Holistic Medicine: The Wide Angle Lens
Updated: Jan 27
When was the last time a medical office visit was completely satisfying? Did you feel listened to, had enough time to explain the health issues, were offered options that aligned with your philosophy on health? Did you learn what you could do to improve your own health besides taking prescription medication?
Too often the answer to those questions is 'no.' Holistic medicine can be the key to maximizing health and a sense of agency, the confidence of regaining control over your health.
Holistic medicine has many faces, forms and practitioners. This kind of approach is also called integrative, functional and environmental medicine. While there are myriad other treatment modalities, my perspective will be that of a board-certified medical physician who takes the time to understand each patient as an individual in order to match the best treatment to that individual.
As someone with extensive training and experience in traditional, integrative, functional, holistic and environmental medicine, my job is to ask the right questions in almost every aspect of a patient’s life in order to to identify the connections between life events and illness. I specialize in chronic and complex health issues while still reveling in helping people with prevention, healthy aging and, my favorite, preconception care. My ultimate goal is to give my patients agency and control over their own health. I want our journey together to teach them how to be self-sufficient. In other words, I succeed when I make myself redundant.
One useful metaphor for complex illness is the patient as an elevator carrying passengers. Those passengers are:
While an elevator may carry one or two, it may strain when the third is added. Things become more complicated when they are each different weight and can interact with each other. Imagine a fight breaking out in an elevator!
While I have referred to this in earlier blogs it bears repeating, because everyone’s passenger capacity is different and everyone’s balance among these is different.
Allergies are a huge and widely misunderstood issue. More than manifesting as just sniffles, rashes and runny eyes, they can create pain in previously injured tissue, affect thinking, memory and mood, be expressed as irresistible hunger, acne, psoriasis flares and so much more. I have saved a number of patients from major orthopedic surgeries by identifying food allergies that were perpetuating severe back and neck pain.
Toxins are increasing exponentially. Even a healthy person puts on and is exposed to hundreds and thousands of harmful chemicals in cosmetics, soaps, clothing, air, food, water, household products, disinfectants in public places … this list goes on and on. In 2015 ABC News reported the average woman puts on over 160 chemicals before leaving the house. When I recently tried to find a relatively safe hair spray product in the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database, there was not enough information on ingredients for them to rate the safety or for me to make a decision.
Gesundheit Carolina tests not only a person's toxin levels but also the ability to detoxify from pollutants, gut infections, water-damaged buildings, pesticides and more. That means the liver, kidneys and most of all the digestive tract must all be in good working order before starting detoxification. Otherwise toxins may be released and recirculated instead of exiting the body. If there is no exit ramp from the body, recirculating toxins make you feel worse and cause many people to abandon their good intentions to detoxify.
The coronavirus pandemic is headline news right now and is affecting many aspects of daily life. But for many of us, our immune systems are already compromised by our chronic unhealthy lifestyle and eating the Standard American Diet (SAD) that interfere with our ability to replenish the nutrients that keep our immune systems functioning well. One non-controversial fact is that COVID-19 hospital patients who are the sickest share a finding of low Vitamin D. In my practice, individualized Vitamin D3 may be paired with Vitamin K2 (MQ7) to help target Vitamin D's effects on bone strength instead depositing that calcium on the walls of arteries. However, caution needs to be exercised depending on other medications, such as certain blood thinners. Managing dietary supplements is not a trivial matter and should be done under the guidance of a physician.
Deficiencies of minerals and vitamins mean that the thousands of enzymatic reactions the body tries to create every minute are lacking the co-factors that make them efficient. The B vitamins are involved in almost every process in the body as are minerals like magnesium. Many prescription and over-the-counter medications are known to deplete necessary vitamins and minerals. Yet this information is not readily available.
The many kinds of stress and its effects on the human body could be a whole separate blog. Some physicians say that stress is the number one reason people go to the doctor’s office. That’s because it can manifest in so many ways.
So you see, when your elevator shows up at the medical office with a passenger load that exceeds its capacity, each passenger needs to be identified and evaluated for a visit to a medical office to be satisfying. This takes time because the holistic provider has to look with a wide-angle lens, especially if someone has been ill for a long time or no other practitioner has been able to identify underlying causes.
Just as I wish that one day we will just say “food” because all of it is organic, what I truly hope is that the ever-expanding holistic fields will one day include all the well-trained specialists who have a network of collaborative colleagues and for whom holism is part of the medical ethos. In other words, I hope that every practice will eventually view your health with a wide angle lens.
Gesundheit Carolina is a multidisciplinary practice. We recognize that no two people are the same. It takes experience and knowledge to match a patient with the right therapy from the right discipline -- there are no one-size-fits-all solutions.
Becoming a Gesundheit Carolina patient is a process of our understanding you fully as an individual then working with you to build your bridge to wellness. It starts with a complimentary phone evaluation. Schedule your call here.