move management must be handled like a military exercise if pitfalls are to be avoided and costs controlled. Without a safe pair of hands on board, the process can end up costing you thousands in lost productivity.

Be sure to interview and study several companies before instructing the one you want to work with. Pay close attention to the type of questions they ask. Satisfy yourself that they are not just concerned with showing you project planning charts and catalogues of office furniture, and are instead genuinely interested in learning how your business functions, so that they can make recommendations that will increase your business efficiency.

Planning is where the battle is won. Careful management and scheduling will make a world of difference. Be sure to take professional project management advice.

7 – Consider moving to serviced offices

For many companies it is ideal to have flexible office space in a good location and to pay for it with one monthly payment, which could typically include rates, service charge, electricity, and cleaning as well as furniture, receptionist and secretarial services.

Add to the mix the chance to have access to modern office equipment without having to buy it, and all the support services needed to conduct business in hand on an as-you-need-them basis, then it is not surprising that serviced offices have grown in popularity in recent years.

Neither are today’s serviced offices necessarily more expensive. For smaller companies, in particular, many of the deals currently available have been configured to work out cheaper, whilst allowing maximum flexibility and freedom.

8 – Investigate hot-desking

If you stopped to calculate it, there is a good chance that you would be alarmed by the true cost of providing your staff with workspace (proportion of rent, rates or building purchase costs, heating, lighting, fittings, furniture, services, etc).

Add to the cost the fact that many ‘office staff’ actually spend considerable time away from their offices – at customer s premises, at meetings, onsite, at conferences, etc – and it is easy to see why more and more companies are looking at hot-desking in its various guises.

The concept originates from an old practice in warships, where, to save valuable space, bunks were shared by sailors who were on different shifts.

Today, hot-desking applies to the sharing of a desk/seat/workstation arrangement by more than one member of staff.

If it is a real consideration for your business model, it might be worth speaking to your fit-out or furniture consultant about cost planning.

9 – Allow certain staff to work from home

For many individuals, actually being in the office each day is as important a part of working life as the role they perform while undertaking their job role.

Although some may rise to the challenge of home-working, do not underestimate the culture change that remote workers will experience and must embrace in order to remain productive. In some cases, the negative impact on productivity may outweigh any overhead savings.

One of the things home-workers say they initially fear most is isolation; losing touch with their colleagues, and not being up-to-date with any changes in their company. That is why, if you introduce home-working, you should consider setting up an Intranet with dedicated community spots. It pays to even go to the lengths of introducing informal gossip and chat rooms so that remote workers know what everyone is up to.

From your own perspective, security may also be an issue. Apart from impressing upon individuals the importance of safeguarding equipment from theft, it is essential that your IT infrastructure is sufficiently tight to keep unwanted users out.

Think about introducing a home-workers code of practice or charter that explains to people what is expected of them. When people are working nomadically, it is particularly important that you have the technology needed to back-up data, and the discipline to make sure that it is done.

Viruses are another home-working headache. A lot of viruses are caught during home surfing, particularly as individuals are likely to be using their machines for personal use as well as business purposes. Make sure your IT and webmasters have the very latest in anti-virus software and firewall protection in place.

10 – Commission a Workplace Audit to make sure your business is running at

optimum efficiency

Successful businesses know how dramatically their profitability can be enhanced when their business runs at maximum efficiency, and it is the role of experienced workplace consultants to help you streamline operations, identify savings and reduce wastage.

They explore management and staff attitudes to layout, processes, location and workflow, they assess working styles, relationships between departments, paper-flow, and access to equipment services and facilities, and then consider business forecasts for growth or shrinkage.

They study your existing technology infrastructure, and identify any functions that could be outsourced. At the end of the process they produce frameworks and principles to apply to new chosen workplaces.

They establish whether the space within your building supports staff in their efforts to meet their operational objectives. They audit space utilisation and illustrate findings on layouts using CAD plans and visuals, which are then presented to you for comment and feedback.

The market leaders will then be able to plug their findings into a competent design and fit-out solutions business, which will deliver the programme of work needed to boost your efficiency levels and productivity.

11 – Make sure you are taking full advantage of available Capital Allowances

Throughout the life of a business, investments are made in fixed capital assets for use in the business. Over a period of time, as the assets are used, they will generally fall in value and this reducing value will be reflected in profitability.

However, capital costs are not directly tax deductible like overheads and so instead a relief is given by way of Capital Allowances that are deducted from taxable profits and which reflect the depreciation in value over the life of the asset.

Whilst you cannot deduct expenditure on items of a capital nature directly from business profits, you can deduct Capital Allowances and it is worth making sure your bottom line is enjoying the maximum advantage.

The allowances themselves are based on the cost of the capital item and can include the cost of some elements of an office fit-out and refurbishment. Be careful though to distinguish between repairs, which can be set off against profits and fit-out costs that are treated as capital.

Take advice from a capital allowance or tax specialist to ensure that you achieve the optimal tax position.

12 – Look at the feasibility of a sale and leaseback deal

Even though commercial property is traditionally the second or third largest balance sheet item for many owner-occupiers, its relative importance has not always been recognised because property is often seen as an inflexible consequence of existing as a business rather than a strategic asset.

