If you're focused on living a healthy lifestyle and are searching online for ways to improve your health, you can quickly become confused by all the buzzwords. With so many people singing the praises of natural health and making their recommendations, you may struggle to know who to trust. One term you may often see is holistic health. Unlike some of the other terms and phrases people toss around when discussing healthy lifestyle changes, holistic health is more than just a fad. Read on to find out what it is, how it works, and why more and more people are turning to it.
What Is Holistic Medicine?
Holistic health or holistic medicine aims to treat the whole person rather than just symptoms of an illness or a chronic medical condition. Its purpose is to help patients achieve physical, mental, spiritual, and social wellness.
The History of Holistic Health
You can trace the roots of holistic health back to ancient times. The Chinese and Indians were discussing holistic health in early healing texts written 5,000 years ago. During the 4th century BC, Socrates wrote that one part of the body could never be well unless the entire body is well, showing that he believed in a holistic approach to health. Through the centuries that followed, interest in holistic medicine continued, but it wasn't until 1926 that Jan Christiaan Smuts introduced the term "holism." By the 1970s, the term holistic health had become widely used, particularly in marketing self-help books and natural health products.
The Rise of a More Natural Approach to Health and Lifestyle
More and more women today are showing interest in holistic health for several reasons, including:
- Growing emphasis on the importance of mental health. Much of the stigma surrounding mental health disorders has faded in recent years. This has led many women to feel comfortable acknowledging their issues. After admitting that there is a problem, many women want to address it, and holistic health provides that opportunity.
- Concern about the environment. Holistic health care emphasizes living in harmony with nature. For women passionate about protecting the planet, this philosophy is in line with their personal beliefs.
- Preference for natural healing. Women who prefer natural and alternative medicine are happy that many holistic health practitioners rely on natural remedies in addition to or instead of traditional interventions. Unlike conventional medicine that writes off many natural healing concepts, holistic health embraces them.
- Effects of the pandemic. The pandemic caused many women to reevaluate their lives and identify areas where they could improve. Holistic health makes it possible to address mental, social, emotional and spiritual needs and physical health by guiding women along their path to self-improvement.
How Does a Holistic Approach Benefit Women's Health?
Holistic health is especially beneficial for women. Pregnancy, the menstrual cycle, and menopause all impact more than just the physical body. Often, women experience physical symptoms in one part of the body when the trouble originates elsewhere. A holistic health practitioner is trained to find the true underlying cause of problems and looks beyond the physical symptoms a woman is experiencing to help improve every aspect of her life.
How Is a Holistic Health Care Provider Different?
During your first visit with a holistic health care provider, they will spend a long time asking you questions to gain a complete picture of your current health and wellness status. Not all questions will be related to your body. The practitioner will want to know about your daily life, relationships, work situation, and history. When diagnosing and treating a problem, holistic health practitioners provide a complete plan of care that includes the mind and spirit and the body. The holistic health care provider will then act as your partner by helping you implement that plan and make modifications as needed to ensure its success.
What Does Holistic Treatment Involve?
Some elements of holistic treatment may include:
- Clinical interventions like surgery and pharmaceuticals
- Physical, speech, occupational and rehabilitative therapies
- Nutrition plans
- Exercise plans
- Psychological and spiritual counseling
- Support and peer counseling groups
- Relaxation techniques
- Supplements containing vitamins, minerals, herbs, and other natural substances
- Acupuncture and acupressure
- Yoga and tai chi
When developing your plan of care, the provider will ask for your input and tailor treatment accordingly. You will not be asked to participate in any therapy or take any product or supplement you are uncomfortable with.
How Can Holistic Health Lead to Healthy Lifestyle Changes?
Holistic health care providers frequently recommend interventions that can lead to lasting healthy lifestyle changes. For example, your health care provider may encourage you to drink more water or eat a more nutritious diet. Practitioners don't just make recommendations. They also help you develop strategies to follow their advice and hold you accountable to follow through.