AN HOLISTIC APPROACH
Integrative Medicine has been called in many different names along with history. It has already been named Holistic Medicine, Alternative Medicine, Complementary Medicine. The fact is that all these names were chosen to exemplify a more humanistic approach in the patient-doctor relationship and a massive attempt to understand human diseases in so many forms.
At the beginning of the 20th Century, at the end of the First World War, in an apocalyptic scene very similar to what we are living in currently, the world faced the impressive Spanish Flu Pandemic that killed millions of people around the globe.
After this dark period of our contemporary history, in the Interwar Period, Medicine has reacted with the Holistic Movement’s upgrowth in Europe and the USA. A more natural way of living and treating patients were the main objectives of groups of physicians who wanted, above all, protect their patient’s health from the “evils of civilisation”.
Eating fresh food to build resistance in the populations, a more fair regimen of work to reduce stress levels, and gentle exercises were some proposals offered by the Holistic view.
So, what do the Holistic doctors in the 1920s and modern doctors have in common?
The risk of transmission in epidemic times are something that doctors struggle to avoid in their day-by-day practice. In pandemic times, educating people on how to decrease these risks is a duty. Reinforce social distancing measures, use of masks, and close attention to hygiene are some of the actions that all doctors have to do for their patients in times like these.
Nevertheless, with the increase of specialisation in Medicine, it is hard to find doctors worried about sharing these “common sense” knowledge with their patients. In a pandemic reality, what we see is people getting infected just because they don’t follow those simple rules. It is not because they didn’t ever hear about them (they are common sense, right?) but because they don’t have a reliable figure to advise them. So, doctors in the 20th Century and modern doctors have an obligation to be trustworthy health advisors in such struggling times.
An Integrative Doctor, or a Holistic Doctor if you prefer, is above all interested in helping their patient’s health in its various facets. It includes listening mindfully about their physical symptoms and, in a pandemic scenario, with extra care about what can potentially be symptoms caused by the fast-spreading disease.
Something very dear to Integrative Health Professionals is their ability to listen to what was understood in the past as the emotional aspect of the patient’s talks. We know nowadays that the emotional part of a human being is the most complex understanding of what this patient is feeling. Of course, patients’ feelings and emotions are relevant in an integrative approach, but we must comprehend the social aspects of these emotional states. This approach patients will certainly find in an Integrative Doctor consultation and is precisely this approach that creates a trustworthy rapport between doctors and patients.
At the beginning of the 20th Century, some holistic doctors regretted the increasing placement of medical specialists. We know now that we need specialists to deepen our knowledge of the growing complexity of diseases.
But what we still know is that someone to rely on your most distressing moments, someone updated with current Medicine information and also in your daily health care is someone you can trust. This you can also find in an Integrative Doctor, definitely a holistic professional.