Adopting a Holistic Approach to Health
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Considering the hectic pace of today's modern lifestyle, it is natural that we are always pressed for time. We never seem to have enough time to sit down and eat, let alone pay attention to what we are consuming. Our body was never meant to ingest chemicals and toxic substances. Despite advertisements to the contrary, we do not know what actually goes into our foods to increase their shelf life. In addition, our reliance on conventional medications often creates further health problems than the original condition we were treating, which present the risk of side effects, addiction and sacrifice to health.
Because most of us in the Western world have grown up in a society in which allopathic medicine is the prevailing norm, we forget that, only a few decades ago, homeopathic, herbal and other natural medicines were commonly available - and freely used even by conventional doctors. Due to their unique manufacturing method, homeopathic remedies do not produce negative side effects and will not interact with prescription drugs. They may be taken by all ages and also during pregnancy.
While conventional medicine works by often treating just the symptoms, natural medicine strives to create holistic balance in the body to support systemic health, relieve ailments, and help prevent future disease. While there are often heated debates about which system of medicine is better than the other, many responsible doctors (whether they are allopathic or not) recognize that both have a role to play in the treatment program.
Holism, is derived from the Greek word meaning all, entire, total and is the idea that all the properties of a given system (be it biological, mental, etc.) cannot be determined or explained by the sum of its component parts alone.
Instead, the system as a whole determines in an important way in which the parts behave. Similarly, our bodies are a collection of complex tissues, cells, organs and body systems. So with regard to poor health we should not be viewed as just the sum of our symptoms. The underlying root causes of an ailment must be addressed for complete healing to take place. These root causes can exist at many levels: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. An increasing number of physicians are advocating a holistic approach to health care, emphasizing prevention as well as natural treatment.
In fact, even the World Health Organization defines health as being "...more than simply the absence of illness. It is the active state of physical, emotional, mental and social well-being." This is a wonderfully clear description of holistic or natural medicine, which strives to support health (thereby relieving or preventing symptoms), rather than simply eliminating disease.
Contrary to common perception, and provided that they are manufactured in the correct way, natural medicines can work quickly and safely to promote healing. In many cases, they can succeed where pharmaceutical drugs have failed. Despite frequent reports that they are unproven and untested, the opposite is true.
As the systems of the body are interrelated, proper functioning and optimal health occurs when they are in balance and harmony. Therefore, if one system is out of balance, one problem can lead to dysfunction or imbalances in other areas systems. It is important to consider all disturbances in these delicate systems and opt for a holistic approach to caring for your body. Many natural remedies work well together to provide increased support for many common conditions, as well as to support general well-being.
People respond to natural medicine in different ways, and some experience immediate results, while many others have reported optimal benefits taking effect within several weeks. To ensure optimum results, it is important to take natural remedies as directed and remain consistent. While most of us may wait until we are in the grip of a cold or battling with emotional pain before we seek treatment to address symptoms, the holistic approach to health urges us to start off how we intend to finish. In other words, we need to maintain health and well being in all aspects of our life. Therefore, taking a smaller maintenance dose is sometimes beneficial for ongoing support as part of a preventative program for continued health and well-being.
Effectiveness is greatly increased if a healthy diet, sufficient sleep, and regular exercise are followed as well - all of which go a long way in contributing to good health and well-being.
Ensuring Safety - Due to the recent rise in popularity of natural remedies, many companies have sprung up to take advantage of the market. Unfortunately not all of them are equipped to manufacture to the correct standards, often resulting in a flood of inferior (and sometimes even unsafe) remedies onto the market â€“ and giving natural remedies a bad name.
Even some pharmaceutical companies have rushed to claim their market share by producing so-called standardized extracts of herbs and offering these as superior to the tried and tested methods of naturopathic manufacturing. Nothing could be further from the truth. While standardized extracts may offer benefit of easy consistency of dosage (and cheaper more efficient production lines), they have grave disadvantages. These include an increase in side effects as the medicines produced in this manner lose the natural protective properties of the herbs. In some cases, these side effects have proved fatal - as was seen in the liver toxicity associated with standardized extracts of kava kava, an herb previously safely used for generations without any known side effects.
Most naturopaths recommend what is called the Full Spectrum Method of extraction - which retains the benefits of ALL the active ingredients within the herb as opposed to isolating only one - thereby providing a more complete treatment as well as superior protection against side effects.
Whatever your choice, always choose wisely. Research what is best for you. If you have a chronic or life threatening condition, don't make changes without first discussing them with your doctor in order that your condition may be monitored. Well-informed and supportive practitioners will support patients who want to take responsibility for their own health.
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