If you are a property owner, restructuring the basis of your ownership through a sale and leaseback arrangement can free up a significant amount of working capital for reinvestment into the business be it for acquisitions, or for the purchase of plant and machinery, the returns on which often outweigh the cost of renting the building back.

13 – Review the business rates you are paying

The rateable value of your business premises and the amount you are actually paying is substantial enough to warrant regular reviews.

If you are paying too much, the possibility of a reduction would be welcome, and even if you are not, there is the peace of mind of putting another tick in a good housekeeping box.

It is particularly important to look at business rates if you are considering subletting, or planning to enter into lease negotiations with your landlord.

You should consult with the rating department of a commercial property agent who will review the rateable value of your property and secure a reduction on your behalf, if appropriate.

The agent s team will ensure that your claim is optimised, and in many cases, will be prepared to work with you on a shared gain basis. They will also advise you whether half rates are available on your unused office space.

14 – Weigh up the pros and cons of outsourcing

One of the battle cries in business today is to determine the one thing that your business does best, become even better at it, and outsource absolutely everything else.

There is certainly a lot to be said for taking a careful look at every function in your business and asking yourself if you should outsource it, particularly given the raft of specialist companies who have entered the market in recent years.

In buoyant markets, outsourcing will avoid having valuable resources sucked into often menial and routine processes, and in a challenging trading climate, outsourcing gives you the chance to utilise certain services on an as-you-need-them basis rather than as a permanent overhead.

Either way, there are significant cost savings to be made, but take a hard look at the numbers before you decide to jump on the bandwagon.

Areas to focus on are facilities management, debt factoring and IT.

15 – Reduce the impact of workplace stress on productivity

Over 90 million working days each year – a third of all sick leave taken across Britain – are lost because of stress.

Not only is this absenteeism likely to cost you dearly in direct terms, but also the negative effects of stress can reduce employee efficiency and motivation. There is also the spectre of compensation claims against you relating directly to stress.

One solution is to familiarise yourself with the sources of stress, and the ways in which you can mitigate it. In many cases the causes are apparent and easily avoided or remedied.

Even where they are not so obvious, any effort on your part to take an empathic approach and address stress-related aspects of your workplace or operations, can serve you well if litigation should come your way.

There are now numerous specialists available to share their research and wisdom on stress and its impact on your bottom line. Most can also recommend cost effective solutions that could, in the long run, make a major contribution to your profitability.

16 – Exercise your break clause

Understanding the nature of the break clause in your lease is as important as making sure you have the right approach to exploiting it.

Around 50% of companies that seek to exercise their break discover to their dismay that they have failed to do so before a deadline. If you intend to exercise a break clause, it is crucial that you check your lease now to make certain that you understand your obligations.

Good housekeeping suggests that you should do this at least 12-18 months before the break date in order to give the relevant notice to your landlord. You might also have to vacate your premises much earlier than you had originally envisaged to ensure there is sufficient time to carry out any dilapidations to your old space, and fit-out works to your new space.

17 – Make sure your air conditioning system is not wasting money

If you do not regularly make sure that your air conditioning system is operating efficiently and only when you need it, there is a good chance that you will be incurring unnecessary costs.

Proper planned preventative maintenance will ensure your system performs to its maximum efficiency, as well as contributing to the system’s longevity. A poorly maintained system can push up energy costs as well as expensive repair and maintenance bills when the system eventually goes wrong or fails to perform.

It is very important to check how the system has been set up and programmed as many companies have reported the heating from their air conditioning working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, when in fact their office only ran for 10 hours a day, 5 days a week.

Many companies also forget to adjust their system for holiday periods such as Christmas and Easter and once again money could be wasted.

A wise move would be to have the system completely checked by a competent firm of consultants and sign up for a fully comprehensive maintenance contract to avoid future problems.

18 – Check for Sick Building Syndrome (SBS)

If your office staff have started to complain of headaches and nausea, feeling lethargic and dizzy, or suffering allergic reactions for the first time, your workplace could be faced with the silent epidemic of Sick Building Syndrome or SBS for short.

Although it may seem that working conditions are so over-regulated that the only illness or injury likely to be suffered from work is strangulation by red tape, experts estimate that 30% of offices have something environmentally wrong with them and that as many as one in three work absences are building-related.

Indeed, because its negative impact on productivity and profitability is considerable, SBS has recently been the focus of huge attention by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). There is said to be a greater likelihood that office staff and their efficiency and productivity will suffer if their working environment features:

Poorly maintained air conditioning

Inadequate ventilation

Fluctuating temperatures

Low standards of hygiene

Poorly designed workstations

High glare and flickering lighting

19 – Ensure that your telecoms provider is pulling its weight

Competition within the telecoms sector means great news if you are looking to optimise your telephone system and reduce your call costs. The very first step in controlling the telecom dragon is commissioning an audit of your current system and the way in which you use it.

This should include a study of your contracts, bills and current network configuration and, ideally, should be unbiased. If you commission a service provider to carry out the audit, expect it to also be free – although you will be expected to take their advice and implement their proposed solutions. In most cases this will feature the best rates available from the best networks and buying power to make sure costs are minimised. Review your call restriction policy on premium numbers, international calls and mobiles where costs can easily run away with themselves. Consider installing a phone logger to

monitor those areas of the business that spend the most.

