Practicing sustainability, making healthy food choices, and utilizing natural approaches are all the elements that are included by a holistic doctor. Holistic health is based on the ancient knowledge that your optimum health is derived from living in harmony with the earth and caring for yourself as a whole individual: body, mind, and spirit. Fifty years ago, most people thought the concept was superstitious or radical but today, there is a wide range of medical research that supports the legitimacy of this wisdom.
Various scientific studies reveal how our practices, our environments, and even our emotions– like hope and stress— affect health. The United States’ Center for Disease Control (CDC) supports this understanding of human health. According to their analysis genes and biology play a big part in our health. Integrative medicine or holistic medicine takes into account each of the aspects of the CDC’s pie chart: genes & biology, lifestyle behaviors, medical care, and social/environmental aspects. It combines alternative therapies and lifestyle training with traditional western medicine to take care of the whole person. The objective is to not only eliminate the underlying cause of disease but to promote the person’s total health.
While you might be comfortable visiting a chiropractic doctor, seeking out holistic healthcare on a regular basis for anything besides a sore back might be out of your comfort zone. Considering that integrated medical practices use herbal treatments and alternative therapies, we often have the impression that holistic healthcare doctors reject all contemporary medicine yet this belief is quite unfounded. There are many reputable integrated medical practices that use traditional drugs and surgeries when they are necessary.
Something that sets holistic doctor apart from traditional medical professionals is not the treatments that they use but how they approach taking care of people. According to the Academy of Integrated Health & Medicine, these are the concepts that define a holistic medical practice:
- Creating a team-like relationship between doctor and patient in which the patient has autonomy and feels that his/her needs, desires, awareness and insight is valued and heard
- Resolving the underlying cause of a disease instead of just treating the symptom
- Learning the lifestyle, emotional wellness, and history of a patient to know what kind of patient has a disease rather of only establishing what type of disease a patient has
- Embracing safe and reliable diagnosis and treatment including conventional drugs and surgery, complementary options, and education for a lifestyle change
- Viewing disease as a symptom of overall health and not an isolated event
- Mentor patients about the damaging physical effects of extended fear, hostility, shame, greed, depression, anger and sorrow while also helping patients to take advantage of the healing power of humor, hope, enthusiasm, and love
- Focusing on preventative care and utilizing a patient’s innate healing abilities
- Teaching patients that optimum health is the result of pursuing the highest qualities of the environmental, physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual, and social aspects of the human experience and is not simply the absence of illness
To a holistic health practitioner (i.e. holistic doctor), you are a person, not a disease. If you often leave your doctor’s office feeling like he/she doesn’t really see you as a person, the holistic model might be just what you are looking for. If you struggle with a chronic condition and are discouraged that the underlying source of your physical pain or pain is never addressed, then holistic medicine may be a good fit for you.
Now that you understand more about holistic healthcare, it’s easy to see the worth in investing in overall health and partnering with a physician or caretaker who sincerely cares about your well being and will look for treatments that address more than your symptoms. Whether you are struggling with chronic health conditions, or if you have been wanting to concentrate on self-care, or if you are looking to optimize your health adding holistic health as a part of your health care approach can provide numerous benefits to your overall health and lifestyle outcomes.