There is no single ONE thing, no magic bullet approach, that will deliver you to everlasting pristine health. Maintaining good health and healing requires an integrative holistic approach AND it takes a team of allies to support us on our journey.
Building a holistic health team is the greatest way to ensure graceful aging because no one escapes injury, time, wear-n-tear, disease, or pain. We are all exposed to and harbor viruses. We all encounter trauma. The culmination of our daily living determines how resilient we are when we encounter these bodily stresses. Our internal resources (our resilience) are what determine how well and how fast we recover.
Let’s take a quick glance at the difference between a purely allopathic approach vs. a holistic approach. Integrating the two approaches when necessary can make a world of difference when it comes to true and effective healing.
∙ Holistic medicine utilizes nature to supply the body with the resources it needs to build and repair itself. It activates the bodies own inherent wisdom to heal.
∙ Practitioners explore symptoms in greater detail, ranging from physical to emotional, mental, relational, and spiritual health. They don’t just look at your medical and family health history they look at your goals, struggles, injury/traumas, surgeries, emotional state, dreams, self-care regimens, sleep patterns, and digestive health.
∙ They encourage you to eat wholesome foods, do self-care, and pay attention to your body.
∙ They are advocates for adequate water intake.
∙ Holistic practitioners spend more time with their clients, getting to know them.
∙ They not only consider all aspects of a person, they also believe that prevention is the best medicine. They understand that health and healing are a lifestyle.
∙ Prescription drugs and surgery are the most common solutions offered.
∙ The focus remains on the symptoms, not the underlying issues that have produced them (such as systemic inflammation, chronic dehydration, poor nutrition, exposure to harmful toxins, or suppressed emotions).
∙ Eventually additional medication(s) are needed to suppress the symptoms that are caused by side effects of the original medication and the worsening of the conditions that still hasn’t been addressed.
∙ There is often times no long-term health plan in place – such as how they plan to get you off the medication and what lifestyle improvements will need to be made in order to be able to get you off of them eventually, if ever. It’s sick-care management and it’s a booming business.
∙ Patients can expect to spend only a few moments with their doctor, rarely making a real authentic connection.
∙ They likely won’t suggest what foods would be best for you to eat, how to cleanse (other than antibiotics) or to go get a massage.
· They have amazing diagnostics, life monitoring technology, proficient procedures, and life-extending interventions.
Conventional medicine offers incredible diagnostics and there is without a doubt a time and place for surgery and other life-saving procedures. But the medicine they offer is incomplete and comes with some not so good side-effects.
If someone prefers to take a holistic or integrative approach, they must take their health into your own hands. They have to research, learn about all of their options, and become their own advocate.
Allow me to give just a small example. Post surgery, a doctor will likely prescribe physical therapy, which is great. However, physical therapy works more effectively when soft-tissue release is performed before any strengthening exercises are introduced. Not all physical therapist perform soft-tissue work. So it’s ideal to see a therapeutic massage therapist first. Yet, you rarely hear that advice coming from a doctor. Most of them have no clue the benefits of massage because they don’t get them. They have no personal experience and is viewed as inferior by the medical establishment. How does someone learn this?
Additionally, conventional pain relief remedies and preventative antibiotics are optional. You do have choices. There are a lot of alternatives out there. A great place to start is by understanding the basics and knowing what your choices are.
Please hear me when I say that natural remedies are not something that regular doctors know about. Asking them their opinion is not always your best resource. Instead, ask someone who more knowledgeable about alternatives, who has experience with what you are asking. In most cases, they have no training or first-hand experience, so I ask of you not to expect them to have informed answers.
What is a holistic team?
Whether you are trying to alleviate chronic physical pain, mend an injury, reverse an illness, grieve a loss, or initiate beneficial change in a life…you really must attend to all aspects of your humanity. It’s the only way to live a truly embodied life.
