What to expect with holistic healthcare? An entirely different world. If you’ve only seen regular doctors, this may be unsettling. At first. Until you start to see positive results.
Many of us are used to medicine based upon studies. But holistic healthcare doesn’t always lend itself to this type of research.
That’s a good thing and a bad thing. Many of our current studies are funded by pharmaceutical giants. They’re designed to bring new drugs to market. Alternative medicine is all about healing without drugs.
Drugs don’t get to the root of a problem. Plus, they cause side effects.
However, the lack of studies also leaves holistic healthcare open to charges of fraud. Alternative medicine is often viewed as snake oil. This is unfortunate. Holistic healing dates back thousands of years. The term “alternative medicine” is a misnomer. Because it’s the original type of medicine.
Personally, I don’t need to see a study sanctioned by mainstream medicine. If something has a long history of use, and little to no risk, I’m willing to try it.
What To Expect With Holistic Healthcare
At the same time, snake oil salesmen do exist. One way to spot them is if they promise a miracle cure. A certain product is supposed to fix a wide range of ailments. All you have to do is buy the product. You don’t have to change your diet or do the heavy lifting. The product will just somehow, magically, restore your health.
Here’s the truth. There’s no one product or herbal remedy that’s right for everyone. Even a very good remedy, such as turmeric, doesn’t work for all.
I know. Because I have chronic nerve pain. Turmeric does nothing for my pain.
Individualized Holistic Healing And Wellness
Other people with my condition swear by turmeric. I believe it helps them. Just not me. Because we’re all so different.
This is likely because it’s an herb my body doesn’t need. Other remedies, such as ashwagandha or tulsi, do help me. That’s just the nature of herbal medicine.
So holistic healing is a case of buyer beware. No quick fixes.
Reputable practitioners are well aware that a healthy lifestyle (in addition to well-selected remedies) is the key to better health.
If you’re not that sick, it’s possible that a single form of healing, such as homeopathy or good chiropractic care, can alleviate symptoms to the point you’re cured. It may not take a lifestyle overhaul. But most people with chronic conditions need more.
The Holistic Approach To Health
The term “holistic” (in a medical sense) means the treatment plan looks at the whole person. Practitioners take into account all the factors making you sick. These can include poor diet, environmental toxins and emotional trauma.
Conventional medicine, on the other hand, focuses on symptoms. If your knee hurts, you’re given pain medication. You may undergo tests. Treatment is centered on the knee pain. But not necessarily on what’s really causing it.
Is the knee pain due to chronic inflammation? Many regular doctors don’t recommend diet changes, especially for sore knees. (Certain foods can fuel inflammation. Inflammation causes pain.)
What Does A Holistic Healer Do?
A good holistic practitioner will look at your diet, as well as other potential factors. Are you eating too many inflammation promoting foods?
Are you working with hazardous chemicals? These can cause inflammation too.
Is your job too stressful? Chronic low level stress can set the stage for an inflammatory response that doesn’t turn off.
You’ll then be encouraged to change or avoid whatever’s making you sick. The expectation is that your body can heal. It’s designed to heal. It will heal once you make the necessary lifestyle changes.
However, I’m not a doctor. This article is not medical advice. I’m only sharing my experience with holistic healthcare. So please work closely with a doctor.
Elements of Holistic Health
The driving belief behind holistic medicine is that your body can heal. It’s meant to heal. Certain things may block healing. Removing them allows healing to progress.
I’m not a doctor or a medical professional. So everything you read here is my personal opinion only. Take it with a grain of salt. But make sure it’s pink Himalayan salt or some type of other natural salt.
Most holistic healers believe regular table salt is poison. So they tell you to avoid it. This is much different than the advice you’d probably get from your regular doctor. He or she may tell you to cut down on salt. But I don’t hear of too many people being told to switch to a healthier salt.
Alternative and Holistic Health
This is just one of the many examples of the difference between holistic medicine and conventional care. Alternative medical experts tell us to avoid soda, artificial sweeteners, fluoridated water, chemical hair dye and genetically modified food, among other things.
However, if you walk into a US hospital around dinner time, you may see soda being served to patients. These are sick people. But they’re given a beverage that doesn’t promote good health.
Many people are reluctant to try alternative medicine. I believe that’s partly because they’re looking for a quick fix.
Getting healthy again involves work. And diet changes. That’s why a single product or remedy probably won’t be curative. But all of the many things we do to improve our health can make a difference. But, again, it’s a lot of work.
Types of Holistic Medicine
There are many different types of holistic medicine. The list of different ways to heal is practically endless.
I’ve been using alternative medicine for more than 20 years. Both on my children, when they were younger. And on myself. And even on our family dog.
So I considered myself pretty well-versed in natural healing. Yet, I’m continually hearing about different forms of alternative medicine. Some of these have been developed in recent years. They sound promising.
Different Alternative Healing Methods
I believe (my personal belief) that the healing method is less important than the practitioner.
A good homeopath, chiropractor or acupuncturist can all (potentially) help a wide range of problems. It’s really important to choose a practitioner carefully. By the same token, a bad practitioner can possibly do more harm than good. And, instead of relieving your symptoms, they may relieve you of a lot of money.
For instance, a healthy lifestyle and well-selected herbal remedies, combined with some sort of energy healing, may yield very good results. There are many types of energy healing, including homeopathy, acupuncture and chiropractic care.
