The word ‘wellness’ and ‘holistic’ have become increasingly fashionable these days. Sadly however it seems that these conceprs are still poorly understood and applied in a very superficial way. Most ‘wellness’ events are still stuck in a very outmoded approach to health care.
The term Holistic comes from a Greek word, ‘holos’, which means‘whole’ or ‘complete’. (The popular spelling ‘wholistic’ is an American innovation). The holistic doctor focuses his/her attention on the total patient and not just on a particular symptom or illness.
There are actually several underlying principles that typify the holistic approach to wellness. They guide the way I myself practice medicine and I would like to share them with you.
The Body/Mind/Spirit connection: The holistic approach recognizes that each person has a physical, mental, and spiritual dimension, and that these are closely related. For a long time doctors have been aware of the intimate connection between mind and body and identified a long list of psychosomatic diseases – illnesses that have physical symptoms and signs, but have a mental or emotional cause. The holistic practitioner recognizes this close relationship between mind, body and spirit and understands that a disturbance in one area will impact on other areas as well.
Symptoms vs Cause: The conventional approach to health care tends to focus on removing the symptoms of diseases, while the holistic approach seeks to address the underlying cause. Symptoms are simply signposts that point out that something is wrong. By discovering what the symptom is saying and responding accordingly, the illness becomes not just something to get rid of, but rather an experience from which we can learn and grow. The holistic practitioner’s aim is not just to cure the disease, but also to facilitate the healing of the total person.
Prevention vs Cure: The quality and length of your life is greatly influenced by your lifestyle. According to the American Medical Association, sixty per cent of deaths before age sixty-five are preventable by simple changes in lifestyle. Holistic health care places a major emphasis on lifestyle modification as a way of promoting optimal health and preventing diseases. It focuses on factors like those listed below for the prevention of diseases:
§ Diet and nutritional supplements
§ Exercise and weight control
§ Stress management
§ Avoidance of harmful substances, such as alcohol, drugs (legal and otherwise), tobacco and environment pollution.
§ Healthy personal and spiritual support
§ The use of safe alternative or complimentary therapies
Heealth vs Sickness: The conventional approach emphasizes treating illness, while the holistic approach focuses on maintaining health. The modern approach often expects and demands a product or therapy to give a quick fix for the ailment. Holistic medicine encourages the client to actively participate in their own prevention and healing process.
The doctor/patient relationship:Typically, the doctor is seen as someone who does something to fix the patient. In the holistic approach, the doctor assists the patient to use his/her inner healing power. For example, a patient with an infection, may just be given an antibiotic by a conventional doctor. The holistic doctor will take it a step further and counsel the patient about the immune system, its role in infection and how to help it work better. In fact, without a functioning immune system, antibiotics are not effective. Simply put, ‘all healing is ultimately self healing.’
Alternative theapies: These play an important role in the practice of holistic medicine and can be used in conjunction with conventional treatments. In other words, alternative therapies do not exclude the use of conventional treatments, such as drugs and surgery.
It should be noted that a therapy may seem alternative in one society, but be quite mainstream in another. For example, acupuncture is an alternative therapy in Jamaica, but a conventional treatment in China.
Here is a short list of alternative therapies that I
use and/or recommend in my medical practice:
§ Nutritional medicine and Vitamin Therapy
§ Detoxification Therapies: Colon Cleansing, Chelation Therapy, Sauna
§ Herbal Therapy
§ Mind/Body Therapy: Hypnosis, Relaxation therapy, Yoga, ERT.
§ Light, Oxidative, Magnetic Therapy
§ Chiropractic, Massage and Reflexology
§ Spiritual Healing: Prayer, Reiki
§ Acupuncture and acupressure
After over 44 years of medical practice, I have found the approach described above to be very safe, extremely effective and most humane. For me, the practice of medicine is as much an art as it is a science and I encourage you my reader to adopt a more holistic approach to your own health care.
His books and articles are available on his website –www.tonyvendryes.com