A holistic approach considers all aspects of a person – revering mind, body, and spirit equally. Therefore, a holistic team is made up of practitioners who provide therapies that look at ALL factors contributing to any imbalance and attempt to help restore wholeness.
Holistic therapies complement each other. When combined they work together synergistically to encourage optimal function. As with my example earlier, physical therapy works more effectively when combined with massage, chiropractic care, acupuncture, and/or psycho-somatic therapies to address the aftermath of trauma.
What kind of providers would be good to have on your team?
- Soft-tissue bodyworker (Massage Therapist, Rolfer, Yoga Instructor)
- Structural Care (Chiropractic Care, Physical Therapy, Cranio-Sacral Therapist, Etc)
- Restorative Exercise (Yoga or Pilates Instructors, Physical Therapist)
- Acupuncture or Other Ancient Healing Modalities
- Counsel for Mental, Emotional, and Spiritual Health
- Naturopath, Functional Medicine Practitioner, Homeopaths, or Nutritionist
- Energy Workers (Reiki, Healing Touch, Shamanic Practitioners or Other Energetic Modalities)
- Midwives and Doulas
In addition to having a team of healthcare providers, no matter what therapies you are participating in, nutrition and hydration are the foundation.
A holistic approach also integrates natural medicine whenever possible, including:
herbs, essential oils, homeopathic remedies, whole foods, high-quality supplements, flower essences, energetic cleansing, vibrational medicine, and movement, etc…
Why do people build holistic health teams?
- Address gut issues and digestive disturbances
- Alleviate pain with long-term results
- Prevent and help reverse disease
- Manage symptoms such as pain and stiffness
- Assist in growing and delivering healthy babies
- Restore sleep, lower stress, and balance mood
- Honor the body, connect with it, and delight in blissful touch
A Word of Caution:
1. Don’t wait until it’s broken to fix it.
Most people wait until they are in a health crisis (dysfunction) to begin taking care of their body. Even then, they stop self-care once the problem has resolved.
Can you imagine how many ailments could be avoided altogether if preventative measures had been taken? Countless problems. Thinking preventatively is not a strong suit for most people. Our culture does not teach us to think this way.
Finding a good chiropractor that you like and trust is best done before you throw out your back, not while you are in excruciating pain and can’t think straight. Finding a massage therapist or acupuncturist that you feel is a good match can sometimes take trying a few out before you find the one.
My advice is to build your team while you are feeling relatively good. Chances are you may save yourself future pain.
Here’s a little resource if you need support with finding good practitioners:
2. Be an educated consumer and trust your intuition.
We live in a time of information wars. There are so many opinions about everything on the internet. It’s hard to trust what you find. Especially when it comes to alternative health-care. One really has to be an open-minded skeptic and experimenter. But most of all, one really has to be discerning and trust what their intuition tells them.
My personal experience has been what I would consider trial and error. What my experiences, both good and bad, have taught me are: 1) ask better questions and 2) trust my gut.
If I meet a practitioner and sense red flags or things don’t seem aligned with my core values, then I move on and continue my search. Sometimes I see certain people for certain things because that’s their specialty and that’s what I need at the time. I let my body guide my decisions. But in order to do that, I have had to establish a close bond with it and trust it above all else, because it is my most loyal companion and advisor.
3. Complementary Therapies
The last and most important caution I want to heed is to make sure that your team works synergistically. What I mean by that, is to ask yourself if your therapies are working harmoniously together (not conflicting), and whether your team is too big or too small. Do you need to tweak things a bit? Bring in someone new and different? Consult with your body and ask it what it needs.
To embody health, one must attend to the ever-present process of change and growth. It takes awareness, decisiveness, and effort. But when you are dedicated to treating the body with care – you have your mindset directed, the right support in place, then it’s becomes a lifestyle. Building a holistic health team is certainly a way to love and protect your body.
May we embody health and wholeness.
14 Ways to Love and Protect Your Body: #1 Massage and Bodywork