Mousab Kassem Azzawi
2020 / 10 / 3
Edited by Mousab Kassem Azzawi, MSc, MD, PhD, MRCPath.
As compared with the Western healthcare model, the science of holistic medicine takes a more comprehensive approach to disease treatment and prevention. If you think of the human body as a full grown tree that uses nutrients found in the soil to grow and thrive, you might be able to pinpoint maladies of the tree—the human body—by analysing the contents of the soil—the elements that you consume and the environmental factors that surround you.
Surgery and drugs are the hallmarks of Western medicine, and they definitely can be effective. Western medicine is great for acute care. For example, if you are having a heart attack´-or-if you have just been involved in a car accident, you want to get to the best state-of-the-art Western medical facility.
However, conventional medicine falls short in some particularly important areas—specifically, illness prevention and chronic disease care. Medical professionals are mainly trained to be reactive. In addition, they are disease driven and often only treat parts of people. For example, heart specialists are expected to just treat the heart—to treat symptoms, deal with problems as they arise, and then impose a treatment.
There is a reason for this kind of training. Physicians are taught to ask patients one question: “What is your chief complaint?” This question already implies that the patient has a problem. Physicians then hear the chief complaint, do a physical exam, run a few tests, and quickly arrive at a diagnosis. Once they have the diagnosis, they then decide on a treatment.
The primary training for physicians in conventional Western medicine involves arriving quickly at a diagnosis. Rapid diagnosis leads to rapid treatment, and rapid treatment can save lives. This process allows physicians to control the underlying problem.
Problems arise when physicians take that model of acute-care medicine and apply it to chronic, long-term health issues. In addition, that model certainly does nothing to prevent illness. Instead, the clinician is taught to proceed -dir-ectly to the diagnosis— to name the disease—in order to identify as quickly as possible a medication´-or-procedure.
When physicians apply the acute model to chronic disease, they miss a lot of information that might alert them to the cause of the problem. For example, if a patient has a headache and the physician offers a diagnosis and a pre-script-ion, the physician would be missing the essential aspects of that person’s life: who they are, who they live with, what they eat, what their joys and hopes are, what their exercise regimen is, and what medications they take. Socially, the physician would not practically consider when making a diagnosis whether they are married, belong to a community,´-or-gain strength from their belief system.
The result of using the acute-care model is that little attention is paid to the patient’s story. Physicians are aware of the patient’s chief complaint and present symptoms of illness, but the patient’s whole story is not understood. Each major issue becomes a discrete diagnosis dealt with in isolation from all the others because physicians are trained to look at the parts.
Physicians end up with what can best be called “the ill to the pill.” Everything that physicians have a diagnosis for is associated with a pill´-or-a surgery because that is what is in their toolbox. The problem with this approach is that the patient ends up with a bag full of pills.
When it comes to the prevention and treatment of disease, nature provides the best solutions. Think of yourself as a tree that has a few health challenges. Think about the soil in which you live. You might be able to label some of the leaves of your tree—maybe as “depression,” “diabetes,” “high cholesterol,”´-or-“heartburn.” Some people have many sick leaves.
Imagine that the trunk of your tree is your genes—your genetic makeup. Then, think about what makes up the soil because what determines whether you have healthy´-or-sick fruit is a very special interaction between your genes and your environment, and the soil is a major compartment of the environment in which you live.
Soil ingredients interact with the trunk of your tree—with your genome—and determine if our leaves are sick´-or-healthy. Important soil ingredients include the following:
* Macro-nutrition: What kind of protein do you eat? What kind of carbohydrates do you choose? Do you eat good fats´-or-bad fats?
* Micro-nutrition: vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin D, zinc, and selenium.
* Clean air and clean water.
* Physical activity: Do you walk every day? Do you have a formal exercise program?
* Sound at night.
* Environmental toxins.
In addition to the components of the physical body, your soil has other components that are equally important: How do you live your life? How do you feel emotionally, mentally, and spiritually? Are you angry and hostile? Where is your resiliency? Do you believe in a purpose for your life? Where do you gain your strength?
The best way to heal your tree is by strengthening your soil. However, not everyone needs the same things. Some people need nutrition while others need exercise—and perhaps others need to reduce the amount of stress they have.