Holistic medicine can be seen as unconventional in the Western world. This thought that our being is interconnected seems peculiar to some, after all we have been taught to compartmentalize our bodies. Tooth hurts? See a dentist. Foot issues? Call the podiatrist. Have a rash? See the dermatologist for some ointment.
Conventional medicine doesn’t stop to figure out if the pain on your side has anything to do with the migraines you’ve been dealing with. If the insomnia has anything to do with the heartburn. If that “normal” tingling in your fingers can be caused by a food sensitivity or an exposure to toxins. When it comes to our bodies, we are not trained to connect the dots.
Mainstream medicine has learned to move away from looking at the whole person – examining the mind, body, and spirit that comes with every being, and rather breaks the body down into sections — almost like an assembly line — where each specialist focuses solely on one particular symptom.
Now, I am not saying that there is something wrong with specializations. When you are recovering from a heart attack you want someone who spends their days learning how the heart works. You probably don’t want a doctor who handles root canals and yoga on the side as your cardiologist. However, we should be looking at the whole person when dealing with an issue. What we think and what we eat definitely plays a huge part in our health and wellness and we cannot simply abandon it. Our whole environment needs to be taken into consideration. If one is stressed it will affect sleep patterns, food choices, raise blood sugar, isolation, and so on. If a leg is broken it can lead to a more sedentary life, less social connections, and probably more prepared meals since standing in front of a stove can be challenging. A health issue whether acute or chronic, causes a domino effect and each domino must be examined. One issue can trigger another – even when we don’t expect it.
Whole person health tries to look at all those factors while looking at an issue. It attempts to connect symptoms to the root cause and tries to deal with the issue instead of the symptoms. It acknowledges just how complex human wellbeing is. Our childhood issues can lead into adulthood and cause lifelong habits that impede optimal health. That infection you had five years could have decimated your gut health and caused the brain fog you have to deal with now. The years of malnutrition (more than 80% of US adults do not consume the recommended amount of produce on a daily basis) can be the reason your metabolism has slowed down or why your hair is falling out. Your depression could be linked to your undiagnosed gluten sensitivity, yet without looking at the whole person none of these connections can be made. A solution may never be reached unless every stone is overturned.