In my previous post, My Journey to Healthy Living, I shared my story, and my holistic approach to healthy living, comprised of seven essential elements. If you haven’t read it, please do because it lays the foundation for this and every other post in my lifestyle category.
Recently a friend shared this on Facebook:
I smiled when I read it and thought, yep! Trying to sift through everything you read these days on food, nutrition, and health information is daunting. Even if you have the time to dig into it, who do you trust? What’s worse, the same authoritative expert can say one thing one day, only to reverse course and say something different a little later down the road.
And what about when the experts disagree? What do we do then? Cynically ignore the whole bunch?
Where no wise guidance is, the people fall, but in the multitude of counselors there is safety. Proverbs 11:14 AMPC
Notice there are two parts to this verse:
First, if you don’t have wise guidance, you’re going to get into trouble. So let’s establish upfront that we need insight from others, especially when it comes to our health. That means ignoring the whole bunch isn’t a good option.
Second, for safety’s sake, the solution is to listen to LOTS of counselors. But then this brings us right back to where we started. WHICH counselors? Who ARE those credible sources you and I should be listening to regarding our health?
I believe the answer lies, for the most part, in understanding the different approaches to health care. So I will tackle that first.
Two Approaches to Health Care
Allopathic medicine is a term used to describe our modern, mainstream health care system. It’s also sometimes called conventional or Western medicine. In this most common approach, licensed medical doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals treat the sick or injured primarily with prescription drugs, surgery, radiation, or other therapies or procedures such as physiotherapy.
For more, check out this excellent article on Healthline, one of my favorite online sources. I need to point out, however, that Dr. Noreen Iftikhar, MD, who wrote the article, is incorrect when she says, “Alternative approaches by definition require stopping of all western medicine.” It may be true of some practitioners within the alternative community, but BY DEFINITION, integrative, complementary, and functional medicine INCLUDES the use of pharmacological drugs. A great example is the Cancer Treatment Centers of America.
Holistic medicine, by comparison, considers “the ‘whole person’ rather than focusing too narrowly on single symptoms.”1 In their quest to support and facilitate the body’s innate ability to heal itself, practitioners who adopt this style or manner of practice employ a bigger toolbox than their allopathic counterparts.
For more on this approach and to see what’s in their toolbox, check out the article, What is the difference between functional medicine, integrative medicine, holistic medicine and naturopathy? by Dr. Armen Nikogosian, MD of Southwest Functional Medicine.
Do we need both approaches? Absolutely! They each serve an important function in our health care system. To illustrate, I want to share two stories.
I have a friend who was in a horrific auto accident in 2016. She sustained severe internal injuries and 27 broken bones. At the time of the accident, she was in very good health. Then, in a split second that changed.
Miraculously, God saved her life through the quick response of a team of highly skilled emergency medical personnel as well as the many prayers of her family and friends. Six surgeries and many months of rehab later, she was able to resume her real estate business, golfing, travel, and her ever-expanding role as grandmother to her adorable grandchildren.
This is an example of allopathic (mainstream conventional) medicine at its finest!
Dr. Terry Wahls, IFM trained physician and former chief of staff at Iowa City Veterans Administration Health Care, was once a marathon runner, mountain climber, and cross-country skier. In 2000, at the age of 45, she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
By 2007, her disease had progressed to the point that she had to spend most of her time lying in a zero-gravity chair. After exhausting all the resources of conventional medical science, she began studying nutritional-based therapies and experimenting with various foods and supplements.
In her book, The Wahls Protocol, she states: “What I didn’t expect were the stunning results I got from my self-experimentation: I not only arrested my disease, I achieved a dramatic restoration of my health and my function.”2
This is an example of a holistic approach that focused on food.
Yes, you heard that right. Food became her medicine and accomplished what the best-of-the-best of mainstream, conventional medicine could not do.
The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will instruct his patient in the care of the human frame, in diet and in the cause and prevention of disease.Thomas Edison, 1903
So, let me summarize.
Generally speaking, health care practitioners approach health in one of two ways:
1 – The allopathic model uses prescription drugs and surgery. It is what I call our safety net. When we are in a health crisis — whether by accident, disease, or otherwise — this is where we need to go. ASAP!
2 – The holistic model uses food, supplementation, and natural therapies over drugs whenever possible to support the body and provide the necessary building blocks that allow it to heal itself. It is preventative as well as restorative.
BOTH models are credible. BOTH are supported by science.3 BOTH are vital to our health care system.
But only ONE model is patient-centered, rather than disease-centered, and seeks to help me eat, drink, breathe, move, think, rest, relax, sleep, play, laugh, love, and live so that I rarely, if ever, need the safety net.
And it is within THIS model — the holistic model — that I look first for my health information. These are the sources I trust most.
The information on this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always consult with your physician or another qualified health provider before starting an exercise program or if you have questions about a medical condition.
Related Posts and Other Links:
- “Definition of HOLISTIC,” accessed August 3, 2020, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/holistic. See the section, Look at the Big Picture With Holistic.
- Terry L. Wahls and Eve Adamson, The Wahls Protocol: How I Beat Progressive MS Using Paleo Principles and Functional Medicine (New York: Penguin Publishing Group, 2014), 2, Kindle.
- Sadly, many believe that nutritional and alternative approaches to health care are not backed by scientific research. They couldn’t be more wrong.