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How to Add Holistic Healthcare into Your Healing

The demand for a holistic approach to health is growing.

Key points

  • Holistic healthcare is on the rise, and is a balance of science and an art.
  • Incorporating holistic care into your healthcare regimen takes time and requires patience.
  • Many allopathic providers are open to holistic practices.

There is a growing interest in natural healthcare practices. However, many people deeply interested and excited about healing themselves naturally are not trained in or do not understand how the body functions. Most of us have been raised and educated on allopathic, or traditional medical, practices.

Given a rise in medication interactions, lifestyle-related disorders, and failures within the current medical system, it's understandable that people are seeking natural alternatives. However, holistic healthcare is itself an art and a science. In order to be effective, you must know both the science and the art of treating the body naturally.

Making the transition from allopathic healthcare to more holistic practices does take time, but the guidelines below can assist in the transition. Once a person learns how to heal themselves naturally, they are able to use this information throughout their life.

General guidelines to adding holistic healthcare to your traditional healthcare

Steele/lenetsnikolai, used with permission
Source: Steele/lenetsnikolai, used with permission
  1. Be upfront. Tell your doctor that you would like to incorporate more holistic practices into your healthcare. Find out whether they are willing to work with a holistic provider in your care. Some won’t, but many are open to working as a team. Never do things behind the doctor's back as they make recommendations that the holistic treatments can affect. Some allopaths, such as functional medicine doctors, are even seeking training in holistic practices. Although such doctors are not genuinely holistic, they can provide out-of-the-box guidance that a strict allopath would not.
  2. Review medical records. Bring or have your holistic provider request your medical records from the allopathic provider. Just as you want to be up-front with the allopathic provider, the holistic provider should know what is being done on the medical side of things. This also serves as a second set of eyes for the allopath if something missing from the medical chart is essential, such as a discontinued medication or a vitamin interaction.
  3. Work with a health professional: The internet is filled with lots of natural remedies, but just taking natural remedies is not genuinely holistic. Holistic healthcare looks at the relationship of each aspect of health to the others; taking supplements is not considered apart from other facets of care. A holistic provider is highly trained in psychology, human behavior, biochemistry, spiritual practices, and more. There are many nuances to care that the lay person may not be aware of or understand. Working with a professional can keep you safe and ensure that you are not putting yourself at risk.
  4. Go low and slow: Often the practice in holistic healthcare and functional medicine is to gently introduce any new treatment or approach into the system and then watch how the it responds. This is especially the case with sensitive organ systems such as the endocrine and nervous systems. Gentle practices such as homeopathy and breath work are also favored as ways of tapping into the body's ability to heal itself, rather than trying to fix the body. We also want to be mindful not to disrupt the action of any medication already in place.
  5. Allow integration: Sometimes medication must be in place to keep a person stable, and some natural treatments, such as herbal ones, may be contraindicated; just because something is natural doesn’t mean it is healthy for you. Even though your heart and mind may be set on an all-holistic treatment plan, sometimes it is not realistic, depending on your health status. Aggressive tumors, structural issues with critical organs such as the heart or the thyroid may require specific medications to keep a person stable. It is critical to keep an open mind and find providers that support you, not their methodology. The providers you choose should be objective to all possibilities and advise you based on their experience, wisdom, and expertise. You ultimately want a balanced approach to maintain your health.
Steele/Vitalii Vodolazskyi, used with permission
Holistic Medicine Book
Source: Steele/Vitalii Vodolazskyi, used with permission

Holistic healthcare is on the rise. Unfortunately, those adequately trained in proper holistic healthcare are few and far between. Allopaths are often not familiar with all that holistic practices have to offer and, most of the time, are not trained in holistic healthcare modalities.

To be clear, recommending a supplement over medication is not holistic; that is considered alternative medicine. Holistic healthcare addresses the person's physical, environmental, mental, emotional, spiritual, and ancestral implications. They incorporate psychosocial and behavioral components, such as family systems theory and psychology, into their practice. They are diversely trained in many areas, with an array of skills and much insight. Tthe next few years will continue to see growth in the profession, as the need grows for providers who can see the whole person and not just a collection of symptoms.

More from Erica Steele DNM, ND, CFMP, BCND, MPH
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