What Is Holistic Health?
The notion of “holistic health” refers to a human being’s entire well-being. The term “holistic” means “whole” or “comprehensive.”
When most of us think about medicine, we often think about specific aspects of health. For example, we may consider heart (cardiovascular) health or, more broadly, mental health.
This is certainly one way to look at health, and an important one at that. Highly specified medical care can be invaluable for individuals with certain conditions. But sometimes we need to keep in mind that everything is connected.
Holistic health embraces the idea that treatment of one symptom alone isn’t enough. It’s essential to consider the root cause of an ailment, rather than just trying to address the symptom.
This is because one part of your body could impact the rest of it (and vice versa).
What does it mean to receive holistic medical treatment?
First, you don’t have to have a disease or a specific condition to receive holistic medical treatment. Anyone can receive holistic care.
Every practitioner is different, but in general, holistic care involves looking at the patient in his or her entirety. Rather than narrowing in on one condition, practitioners assess a patient’s full physical, physiological, and mental state.
Holistic care is also frequently preventative. This means that it is designed to prevent the contraction of illness down the road.
When you receive holistic care, you also will likely have to share more about your life than you are used to sharing with practitioners. This is because so many factors can impact our entire well-being.
For example, our genetics are only part of it. Functional medicine and holistic care professionals are also deeply interested in the way that diet, fitness programs, posture, sexual activity, and personality influence your health.
Holistic care, for this reason, is often highly personalized. No treatment path is the same, but each one is customized to each person’s own journey.
Why Holistic Health Is On the Rise
Holistic health is not a niche branch of traditional medicine. In fact, it is frowned upon by the big guys who control the medical education system and pharmaceutical industries. Did you know that big pharma controls what doctors learn and don't learn in school? That they are rewarded financially for filling prescriptions and only have ONE week of nutritional studies in their 12 years of school?
With higher exposure to scientific data on the direct correlation between nutrition, mental health and disease, It's no wonder more and more practitioners are embracing the philosophy of holistic well-being.
But why is holistic health the future of the wellness industry? Here are some reasons.
1. Holistic Health Targets the Source
Contemporary medicine is often all about treating a symptom.
After all, if you’ve got a serious cold, your first thought may be to go to urgent care. A visit with a doctor often involves a discussion and examination of your symptoms.
After that? A diagnosis, a prescription, and (hopefully) rest and recovery.
This is all well and good, and for conditions like seasonal colds and the flu, it’s often what most people resort to (and successfully at that).
However, our ability to contract a common cold doesn’t just depend on our ability to wash our hands well during the winter. Colds can emerge from all sorts of causes, including stress, autoimmune disorders, and more.
For this reason, treating a cold may not be treating the whole issue.
This is where holistic health comes in. Holistic health is all about targeting the root cause of conditions by analyzing all of the body’s systems, mental health included.
It is also highly preventative in most cases (see the next point).
Medical treatment that targets a root cause is more likely to be successful in the long term, rather than the short-term. It will also likely be cheaper.
For these reasons, health care that targets the source will be the focus of the wellness industry in years to come.
2. Preventative Works
As mentioned above, holistic care is all about preventing illnesses from arising–by ensuring that the whole body, soul, and mind are in balance.
Preventative care is often more effective than care that occurs after the fact. This is especially the case if it addresses the entire body (rather than just one aspect).
3. Patients Can Take Charge of Their Health
Holistic health emphasizes the patient’s role in his or her own well-being. Plenty of patients love the idea of an independent, empowered approach to their personal health.
What’s more, personalized care is also in high demand. Personal health is a highly sensitive issue.
No one wants to walk into a doctor’s office and receive impersonal, indifferent care. They want to feel validated for their experience and attended to in all of their specific needs.
Holistic health provides patients with personalized, self-guided care. As this becomes more evident, more people are turning to holistic care.
4. Alternative Healing Modalities Are On the Rise
A lot of holistic care treatment involves alternative healing modalities, such as psychotherapy, psychosomatics, energy work, and natural medicine.
These healing modalities have been on the rise for quite some time. As people start to prioritize more natural ways of tending to their bodies and minds, holistic care is likely to meet their needs best.
5. The Proof is in the Functional Medicine Pudding
Have you ever had multiple issues that don’t seem related? Gone to the doctor, received a blood panel and they tell you “everything looks great” but you know something is off?
Functional Medicine is a systems biology–based approach that focuses on identifying and addressing the root cause of disease. Each symptom or differential diagnosis may be one of many contributing to an individual’s illness.
For example, depression can be caused by many different factors, including inflammation. Likewise, a cause such as inflammation may lead to a number of different diagnoses, including depression. The precise manifestation of each cause depends on the individual’s genes, environment, and lifestyle, and only treatments that address the right cause will have lasting benefit beyond symptom suppression.