Americans are all about instant gratification. We want to lose weight, gain muscle and eliminate pain now. And thanks to the steady increase in lotions, potions, procedures and pills on the market these days, many wishes can be granted, or so it seems, within the blink of an eye. The truth is, much of what is happening in western conventional medicine is merely keeping symptoms at bay, while often creating new problems, without ever really addressing how the problem started in the first place.
Our obsession with treating merely the symptom rather than the person themselves has led to a nation of overweight and sick individuals. The reason? Because treating the symptoms won’t lead to greater health; you have to look at the whole person. The reasons you have a headache is not because you have an aspirin deficiency; something greater is at play to throw the body off-balance.
A holistic approach to medicine incorporates multiple treatments and therapies to help a person achieve greater overall wellness. In general, holistic practitioners believe that the physical, mental, spiritual and emotional elements of an individual must be balanced in order to achieve a truly healthy state. When one of these is out of sync, the body has a greater risk of developing illness. Hippocrates was a firm believer that the body had extraordinary abilities to heal itself and both Socrates and Plato were advocates of what was referred to as “holism” and promoted the connection between mind and body when it came to healing.
Today’s conventional medical professionals often treat only the symptom or the condition. If you have pain, they prescribe a pain-killer. If you are depressed, you receive anti-depressants. If you have high cholesterol, you start taking statin drugs, etc. And while your symptoms may dissipate from the use of these powerful medications, the root of the problem remains. Not getting at the root of the problem, the reason for imbalance, leaves the body forever tied to an external source that merely suppresses symptoms.
A holistic approach shies away from treating a symptom, but rather takes into consideration all aspects of one’s health that may have contributed to the symptom. In many cases, underlying emotions can lead to the onset of several illnesses. Stress and anxiety are known to cause elevated blood pressure or other cardiovascular diseases. And some holistic practitioners believe certain cancers may be the result of emotional distress and that by healing the person from an emotional standpoint, they have a greater chance of eliminating the cancer.
Regardless of the illness, symptom or condition, holistic practitioners often integrate multiple therapies when prescribing treatment. These may include the use of herbs, antioxidants or vitamins over the use of medications, massage, acupuncture or acupressure for pain or meditation or yoga for relaxation and inner reflection. Treatment is always 100 percent individual and based on not only present symptoms and overall health but past experiences that may include mental or physical trauma.
In many instances, people find it beneficial to combine a holistic approach with modern medicine. Alleviating the symptom medically may be necessary, but coupling that with lifestyle changes will keep the symptom from returning.
Regardless of which holistic techniques you choose for treatment, each one brings with it several benefits and often helps patients gain a better insight into their own being. Don’t be discouraged if one therapy doesn’t suit you as you may need to experiment with several. Some prefer acupressure to acupuncture while others enjoy diffusing essential oils over drinking teas. Keeping an open mind and experimenting with what works for you will lead you on a better path to self-discovery and help achieve overall wellness.
Remember also to always treat your body with respect, eat whole foods, as close to their natural state as possible, move regularly and manage stress well. All these things will help promote a strong immune system, capable of defending your body against invaders and making it more responsive to whatever holistic treatment you choose.