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Healthcare Nirvana ~ Integrative Healthcare

Integrative healthcare can include traditional medicine as long as you are the bridge.

‘It is part of the cure to wish to be cured.’ ~ Seneca, Latin Philosopher

Integrative Healthcare ~ Not easily Defined

Understanding the various terms used to describe non-traditional medicine and healthcare is very confusing. Is a total health and healing practice that encompasses the whole person called alternative medicine or complementary medicine? What is the difference? Is holistic healthcare the same as integrative healthcare? The various terms are used loosely and interchangeably or so it seems.



I dislike the term alternative medicine, which is used mostly by traditional medical practitioners to connote something negative, or alternative to “real” medicine. On the flip side, it also implies that traditional medicine actually needs an alternative. This may be true, but to exclude traditional medicine is also a mistake.

The term complementary medicine is better, because now non-traditional medicine can “complement” traditional medicine, or the two can be used together. Then, complementary medicine and alternative medicine were put together, and made into CAM, the acronym for “complementary and alternative medicine.” I suppose that was to make sure all the bases were covered. Another downside to CAM is that it still uses the term medicine," as if medical approaches were the only way to provide integrative healthcare.

I prefer the term integrative healthcare. It is not perfect but it is as close as it gets to define a total, interdisciplinary system of healthcare (NOT just medical) providers with the goal of treating the whole person. The best definition I found for integrative healthcare is at biomedcentral.com. Canadian teams of faculty from community health, nursing, pharmacy and theology created the following definition of integrative healthcare :

  • is based on a specific set of core values that include the goals of treating the whole person, assisting the innate healing properties of each person, and promoting health and wellness as well as the prevention of disease
  • employs an interdisciplinary team approach guided by consensus building, mutual respect, and a shared vision of healthcare that permits each practitioner and the patient to contribute their particular knowledge and skills within the context of a shared, synergistically charged plan of care.

The key point I wish to share in this definition is that the patient contributes their knowledge and skills. You, as an individual must take responsibility in the care of your body and your body-mind-soul. You must cease viewing healthcare as merely an external system to heal you, a system that knows everything about you. That is NOT integrative healthcare! You must see your own involvement in understanding your own body as the key ingredient to health and healing in your life. You must learn to Develop Intuition by Using Your Body.

Self-Healing Personality

There is a lot of evidence regarding individual personality traits and susceptibility to illness and disease. Better stated, perhaps, is that the way you view life and the way you approach life is what makes a difference in your health.

Your personality is really how you approach life, not who you really are, not really your true self. How you respond to stress and the changes in your life makes all the difference. You can change how you approach life and how you respond to changes outside of your control.

The basic premise of this website rests in the concept of health and healing as an intrinsic phenomenon. This is in contradiction to what most of us view – health and healing as an external system of cures and fixes.

This is why, for healthcare nirvana to exist, you must personally take responsibility for your own health, your own participation in your health and changing your attitudes and approaches toward health.

Self healing personalities are those who independently discover health and healing. They seek their own remedies and turn to integrative healthcare alternatives.

Your Body is Your Temple – No One Else’s!

In order for healthcare to be integrative healthcare, you, as a patient, must take responsibility and participate. Remember the self-healing personality in the above section.

Golden Horn as seen from the summit of Vermillion Peak, CO, Wilson Massive in BackgroundGolden Horn from Summit of Vermillion Peak, Colorado

Let’s look at why it is so difficult to take responsibility for our health with traditional medicine practitioners.

One of the first difficulties that most of us have is letting our healthcare providers know how we really feel about what is currently going on in our bodies.

If we have an illness, major or not, we tend to listen intently to the medical experts and follow their expertise.

If something during the treatment process should go wrong, often we do not, or cannot let our healthcare providers know. We are so used to viewing them as the authority, that we often accept every thing they tell us, hook, line and sinker. We want to be good patients, because we are taught to believe that this is what will make us well. We turn our bodies completely over to them. After all they are the experts, and have gone through years and years of extensive training, right?

