Why is it that we are led to believe that we need to choose between a mind body based approach to healing and the conventional approach when dealing with any chronic condition?
What if instead, we understood that each of us is unique and requires different approaches to dealing with our health issues?
What if we realised that a combination of approaches may work better at least in the short to medium term when it involves more complex chronic health conditions?
If I am being honest, I did not pay much attention to this particular topic till our family experienced a major health crisis. It was only when I was dealing with my daughter’s health issues as her primary caregiver that I started thinking about this at all. Until then I had not really paid much attention to this seeming divide between conventional and “alternative” medicine.
Over time I have come to realise that this divide is not serving us well. As human beings, we know that we thrive when our mind, body, and soul are in harmony and that the creation of health and overall wellness is more than just the absence of disease.
Yet sadly we often find it hard to believe that a combined approach may actually work better when dealing with any chronic condition.
Not Either/Or but Yes/And
This is a concept that I teach my clients with regards to approaching many different aspects of their lives. This is the concept of approaching any challenge or opportunity with an attitude of YES/AND instead of EITHER/OR. In fact, this kind of approach can be really useful and effective when dealing with health challenges.
Like most people, I had grown up on conventional medicine where the focus was mostly on the physical manifestations of the disease. It was only when I dealt with my daughter’s chronic health issues as her primary care giver that I came to know about the interconnectedness between the foods that we ate, our external environment, and our internal environment (our thoughts, mindset, stress levels) and our symptoms.
As I started doing research on how I could help heal her by focusing on addressing the root causes of her health issues, I learned that while managing her severe symptoms was necessary, it was not the solution that I had hoped it would be. I came to learn that in order to create resilient health, I had to focus on her root cause- gut health.
A combined approach
In fact, this is where you may need to start if you are dealing with any kind of autoimmune or even any other chronic condition. A Functional Medicine approach, much like the traditional healing systems like Ayurveda and TCM focuses on finding and addressing the root cause and treating the “whole” person. And rather than having to choose between a conventional approach and a Functional Medicine approach, we can often benefit from a combined approach.
I have found this kind of approach to be really effective in both my personal and professional experience. In my health coaching practice, when my clients start working with me, they are often already on some kind of treatment which includes medication. Medications like immunosuppressive drugs or steroids are often prescribed in autoimmune conditions and are necessary for preventing further tissue damage. At the same time, a Functional Medicine approach is required to uncover and address the root causes so that the person and provide a long term solution where further damage and autoimmune diagnoses can be prevented.
As a Health Coach, my role is not to give any advice on the medication and treatment part of the healing process but rather focus on uncovering and addressing the root causes (toxins, stress and food). The good news is that often by providing what is needed for that unique individual, they are able to deal with their chronic conditions without medications in the long run.
This brings me to why I think that a combined approach can work really well for many people with autoimmune conditions and needs to be at least explored no matter what the diagnosis is.
There are THREE good reasons that I have shared below which may help you to understand this better.
A combined approach can….
1. Prevent further tissue damage
Medications like immunosuppressive drugs are often necessary to stop further tissue damage. While a Functional Medicine approach helps to uncover and address the root causes, it takes time to make the changes necessary to heal from it.
In the meantime, it can be really helpful for many people in the short to medium term to take medications to stop further damage to their bodies and get symptomatic relief.
2. Provide symptomatic relief
It is not easy to make changes in terms of lifestyle and diet to deal with autoimmune conditions. Often some sort of symptomatic relief is necessary with either the help of conventional or Functional Medicine while someone is trying to address the root causes of their chronic disease.
Most autoimmune and other severe chronic conditions can create debilitating symptoms like extreme fatigue, low energy, pain, brain fog and poor concentration, limited mobility to name just a few. This can make it very difficult to focus on making the kind of changes necessary to deal with it in a sustainable manner. In these cases, it can be really helpful for most people to get some sort of immediate relief that will motivate them to stay on track and do what is needed for their own unique requirements
3. Be a “Best of both worlds”
Both of these approaches have much to offer and it’s a shame if we think we have to choose between them. While I would personally opt for using a natural healing approach whenever possible, I know that there will always be times when will need an intervention (medications, surgery) that will have an immediate impact.
At the same time, if we can harness the power of our minds to heal our bodies, use food as medicine, and provide a healing environment for our bodies, the results can be truly remarkable. I have seen this in my own life and in my work with my clients
You get to decide how your healing journey will play out
You DO have a choice in deciding what works for you and what doesn’t
But you do NOT have to choose between various modalities to help you heal
You CAN choose BOTH!
As Joseph Conrad had said,
The question is not how to get cured, but how to live