20 – Think about how you could reduce your utilities bills

Utility costs are a major item of expenditure for most companies, and even a small adjustment can bring about worthwhile operational savings that find their way straight to your bottom line.

Many of the measures are obvious and can be taken immediately. They include adjusting thermostats, installing water flow restrictors, checking heating seals and ducting, replacing air filters, sealing off unused areas, turning off equipment at the end of the working day and generally encouraging employees to be energy conscious. To be sure you have every measure covered, it might be wise to commission a complete building management system audit. Your office fit-out & refurbishment consultant will have teams available to carry this out.

21 – Try to control runaway IT costs

IT hardware and infrastructure costs can so easily become a black hole.

Many business owners are uneasy with rising IT costs, but are either reluctant to meddle with existing infrastructures for fear of disturbing vital network services, or guilty of being too liberal with capital expenditure budgets.

The idea that “if it isn t broken, don’t fix it” often guides the decision to stay with the IT status quo, no matter what it costs. But the truth is, when it comes to IT, it does not have to be broken to need fixing. New technologies emerge, new hardware comes along, and new ways to improve productivity, eliminate downtime, streamline backup processes and squeeze more out of less become available every year.

Investigate the use of portable wireless equipment which allows email, diary management, Internet access and mobile phone use in one handheld device.

The cost of a `Smart Phone’ and other such units are only a fraction of the cost of a laptop or desktop pc and allow the user to access its diary and email anywhere in the world using the GPRS service.

22 – Optimise the workplace

An uncomfortable poorly planned and inefficient working environment invariably reduces employee productivity, morale and absenteeism and leads to a lack of creativity, a greater propensity to make mistakes and poor internal communication.

Europe’s leading ergonomist, Dr Jason Devereux, was commissioned to launch an investigation into the way in which office design and fit-out affects workplace productivity and staff morale. Using his team at the University of Surrey’s European Institute of Health and Medical Sciences, he produced a scientific study on the impact of an office fit-out on productivity.

After workplace optimisation the companies surveyed reported the following:

• Staff morale improved in 80% of companies

• 61% of companies said efficiency increased

• The mood of the employees became more positive in 70% of companies

• The optimisation made staff better organised and more in tune with each other in 87% of companies.

In a similar study in the United States, the Bank of Boston reported that 25% fewer staff produced the same amount of work in 30% less space following the optimisation of its working environment.

Significantly the whole project paid for itself in less than 24 months.

23 – Turn meetings into money

It is 9 am. You have an important report due by the end of the day, at least a dozen phone messages to return, six clients to call, and your email inbox is already screaming for attention.

What you did not anticipate on this exhaustively busy day at the office was an impromptu, unplanned meeting. By 10 am you are checking your watch, and by noon you have pretty much given up any hope of completing that report or getting to your clients because this meeting has got out of hand.

Relax, you are a victim of “Meeting Mania”; a malaise which is stifling productivity, turning the work day into wasted time, wasted energy and most importantly lost profits.

In fact, it is surprising to learn that out of an average day, 37% of a mid-level manager’s time is devoted entirely to meetings. Among top executives, that figure rises to an amazing 75%.

Of course, not all meetings are a waste of time. Some actually do generate great ideas, solve problems, and create solutions. The problem is that most are just too lengthy and take an exorbitant amount of time to overcome the barriers that prevent meeting effectiveness.

Make a start today to end the crass waste of time and money, by introducing a culture that streamlines the meeting process – and watch how quickly huge benefits build up for the company and your employees.

Most UK companies overestimate the amount of meeting space required when in fact 40% of meeting rooms that have been booked in advance, are never actually used.

The Ayurvedic Approach to Breast Health

The Ayurvedic Approach to Breast Health

Like all tissues and organs in the human body, the female breasts are multidimensional in function. Their most recognized function is as exocrine glands, producing breast milk for the newborn, a function common to all mammalian species. Given the multidimensional functions of the breasts, a discussion of breast health approaches could be complex. Therefore, in this article we will limit our discussion to what women can do from the Ayurvedic perspective to reduce their chances of developing the most dangerous of breast diseases: breast cancer.

First let’s briefly review some simple breast anatomy. Mammary glands are basically highly modified and specialized sebaceous glands which derive from embryonic ectoderm. The adult breast consists of glandular tissue, adipose tissue (fat cells), nerves, blood vessels and lymphatics. Anatomically it overlies the pectoralis major muscle and is anchored to the pectoralis fascia by suspensory ligaments known as Cooper’s ligaments (not shown). The breast contains about 15 to 25 lobes formed by groups of “milk glands”, or lobules. Each lobule is composed of hollow milk producing acini (also called alveoli), and feeds into a milk duct leading to the nipples. The ducts converge near the areola, the darker area round the nipple, to form ampullae or milk storage cavities. Around the areola are small glands known as Montgomery’s glands which secrete an oily substance that protects the nipples during nursing. Lymph nodes within the breast drain into the axillary lymph nodes in the armpit-the first place to which breast cancer will typically metastasize.

