Working in the Holistic Health Industry for many years, and struggling with my own chronic health issues, has taught me much about what is true healing through a holistic way of wellbeing. I have seen many health trends and fad diets, come and go, and evolve over time.
The perfect diet, the exciting new supplement, herbal re-discoveries, exotic bodywork modalities….I have learned (sometimes the hard way) that it usually takes a much more holistic (looking at the big picture) approach to find true healing and what we call wellbeing, especially when it comes to chronic health issues, that don't always have a simple fix.
True healing and Holistic Wellbeing is difficult to define, because it looks differently for everyone. It is also difficult to find for many people because it takes great awareness, a listening to the body.
Most of us are overworked, overburdened, stressed-out and burned out. We haven’t learned to listen or give our body what it needs. We are stuck on overdrive, with very few options, within society, to shift gears into a more relaxed and balanced state of existence.
I have spent most of my life searching for this balance. In a lot of ways I have failed over and over again as I again become the victim of my inflammation, irritation, and unfortunate symptoms that follow pushing myself until I break. Yet there are discoveries, which I wouldn’t have made it through without. A healing foundation, has emerged through all of this trial and error. Not all health issues can be avoided of course, but from my experience they can often be managed or prevented when the body is consistently given what it needs to function properly.
Our bodies are programmed to heal, to fight illness, and repair itself. It is an incredible creation and yet we treat it so badly…often just giving it the bare minimum of our time and attention. So I am offering a few alternatives to the status quo. This is the overall picture, the holistic view from my perspective. This is the foundation I have discovered to be vital for overall health and long term Wellbeing.
Each category is a complex and vital aspect of the healing process.
I will offer more practical solutions that I have discovered for each of the categories in the future. They all overlap and some are dependent on others, so you can start with one category, and it will often help balance other body systems in unexpected ways. If you are searching for Wellbeing, I hope these insights will help you on your healing journey.
The elusive relaxation response is sometime extremely difficult, but not uncommon to achieve. Sometimes it won’t appear even when you are trying so hard, and sometimes it just happens on its own. I am here to tell you that this can be a learned response, most of us have just never learned it. Meaning, with practice, it can be achieved on a regular basis.
This is the opposition response to the adrenal over-drive, fight or flight response that our overly caffeinated, removed from nature, screen sucking society is constantly being bombarded with. This rest & digest response is the opposite and equally important response, not just surviving but thriving! Unfortunately in most of our modern lifestyles this response has been phased out and pushed aside.
This is when our body heals. This is where we calm down and the digestion & absorption of nutrients happens. The body tissues can repair and the organs are sent more blood and energy to perform their ignored functions that are often taken for granted.
There is continuous research being done on the importance of the fluctuating balance of microbes living in the digestive system and how it relates to illness, and especially chronic & inflammatory syndromes.
When certain microbes are abundant or missing from this biome, it can contribute to the health or the dis-ease of the host of these symbiotic organisms. Bacteria, molds (yes there is probably mold inside of you), fungus, yeasts, etc create this dynamic interchange within our digestive pathways.
Many factors affect this internal environment, including genetics, environment, daily diet, stress, inflammatory triggers, and biotic exposure.
Supporting a healthy biome is dependent on an ongoing balance in the ratios of certain beneficial or pathogenic organisms, and providing a diversity of healthful organisms, and the food for them to live on, through the diet. It is in a sense feeding and breeding the right organisms, and starving the wrong ones. This is an extremely complex matter and new discoveries about our inner cultures are being made all the time.
This means not only the presence of key nutrients, vital to the function & repair of the body systems, but the absorption and uptake of these vital components such as proteins, anti-oxidants, flavonoids, vitamins and minerals in forms useful to the body.
You are not what you eat. You are what you are able to digest & absorb. The complex interactions of enzymes, amino acids, phytonutrients and other endless components often rely on co-factors for their uptake and function. If these co-factors are not readily available, the body will pull them from the storages of the body developing into deficiencies or imbalance.
Sometimes, especially if digestion is compromised, specific supplementation through foods, herbs, and extracted nutrients is necessary to fill the gaps and support stressed out body systems.
Many food components can be irritating to the digestive track, especially when there is not a complete breakdown of the compounds into a usable form. Supporting this system with optimally prepared, easy to digest, nourishing foods (such as soaking grains or beans before cooking) and providing a variety of consistent enzymes & nutrients, reduces the strain on the body and may reduce overall inflammation.
Preventative Healing takes time and perseverance. It is not the quick fix cleanse or the new diet, although it can include those things. It is the gradual evolution toward a healthier you. It is working toward ideal health, diet & lifestyle and learning to live in a way that supports long-term healing and wellness. Identifying stressors, nutritional deficiencies, inflammation triggers, and imbalances and then seeking solutions to reduce the negative effects certain circumstances have on our life.
This is not so much treatment for the right in the middle of the crisis mode, this is an ongoing learning of how to prevent that crisis. This is where holistic medicine is the most powerful…It is the sickness you don’t see, that it has cured. It is in the absences of disease that we find wellness, which looks differently for everyone. We all have our weaknesses, our genetic tendencies, our particular health problems we deal with, often recurring throughout our lifetime. Not all of these can be cured, but many can be managed and their occurrence reduced or eliminated with preventative healing practices
This is what has tied it all together for me in my healing journey. I am so passionate about sharing the healing potential of so many simple herbs that can be grown at home because they are a vital aspect of each of the other categories. Plants help us Relax (consciously or unconsciously). Whether sipping a cup of calming herbal tea or sitting in a forest or garden, they affect us. They Balance the Biome by reducing populations of pathogenic organisms, healing the gut, promote digestive secretions, supporting probiotic colonization, increase the efficiency of digestive organs, and reducing inflammation in the gut lining.
They provide Optimal Nutrition with their varied amounts of potent phyto-nutrients, in highly absorbable forms. Many plants such as alfalfa, nettles or moringa are virtually a “multi-vitamin” plant all on their own. Finding a healthy spectrum of synergistic remedies and nutritive plants is a big part of Preventative Healing. Nourishing certain organ systems by integrating plants that have benefits for particular health problems can be seen as an ongoing activity. For example using hawthorn if you have a tendency for heart issues, or milk thistle if your liver is chronically congested, can be seen as long term tonics for these issues.
True Healing is a journey. Each path is unique and each person must find what works, and doesn’t work for them. This isn’t something you do once and then you are done…it involves effort. It often takes trial and error and some soul searching. You can be guided on your journey, but it really comes down to each person deciding to take each step toward wellness. For some, it is a long road and a very difficult journey. For others it may be a few simple adjustments that make a big difference.
I will continue the discussion on each of these topics in the future, and hopefully provide solutions to help others figure out what steps to take to find True Healing and Holistic Wellbeing