Daily Archives: July 17, 2018

What Does Holism Really Mean For Healing?

“The whole is more than the sum of its parts.” — Aristotle

Let’s talk about quick fixes versus real fixes in health care options. Quick fixes may work quickly — and stop working quickly.

For acute problems, like an occasional headache, quick fixes like an aspirin can make a lot of sense. For chronic disorders and diseases, however, we need lasting — and more far-reaching — help.

It is no accident that more people search the Internet for keywords related to “alternative” medicine rather than “complementary” or “integrative” medicine. Clearly, most people with chronic disorders and diseases are likely to start off on one or more conventional drugs that they have to take. But many people want more options, i.e., alternatives.

Once the shock of a diagnosis wears off, what you need are true options — alternatives. Yet, as a consumer, you often assume that drugs — or treatments that you use in a drug-like way — must always be the centerpiece of the treatment. This all goes back to another unwise assumption, that is, that the way to treat symptoms in a body part is to block the body part from expressing the symptoms.

Suppressing the expression of symptoms cannot lead to true holistic healing, by definition. It simply re-arranges the disease so that the person develops a problem somewhere else. There can be a big cost to the person as a whole for blocking symptom expression in one place without truly healing the underlying problem. A useful analogy might be squeezing a balloon in one place, which forces the air inside to bulge into another. The air is still there, but the location is rearranged within the balloon.

For example, using steroid creams to stop a rash on the skin may lead to the later development of asthma or depression. The skin isn’t showing symptoms any more, but the lungs or the brain are. Conventional medicine might say that there is a different mechanism of disease in the lungs or the brain, making it “absurd” to think that the asthma is related to the suppression of skin symptoms. And it is true that the mechanisms of asthma are different from the mechanisms of a skin rash, if you focus just on local structures and processes.

However, even at the forefront of conventional medicine, scientists are beginning to recognize that the body is a network of networks of systems. Genes and proteins themselves function in networks of activity. There is a complex and coordinated organization of interrelated and interdependent functions at work all the time, behind the scenes of the obvious physical structures.

Well-established forms of alternative medicine, such as acupuncture, show you that you are an indivisible whole. Treating at a particular acupuncture point has far-reaching effects in body parts that are far distant from the specific location in which the needle was inserted. Acupuncturists believe that the information travels by way of special pathways called meridians. Even state-of-the-art scientific research with brain imaging technology shows that putting …