We are all familiar with Western (sometimes referred to as Allopathic) medicine and know what it entails; i.e. drugs, MRI’s, CAT scans, etc. Therefore, there is no need for me to address this type of medicine.
But is this the only route? Is it the only way to treat or assist what ails me?
We hear so much these days about Alternative medicine or Holistic medicine. What are they? What can they do for me? How can they help illnesses? After all, Western medicine is all I know!
I hope this article helps to clear some skepticism, doubt and understanding of the other techniques available that are different than the conventional approach to health and wellness. It is not just about diet, nutrition and exercise. It is so, so, much more!
First, allow me to explain the difference between some terms often used. “Alternative” refers to choosing an alternative or alternate route than Western medicine. Usually, this entails a specific technique which does not utilize drugs, blood tests, Xrays, or any of the approaches typically utilized to determine the cause of illness. Sometimes when alternative medicine is mixed with mainstream medicine the result is called “complementary medicine” or “integrative medicine”.
The word ‘Holistic’ (or the original word ‘Wholistic’) refers to treating the ‘whole’ person, not just the physical ailments. As human beings, we are not ‘just’ a physical body! We are also an emotional being, a mental being and a spiritual being! Eastern philosophy says: “True wellness is achieved when the body, mind and spirit are in balance.” Treating all these aspects of an individual will bring total health and wellness.
We have experienced the same problem returning again and again. If this is the case, the cause of the problem has not been addressed. For instance, if you continue to have headaches even after taking aspirin or something else, then you have not treated the cause of the problem. Let’s consider this simple example; why do some people who have spent time together in a group get sick, and others in the group do not? Why is one person’s immune system not protecting him from illness while another person’s does?
The answer has to do with how strong is your immune system! A holistic practitioner tests, finds and treats the underlying cause affecting the immune system. This will have a greater impact on the prevention of illness as well, since a strong immune system will protect you better than one that is compromised. An immune system can be compromised in many ways, usually we call this stress. Stress can be physical, emotional, mental or energetic/spiritual.
For instance: have you found yourself in a moment in your life where everything seems to be piling up on you and your feelings begin to sag into frustration, anger, grief or despair? These emotions will stress and compromise your immune system! Have you ever experienced thoughts like past occurrences or situations, like, “I could have, should have, would have”, or worry about losing a job, a spouse, financial problems? These mental thoughts will also stress and compromise your immune system!
For example; someone who has consistent respiratory problems may have an issue with letting go of grief or sadness. Therefore, a holistic practitioner will address and treat the cause, which in this case would be the emotion of grief, thereby eventually clearing the respiratory issue. How one treats the cause differs for each holistic technique.
If we keep ‘feeling’ the grief, the guilt, the blame; or those thoughts keep playing in our heads; we may find ourselves repeating and experiencing the same health issue because the immune system continues to be compromised. All of these aspects of oneself affect our health. Therefore, in order to achieve perfect health, harmony, and a strong immune system, all of these stress related issues must be addressed, treated and resolved!
Holistic medicine is not just for 'sick' people. Holistic medicine is also a preventative maintenance
approach to maintain wellness! It is recommended that a healthy person should periodically visit a holistic practitioner in order that the body, mind, spirit remain in balance.
To summarize: we are not just body parts! Your thoughts, emotions, attitudes, beliefs, stuck repetitious patterns, etc., all play a role in health and wellness. Treating the ‘whole’ person is the foundation of holistic medicine.
By now, hopefully, you are asking the question: What holistic protocols are available to me?
That will be the subject of the next article.
(Dr. Felicia Santelli – email@example.com)