What Is Breast Cancer? The Western View

Cancer is fundamentally a disease of failure of regulation of tissue growth. In order for a normal cell to transform into a cancer cell, the genes which regulate cell growth and differentiation must be altered. A gene is a specific sequence of DNA at a specific location within a specific chromosome. Only 5-10% of breast cancers are inherited; the vast majority is due to sporadic, acquired mutations.

The affected genes are divided into two broad categories. Oncogenes are genes which promote cell growth and reproduction. Tumor suppressor genes are genes which inhibit cell division and survival. Malignant transformation can occur through the formation of abnormal oncogenes, the inappropriate over-expression of normal oncogenes, or by the under-expression or complete arrest of tumor suppressor genes. Typically, changes in many genes are required to transform a normal cell into a cancer cell.

Large-scale mutations involve a deletion or gain of a portion of a chromosome. Gene amplification occurs when a cell gains many copies (often 20 or more) of a small chromosomal locus, usually containing one or more oncogenes and adjacent genetic material. Translocation occurs when two separate chromosomal regions become abnormally fused, often at a distinct location. Disruption of a single gene may also result from integration of genomic material from a DNA virus or retrovirus, and resulting in the expression of viral oncogenes in the affected cell and its descendants, but this is not the case in breast cancer.

The transformation of normal breast cells into cancer is akin to a chain reaction caused by initial errors, which compound into more severe errors, each progressively allowing the cell to escape the controls that limit normal tissue growth. This renegade-like scenario causes an undesirable survival of the fittest, where the natural forces of evolution become distorted and work against the body’s design and harmonious order. If the rate of DNA damage exceeds the capacity of the cell to repair it, the accumulation of errors can overwhelm the cell and result in early senescence, apoptosis, or cancer. Once cancer has begun to develop, it uses the body’s own design to serve its own destructive and invasive purposes.

What Is Breast Cancer? The Ayurvedic View

The female breasts are predominantly Kapha organs, having a fatty nature and producing milk, a Kapha fluid. Breast cancer is a tridoshic (involving all three doshas) disorder of breast tissue. Causes are both hereditary and acquired; the acquired causes being physical, emotional, spiritual, and environmental. Breast cancer is ultimately caused by blockage and flow irregularities at both the gross and imperceptibly subtle levels of several srotamsi (channel systems).

Dietary and other physical factors can help to cause breast cancer, or to trigger the disease in one who already has the hereditary tendency. Breast cancer, like any malignant or degenerative disease, may be the result of prolonged wrong diet, wrong lifestyle, or prajnaparadha (mistake of the intellect). Wrong regimen leads first to accumulation of doshas, then in time to acute illnesses. If those illnesses are treated improperly, that is, if the excess doshas (the three body humors) are not expelled and ama (toxins) is not purified, then the imbalance is driven deeper, resulting in chronic complaints. If these chronic complaints in turn go untreated or are treated by suppressive methods without expelling doshas or cleansing ama, then the excess doshas will localize in the most toxic or most vulnerable tissue, in this case breast tissue, to create sannipatika gulma, a malignant tumor.

Cancer in Äyurveda is not seen as a discrete disease, but a milestone on the continuum of doshic aggravation, ama (toxic waste) accumulation, and srotodushti (channel blockage). A pernicious energy gains access to the individual through the diet, the emotions, the environment, or even the karmic-influenced internal momentum of one’s life. Although modern medicine has disproven any appreciable connection between fibrocystic breasts or fibroadenoma to breast cancer, Ayurveda considers both of these benign conditions to be stages in the breast cancer samprapti. Cancer is a deepening pattern of internal disconnection from the body-mind’s greater intelligence which eventually begins to exhibit its own warped purpose, momentum, and direction.

Importance of Srotamsi (Channels of Circulation) in Breast Cancer

The entire fifth chapter of the Vimanasthana Section of the Charaka Samhita is devoted to the detailed description of the srotamsi and their importance in health and disease. The body and mind contains a large number of srotas or channels through which the basic tissue elements, doshas, and malas circulate. These channels are called srotas (plural srotamsi). Srotas, meaning channels or pores, are present throughout the visible body as well as at the “invisible” or subtle level of the cells, molecules, atoms, and subatomic strata. It is through these channels that nutrients and other substances are transported in and out of our physiology. It is also through these channels that information and intelligence spontaneously flow. When the flow of appropriate nutrients and energies through these channels is unimpeded, there is health; when there is excess, deficiency, or blockage in these channels disease can take root.

The channels are, to a certain extent, similar to the different physiological systems of Western medicine (e.g. arteries, veins, nerves, digestive tract, etc.) but also contain subtler energies comparable to the meridian system of Chinese medicine.

The movements of energy in all srotamsi are directly influenced by stimuli that arise in the mind, which are conveyed by the Vata energy. Hence mental disturbances, both conscious and unconscious, can cause disorders in any of the channels.

Excessive or deficient mental activity can cause excess or deficient flow in the channels of the body. Emotional outbursts or lack of mental control have effects that are analogous to surges in the channels of the physical body and can produce such conditions as in strokes, heart attacks, hyperventilation, tremors, etc.

Stanya vaha srota, which consists of the milk-producing apocrine cells of the lobules, the related pituitary hormones (i.e. prolactin), the ducts, ampullae, and nipple, is the main srota involved in breast cancer.

