The Holistic Approach

The Holistic Approach

When it comes to our health, today’s society is taught to rely on their MD Physician, public health nurse or pharmacist. All of whom operate under the same modern health system – referred to as “western medicine”. However, the holistic movement is making an increasing comeback, offering possible solutions to certain chronic conditions in which “conventional” medicine is more limited, or even useless.

Let’s take a closer look at this form of medicine that is often underestimated.

What Is the Holistic Approach?

The so-called “unconventional” medicine began resurfacing in the late 19th century – not long after the scientific revolution started redefining health, with the focus of medicine being on symptoms and syndromes, rather than healthy lifestyle choices (including diet & exercise etc.), environmental factors (pollution etc.) and emotional health (This century is seeing a huge increase in mental “disorders”).

It has been thought that – through science – every ail could simply be medicated, and once symptoms had subsided the job was done.

Looking back through the century – and even looking at our own family’s health journey, we will see that – though some illnesses have and do require intervention from western medicine – many times the treatments can be worse on our health than the diseases or illnesses themselves. The goal of most treatments is to rid people of most if not all symptoms – to make them feel better – and never considered why it was there in the first place.

The Holistic approach may also be known as:

  • Holistic Medicine
  • Alternative Medicine
  • Traditional Chinese Medicine
  • Integrative Medicine
  • Naturopathic Remedies
  • Natural Healing etc.

Holistic medicine is a system of health care that looks at the whole person, fostering a cooperative relationship among all areas of health, leading towards optimal attainment of the physical, mental/emotional, social and spiritual aspects of health – Mind Body & Spirit. It also factors in nutritional, environmental, and lifestyle values. It encompasses all stated modalities of diagnosis and treatment – including drugs and surgery if no safe alternative exists.

Holistic medicine focuses on education and responsibility for personal efforts to achieve balance and well-being. [1]. The word “holistic” is derived from the Greek word “holos” which means “All, whole, Entire” [2].

The first National Conference on Holistic Health was conducted in California in 1975. The American Holistic Health Association (AHHA) and the Holistic Medical Association were formed soon after.[3]. It focuses on preventing illnesses and maintaining great health rather than just healing after the fact.

Modern medicine associates diseases with pathogens, bacteria, viruses and biochemical disturbance, while holistic medicine thinks they mostly are indicators of an imbalance in the human body [4].

How Is Holistic Health Practiced?

Holistic medicine can take several forms including acupuncture, homeopathy or phytotherapy. Wearing Pure Hazelwood necklaces and bracelets may take part in the holistic process as some believe the wood brings some relief or soothes some inflammatory processes like teething pain, mouth sores, joint pain, heartburn, and skin problems. In all cases though, no drug treatment is used in the care of the sick or suffering person.

Phytotherapy is the use of plants to heal and restore balances.

Although the results may not be as immediate with most holistic treatments, they are considered more sustainable and less damaging for the body as a whole over the chemical substances found in modern medicine[5].

An example of modern vs holistic medicine broken down:

You have a backache: Modern “conventional” medicine might suggest taking a medication like Tylenol 3, Morphine or Oxycodone to relieve the pain, but that is likely to create an addiction or to cause side effects and often the pain will be ongoing. Meanwhile, holistic medicine may tell you to apply heat on the affected area, then to make an appointment with an osteopath in order to address the main cause of your pain.

Modern or Holistic Medicine: Which One Should You Choose?

This is not quite so black and white.

Everything depends on not only the general condition of the person but also their willingness to participate in their own health – for example adopting a healthier lifestyle. There are also many illnesses that can be quite severe and not be fully understood enough for even modern medicine – never mind holistic approaches.

New studies and articles are released regularly to support holistic medicine, like this article which outlines different natural practitioners for treating chronic pain. A visit to one of the many exhibitions focused on natural healing could also help you decide. Only you can determine the balance to which you aspire!

In our house, we try to think holistic first. If we can’t solve it that way, or we don’t fully understand the problem – for example, our daughter had Kawasaki Disease – we will then turn to modern medicine and work alongside an MD’s expertise.

Explore some of our information sources:
[1] Holisticmed.com, “What is Holistic Medicine?”, http://www.holisticmed.com/whatis.html
[2] Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holism
[3] American Holistic Health Association (AHHA), http://ahha.org/
[4] WorldWideLearn, “Guide for Alternative Medicine Majors”, http://www.worldwidelearn.com/online-education-guide/health-medical/alternative-medicine-major.htm
[5] Web MD, “What is holistic medicine?”, http://www.webmd.com/balance/guide/what-is-holistic-medicine
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