The holistic approach to health is contrary to the conventional medical system which focuses on individual symptoms and its treatment. The holistic approach looks at the bigger picture and supports overall system. It recognizes the interconnection in our body system. For example; a headache could be caused by issues of digestion, cold, diet, environmental factors or a lifestyle. This interconnection of our body system and channels play a big role in understanding and treatment of certain problem area.
Holistic approach is not new and it is on the rise now because lot of us have recognized that our body, mind and spirit are connected and by keeping them in a healthy balance, we can prevent diseases and live a healthy, happy life. The approach is also seen in Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ayurvedic Medicine, Native American medicinal practices and traditional European medicine.
Ancient cultures throughout the world had similar way of healing or treating using herbs and focusing on the energy, doshas or the elements in treatment primarily focusing on the body, mind and soul. These three are not separate from an individual.
The earliest documented practice is seen in Ayurveda which was first recorded over 5000 years ago. The word is in Sanskrit, which means ‘ayur’ life and ‘veda’, science or knowledge.
The balance in body, mind and soul relies on three doshas which form one’s energy or life force. Each of the dosha is related with their own characteristics and functions that governs our body system.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) arose around 2000 years ago with the theory of yin and yang. Everything is classified under the two energies. Yin is feminine, night, cold, passive and dark. Yang is masculine, day, heat, active, light and movement. TCM theory holds the principle that we all have yin and yang in us. When the yin and yang are in balance, it symbolizes good health and good flow of prana or chi (vital life force energy). Yin and Yang balance, flow into, create, control and transform each other. Thus when they become imbalanced, illness or disease manifests.
European traditional medicine also held similar kind of belief. Their belief was in four humors: hot, dry, cold and moist corresponding to fire, earth, water and air. Each humor had its own characteristics and a patient was treated studying his temperament. Illnesses were treated according to the condition for example: Cayenne, hot spice was used to treat colds. So, illness was believed to be caused by an imbalance of the humor.
The best way to maintain balance was through a healthy lifestyle, eating well and exercising appropriately, but when illness did occur, herbs might be used to nudge the humors back into balance (Tierra, 2014).
The advantages of a holistic approach are many if you seriously want to invest in. It is less invasive and more natural than conventional medicine. There is still some risk of side effects which I would like to say a body’s sensitivity to certain herbs. Not all herbs are suitable for each one of us. We can also choose to use a different herb if one herb is not suitable for us.
Since many herbs are adaptogenic in nature, when used in herbal medicine making, they usually adapt over our body or minimize the effect of the ones that are less suitable to us.
Living a holistic life also means choosing to live a healthy life which saves a lot more than having to buy expensive medicines. It’s not only about treating a disease when someone gets ill but it’s an ongoing process to support body, mind and spirit in our everyday life. It’s choosing to be loving and kind to our body and to ourselves.