Take Back your Life and Embrace the World of Holistic Health and Wellness
Are you disenchanted with the state of our current healthcare system? Perhaps you have a sneaking suspicion that many aspects of modern medicine are lacking in integrity. You may have even lost faith in your medical doctor, as well as the pharmaceutical industry which so often drives the show in ways that are actually detrimental to the long-term state of our health individual health, and health care system as a whole.
Lucky for us, there are two primary forms of medicine—conventional and holistic—and we can use both to live healthy, happy lives. The more you learn about holistic health, the more you may come to realize that integrating the two forms of modern medicine, may just be the best approach. But first, you need to know the ins and outs of holistic health, often called alternative medicine, or complementary medicine. The more you learn about the holistic approach to health care, the more you’ll become empowered. You’ll learn how to make the best decisions based upon what you know to be true.
That said, let’s take a deeper look at the many fascinating aspects of holistic health care, and what they can do for our long-term health and wellbeing.
What is holistic health?
Holistic health isn’t only about natural therapies and modalities. Contrary to popular belief, the holistic health approach actually integrates aspects of Western medicine, as well as a treasure trove of natural therapies. As you may know, the word holistic, refers to whole. In regards to medicine, it means, we look at the whole person, as opposed to a bunch of different parts that aren’t connected.
The holistic health philosophy states that all parts of a person—mind, body, and spirit—are interconnected. The holistic health care approach also looks at environmental factors and lifestyle habits of an individual. There’s no one-size-fits-all remedy, because we’re all incredibly different people with different lifestyles, as well as different histories. In this way, holistic health and its healing modalities are more customized than its conventional counterpart.
Holistic health and healing allows you to take control over your own well being because it focuses largely upon education, informing you about the vast array of remedies available—many of which, you can administer to yourself and your loved ones. You no longer have to put your entire health into the hands of one, singular person, which, when you really take some time to consider, begins to sound rather absurd. Instead, you get to choose from a wonderfully vast array of healing methods and traditions. You can even put together a group of holistic health practitioners to work with—ones that resonate with your beliefs and lifestyle.
Your journey into the world of holistic health and wellness also relies upon the wisdom of Mother Nature. So many nature cures exist—from whole foods, spices and herbs, clean water, fresh air—to living in attunement with the natural circadian rhythms of life itself. Allowing nature to take the lead opens the door to so many holistic healing possibilities and natural health approaches. It all gets very exciting the more you know!
The many benefits of holistic health
There’s good reason why alternative and holistic health services are gaining more and more popularity and momentum these days. We’re all waking up to their benefits, which are seemingly endless. And nowadays, many scientific studies exist to prove these benefits.
What kinds of health issues are best remedied via holistic health and healing?
The common cold
No, the common cold doesn’t always have to be remedied by an over-the-counter drug. A more natural approach to the common cold includes allowing the cold to run its course, while boosting your immune system to support your body’s own innate healing mechanisms.
Common supplements and foods for a cold include: echinacea, vitamin C, zinc, garlic, ginger, bee products like raw honey and propolis, clean water, bone broth, elderberry, and ginseng.
Insomnia and sleep issues
You don’t have to take a pharmaceutical pill to get good sleep. We all know by now that pharmaceuticals come with downright serious side effects, and while they may be best for a short-term fix, they’re typically not healthy over the long run. A holistic sleep specialist will look at what you eat, how you live, as well as the state of your psychological and emotional health. You’ll learn best practices to prepare for a good night of slepp—without taking a pill. You can teach yourself the art of using essential oils (aromatherapy) for good sleep. Supplements like magnesium and melatonin are also popular remedies for sleep.
Reducing stress and anxiety
We are plagued by stress and anxiety. It’s a part of life. Seventy percent of Americans say they experience some form of it on a daily basis. But, rather than becoming addicted to anti-anxiety meds, as so many people do, many natural remedies exist to help decrease our stress levels, as well as our costly visits to the doctor. Studies like this one, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, show that anywhere from 60% to 80% of all doctors visits are the result of overwhelming stress and/or anxiety.