Artava vaha srotas, which consists of the uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes, their hormones (i.e. estrogen, progesterone), secretions and connective tissues and related pituitary hormones (i.e. FSH, LH) all belong to artava vaha srotas–the channels carrying out female reproductive functions. The breasts are also included in this system.

Each lunar cycle between menarche and menopause, the proliferation of epithelial cells lining the breast’s lobular acini (increasing from one to two layers) occurs during the luteal phase. The breast epithelium, unlike the endometrium of the uterus, cannot be shed at the end of the cycle; regression at the end of the cycle is by apoptosis (self-programmed cell death). The apoptotic residue (ama) is plentiful within the lumens toward the late luteal phase of the cycle. Efficient removal of this material is essential for the breast tissue to remain healthy and vital.

Samprapti (Pathogenesis)

Due to uncorrected exposure for a sufficient period of time to nidanas–internal and external causes of doshic vitiation–(a few common examples described below), the doshas can become aggravated and begin a sequence of pathological steps culminating in the creation of a disease state. The term “samprapti” (from the root “Ap” to cause, arrive, reach or obtain; “sam” conjunction, union, intensity, completeness) refers to this sequence of doshic-related pathology triggered by one or more nidanas (causes). Let us consider a brief explanation of this sequence.

First, one or more doshas begins to accumulate somewhere in the body and soon becomes vitiated (aggravated). Next, the aggravated dosha spills over and begins to spread. In the case of breast cancer, it may enter the stanya vaha srota or another associated srota. When it reaches a vulnerable or somewhat weakened area or organ of the body, it will stagnate there and begin to mix with and disturb the structure and function of the local tissues including sometimes cellular DNA. The tissues of the body, when spoken of in their healthy state are of course called the dhatus; however when we speak of these same tissues with regard to their mixing with vitiated doshas, we always refer to the tissues as dushyas.

This dosha-dusyas sammurcchana is the actual disease process (sammurcchana means “interaction”). The interaction of the doshas and dushyas, together with the specific effect from the site or organ involved (adhisthana) leads to the development first of specific prodromal features, and then of the main symptoms, of a disease. Involvement of primarily Kapha might result in a fibrocystic breast condition; predominantly Kapha-Vata vitiation might lead eventually to fibroadenoma; Pitta-Vata can be associated with mastitis and other inflammatory states; Tridoshic vitiation can ultimately produce cancer. Left untreated the disease will evolve its unique set of complications and can reach a stage where it is no longer curable by any means.

Ayurvedic Prevention and Treatment Approach

The essence of the Ayurvedic approach is beautifully summed up in one of its well-known statements, “Avert the danger from illness before it arrives”. This terse directive emphasizes the importance of correcting imbalances while still in their earliest stages and hence very remediable. Ayurveda accomplishes this goal through health programs uniquely tailored to the idiosyncratic characteristics of each individual. It celebrates our individual uniqueness while recognizing our universal Oneness. It is through our uniquely developed human consciousness, which among other capacities, affords us the enormous power of choice, that we can influence our health. The positive and negative health effects of those choices have been understood by Ayurvedic sages for thousands of years.

It must be stated at the outset of this section that, based on current level of available Ayurvedic knowledge, Ayurveda has no place as a primary treatment for any form of breast cancer. Ayurvedic treatment for breast cancer are useful as complementary therapy in order reduce side effects and sometimes bring about a more comprehensive response to conventional treatment. Ayurvedic medicines main strength is as a strategy to prevent the initial disease or its recurrence and to prolong survival.

That being said, current research is advancing towards a rational use of Ayurveda as a primary intervention. Specifically, the methanolic leaf extract of Ashwagandha leaf (Withania somnifera) was demonstrated to restore normal p53 function in tumor cells bearing mutated copies. p53 is a tumor suppressor protein which causes either the complete destruction of cells which have irreparably damaged and abnormal DNA or to temporarily arrest cell replication so that the DNA repair mechanisms can repair the damage. Once repaired p53 then allows the cell to duplicate. How p53 chooses cell destruction or arrest is unknown; it is commonly called the “guardian angel” of the cell.

It should be noted that today all breast cancer patients should be under the regular care and supervision of a medical oncologist.

Practical Choices That Matter

The Ayurvedic approach to breast health centers on diet, detoxification, lifestyle and exercise, mental health, environment and herbal preparations. Additionally, both ancient and current Ayurvedic physicians also emphasize early detection. Self examination of breasts, regular breast examinations by health care professionals and mammograms if clinically warranted are the methods.

