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  • Writer's pictureSimone Grove

Accessing Integrative Healthcare

Updated: May 8

As a clinician who is medically trained and also a practitioner of holistic treatments and techniques, I often find a disconnect between the two. Representation is often black and white, either/or – ‘good’ or ‘bad’.

In actual fact, it’s when these two disciplines combine that we can see truly remarkable results and optimal wellbeing – which is why I’m passionate about advocating for greater choice and availability, when it comes to ‘alternative’ treatment options - and spreading the word on how transformative an integrative health approach can be.

What is integrative healthcare?

Integrative healthcare is a broad term that refers to the combining of allopathic treatments (Western medical approaches such as pharmaceutical drugs, surgeries and treatments) and holistic or ‘alternative’ therapies (many of which pre-date Western medicine, and have been side-lined as acute medical care has advanced).

Previously there was a lack of understanding, credibility and respect surrounding holistic healthcare as so-called ‘alternative’ methodologies were seldom taken seriously by medical doctors and specialists – and now I feel patients are becoming more aware of what’s out there beyond the conventional prescribed options, and are much more informed on the benefits of an integrative approach.

How can integrative healthcare help me?

Integrative healthcare is powerful because it harnesses the best of both types of treatment, which work symbiotically together to help you feel better and recover more quickly.

Holistic treatments and techniques often plug the gaps found in allopathic pathways, and vice versa. They also support mental, emotional and physical wellbeing to support balanced healing and alleviate side effects that can be caused by medical drugs and procedures.

Some uses and benefits of holistic treatments when used alongside allopathic healthcare in an integrated manner include:

  • Getting to the root of the issue: One thing ancient medical systems like Chinese Traditional Medicine and Ayurveda do very well is addressing underlying causes of illness rather than applying a ‘sticking plaster’ approach as is often the case with Western medicine for chronic illnesses and conditions. These are usually issues with ‘no known cause’ – but in TCM and Ayurveda, the cause is often quite clear and usually can’t be easily explained through scientific insights alone. Treatments like massage and herbal supplements may be applied but also lifestyle changes to bring lasting relief, comfort and wellbeing.

  • Complimenting and supporting allopathic treatments: Through reducing side effects caused by treatments, drugs and surgeries, holistic techniques can enhance wellness and speed up recovery.

  • Supporting improved emotional health: When we feel good emotionally, we feel better physically. I’ve seen this time and again in my practice and it’s well-evidenced throughout the integrative healthcare space. The mind-body connection is strong and directly influences our inner health – if we are not feeling good emotionally or have deep-seated traumas and negative beliefs which keep us trapped in a certain loop of thought, we will likely see these manifest in our physical body.

  • Enhancing outcomes: When holistic and allopathic treatments work together, patients recover more fully and faster. They may also find that illnesses leave and do not return, or are more manageable, due to the sustained effect and any lifestyle changes implemented during their integrative health journey.

Why does mind matter?

Thoughts almost certainly influence our physical reality and health – therefore impacting upon our entire lives. As mentioned above, many people who develop life-threatening illnesses or live with chronic conditions such as fibromyalgia have suffered from great stress or trauma. And just as the power of our thoughts can negatively influence health, it can also have a positive impact.

The power of the mind-body connection can be most easily and clearly seen in the placebo effect. During drugs trials there is always a control group established, where the participants are given a sugar pill or equivalent (but believe that they are taking the active drug). The results are often astonishing – despite not having ingested the active ingredient, participants in the control group see comparable results to those that do. This is a perfect example of the power of our thoughts – and how harnessing beliefs and brain activity in a positive manner can directly influence physical health outcomes, especially when we’re faced with severe illness or ongoing conditions.

If you’re interested on reading more on this, I highly recommend looking at articles and books by Dr Joe Dispenza – he’s a neuroscientist who has dedicated much of his working life to this since recovering from a devastating cycling accident which doctors said would leave him unable to walk again (needless to say, he is now leading a fully active, healthy life and sharing his experience to help others!)

Sadly, it’s still commonplace to find an ‘either/or’ approach when it comes to clinical treatments vs holistic treatment, but slowly (and surely!) things are changing. This is partly down to the remarkable results people experience when accessing ‘alternative’ therapies, which quickly lead to the word spreading to others. I find that many of my patients initially turn to holistic techniques to deal with mental and emotional strain due to an ongoing condition or illness – and quickly discover there are lots of physical, tangible benefits too!

Complementary therapies such as reflexology, massage and acupuncture have all been shown to be highly effective for a range of conditions and are safe to be used alongside conventional allopathic treatments to ease side effects and speed up recovery times, as well as enhancing emotional health. And as detailed above – being in a better state of mind and addressing stress has an incredibly positive impact on your overall wellbeing and quality of life alongside supporting remarkable physical changes during the course of your treatment.

Ready to start your integrative health journey? Get in touch today.

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