The word holistic refers to looking at an organism as a whole: the vigor of all its parts is necessary for “the whole” to truly thrive. Holistic health is the philosophy that a person’s physical, mental, and emotional well being should be taken into account when assessing overall health. Symptoms are not considered and treated individually, but rather assessed in the context of the rest of the body. What are the possible root causes of symptoms?
Science has proven the validity of the “mind body connection”. For example, a 2008 article in Science Daily states that cortisol, the hormone that is produced when we are under stress, actually suppresses our immune cells’ ability to renew themselves, therefore leaving us more susceptible to illness and disease.
Holistic healing tools include a nourishing diet, hydration, movement, medicinal herbs, vitamins and minerals, and ways in which to reduce stress and increase inner peace. One of the root ideas of holistic health care is that of prevention. By working to maintain optimal health, we are less likely to wander down a path that might require more invasive treatments.
Herbalists, acupuncturists, massage therapists, chiropractors, midwives, nutritional therapists, homeopathic and naturopathic doctors are all considered to be holistic practitioners with different areas of focus.
You may look towards holistic health because you simply want to feel better. Nothing is obviously wrong, but you just feel tired, stressed, and unlike yourself a lot of the time.
You may be starting to experience symptoms which indicate imbalance in your body. Your doctor may say something like, “If that (symptom) gets any worse I’ll want to start you on (pharmaceutical drug).” Holistic medicine can provide you with options if you would rather not take a drug. Working with a holistic practitioner at this juncture can bring your body back into balance and provide considerable relief.
Holistic medicine can also be the perfect compliment to conventional treatments. This union is called integrative medicine. For example, trained holistic practitioners can counsel you on the natural therapies that support your body during the use of pharmaceutical drugs that were deemed necessary. They can introduce you to supplements and herbs that can improve the outcomes of your conventional treatments. They can introduce you to lifestyle changes, supplements, and herbs that can improve the outcomes of your conventional treatments.
Certified nutritional therapists receive training with and pass an examination by the Nutritional Therapy Association. This training focuses on anatomy, physiology, holistic nutrition, methods of assessing individual nutritional status, dietary counseling, addressing and correcting nutritional deficiencies, and balancing body chemistry. They are taught physical health assessment techniques, and the proper uses of supplements, vitamins, minerals, and herbs to maintain or obtain health.
Nutritional therapists are trained to perform a physical, functional exam along with a verbal consultation in order to assess your health status. There is no physical aspect to a consultation with an R.D.
A nutritional therapist looks at each person as being biochemically unique. By assessing their individual nutritional needs, the N.T.P. can determine which nutrients and what levels of those nutrients are right for them in order to promote optimum health. Registered dietitians generally utilize the recommended daily allowances (RDAs) determined by the government in 1941 to make nutrient dosage recommendations for all of their clients.
When assessing a client’s overall health, a nutritional therapist takes their environment, stress level, and emotional wellbeing into consideration. Registered dietitians focus mainly on dietary factors.
Herbalists are trained to utilize plants as medicine to support and balance body systems. They learn anatomy, physiology, botany, plant identification, pharmacognosy (the medicinal uses of single plants and plant compounds), and herbal medicine making techniques.
A doula is a woman who provides informational, physical and emotional support to a pregnant woman and her family before, during, and after the birth of her baby. During pregnancy she can help to educate her client and partner about birth options, relaxation, pain relieving techniques, and the emotional transformation of becoming a parent. She is present during the birth to facilitate by suggesting laboring positions, providing massage for relaxation, making sure the parents understand their options when asked to make decisions, and supporting and relieving the partner’s role in the birth. During the postpartum period, a doula is available for questions about breastfeeding, newborn care, and maternal healing.
Each doula is different in that she may have additional training in other healing modalities or techniques (herbalism, nutrition, massage, acupressure, aromatherapy, etc.).
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