We forget that only we ourselves can truly know our internal state, our own body wisdom. No one knows us better than ourselves. But instead of speaking up we just buck up and take it perhaps because we want to please the doctor, and not make him/her angry. We want to ensure that we get attentive care. After all the treatment is helping us, and we should weigh the benefit, despite the side effects, right? Wrong!

It is our duty to ourselves to ensure that we receive the best care possible by asking every question we have, relaying our fears and hopes, and discussing, as a healthcare partner, what is going on in our bodies as a response to the prescribed treatment.

We really are partners with our healthcare providers, and if you can, find healthcare providers who are willing to partner with you. Most often it is holistic healthcare providers who are willing to do this. However, it is still our responsibility to inform our doctors that you prefer a more integrative healthcare approach, and you will be consulting with other non-traditional healthcare practitioners as well.

Take Your Advocate:

If you are suffering from a serious illness, and feel afraid or unable to express yourself with your medical doctor, try taking an advocate with you, a significant other, or someone who knows you and your concerns well enough that can help you express them. Medicine is more of an art, although we believe it is a science. That’s why medicine is known as ‘The Art of Healing.’ It is because medicine is a method of trial and error, to come up with just the right treatment that is enough to relieve the symptom(s) but not too much to cause side effects, or other serious adverse effects. Sometimes the right treatment is found after many attempts at various treatments or dosages and consultations with various specialists. You must personally help the ‘artist’ to find the right balance - by ensuring the physician knows exactly how you feel and how you are responding to treatment.

Integrative healthcare has to start with the consumer and hopefully with the progress of time and many voices real change can occur. Traditional medicine has to learn to be a part of a shared vision of healthcare that includes all practitioners and the patients themselves.



You are not a Statistic!

Another major difficulty in keeping your self-healing personality is that our medical experts have a penchant for quoting statistics. They tell you what the odds are of your surviving whatever disease, with or without treatment, the odds of a cure, or the odds of side effects with treatment, the odds of successful treatment and the odds of all sorts of things going wrong.

Instead of hearing you as a unique individual, and assessing your skill level in self-care and healing, they think it is their duty to tell you the odds. I am not sure why this is so, if it’s just a habit from training, or if it shows how smart they are, or if they truly believe they are giving helpful information. (Liability, unfortunately, especially regarding the risks of surgery, and other invasive procedures, requires the physician to tell you all the possible adverse events so you can make an informed decision. I am not addressing this issue.)

By quoting statistics, you are stripped of your uniqueness and your power. As the experts, traditional doctors do not apply my favorite tenant of integrative healthcare – that the patient contributes their particular knowledge and skills.

Holistic medicine has nothing to do with the odds. Integrative healthcare is one of hope that traditional medicine robs from patients.

When I hear the odds being quoted to me, I just want to scream, “I am not a statistic!” Research has shown that those people with cancer who defy the odds, are usually the ones who are defiant, and don’t always listen to what the medical experts have to say. They refuse to accept the statistics as their medical reality. They believe in their internal power and guidance for healing. They have to be defiant because the medical experts believe mightily in the statistics.

I personally hope that by all of us who are on a journey to develop self-healing personalities, as we start saying with a collective voice that we are not statistics, that our traditional medical experts will hear us and change this practice.

Prickly Pear Cactus BloomPrickly Pear Cactus Bloom

Giving a cancer patient 1-in-10 odds of survival, in my humble opinion, is giving them a death sentence. Why would a loving, caring professional want to instill such negative information in someone’s mind? Isn’t the diagnosis itself devastating enough? Wouldn’t this become a self-fulfilling prophecy?

If I believe the experts are the authority and what they tell me is true, then I would assimilate this information and have it become part of my new experience. In other words, my mind and my thought would create the matter, the devastation and the death, instead of my mind creating positive images for health and healing. Thought creates matter. If I believe I am going to die, most likely I will.

