Traditional or Holistic: Which approach will you choose?

I think we can all agree there are limitations within our current medical system.  In fact, some of those limitations may actually be perpetuated by the patient.   Our society has come to expect a pill for every ailment; so when you go to the doctor, you expect a prescription.  A miracle pill that will fix all that ails you.  If you are not given a pill you might get angry, frustrated, feel neglected, or simply go to another doctor who will willingly prescribe a medication to “fix” you.   Our current medical system is quite capable of eradicating some symptoms, once they occur, but there doesn’t seem to be an interest in understanding WHY you are exhibiting that symptom in the first place.  Our traditional medial approach essentially isolates the symptom and divorces it from the context of the whole body.  Symptoms such as a headache, acid reflux, pimples, constipation, eczema, diarrhea, fatigue, canker sores, etc. are your body’s way of telling you something is not right and, essentially, the whole body needs to be examined for vulnerability and re-balanced.  However, when faced with these symptoms, most people run to the doctor for a prescription that only addresses one “symptom” without ever considering WHY the body is behaving in this manner, and then addressing the underlying root cause.

Consider the following scenario: a man gets a stomachache after most meals.  To “treat” this problem he asks the doctor for an antacid (proton pump inhibitor).  The antacid suppresses stomach acid which the body needs for proper absorption and assimilation of nutrients, and for good protein digestion.  Without good absorption and protein digestion many of our body systems, including our immune function, become compromised.   Subsequently, the man starts to get headaches (which may, or may not be a side effect of his antacid).  To “treat” the headache he starts taking aspirin which further irritates his stomach.   Several years later he develops an ulcer for which he takes another medication and eventually has surgery to remove the ulcer.   Meanwhile, he continues taking antacids and eating the same as always. Shortly thereafter, he develops high blood pressure (which is linked to the use of antacids and other such medications) and starts a hypertensive medication for this.  The side effects of this medication include headaches, dizziness, drowsiness, diarrhea, weight gain and impotence.  He also develops numerous musculo-skeletal issues such as; joint pain and muscle cramping which is linked to the fact that his body is not able to absorb certain nutrients due to the use of the antacid medication.  As his physical health declines, his emotional/mental health worsens and his wife leaves him at which point he starts taking anti-depressants.  He eventually has a heart attack and undergoes an operation to repair a heart valve.   Painkillers keep him going as he slowly recuperates.  A few years later he finds himself diagnosed with an aggressive and debilitating auto-immune condition such as; multiple sclerosis or rheumatoid arthritis, and he wonders what could have gone wrong.  His health has deteriorated so sufficiently that he is no longer able to work. 

Let’s backtrack and see how a different approach may produce a different result.  In this scenario let’s start with the assumption that ALL symptoms are a warning signal from the body and that the body can repair itself if we give it what it needs. A man gets a stomachache after most meals.  The man starts to pay attention to what he is eating to see if he can make a connection between food and the pain in his stomach.  He starts to eliminate common inflammatory and allergenic foods and pinpoints his stomach discomfort to dairy and gluten.  He starts adjusting his diet to limit these foods and his stomach discomfort disappears.   As he does not have to take an antacid he is able to properly digest/assimilate nutrients so the rest of his body stays healthy; he is also able to continue digesting protein properly so his immune system stays strong.  When the man gets a headache, instead of masking it with medication, he continues to look for an underlying root cause.  After much investigation perhaps he links it to bio-mechanical dysfunction and starts seeing a chiropractor or massage therapist to address his musculo-skeletal imbalance. Perhaps he connects it to the MSG in his packaged/processed food so he cuts that out of his diet.  Or perhaps he links it to a mild state of dehydration so he starts drinking more water consistently throughout his day.   Now he has eliminated his stomach distress and his headaches.  He is also not taking any pharmaceuticals and is therefore not experiencing any side effects.  His stomach is relaxed, his immune system is balanced, and the likelihood of an ulcer and high blood pressure is greatly diminished.  Because he has eliminated the foods that he is sensitive to, and is eating more whole foods vs. processed and refined foods, his risk of heart attack is also reduced.  Because he feels good, he behaves differently and his marriage remains intact.  His proactive and holistic approach will help ensure he lives well into old age and dies peacefully in his sleep.
Which scenario do you prefer?  The body is an amazing and powerful instrument.  It can restore balance and overcome significant infirmity as long as you provide it with the tools it needs to function optimally.  Traditional or Holistic?  It’s your choice.