Diet

One of Ayurveda’s great recognitions is that the body and mind naturally proceed in the direction of balance and, in fact, are designed to achieve and maintain balance and vibrant health. The systems and organs that make possible this remarkable state of physical and mental well-being, and the intelligence which directs them all, exist in all of us from birth. Cancerous changes show that, despite this inherent healthy tendency, there is an imbalance of the tri-dosha with toxins. Food is the foundation of the tissue formation process and health itself. Here are some of the more important Ayurvedic recommendations.

i. First and foremost, choose foods according to either your constitutional type or your primary doshic imbalance, if known. This will help match your diet to your agni (digestive fire). Your physician may alternatively instruct you to eat according to the seasons if you are already in a balanced state of health. Eat organic foods whenever possible.

ii. Construct a diet which reduces ama formation. A predominantly vegetarian diet of foods that are light, warm, and cooked will do this. Freshly prepared dals and soups, organic vegetables prepared with fresh spices, whole grains such as basmati rice, barley, and amaranth, and freshly made flat-breads are ideal.

iii. Include organic cooked prunes, figs, apples, pears, pineapple, papaya, and cooked leafy greens, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage (cruciferous vegetables) in your diet. These foods provide fiber, antioxidants, and detoxifying effects.There is also a burgeoning body of evidence that curcumin, a component of turmeric, has breast cancer protective effects.

iv. Avoid foods that create body ama, including leftovers; packaged, canned, and frozen foods; foods grown with chemicals, GMO’s, pesticides and chemical fertilizers.

v. Restrict the intake of alcoholic beverages of all kinds.

vi. Visceral (abdominal) adiposity contributes to the risk for estrogen receptor-negative breast cancer in premenopausal women.

Detoxification

As discussed above, ama-along with agni and the srotamsi–has tremendous importance in the manifestation of breast cancer. Ama is principally the result of the initial ahara rasa (nutrient juices) not being completely digested in the amashaya (small intestines) due to abnormal jatharagni. Ama then enters the srotamsi where it causes srotodushti (pathology of the srota) leading to srotorodha (obstruction). This results in an abnormal or arrested flow of doshas, nutrients and wastes.

The doshas thus retained can extravasate out of the srota and penetrate the surrounding dhatus (now called dushyas). The site where this interaction occurs (dosha-dushya sammurcchana) is the site where disease is initiated. If the impairment to the srotas can be prevented or reversed, disease will be averted.

In Ayurveda breast cancer primarily involves the channels of the female breasts and of the reproductive system and are called the Stanya Vaha Srotas and Artava Vaha Srotas, respectively. They include all the reproductive tissue, breasts, hormones and all secretions including breast milk. Keeping these channels clear of ama and all toxins is essential. The Mano Vaha Srotas, channels of the mind, are also involved. Proper diet, lifestyle, exercise, emotional health and select Ayurvedic herbs all help however a regular comprehensive detoxification procedure is also advised. It forms the foundation of preventive health in the Ayurvedic view and is often an important part of the treatment protocol for diseases which have already occurred.

Vulnerable Breasts on a Chemical Planet

Besides the assault from endogenous toxins (ama), exogenous toxins also have a grave effect on breast health. As a consequence of decades of uncontrolled environmental pollution with persistent organic pollutants (POP’s), the contamination of human milk has become widespread. Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), DDT and its metabolites, dioxins, dibenzofurans, phthalates, polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), and heavy metals are among the toxic chemicals most often found in breast milk. Whether she is pregnant or not, these and many other chemical pose a tremendous risk to the female breast. This is because POP’s are fat-soluble “lipophilic” (i.e. affinity for fat) chemicals which undergo bio-accumulation and concentration over time in the breast fatty tissue. The positive news is that POP’s can be significantly removed from their sites of accumulation through regular periods of panchakarma detoxification therapies.

Ayurveda states in the Ashtanga Hridayam Sutrasthanam IV/25-26:

“Exhaustive effort should be made to radically expel the malas (doshas and metabolic wastes) at the right times. Uncorrected accumulation will verily result in aggravation and cut short life itself.” “Doshas which are subdued by langhana and pachana therapies can inevitably become re-aggravated, but those which are radically expelled by samshodhana (purification) therapies will not become deranged again.” (italics added)

Lifestyle and Exercise: Balancing the Doshas

Scientific evidence suggests about 30% of all 572,000 cancer deaths (39,500 due to breast cancer) expected in 2011 will be related to being obese or overweight, inadequate physical inactivity or errors in nutrition and thus are preventable.

It is clear that only about 30-40% of all breast cancer cases can be traced to identifiable genes or a familial tendency. Of those, 5 to 10 percent of women have inherited defective breast cancer genes, the most common being BRCA1 or BRCA2. The remainder have forms of breast cancers in their families that involve several genes.

That leaves 60-70% caused by unknown factors. Some are environmental–toxins we breathe, drink, touch or are exposed to in some way. The biggest risk factors are simply being a woman (<1 percent breast cancers occur in men) and getting older (risk increases after age 50). We can’t change that, but we can change our lifestyles. The best recommendations are these six:

-Avoid hormone replacement therapy -Improve your diet -Exercise regularly -Follow good detection strategies -Maintain good body weight -Consume less or no alcohol

Mental Health

The state of one’s mental health is a direct reflection of how we think, feel and act as we face different life experiences. Our mental health determines how we handle emotional stress, relate to others and make choices. It is the emotional and spiritual resilience (atati shakti) which enables us to achieve happiness and to survive pain, sorrow and disappointment. Normal mental health instinctively creates an underlying belief in one’s self-worth, and in the dignity and worth of other human beings and all life forms. Psycho-social-spiritual stress can play a role in breast health. To refresh the mind Ayurveda suggests the classical mental balancing and rejuvenation techniques described in Patanjali’s system of Raja Yoga. Because there are eight aspects in the Raja Yoga path to enlightenment, it is also known as Ashtanga Yoga (eight-limbed). Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras begins with the statement yoga cittavritti nirodhah (I/2), “Yoga is for the restraint of the activities of the mind”. They proceed to describe the ways in which mind can create false ideas and understandings, and details the eight steps that can taken to escape from the unreal.

