In this day and age of a financially strapped and confusing healthcare system, many people are turning to alternative healthcare to alleviate their health issues. One such approach is holistic medicine, and for many, it has had very positive results, which is why it is growing in popularity, particularly in recent years. But what is holistic medicine, and how might it work for you?
Holistic Medicine: What is it?
Holistic medicine is defined as a form of healing that considers the whole person—body, mind, spirit and emotions—and strives to find an appropriate balance to achieve optimal health. For many holistic practitioners, but not all, this also means not prescribing medications or over-the-counter drugs, or at least prescribing them much more sparingly than a traditional medical doctor would. Holistic medicine holds the belief that the body has an innate ability to heal itself when given the right tools, which do not always include the chemicals found in prescription and OTC medications.
Holistic practitioners also believe in finding the cause of a health issue rather than just treating the symptoms. For example, if you have chronic migraines, a traditional medical doctor may prescribe certain medications or advise you to take certain OTC drugs. A holistic practitioner, on the other hand, would focus more on trying to figure out where the source of the headaches is coming from and treat that to hopefully alleviate the symptoms entirely rather than just temporarily.
When you visit a holistic doctor, he or she will ask about much more than just how you currently feel and your medical history. The doctor will ask about your diet, exercise and sleeping habits, if you are experiencing stress, what your home and work environments are like, what your preferred spiritual practices are (if any) and so forth. In this way, the holistic doctor will have a more complete picture of your health to try to figure out what the root of the problem might be. He or she will then treat that rather than just give you the medications that will help you only with what you are experiencing in that very moment.
Holistic Care and Treatments
Holistic practitioners take a different approach to treating a patient’s maladies. Instead of merely prescribing medications, these doctors will suggest changes in eating habits, such as suggesting that you drink more water, avoid sugary foods or take certain herbal or vitamin supplements, changes in exercise or sleeping habits or finding healthy ways to cope with or eliminate stress altogether.
They may also try other natural alternative therapies such as chiropractic care, homeopathy, massage therapy, naturopathy, acupuncture, psychotherapy and so forth. These are all more natural ways to deal with a health issue than simply taking prescribed or OTC medications, and they are ways to provide the body with the right tools to heal itself rather than let chemicals do the job.
Why a Holistic Approach is good for you
Perhaps the main problem with taking prescribed and OTC medications is the potential side effects that they might have in your body, both in the short term and long term. Often these side effects are known, so you can make your choice based around that knowledge, but sometimes, particularly with newer drugs, they are not known, so you are taking a risk. Medications can have bad reactions with each other if your doctors are not careful and thorough in their prescriptions. In the end, you are choosing to put unnatural chemicals in your body which your body may reject down the line, which could cause potentially serious consequences.
A holistic approach focuses on treating the cause rather than the symptoms of a disease so that you don’t have to keep coming back to the doctor for more pills or injections. The body is naturally equipped with a lot of what it needs to heal itself—you just need to know how to let it best utilize those tools and to give it boosts, such as with vitamin supplements, when needed. Because vitamins and herbs contain elements that are usually naturally found in your body, they tend to have fewer side effects than medications do. Natural therapies that don’t involve chemicals at all, such as stress relief and chiropractic care, are even more case in point.
It is every person’s own choice whether or not he or she wants to take medications at the suggestions of a traditional medical doctor. There is indeed a time and place for traditional medicine, such as when surgery is needed and so forth. But whenever possible, if there is a natural alternative treatment to the health issue, it may be a good idea to look into that as well before making the final decision for your body.