5 Components of Holistic Health
There are probably many more than five components of holistic health. But, for the sake of space, I’ll narrow it down to five. In this post, I’m talking about the wide umbrella of holistic health. Not specific disciplines, such as homeopathy.
Actually, homeopathy is a distinct form of medicine. It shouldn’t be confused with the term “holistic.” I believe it’s important for people to know the difference. Homeopathy involves a type of energy medicine, and, done properly, can focus in on specific problems unlike anything else I’ve ever seen before.
Holistic Healing and Nutrition
If you see an holistic health practitioner, in general you will be told to make certain lifestyle changes. Including Diet. You may also be given various remedies. Some of the advice may include:
- Stress Reduction: Holistic healers are very much aware that chronic low level stress can make us sick. In fact, one famous medical doctor named Edward Bach, MD was so convinced of this that he developed a line of homeopathic remedies called Bach flowers. These are meant to work on an emotional level. Dr. Bach believed that clearing up negative emotions would lead to physical healing. He was into flower power long before the term became briefly fashionable in the 1960’s. The idea that flowers can heal our thoughts sounds like a crazy one. But they really do seem to work. You can read more about Dr. Bach and his flower remedies here.
- Good Nutrition: This means a clean diet of real food. You may be told to eat organic food if possible. And also to avoid genetically modified ingredients. (Just so you know, GMO’s are linked to cancer in laboratory animals. They also promote inflammation in animals. Holistic practitioners may recommend you cut certain foods out of your diet, such as dairy, wheat or refined sugar. (Personally, after taking all of these out of my diet, my pain decreased.)
- Avoiding Environmental Toxins: Holistic healers generally tell you to avoid toxins in cosmetics, household cleaners and personal care products. There are many good all natural substitutes on the market. It’s also really easy to make your own natural cleaning solutions with essential oils.
- Allowing the Body To Heal Naturally: The idea behind natural medicine is that our bodies can heal. However, supplements may be given for support. Energy medicine, such as homeopathy and chiropractic care are believed to facilitate healing by shifting the metabolism in the right direction.
- Dietary Supplements: Holistic healers usually don’t prescribe drugs. (But some integrative physicians may write prescriptions.) Dietary supplements are used in place of drugs. These generally don’t have the same side effects and they’re not habit forming.
Holistic Health Practitioners Spend Time With Patients
Holistic practitioners spend a lot of time with patients. There doesn’t seem to be the same rush-you-out-the-door mentality you see with conventional medicine.The initial visit is typically an hour or more.
There’s generally a long discussion about your stress level.
You’ll also be asked about your diet. Your holistic practitioner will likely recommend certain food changes. (In my experience.)
This is due to the different nature of holistic medicine. There are no quick fixes. So no quickly writing a prescription and sending you on your way.
Follow Up Visits To Holistic Practitioners
Generally, there will be follow up visits. But the desired result is that someday you no longer need care. You recover enough so that follow up visits are tapered, and then ended.
Be wary of practitioners who have you coming back a lot, with no end in sight. Or who don’t taper visits in a timely manner. However, on the other hand, healing takes time. It probably took years to become sick. So healing won’t happen overnight.
I worked with an excellent homeopath for years. She gradually helped my body become more balanced. Homeopathy is powerful. But it takes time. My chiropractor was able to relieve severe shoulder pain with eight visits.
The are only rough guidelines. Every case is different. But I would be wary of a chiropractor who schedules never-ending visits.
Holistic Healthcare – When Will You Feel Better?
Healing takes time. You may also feel worse before you feel better.
In homeopathy, this is called “an aggravation.” You experience a temporary increase in symptoms. Afterwards, though, you feel better.
The same thing happens when I see my chiropractor. He calls it “retracing.” My pain worsens for a couple of days, sometimes longer. Then I feel better.
Aggravations and retracing are actually good signs. They usually mean relief is on its way.
Holistic Healing Doesn’t Happen in a Straight Line
You will hurt detours. You will hit bumps in the road. This is normal. Or, a particular healing method or remedy stops working.
This means that it’s done its job. It’s time to switch gears. I’ve lost count of how many times this has happened. Especially with homeopathic remedies and essential oils.
I have to switch my homeopathic remedies, after just a couple of doses. I can’t use the same essential oil too many days in a row. I listen to my body, and ride out the bumps.
Are Holistic Doctors Covered By Insurance?
Unfortunately, holistic healthcare in the United States is largely pay as you go. Insurance coverage is terrible. This is often what prevents people from trying alternative medicine in the first place.
Sometimes, chiropractic care is covered. I’m fortunate enough to live in a state that mandates insurance plans cover chiropractor visits. However, I’m limited to only 12 visits a year under my insurance plan.
Some holistic practitioners allow you to pay on a sliding scale fee. This is a good option for people with limited means.
Alternative Medicine for Christians
In general, holistic healthcare providers are kindhearted. They’re easy to work with. They genuinely want you to get better. Most don’t seem to be in it for the money.
However, some forms of medicine conflict with Christianity. As a Catholic, I stay away from divination and anything similar. This includes reiki. I always ask a new practitioner if they do divination. If so, I find someone else.
I do Christians should use alternative medicine. Instead I think they just need to be careful choosing practitioners. If you’d like more information on this topic, here’s an earlier post I wrote on Christians and Alternative Medicine.
These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Women who are pregnant or nursing should not use essential oils or herbal or homeopathic remedies unless directed to do so by a healthcare professional.