The short answer to “why holistic health” isn’t a surprise. You choose holistic health, because you want to treat your whole body, not just one or two symptoms. However, if that sounds obvious to you, it’s less obvious to the medical professionals who usually care for you.
Good intentions don’t always end in good outcomes
Take my story, for example. I started out in healthcare simply wanting to help others.
In my mind, this meant going to school, completing my clinical rotations, and spending a few years training alongside doctors and nurse practitioners well-versed in medicine.
I treated everything during that time. My patients were complicated–diabetes, cardiovascular disease, chronic lifelong depression, attention deficit disorder, heavy periods, etc.
The routine was always the same:
- Patient comes in.
- Listen for 15 minutes (more than the average visit, by the way).
- Order some labs.
- Send in a few prescriptions.
- Brief instructions: I might say something like “Eat less, exercise daily.”
- Repeat cycle in 3-6 months.
I became very good at diagnosing disease and treating illness. I really liked my patients, and they liked me. The problem? No one got better.
When I decided treating sickness wasn’t enough
Over time, things began to shift in my personal and professional life and I became really hungry for healing and health.
I began to talk to my patients about healing. Getting to the root cause–considering what it might look like to challenge the status quo.
What would it look like for me to give generously of my time and knowledge? Walk the road with patients, friends, and family? Dive deep into the how and why of illness?
The process has led me to a radical discovery. We can take the best of modern medicine, leave the worst of it, and integrate it with holistic health. The result? We find healing.
What is holistic health?
Holistic health does not separate one symptom from the rest of the body, or the body from the rest of you: your mind, spirit, and emotions. In holistic health, if one part of you is sick, we assume that the rest of you has been affected as well. The goal is to get all of you back to health–not just rid you of a single symptom.
Practically speaking, that means a greater focus on lifestyle habits, such as what you eat, how you move, and the amount of sleep you get. It also may include recommendations for counseling or bringing your relationships into balance.
Does holistic health work?
This is key, isn’t it? I can make every argument for why holistic health is lovely, but when you’re sick, one thing matters: does a holistic approach to health work?
The good news is yes! There are several approaches to holistic health. The primary approach at Vytal Health is called functional medicine, and research shows that patients treated with a functional medicine approach show greater improved quality of life at six months than a control group treated with conventional medicine. What’s more? Those treated with functional medicine make those improvements with fewer pharmaceuticals.
What does holistic health look like?
- Total wellness. Holistic health is not about getting by or avoiding medications because they are scary. It means digging in and weeding out those things in health that keep a person from feeling amazing. These are the things we have control over—nutrition, sleep, stress, relationships, and spirituality. Holistic wellness is whole wellness in all of these areas.
- Self healing. A diagnosis is not a life sentence. I have come to believe our bodies have tools to heal from the trauma that inevitably comes in life. This does not discount those times when we absolutely need modern technology, but it does recognize that our bodies have an amazing ability to heal and adapt.
- Connection. Life is better together. When we have men and women, sisters and brothers around us that lift us up, we are stronger. Our stress is lower. We feel happier. We share the weight of life. Sometimes this means with our family of origin, and sometimes it means the family we choose. Relationships—good ones—are healing and worthy of our investment. This does not have to be complicated. Connection can happen at work, through a yoga class, on a community run or bike ride, through volunteering, or place of worship. Without connection, we are missing a major part of our wellness potential. A holistic health practitioner will help you identify and lean into those relationships.
- Individuality. We are all created unique—body, mind, and spirit. Our lives are a beautiful, imperfect, flawed patchwork of experiences. Health doesn’t happen in a day. It happens over a lifetime. It cannot make sense that every person should have the same prescription for health. You need your practitioner to embrace your individuality when seeking health.
- The Journey. At some point, we must all decide how our story will go. It doesn’t make sense that we will undo years of progression in a few short weeks. Expect a journey. What could our health look like if we learn to embrace the past, be realistic about the present, honor the journey and dream about the future?
Sound good? Let’s journey together.