More and more Western-trained doctors are waking up and embracing holistic healthcare. Although I’m also a Western-trained doctor, I left the ranks of conventional medicine after struggling with an autoimmune disorder that threatened my mobility and quality of life.
In roughly a 24-month time frame, I had tried several drugs to suppress my immune system with no relief. However, those drugs suppressed my immune system enough to allow the resurgence of a “sleeping” chickenpox virus. And this virus caused facial nerve shingles. I was hospitalized to prevent eye and brain involvement!
That painful nightmare woke me up! It was the beginning of my transition to holistic healthcare.
Simply stated, holistic health focuses on a person’s wellness and not just their illness or condition.
Holistic means studying the body as a whole and not just as a sum of its parts. The general understanding is as follows:
- the body has built-in healing and defense mechanisms,
- the patient is a person and not a disease
- healing takes a team approach involving the patient and the doctor
- before using any healthcare practice, a holistic practitioner must consider all aspects of a person’s life
- treatment involves fixing the cause of the condition, not just relieving the symptoms
This means that holistic healthcare focuses on lifestyle and self-care changes. These changes include diet, exercise, psychotherapy, relationship, and spiritual counseling.
There is also a place for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) therapies in holistic healthcare. CAM theapies can include acupuncture, chiropractic, massage, and homeopathy.
Contrary to what you may guess, Western medications and surgical therapies can also be employed when necessary, albeit they are not the mainstay of a holistic care plan.
Holistic health embraces the body as a whole. Wholeness is not the philosophy of the conventional medicine approach. Instead, it separates the body into disconnected, isolated parts and mechanisms.
Every major organ has a specialty and a specialist to refer to for a problem. Hence the multiple doctor visits where each specialist works independently to resolve the health problem within their domain. This model works well for managing diseases by controlling disease symptoms with increasingly toxic and powerful drugs. Not my idea of wellness!
Furthermore, in conventional medicine practice, doctors spend no time on nutrition because of their limited knowledge base. When a conventional medicine doctor considers nutrition, she will usually refer the patient to a specialist, ie: the dietician.
We would all benefit from a more integrative approach to healthcare. As a Western-trained doctor and certified Nutrition Health Coach, I wholeheartedly endorse an integrative approach.
There are five main components of personal health: physical, emotional, social, spiritual, and intellectual.
The starting point for any holistic health approach is diet and lifestyle changes. (You will be amazed at how easy, simple, and effective these changes can be in your life.)
Seeking a balance between mind, body, and spirit requires an approach that recognizes the interconnectedness of our complex body systems. Something that conventional medicine seems to have forgotten.
All aspects of a holistic healthcare model allow for a better doctor/healer and patient/person relationship. Establishing such an authentic, holistic relationship with every patient puts the control of their health back where it belongs — into the hands of the patient!
I’m Dr. Sy Powell a board-certified OBGYN gone rogue! I now practice from a functional medicine perspective. I know that a functional medicine approach can completely change your life for the better because it’s done so for me. To learn more about my work, visit my services page and if you’d like to talk with me directly, you can schedule a free consultation call here. Yours In Health