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.
Is this, then, my only criterion for determining credible sources of health information? Do I trust EVERYONE who follows a holistic approach?
No and no.
Other Criteria I Consider
In addition to their approach, I also consider the following as I read, research, and evaluate health information:
1. Are they a Christian?
While this is not a requirement, my ears always perk up anytime I come across someone in the health arena who acknowledges their relationship as a believer and follower of Jesus.
Two great examples are Dr. Don Colbert, MD, and Doug Kaufmann. They have a proven track record in health spanning multiple decades, and both openly acknowledge their dependence on Him in their work and lives, in general. That speaks volumes to me.
2. Do they cite their sources?
This is a biggie, which is why I often link to Healthline articles here on my blog. They cite their sources in great detail, and most are from PubMed, an online database with more than 30 million citations and abstracts of peer-reviewed biomedical literature.
If, in my research, I find what seems to be a good book or article, but the author does NOT tell me where they got their information, I ignore it. It’s as simple as that. And I recommend you do the same.
3. Do they have clinical experience?
Scientific research and studies are invaluable, but so is clinical experience where you see and work with patients. That’s when you learn what works…and what doesn’t. It is the proving ground of all the theories.
This is another reason Dr. Don Colbert is at the top of my list of credible sources of health information. It’s also why I shared Dr. Wahls’ story and recommend her book. Both, along with Dr. Mark Hyman, author of several books, including Eat Fat Get Thin, and Head of Strategy and Innovation of the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine and Founder of The UltraWellness Center, are practicing physicians.
The fact that they and many others like them are allopathically trained yet passionately affirm the holistic approach should tell you something. It does me!
4. Are they connected in the community?
No, I don’t mean are they connected within their local community, although that would be good, too. I’m talking about being associated with others who embrace the holistic approach. As it turns out, there’s quite a network, and it’s growing every day. So, I often find it easy to connect the dots.
Here’s an example: While doing research on Dr. Wahls for this post, I found that she was interviewed by none other than Dr. Hyman in April 2018. It’s available on YouTube by clicking here.
My rule of thumb is, be wary of lone wolves. If you can’t connect them with someone you trust, then you probably need to carefully weigh whatever they say until you can. That’s what I do.
One More Thing (Added August, 2020)
As I write this addendum, two controversies are raging, and one is in-the-works, you might say:
- Do masks help to control the spread of COVID-19?
- Is Hydroxychloroquine a viable therapeutic, and if so, why is it now banned by many states?
- How can we be sure that the “fast-tracked” COVID-19 vaccine is safe, especially over the long term?
At this moment in our history, federal, state, and local health officials are controlling almost every aspect of our lives. And in case you didn’t know, the ONLY health information these authorities consider “official” is mainstream conventional (allopathic) medicine. The other side (holistic medicine) has no opportunity to offer input from their knowledge base. (If I only had time to tell you what I think about that!)
If that were not enough, sadly, there’s something even worse that factors into policy decisions on health made by those “ruling” us: Politics!
What do you get, then, when you add the two together — only the conventional, allopathic medicine approach is considered, and politics are at play?
So, where does this leave us? Who are we to believe? Most importantly, how do we even begin to navigate life amidst the ongoing nightmare?
1. Pray about EVERYTHING! God is the ONLY One who knows YOU, your family, and your situation. Above all else, trust Him and look for His specific leading!
2. Think critically about everything you read on social media or Google, and everything you hear on EVERY news service. They’re ALL biased in one way or the other. Don’t let other people think for you. YOU think for you! Remember: There’s always another side to the story. Make sure you know what it is because that’s the only way you can make an informed decision.
3. Follow peace. And if you’re not in peace right now, go back to #1 above until you can get there. Once there, commit to STAY there. It is the only way you will survive.
I have told you these things so that you will be whole and at peace. In this world, you will be plagued with times of trouble, but you need not fear; I have triumphed over this corrupt world order. John 16:33 VOICE
Questions? Comments? Leave me a reply below. I love hearing from my readers!
And don’t forget to share this with your family and friends on Facebook, Twitter, or via email. (The buttons are below the Related Posts and Other Links). Thank you so much!
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. See #2 under Other Criteria I Consider.