We all know just how rampant stress is in our modern lives. And we also know how it can decrease our quality of life on so many levels. The holistic path to stress-relief makes use of a number of modalities, including massage therapy, herbs like valerian and lemon balm, exercise, yoga, pranayama, meditation, whole foods, aromatherapy, proper sleep, improving social connections, reducing stimulants like caffeine and sugar—the list goes on and on. Healing from chronic stress can be done, and it can be done via alternative remedies that don’t come with dangerous side effects.
Both conventional and holistic approaches understand that chronic inflammation is at the heart of all the most serious diseases. Heart disease, cancer, diabetes, arthritis, autoimmune diseases, and chronic stress—these are all results of chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation is caused by varying factors, one of them being unhealthy foods like excess sugar, alcohol, refined carbs, trans fats, and processed meats. In these cases, a holistic approach to treating inflammation would revolve around proper diet and nutrition. Stress-related inflammation is cured by holistic stress-relieving techniques, while inflammation caused by certain pharmaceutical medications also begs a holistic approach.
Chronic pain is yet another health issue proven to be cured by holistic remedies. A 2013 study published in Archives of Internal Medicine, shows just how effective the Chinese medicine practice of acupuncture is for alleviating chronic pain. Certain supplements like turmeric for example, also work wonders for pain and inflammation. Turmeric is a spice that’s been used for thousands of years in India, through Ayurvedic medicine. It’s only been in the last decade— as scientific studies on the subject have come to the fore—that this magical spice has found its place in the Western world of holistic health.
Out of whack hormones can wreak havoc on your life. Lucky for us, holistic remedies abound when it comes to hormonal issues because hormonal imbalances are so often caused by our lifestyle habits. Some of the most common triggers for hormonal imbalances are: not getting enough sleep, eating too much sugar, not eating enough protein, drinking too much alcohol, smoking cigarettes, not exercising enough, being too stressed out, and not eating enough fiber, healthy fats, and fatty fish. Overeating in general can also lead to hormonal imbalances.
Even the hormonal imbalances caused by perimenopause and menopause can find solace in alternative remedies, with science to back it up. One study, published in Complementary Therapies in Medicine, found various Chinese herbs helped balance hormones in women dealing with infertility. Yet another study, this one published in Avicenna Journal of Phytomedicine shows the possibility that fennel flower seeds, also known as black seeds, naturally boost estrogen. In the case of hormonal issues, holistic healing most definitely offers us alternatives to pharmaceutical drugs.
Diet and Nutrition for holistic health and wellness
What you feed your body, mind, and soul is essential to good health. Holistic health puts nutrition at the heart of your wellness routine. A relatively new modality simply known as nutritional medicine is a big part of the natural health world. As you may have guessed, nutritional medicine is all about diet. It’s a huge part of the holistic health world, so much so, that one can have an entire career based upon helping people feed their bodies right.
Food becomes medicine, just as the father of medicine (Hippocrates) once stated so wisely, “let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.” We’ve known for thousands of years that nutrition is paramount to longevity and optimal health. We’ve just forgotten this post-industrial revolution when food became a commodity. Luckily, holistic health care is bringing food as medicine to the forefront once more, and if you know your diet needs a major upgrade, consider seeing a holistic nutritionist who can design a meal plan to suit your individual needs.
And if you’re a skeptic when it comes to food and health, plenty of scientific studies, like this 2013 study, published in the journal, Advances in Nutrition, show just how necessary it is to eat right in order to feel your best and prevent the many modern day degenerative diseases. Eating right is one of the smartest things you can do for your health and your pocketbook. Not only is it the least expensive form of medicine, it’s also the most effective form of preventative medicine—so sorely needed in this day and age.
Functional medicine, yet another holistic health modality also puts diet and nutrition first. Its primary goal is to get to the root of the problem—identifying the main cause of a particular disease process, in order to come up with a tailor-made treatment plan. It’s science-based, utilizing blood work to determine a patient’s nutritional deficiencies and possible hormonal imbalances. After testing, the functional medicine doctor devises a lifestyle regimen that typically focuses upon diet, supplements, sleep, exercise, stress management, and mind-body modalities. Functional medicine is a science-based holistic approach to healing that addresses anything from chronic stress to chronic digestive problems.
