Trends in holistic health


Our system of healing here in this country, be it traditional or nontraditional continues to be one of the most confusing in the world. As we struggle to catch up with the rest of the world, or as some would say, return to more natural ways of healing, not only has the name of the game changed, so have all the players.

The name game is not the real story, it is just our effort to make it feel and sound more palatable, but a bowl of oatmeal is still just a bowl of oatmeal. It’s good for you; the fiber and all that, but it just doesn’t have the same flash, the same intense heroic story line that goes with high tech medicine. It’s like a Star Wars flick where the villain is left dead with a flash from a laser light beam. Who wouldn’t prefer using a light saber for healing versus a bag of herbs and a bowl of oatmeal?

The facts remain; Americans are going for the oatmeal, more everyday with millions of visits to practitioners of naturopathy, herbalists, and acupuncturists, massage therapists and others. Insurance companies are beginning to recognize their value as well by paying for visits to licensed-trained professionals.

As our health care system undergoes a fundamental shift patients can be lost without proper resources to understand who can legitimately help and who is the charlatan. With a growing number of approaches available, it can be difficult to make sound intelligent choices. Where do I start? Do I see a medical doctor that is beginning to offer alternative therapies, or should I go with the advice of friends and family? The following are some things to keep in mind if you are looking to employ some healthy alternative therapies to your wellness program.

1. Does the healer have good credentials? One phone call can answer questions about professional degrees, training, certification, licensure, membership in professional organizations and affiliations with reputable clinics or doctors. If licensure for a particular form of healing has not yet been established in your state, look for practitioners that have served apprenticeships of one year or more, or attended well known schools in their field.

2. How much experience do they have? Have they treated individuals with problems like yours? The holistic practitioner draws heavily from experience.

3. Does the healer have insurance? Everyone from yoga teachers, to massage therapists, to acupuncturists needs malpractice insurance. Insurance companies will not underwrite individuals that are not appropriately trained.

4. Is he or she open to other healing systems including traditional systems? The more complex your health problem, the more multidimensional your approach should be. Be wary of anyone who categorically dismisses other approaches or ridicules conventional medicine.

5. Does the healer know when to refer you to your medical doctor? If the person you are working with cannot recognize or dismisses more serious health problems such as deep bacterial infections, injuries or other worrisome symptoms they are not equipped to handle, you or your family member maybe at great risk.

6. Is the more holistic approach truly being applied? A relationship of trust and partnership between you and the practitioner is tantamount. If you feel rushed, talked down to or coerced in any way they’ve missed holism101 and you need to find someone else.

7. Did they make you an active participant in your own care? Health is a verb, not a noun. If you are not given the responsibility and choices for your own health care you cannot be truly healthy.

8. Does the practitioner have a sales agenda? If herbs, vitamins, or supplements are sold without due consideration to your individual problems, it may be more about money than your health.

9. Did they provide you with current literature supporting their claims? Is their scientific evidence, or is it only anecdotal evidence? Did they offer any written literature for you to study? Always be informed about what you are taking.

10. Is the healer willing to admit they don’t know? The beginning of knowledge defined: the more you know, the more you know you don’t know. Arrogance will only set you back in your healing journey.

Healing is a service profession. When you find an individual that understands this concept, one that you like and is well trained you are well on your way.

Till next time, Rebecca.