Meditation techniques have been shown in numerous research studies to positively influence the physiology. The regular practice of yoga postures (asanas), breath control techniques (pranayama), and dhyana (meditation) is the most effective way to relieve anxiety, depression and emotional stress, according to Ayurvedic tradition. Although the mechanism by which meditation helps re-establish mental health is not clear, we do know that these techniques provide periods of profound sensory and cognitive rest. The regular dissociation of the senses from their sense objects and the withdrawal of the attention within appears to release deep-rooted stresses that have lodged in the structure, chemistry and energetic matrix of the mind-body.

Herbal Medicines

Ayurvedic herbal medicine regimens are not conceived using the model of a specific drug to neutralize or suppress a specific symptom or disease (allopathic model). In fact, successful treatment depends on rational and logical actions of a mixture of plant substances coupled with the incomprehensible healing intelligence of Nature. The intention of herbal treatment, like all forms of Ayurvedic therapies, is to up-regulate the innate healing capacity of the human being. Herbal treatment may be categorized according to the following scheme which forms a sequence for the prevention of any disease including breast cancer and also for the treatment of many diseases.

1. Separation of Dosha and Dushya (Sammurcchana Bhanga)

2. Autodigestion of Ama (Ama pacana)

3. Clearing of the Srotasmi (Shroto Vishodhana)

4. Optimization of Agni (Dipanagni)

5. Strengthening of Immunity (Vyadhi Kshamatva)

Separation of Dosha and Dushya (Sammurcchana Bhanga)

The initial action which must be taken in the treatment of disease is the separation of the vitiated dosha from the dushya. Since many on the subsequent steps in treating disease are strong measures aimed at the doshas, if separation of the healthy tissue is not achieved first, these treatments can and will harm the tissues and the associated srotas and vital organs. The degraded dosha and the affected tissue or organ becomes joined together like the milk fats and ghee are joined together in milk. And just as we heat the milk in order to separate the ghee from the milk fats, the herbal substances which accomplish the separation of dosha from dushya (a process called sammurchana bhanga) have the following gunas: hot (ushna), sharp (tikshna), penetrating (sukshma), rapid onset (vyavam), purifying (punanam), destructive (nashita), and separating (viyujate).

The following herbal and herbomineral medicines have the action of separating dosha and dushya. This list is by no means complete. Please note that many of these medicines can be toxic and cause

adverse reactions. They should therefore only be given for short courses and only under expert supervision.

Terminalia arjuna

Trailokya Rasa Chintamani

Datura metal Boswellia serrata

Aconitum ferox Tamra Bhasma

Strychnos nux vomica Heerak Bhasma

Semicarpus anacardium Holarrhena antidysenterica

Abhrak Bhasma Embelia ribes

Autodigestion of Ama (Ama pacana)

The operative principle behind the reversal and removal of ama is to temporarily stop providing nutrition to those parts of the body which we wish to purge of ama. In clinical application, this is achieved most readily, not with herbal medicines, but rather through fasting. Fasting is advocated as a bona fide approach for the removal of ama when found to be present or to prevent its formation. Like any other therapy, it is prescribed and supervised by an experienced physician.

During the fasting period, no new nutritive substances are available to the digestive system. Therefore the jathara agni and various dhatvagnis are utilized for the digestion of the accumulated ama. The fasting period can be as short as one or two days, or may extend for up to two weeks under medical supervision. There are several herbs and formulations which have been found to be effective in supporting and augmenting ama pacana:

Zingiber officinalis, Terminalia chebula, Tinospora cordifolia, Terminalia bellerica, Berberis aristata, Coriandrum sativum, Piper longum, Alpinia galangal.

Clearing of the Srotasmi (Shroto Vishodhana)

Whereas ama pacana is effective in transforming and liquefying the waste materials in the tissues,

the process known as shroto vishodhana draws these substances out of the tissues and into the appropriate channels of elimination (i.e. Stanya Vaha Srota). In addition, this process initiates movement in the proper direction in the srotasmi for the expulsion of the wastes. This stage requires that no matter what the primary doshic imbalance may be (Vata, Pitta, or Kapha), the Vata dosha needs to be in a balanced state. Thus is because Vata dosha is what creates movement of the wastes. A balanced Vata dosha moves the wastes in the proper and natural direction.

Medicines which act on the rasa, rakta, mamsa, meda, and sukra dhatus and their corresponding srotas are used in promoting breast health. These medicines will promote the elimination of doshas from the tissues without harming the tissues and include:

Holharrhina antidysentrica, Cissampelos pareira, Tricosanthe dioica, Cyperus rotundus, Picrorrhiza kurroa, Azadirachta indica, Hemidesmus indicus, Triphala, Piper nigrum, Acorus calamus, Curcuma longa, Aegle marmelos.

In addition to these herbal medicines, anuvasana bastis (oil-based enemata) or often administered during this phase to promote the proper flow of Vata dosha in the srotas. Also there are specialized techniques of breast massage which are performed with specific oils (i.e. Narayana, Vishagarbha, Chandanbala Laxadi) and can be taught to patient to perform at home.