Yoga and meditation
Yoga has taken the world by storm for good reason. It’s a tried and true method of healing that was invented thousands of years ago in India. Not only is yoga a form of physical exercise, it’s also a potent elixir for the mind, and even the spirit. According to the ancient yoga tradition, yoga is also a form of energetic medicine. One of its primary aims is to balance and open prana, (or ki)—the life force energy within each and every one of us.
Meditation is also taking the world of holistic health and wellness by storm for good reason. Even scientific studies show just how beneficial the practice is for physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. One such study, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association shows just how beneficial a regular meditation practice is for the prevention of cardiovascular disease. Meditation is one of the best practices for mental clarity, and even cognitive function as we age. All sorts of meditation styles exist, and they all fall under the vast umbrella of holistic health and wellness.
Yoga’s sister science, Ayurveda, is yet another form of holistic health care created thousands of years ago. It focuses on nutrition, herbs, yoga, meditation, and living in alignment with the natural rhythms of nature. It’s a form of complementary medicine that looks at the whole person—physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual, and even ethical and philosophical. Ayurveda also states that we’re all made up of the three doshas or constitutions, to varying degrees. They are kapha, vata, and pitta. An Ayurvedic practitioner can help you find your individual constitution, and devise a health regimen tailor-made for your individual needs and wants.
Chinese medicine and Acupuncture
Like Ayurveda, Chinese medicine has been around for thousands of years. The two traditions are two of the earliest versions of holistic health care. Chinese medicine uses herbs, shiatsu, acupuncture, and acupressure. Chinese medicine, Ayurveda, and yoga are all forms of energy medicine, believing that the body is filled with energetic pathways through which life force energy flows. The Chinese terms are meridians and chi, while the Sanskrit ones are nadis and prana.
Naturopathy is yet another aspect of holistic healing. A naturopathic doctor will school you in all things natural health. You’ll experience a more customized approach to healing with a naturopathic doctor, who typically makes use of herbs, supplements, organic foods, aromatherapy, homeopathy, and nature cures that date back to Hippocrates’ time. Like functional medicine, naturopathy is all about getting to the root cause of a particular issue, so that the cure is long-term and permanent, rather than the temporary band-aid that is so often the case with conventional Western medicine.
Finding reputable holistic health practitioners
It’s important to find doctors and practitioners with reputable credentials, especially in the realm of holistic healing that’s a bit less regulated than conventional medicine. However, as holistic medicine becomes more and more mainstream, the regulations continue to become more and more clearcut. Still, it’s important to do your research, get a referral from a friend, or simply experiment with various practitioners. Once you find one you like, you’ll want to build a long-term relationship with a holistic doctor or practitioner who knows you well. That’s the beauty of healing the whole person via natural means. You’ll get individualized attention and care—something each and every one of us deserves.
With so many healing modalities to choose from, your head may spin. This is yet another realm where you’ll want to take some time to consider which route to take. Does Chinese medicine appeal to you? Or yoga and Ayurveda? Perhaps regular massage therapy sessions take the cake for your body. Maybe a friend or family member refers you to a naturopath they trust. Finding a modality that suits your desires and beliefs may take some time. But once you find your path, which may involve a combination of modalities, you’ll have created a healing regimen that’s unique to you and only you!
Holistic health and your safety
Because there’s not as much money in holistic remedies as there are pharmaceuticals, less scientific research exists. It’s up to you to do your own research, and try various remedies until you find what works for you. This may take a while. Patience is required. But, the more you travel down this natural road to whole body health, you’ll realize just how worth the wait it truly is.
Generally speaking, natural remedies are safer than their pharmaceutical counterparts. But, it’s also important to note that herbs and supplements interact with conventional medications. And even herbs (and yoga poses for that matter) have contraindications. For this reason, it’s a good idea to work with a professional with lots of experience in their particular field.
Holistic wellness offers us an opportunity to really pay attention to our bodies and minds. It allows us to take control over our own health, and eventually, create happier and healthier lives than ever before!
As you can see, natural health is an intoxicating world unto itself. And unlike the path of conventional medicine, holistic healing is really fun! It’s also incredibly empowering. Living well and cultivating healthy lifestyle habits feels really good. And that’s what holistic health and wellness is all about! May your wellness journey be full of pleasure and enjoyment.