Holistic Health – You have probably heard the term “holistic” mentioned quite a lot these days by complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) practitioners, along with integrative general practitioners (GP). But what does a holistic approach actually mean in a health setting?
I obtained the following two definitions online from Oxford Dictionaries:
1. chiefly Philosophy Characterized by the belief that the parts of something are intimately interconnected and explicable only by reference to the whole.
1.1 Medicine Characterized by the treatment of the whole person, taking into account mental and social factors, rather than just the symptoms of a disease.
In other words, taking a holistic approach to health means that you must take into account the whole person, not just the person’s presenting health concern. Furthermore, you need to consider the person’s total health factors – nutrition, lifestyle, environmental, social, spiritual as well as genetic. Practising the principles of holistic health allows practitioners to understand the person sitting in front of them, including how the disease or condition effects them and their life. This is opposite to the conventional medicine approach which seeks to label an illness and then treat that illness in isolation (reductionist approach).
At the core of holistic health care is carrying out a detailed case history. It makes sense that if you understand a person better, you are more likely to provide appropriate and safe treatments. Those with chronic diseases are often at greater risk of other chronic diseases, further highlighting the need for a holistic approach to health care and a focus on improving people’s health.
In my opinion, an integrative health care approach focused on holistic treatments for disease prevention and chronic disease management is the only way forward if we are ever going to provide effective health solutions that are sustainable and affordable. Integrative health clinics have a range of conventional western GP’s and complementary health practitioners that work together to offer truly holistic client-centred health care. Those Integrative GP’s that I have heard talk about their clinics state that they achieve better health outcomes for clients. This is evident in the often long waiting times to see integrative practitioners! So people are flocking to integrative clinics to receive holistic health care in spite of government policy that adopts the paradigm of chronic disease management over disease prevention by providing handsome financial incentives for GPs to refer ONLY for chronic disease management. The old saying you get what you pay for applies to health care most times too!
So, if you don’t have an integrative clinic in your area, I would recommend that you find a good CAM practitioner, such as a naturopathic nutritionist or naturopath, to complement your existing health care team.
Invest in your health and it will pay dividends for years to come.
Rick Hallion is the director of Health Generation and is a naturopathic nutritionist located in Coffs Harbour, NSW. Rick practices holistic health and he utilises nutrition, lifestyle and environmental health solutions. Rick is passionate about disease prevention and also improving the health and quality of life for those with chronic disease.
“Common exposures lead to common diseases” – Ryan Bradley, ND
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