“Holistic” is borne from the Greek word “holos,” which means, “an absence of illness.“
Complete health is a feeling of total wellness—physical, emotional, and mental. To achieve this feeling, people need to include a holistic approach to health care.
Holistic health care is concerned with the whole person, not just his or her parts. It is based on the concept that human beings are complex creatures whose health is affected by many factors. These factors include heredity, eating habits, personality, home, and working environment, and physical condition.
The theory behind holistic health care is that all such factors need to be taken into account in order to promote and maintain good health.
To a certain extent, the old-style country doctors practiced holistic health care. They personally knew their patients and their patients’ families well, often visiting them at their own homes.
This gave the doctors an awareness of each patient’s lifestyle, background, and personal problems. It enabled them to treat their patients as whole human beings. By the mid-twentieth century, however, the medical profession began changing.
People started moving away from the country and into the big cities. Medical providers from the city had many patients to examine. They made fewer house calls, preferring to have patients come to their offices.
They knew little about their patients, apart from their medical histories. Their chief concern was to diagnose and treat illness.
More significantly, doctors began to specialize only in certain areas of health care. The amount of medical knowledge had become so vast that no one physician could master it all.
Thus, a health care system has developed in which some doctors are eye specialists; some are heart specialists; some are bone specialists, and so on.
In the process, some of these specialists seem to overlook the fact that their patients are whole human beings. They treat the medical problem instead of examining the person.
Thanks to advanced medical science, many diseases have been brought under control. Polio, measles, smallpox, tuberculosis, and diphtheria once caused widespread death and disability.
But now, due to vaccines and immunization programs, they are no longer significant threats. Take smallpox, for example, it has been wiped out. It no longer exists. There are no reports of it anywhere in the world.
Today, a new group of diseases has taken over as the leading cause of death in the United States. These are chronic diseases—cancer, stroke, and heart disease.
No vaccines exist to prevent chronic diseases. But progress has been made. Mechanical ones can now replace many diseased organs.
Heart transplants, once considered a fantasy, have been successfully performed. And many people living with cancer who just a few years ago would undoubtedly have died have had their lives extended by a variety of treatments.
Yet the chronic diseases can be prevented not by vaccines or sophisticated treatments but by individual attention to health.
One of the key factors for disease prevention is the reduction of stress in our lives. Stress contributes to chronic diseases and many other illnesses.
High blood pressure, headaches, backaches, insomnia, and depression are all associated with stress. Stress acts directly by causing specific physical reactions.
It also acts indirectly by causing people to smoke, drink, take drugs, or overeat—all of which damage the health. Stress is a part of life.
The causes of stress are not the same today. Physical hardships, such as cold weather, frequent illness, and lack of food, are no longer significant problems.
The leading causes of stress today include noise, pollution, marital problems, work pressures, and financial worries.
The human body is equipped to deal with a certain amount of stress. But being overstressed can affect your health. To maintain good health, therefore, we need to control the amount of stress in our lives.
Stress control alone won’t guarantee health, but it is an integral part of holistic health care.
Having decided that their job should be to promote health rather than to treat illness, some doctors have begun to practice holistic medicine.
Some practices of holistic treatment are:
- Chiropractic Care
- Reiki Healing
- Trigger Point Therapy
- Nutritional Counseling
- Computer Regulation Thermography
- Neurofeedback Therapy
- Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy
- Trigger Point Therapy
Holistic health doctors show concern for the whole person, not just for the part that hurts. They are making themselves aware of all the circumstances in a patient’s life.
That way, they can point to the factors that may be harmful to the patient’s health.
Holistic health practitioners ask their patients the standard questions about medical history. But in addition to that, they want to know about their patients’ lifestyles and habits.
Factors such as living environment, diet, exercise, social life, family relationships, and attitudes toward job or school are discussed.
The ultimate purpose of such questions is to help patients gain more control over their health.
Doctors cannot do everything. They can diagnose and treat illness, give checkups, and give advice. But they cannot make a person healthy. That’s up to the individual. You are in control of your health.
To pursue a holistic approach to your health, you must look at all parts of yourself. What do you eat? Do you exercise enough? Are you under a lot of stress? Do you know how to manage stress?
Do you, smoke, drink, or take drugs? How do you get along with friends and family? What are your goals in life? By examining the various elements in your life, you can decide which ones need attention.
Apart from having an essential benefit of promoting good health, the holistic approach saves money. By taking decisive health action, you reduce the likelihood of illness and of running up doctor’s bills.
Unfortunately, the focus of our health care system is on treatment rather than prevention. Over 90 percent of the money we spend goes on the treatment of diseases.
A tiny percentage is devoted to research, prevention, and health education. That may change, hopefully. Consumer groups have been active in trying to reform the health care system.
They are seeking ways to save money and improve efficiency. In time, we may see a greater emphasis on holistic medicine among health professionals.
Much needs to be done to persuade people to take more responsibility for their health.
It’s Up to You
Each of us chooses our general lifestyle. We decide the work we do, what we eat, whether we smoke or drink or use drugs.
We also control the amount of exercise we get, the physical risks we run, and when we see a physician. In cooperation with other people, we can also have some influence on the quality of our neighborhoods and the amount of pollution to which we are exposed.
It’s up to you to be responsible for your lifestyle. No one else can sleep, exercise, or eat balanced meals on your behalf.
Indeed, you are the only one who is in a position to take a holistic view of your health. Only you can know all the forces—physical, mental, social, economic, cultural—that influence your health.
You are responsible for knowing how much to exercise, and what to eat that could help you better your health and life.
To maintain health, you need to understand how the body functions and how and why parts of it can go wrong. You also need to follow the link between emotional, mental, and physical health.
Good health is something you can choose to strive for. It is not the result of a one-time decision, but one of many lasting your whole life.
Holistic health is so crucial because to truly achieve ideal wellness in the physical, spiritual, and mental sense we have to pay attention and give optimal support to our bodies. We must treat our bodies as the phenomenal system that it is.
Each decision has a bearing on whether or not you will enjoy a feeling of wellness. It’s up to you.