This is a question, which was asked to me while I was in France while talking with several old friends, over a nice bottle of wine.
I could not answer the question straight away, and my gut feeling was that the common answers, such as “non toxic” or “opposition to conventional medical medicine” or covering the “body/mind/spirit” were actually not appropriate. My stumbling block was that we have to define first what is a whole human being or whole patient. This is because holistic medicine means treating the “whole”.
As this is not a simple answer, this post covers more arcane principles than my usual posts and newsletters.
So, what is a “whole human being”?
A simple way to define a human being would be to separate the key elements of what constitutes a human experience. We can consider that at every moment of our life, we are experiencing the following 6 dimensions or realms:
– our physical realm or body,
– our sensations, such as hunger, pain,
– our emotions, which includes the primary emotions, such as fear, anger, desire,
– our mind, which comprises our thoughts and our belief systems, the deeper mind/subconscious,
– our five senses, which allows us to get information on the world outside our inner selves,
– the awareness, or the consciousness, which is our ability to focus on anything, and usually on the 5 first realms.
Those are the realms, which we all have access every moment of our life.
Or to summarise, being a human being means experiencing being in a body, having feelings (sensations/emotions), having thoughts, receiving stimuli from the outside world, and then having the awareness, or the ability to focus on all of these realms.
So being whole is to be in touch with all these realms. We can also then define that we can increase our “wholeness” by developing any of these realms and experience them more deeply.
How does holistic medicine address disease then?
When someone comes with a health issue, the therapist will do his or her best to assist with the extent of their knowledge and tools. Modern conventional medical therapies tend to primarily focus on the physical realm, with drugs targeting the body and its chemical or molecular components.
Pure nutrition and supplements also focus on the physical realm, and may discard other elements, such as how to address an emotion like anxiety.
It is true that conventional drugs and nutrition can affect a condition affecting the mind and emotions, are all human relams interact with each other. However, they will not address the core issue if it is located in the emotional realm, or any others for that matter.
Most of the popular “holistic” therapies, including homeopathy or acupuncture tend to address blocks at the emotional or sensations’ level. This is why they are called sometimes “energy medicine”. This is because emotions/sensations/feelings are very overpowering, ever-changing and very fluid…. they are very different than thoughts and the mind, and they can of course cause a lot of damage at a physical level. They are however so key in health disruption that the first medical models, like the Chinese Five Elements models or the Hippocratic Four Elements have a strong emphasis on this level.
Mind-based therapies such as psychotherapy or more recent therapies like CBT or NLP also invariably focused on one or two of the six human dimensions.
This is why truly holistic therapists have to use multiple approaches, in order to assist and address issues, which affect different levels. Several acupuncturists, I know and respect, would also heavily rely on Chinese herbs and a strong emphasis on Chinese traditional life philosophies for example.
What is my approach?
First, in times of crisis, the most important element to support is the body or our physical being. This is because when we have a life-threatening issue, if our physical realm lets go, then we are gone… dead. This is where conventional medicine has a strong place.
However, the physical body is usually not effective to repair itself during times of stress. So it is important to improve our physical body and abilities when we are free from disease and with no major life issues. Physical activity, proper nourishment and eliminating toxins. is what counts then. A stronger body will helps us deal with emotional or life issues. The physical plane is the grounding space or our life.
I have learnt to rely less on supplements and more on individualised nutritional plans. The individualisation of our food intake in our modern age is key. A gardener would not nourish a rose with the same type of food as plum tree. With the same reasoning, I would work on the nutritional side and also on any toxic load in an individualised way for each patient. I can organise a blood test and I also take into account the patient’s lifestyle. I would also provide a healthy-food platform, which they can follow when they get sick, and an alternative one, when they are under more stress. They will also know what to do when they have the chance to enjoy life food pleasures, or when they are more relaxed.
To help re-balance the body energetically, and address any emotional blocks or sensations’ issues, I use primarily homeopathy and also sometimes other forms of energy medicines
I have had got great success-stories by combining these two approaches, especially for physical health issues, such as hayfever, arthritis, period pains, and also assisting patients who were suffering from cancer. I got also extremely good success with weight loss and insomnia.
However, until a few years ago, I was still not well equipped to help patients who were facing severe life issues, such as a divorce, the loss of a close relative or friend, or simply not feeling integrated or happy in their life. This was because my approach was not covering all of the human realms. I was not able help my patient getting their own personal and consistent way of living and facing their challenges. .
This has slowly flourished over the last two years. Compared to more physical or acute ailments, the foundation is a trusting and honest relationship, which allows to discover oneself, and understand inner challenges. It has been a very humbling development for me, as I have seen patient who were able to face seemlingly impossible challenges and develop into strong and more whole humand beings.
Nurture can overcome Nature
Genetic predispositions, severe past crisis or traumas, our cultural background and the earlier years of our life have an important impact on how we see life, and how we respond to it. We are a unique individual culture by ourself, and we also are part of the big human family and its evolution. These are all tremendous elements, and one of the most obstables to healing is the belief that one can not overcome a perceived weakness or inability. After “impatience”, this is probably the biggest obstable to becoming whole.
If one of our weakness is preventing us to live our life fully, then it has to be accepted or transmuted. For the patients who decide to progress further, I have always been amazed how much change can occur in someone’s ability, and then in their life. There are countless examples, and the rewards are usually worth the effort.
To take a simple example that will resonate with everyone, it is normal that once in a while, we feel very angry or very sick, or just tired. Most of our colleagues, friends or partners would accept that. However, it is much harder and less enjoyable to be around someone who is very often angry, sick or tired. Having a plan to learn and deal better with our anger, or to improve our fatigue, will help us to feel happier and also will help our relationships with other people.
This is true socially and professionally as well, and this is why nurturing qualities in our character and strength in our body will bring us a more fulfilled life.
What about non-human realms?
I am sometimes asked in my consultations about how one can interact with more spiritual or “angelic realms”, or how one can trust their sixth senses.
These dimensions exist and can also be very powerful. They can be so powerful that they can take us away from our own day-to-day life. For this reason, I would suggest people who are clairvoyant, clairaudient, or who are able to access other realms, to strengthen their human dimensions first.
My advice is usually to primarily focus on strengthening the inner core, through right nourishment and strengthening of the body, managing emotions and sensations, and a flexible enough mind and belief system. This is because this will promote a stronger grounding on the day-to-day life, which is ultimately required to be able to be more connected with Life itself.
I hope you found this post interesting and useful, and do not hesitate to contact me and give me feedback.
Registered Health Practitioner
Clinical Nutritionist, Homeopathy