Optimization of Agni (Dipanagni)

There is not a single biological process occurring within our bodies and mind which does not depend on agni. Our intelligence, awareness, energy, appearance, perception, immunity, and life itself is kindled by its power. There are thirteen forms of agni as we have outlined earlier. The most important is jathara agni–which presides over and creates all the others. Any disturbance in jathara agni will result in incomplete and improper digestion and the formation of ama. Some of the herbal medicines which help to stimulate and balance the jatharagni and, indirectly, all the agnis of the body are as follows:

Gingiber officinalis

Piper longum

Piper nigrum

Cayenne pepper

Plumbago zeylanica

Strengthening of Immunity (Vyadhi Kshamatva)

The capacity to resist disease depends prominently on a substance known as ojas. Ojas is formed from the best and purest parts of each of the seven bodily dhatus; it is said to be the quintessence of human tissue metabolism. Like bees make honey by gathering the essence of several species of flowers, ojas is formed from the saptadhatus. There are certain plant-medicines which increase ojas and are therefore called jīvanīya gana aushadhi, medicines which sustain Life. Some of these include:

Withania somnifera, Curculigo orchiodes, Asparagus racemosus Phaseolus trilobus Hemidesmus indicus Ocimum sanctum Tinospora cordifolia Eclipta alba Emblica officinalis Shilajitu

Glycerrhiza glabra Terminalia chebula

In addition, medicines like Triphala Guggulu, Kanchnaar Guggulu, Arogyavardhini, Maha-manjishthadi kwath, Guduchi (Tinospora cordifolia), Gokshur (Tribulus terrestris) as well as the two most renowned Ayurvedic compound preparations Triphala and Chywanprash are used on a long term basis to prevent recurrence.

Medicines like Medhohar-Guggulu, Chandraprabha-Vati, and Trivang-Bhasma are also used according to the presentation of symptoms.

To prevent or reduce side effects from chemotherapy and radiation therapy, Ashwagandha, Shatavari, Kamadudha, Shankhbhasma vati, Laghu sutshekhar vati and Shunthi (Zinziber officinale) can be used.

Patwardhan and Gautum5 summarize the results of preclinical studies on the cytoprotective potential of W. somnifera and its constituents. They include reports on the inhibition of breast and colon cancer cell lines compared to doxorubicin after the administration of withaferin A and an increase in the response to radio-resistant tumors when radiotherapy is combined with withaferin A treatment, among others studies.

Triphala is an Ayurvedic herbal rasayana formula consisting of equal parts of three myrobalan fruits: Amalaki (Emblica officinalis), Bibhitaki (Terminalia bellirica), and Haritaki (Terminalia chebula). Rasayana preparations are adaptogens and can be taken for life without fear of side effects. Triphala was recently found to dose-dependently induce apoptosis in human breast cell cancer lines (MCF-7) and mouse thymic lymphoma (barcl-95). Treatment did not affect neither normal human breast epithelial and peripheral blood mononuclear cells nor mouse liver and spleen cells. Direct oral feeding of triphala to mice (40 mg/kg for 13 days) resulted in significantly (P < 0.05) reduced tumor growth and more than three times higher levels of apoptosis in excised tumor tissue. According to the researchers, increases in intracellular reactive oxygen species appeared to be involved with induced cytotoxicity, supporting the hypothesis that the antioxidant effect of triphala fruits is at least partly responsible for this anticancer activity (Sandhya et al.)6.

Chywanprash

Oxygen radicals are continuously generated within our cells. This is a result of normal breathing which creates something called hydroxyl radicals. These molecules damage your DNA, producing the mutations that initiate and sustain health issues later on. Studies suggest that a diet that is rich in antioxidants may help to support breast health. This has led to the current nutritional recommendation that we all should consume at least five portions of fruits or vegetables each day.

Chyawanprash is significantly more powerful than other single antioxidant; it is up to 1,000 times more effective per dose than comparable amounts of Vitamin C and Vitamin E in scavenging free radicals and preventing damage to the body. It provides full-spectrum, super-antioxidant power. Traditional literature states that Chywanprash improves cardiovascular and neurological functioning, reduces toxicity of the dhatus, improves immunity, balances emotions, and improves mental clarity.

Conclusion

All matter is energy vibrating at different rates. The fundamental state of the universe contains all possible forms of undifferentiated matter (i.e. energy) vibrating in coherent harmony. Human beings, because we are a part of the natural universe, also have a fundamental vibration that harmonizes with the rest of the creation. Illness, including cancer, is a manifestation of disharmony which arises in the individual’s core vibration due to stress, environmental changes, emotional distress, physical injury, dietary indiscretion, or an infinite number of physical, mental, or spiritual factors. Healing is therefore initiated by restoring the normal vibratory state to the individual as a whole and to the vulnerable or diseased body part. The Ayurvedic therapies mentioned in this paper are not the only methods available from this comprehensive science, but will help us begin to understand how our mothers, wives, sisters and daughters can keep their bodies free from toxins and impurities and their immunity high even in modern times and thus avert the scourge of breast cancer.

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