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Hello again lovely people! Today I want to chat about what the word holistic actually means. As some of us emerge into the world again and life slowly returns back to, “normal,” I’ve been having to explain what the terms holistic and functional mean to friends and family who are really only familiar with the allopathic, or traditional/Western, medical world.
characterized by comprehension of the parts of something as intimately interconnected and explicable only by reference to the whole
characterized by the treatment of the whole person, taking into account mental and social factors, rather than just the symptoms of a disease
Prior to getting Crohn’s Disease, when someone said, functional medicine,” I thought of natural births, shamanic rituals, and herbs. While holistic healthcare does include different modes of healing, the experience is completely up to the patient. When I was first introduced to holistic health, my doctor gave me a reference to a study at Brigham and Women’s and I was accepted. I had told my doctor that I wanted to do everything possible naturally before making the decision to go on IV medication in the same family as chemo for the rest of my life.
During this time, I was terrified, in so much pain, and wanted it to end. When my nutritionist and mindfulness coach got on the call with me and told me it might be a little while before I felt better, I wanted to die. But something in me told me that if severe Crohn’s came on fast, I definitely had a chance to reverse the damage au-naturel.
Holistic health is a great companion to allopathic medicine because allopathic medicine often only treats symptoms. You go to your doctor with an issue, they prescribe something. Holistic health looks at the whole picture. If we’re having symptoms, there’s always a root cause. One time my laptop died and when I brought it to the Apple Store, the guy at the Genius bar said the system failed because I updated the apps before updating the system too many times. Similarly, if you keep treating the symptoms without addressing the root cause (poor diet, bad relationships, fast-paced job) and stressful things in your life, your system is bound to fail.
That’s exactly what happened to me. My system failed because I was eating a ton of sugar, not being mindful of when I felt sick after eating, thinking it was normal to get really anxious even over small things, and extremely tired and nauseous after short nature walks despite being thin. When I was 17 a doctor put me on birth control because he thought I was confusing hernia pain (they didn’t know it was a hernia at the time) with period pain or endometriosis… I was always prone to ear infections, sinus infections, and bronchitis through college, but no one told me that was because of how much sugar I consumed, my poor sleeping habits, and working three jobs across two states.
Now I know that health issues NEVER only have one source. While I love and appreciate modern medicine, taking an antibiotic alone is slapping a band aid on a fault line. Now I understand how being a C-Section baby, taking antibiotics, and birth control can change my system as well as lifestyle factors like stress, eating habits, career, and social life. Taking a holistic point of view has given me the drive to diversify how I spend my time, invest in myself, and figure out how to only do things I love.
If you’re interested in learning more about how to apply holistic health and wellness to your life, feel free to send me an email: email@example.com or DM me on Instagram @thelovelydigest. I offer limited one on one sessions, pantry cleanout and mindful grocery shopping advice, and more!
Sending lots of love, Emily
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