Holistic Healthcare 101

Yes, running in the sunshine and enjoying nature is holistic ‘healthcare’!

What defines holistic treatment?

ho·lis·tic

[hoh-lis-tik]

adjective

Based on the idea that you should take care of your whole body and mind, rather

than just treating a partof the body that is ill.

Thinking of health problems holistically is a learned behavior, but once you are used to it it becomes second nature.  The main objective is to get to the root of any given problem, by treating the entire body and environment, notjust the specific part of a person that is ill.
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The holistic approach takes more time and thought at first, and requires that you know the patient (often yourself or your family members) well.  But the benefits are great.  As we have found with the GAPS Diet, when holistically treating something like autism we end up also treating skin, blood sugar, allergy, and energy issues as well.
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An example of ways to think holistically vs conventionally about a common childhood problem, diaper rash:
Baby has rash.
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Conventional treatment: Desatin and frequent changes, possibly fresh air.
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Holistic treatment; try any or all of the following until something that works long term is found:
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Is baby in disposables?  Switch to all natural diapers or cloth.
Is baby in cloth? Check for synthetic materials, many babies are sensitive to PUL, polyester, fleece, or microfibers used in diapers. Change to all cotton, wool covers.
Does baby have food allergies? Remove common allergies (wheat, dairy, food dyes) from mom’s and/or baby’s diet.
Is baby breastfeeding? Is baby getting enough fatty hind milk? Try block feeding (4 hours on each side) rather than switching sides at each feeding.
Does mom have yeast issues?
Treat mom and baby with probiotics and possibly an anti-candida diet.
Is baby getting plenty of fresh air daily? Yes, we love sunshine, even for little babies (careful that it’s not for too long!)
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Why choose the more time consuming holistic treatment?

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To those who are not used to the idea of treating the whole person often think that the holistic option is an awful lot of work for something simple as a diaper rash.  The conventional treatment, which claims a quick fix, sounds much more appealing to a busy mother.
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But when we look at all the different root causes for the diaper rash, we end up preventing that problem from coming back, and future problems from coming up.  A baby with a yeast rash is showing that they have a yeast overgrowth in their system. Without treating that, later in life they often develop attention deficits and other issues.
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How ‘natural alternatives’ often are not holistic

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When first looking into natural health it’s tempting to just keep the same conventional mindset (a quick fix) but use natural treatments.  I do this too sometimes, but it’s not what holistic healthcare is all about.  Yes, a natural medicine is usually better than a conventional one, but it still is applying a bandaid fix rather than a permanent one.

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I do use ‘natural fixes’ that are for a temporary specific problem, but it’s still preferable to really get to the root of a problem. Sometimes all that means is making sure you get enough sleep, cut out the junk food from your diet, and reduce stress.

Just because it worked for one person…

Another common mistake, for in both conventional medicine and holistic medicine, is to assume that just because something worked for you, it is the solution for everyone with your same problem.  Holistic medicine is very individualized and the slow and steady ‘educated trial and error’ approach seems to work best for finding what treatments are needed.

It’s exciting to find an easy natural remedy for a chronic condition that you’ve had, but try to be objective and realize that just because, for instance, removing dairy (or gluten or nightshades) from your diet cured your arthritis (or digestive trouble, brain fog, eczema, sinus infections, etc), doesn’t mean that everyone with arthritis will find the same benefit from removing that particular food.  It has to do with their specific body.  A good holistic treatment recognizes this, be wary of any ‘holistic’ practitioner who is pushing a one-size-fits-all treatment.

Healthcare as a Lifestyle

Keeping heath in the back of your mind and making small changes to your every day activities ends up changing the way you do life.  It might take a little bit of time to get used to, but eventually you will crave the stuff that’s healthy for you!

Some examples of everyday ‘healthcare’:

  • Being out in the sunshine (seriously- enjoying nice weather is healthy!)
  • Eliminating allergies though food elimination and the GAPS Diet
  • Adding cultured foods to your diet
  • Making sure there is healthy food in the house
  • Reducing your stress level by keeping relationships healthy
  • Getting enough fresh air and enjoying exercise
  • Researching routine prenatal/baby care
  • Focusing on priorities and enjoying the simple small things
  • Making a hobby/social network of sourcing quality foods

 Prioritizing treatment options

When it comes to holistic treatments, there can be so many good things that we get overwhelmed.  Holistic healthcare takes time, effort, and money.  I prioritize treatments based on what I believe to be most effective for the least amount of time/money.

Here’s how I start:

1.  Food, add in the good, take out the bad. You’ve gotta eat anyway, so start here. (Healthy eating 101, GAPS Intro)

2.  Sleep (Epsom salts can help, I use melatonin as well simply because I have a set amount of time that I can sleep each night, and I need to make sure I’m actually asleep during that time)

3.  Stress

4.  Supplements and herbal remedies (cinnamon and honey for a cold, elderberry syrup, other supplements, dandelion root, etc)

5.  Reducing toxins in the home (natural mattresses, sunscreen, etc)

6.  Other alternative medicines as you think they would help (chiropractic, acupuncture, visiting a naturopath, etc)