Forever is not in Your Health Vocabulary!

A third difficulty in creating your self-healing personality is when medical experts of all types tell a patient, “Most likely you will have problems with your knees for the rest of your life.” How many of you have heard this? Just substitute whatever your particular disease, symptom or body part is, in place of ‘knees.’ This, again, from an expert creates a negative mind-set in the patient. They are refusing to take into account the incredible self-healing techniques that I believe in! Thought creates matter. If we believe that we can have health and healing, and are willing to do the inner work to achieve it, we can achieve it! We don’t need some well-meaning professional stating his/her beliefs. They are not our own.

Health and healing is not just about science and statistics. The molecules of hope cannot be created in a petri dish! There are many instances of people who have healed themselves of dis-eases and and conditions that medical science pronounced incurable or permanent.

My Definition of a Holistic Healthcare Practitioner:

My idea of integrative healthcare, or medical nirvana is spiritually enlightened, holistic health coaches that act as interactive partners and guides for patients. They would help patients through the self-discovery process, creating a mutual agreement regarding their care and healing. The healthcare provider now listens to the patient’s intuition and understands it. Of course, patients also have responsibility and are now open and aware of their own bodies, and can tap into this type of holistic healing. Patients are developing self-care practices and a self-healing personality as they find their inner strength and inner voice. Communication now flows and is accepted on both ends as receiver and giver. This is a two way street.

I personally have yet to meet such a healthcare practitioner or see such an integrative healthcare practice. I know they exist, because I have read their books and their websites! Dr Christianne Northrup, featured on PBS is one of them. Those of you familiar with her and have read her books would understand what I was talking about. She deals with women’s health issues, and I would highly recommend reading her books. They were a huge inspiration for me traveling the world of menopause and life changes.

Would there only be a physician that could speak to both sides of our brains: Left brain, rational side, AND right brain, intuitive side. Or maybe, perhaps it is we ourselves who need to tap into our own right brain’s intuitive side and empower ourselves through our own bodies to let our physicians know what it is we need. That is a tall task indeed and one for which most of us are unfamiliar as consumers of Western medicine.

An Ounce of Prevention…

I would love to see programs that would fund employers in providing preventative measures for health. The money that the government currently assigns to healthcare and that which could be assigned in the future should a healthcare system overhaul prevail, would be much better spent in preventative programs. This would assist in developing a more integrative healthcare system.

Red Maple leaves in the fallRed Maples in the Fall

Healthcare programs would include modalities that incorporate a holistic approach to health and wellness, emphasizing prevention. Medical clinics would be involved that offer bodywork techniques coupled with therapeutic talk to help their clients access their body’s wisdom through the Body Window. The clinic would help people to understand their personally held issues and help them understand what characterizes a self-healing personality. This would be integrative healthcare!

Clinical medicine as we know it would be involved that supports the patient through the medical process with the goal to remove medications whenever possible, by utilizing known preventative measures. These measures would also include wellness education, such as management of stress, diet, and exercise/body prescriptions, guiding patients in their intuition for what works the best for them to incorporate healthy habits into their crazy lives.

The medical professionals would include the interactive intuitive partners and guides as I have described above for integrative healthcare. Referrals to specialists would be made when no alternative solution could be found. Now that would be health and wellness Nirvana. We certainly have a long way to go toward integrative healthcare, don’t we?

Ultimately, You must be Your Own Healer:

For now, since healthcare nirvana and integrative healthcare does not yet exist, it is my desire that my writings may inspire you to begin your own journey to find your own internal guidance to find a more holistic health and healing. I myself, am human, and am on a continuous journey into my own self for health and healing. If I have brought encouragement to you through my web page, I am thrilled.

You can have health and healing, if you choose to do the work necessary to find it within yourself! Just choose it and do it!





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