Enjoy the Essentials

Aside from the diet you feed your mind and body, I can’t think of a more natural and potent therapy to promote your health and wellness than essential oils.  They have been used medicinally for thousands of years.  They are safe and can be used for a variety of conditions, symptoms, and health complaints such as; fighting colds, improving sleep, calming the mind, reducing inflammation, supporting the immune system, enhancing digestion, and detoxifying your home.  You can inhale the oils, apply them topically, add them to your bath, or even ingest them via a capsule or by adding them to your food. 

One of my favorite uses for essential oils is in the home so I can eliminate the harsh chemicals and toxins found in everyday products.  For example, you can make your own cleaning products and room deodorizers by adding a few drops of lavender, lemon, or tea tree oil to baking soda or water.   You can freshen your laundry (dryer sheets are notoriously toxic) by spritzing wet laundry with a mixture of water and a few drops of your favorite essential oil.  Alternatively, you can add 10-12 drops to a wool sock and put it in the dryer with your laundry.  Personal body products are another way to incorporate the therapeutic powers of essential oils – make your own deodorant with some coconut oil, arrowroot powder, and a few drops of rose, orange, or lavender.  The perfect body scrub can be achieved with coconut oil, organic cane sugar, and an invigorating essential oil like lemon or peppermint.  A facial scrub can be made with a little aluminum free baking soda, a dollop of raw honey and a few drops of skin loving oils like lavender, frankincense, and geranium.  Tea tree oil is an awesome spot treatment for blemishes and less toxic than commercial products.  You can use cinnamon leaf oil, lemon eucalyptus, citronella oil, peppermint oil, or catnip oil as a natural insect repellent;  what a wonderful choice for your family to help protect them from the toxic nature of DEET and other chemical repellents.   Use a diffuser with grapefruit, lemongrass, or thieves to cleanse the air in your home and get rid of odors.

To support sleep try putting a few drops of chamomile, lavender, bergamot, or rose on a cotton ball and dab it over your pillow.   Are you feeling stressed?  Use 10 drops of lavender, rose, orange or ylang ylang mixed with 1 cup of Epsom salts in the bath to calm and ground yourself.  Studies show that simply smelling the oils of rose and orange can trigger the brain to relax. 

For pain, stiff muscles, or inflammation add a few drops of eucalyptus, rosemary, peppermint, or tea tree to a bit of coconut or almond oil and massage in to the affected area.  You can also use the oils in a compress (5 drops oil per 4 oz. of water – soak a cloth and apply for bruises, aches and pains).  If you are feeling nauseous you can use a drop or two ofmint, ginger, orange, fennel, or lavender in a cup of warm (not hot) tea to help calm the stomach and digestive tract.  If you need to be alert and focused try smelling peppermint, cinnamon, clove, or citrus to boost your energy and heighten your cognition. 

Another great way to use essential oils for physical health is to apply it on acupressure points.  Google vita-flex foot charts or hand charts and learn where to massage the oils for the best therapeutic benefit.     

Remember a little goes a long way and be sure to use only pure, therapeutic grade essential oils. Exercise caution when using with children, just like you would with any commercially purchased products.  It’s also important to note that many essential oils can be irritating to the skin so, it’s important to use them with a carrier oil (coconut oil or almond oil) when using topically.  Most importantly, have fun!  Experiment and share your knowledge with others so they can also benefit from these amazing and powerful substances.