High blood pressure, diabetes, emphysema, cardiac disease, obesity and cancer are all examples of conditions many people have been diagnosed with and treated for. The problem with using an approach that names individual diseases or conditions comes from the perspective that each diagnosis is considered a separate entity and is treated as a separate entity. A person with high blood pressure may also have hormonal irregularities (affecting their blood pressure,) that can influence sleep, that can influence or lead to depression, that can influence job performance and family relationships. In an attempt to simplify health problems, we create a diagnosis and provide treatments to address the SYMPTOMS without ever considering the impact these symptoms have on the rest of the body and mind. This approach reduces the human being to a bunch of individual body parts requiring licensed mechanics (aka doctors or specialists) to focus their skills on addressing (NOT necessarily FIXING) the “broken” body part. This is the model we have been raised with and come to accept as quality health care.
This is NOT an effective or efficient approach to health problems. It simplifies the diagnoses and treatments, yet provides substandard results. It is important for the consumer to realize this approach waits for symptoms to develop rather than maintaining the various components of optimal physical, emotional, chemical and electrical health. It reinforces the FALSE ASSUMPTION that health problems only exist when symptoms begin to manifest.This approach also removes most of the health responsibilities from the individual and places them in the doctor’s office. The patient’s behavior and lifestyle become less relevant because it is believed the doctor will “undo” all the damage by prescribing medicine that heals.
ACTIVE participation on the patient’s behalf is the ONLY approach to maintaining optimal health. Maintaining diseases (ex. blood pressure, diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome, etc…) by controlling lab values is NOT the same thing as BEING HEALTHY. Irritable bowel syndrome is a great example of this. Irritable Bowel Syndrome is the result of a shift in the ratio of healthy to unhealthy bacteria in the intestines, inflammation that develops from this shift, nutritional deficiencies and other factors. The medical treatment for this condition further disrupts this bacterial ratio in an attempt to relieve the pain and discomfort. Pharmaceutical treatment (by itself) can lead to the interruption of chemicals that allow nerves to communicate as well as reduce hormones needed for brain function. This means a possible end result of IBS treated ONLY with pharmaceutical agents is cognitive impairment (ex. dementia.) Until recently, a person suffering dementia would have gone to a neurologist and been prescribed medication attempting to improve brain function. Today doctors are beginning to see the relationship between the intestines and the brain (aka the enteric brain.) This means that dietary habits (restoring the proper balance of gut bacteria) can potentially have greater influence on brain function and brain impairment than pharmaceutical drugs alone. We are beginning to understand that the patient’s body is not merely deficient in pharmaceutical drugs, but rather nutritional elements needed for maintaining proper brain function. This is just one of many examples showing the current medical model seeking SYMPTOMATIC changes without ever addressing the bigger picture. This approach, by itself may not only be inappropriate, but detrimental causing serious adverse effects on the individual’s overall health.
The answer lies in treating the patient as a WHOLE PERSON. Treatments must include MULTIPLE ANSWERS that require the patient to participate to maximize the results. In the above example, the patient may have been asked to increase vegetables for fiber, fish oil to reduce inflammation, digestive enzymes to help break down the food and make it more absorbable, probiotics to help restore the normal balance of good and bad intestinal bacteria, exercise to help stimulate immune responses to unhealthy bacteria. The doctor may have also prescribed antibiotics, and antifungal medications. If stress was a contributing factor, meditation, yoga or tai chi might have been incorporated in the treatment plan.
This example approaches the diagnosis using food, exercise, supplements, stress reduction and pharmaceutical agents. This approach treats the whole person and gets to the ROOT CAUSE. This is quality healthcare. As you can see, a prescriptive drug was only 1 part of a larger approach to addressing this disorder.
Does this sound like an approach your doctor would suggest for you? Does your doctor turn to a prescription pad for every answer or work with you in a TEAM EFFORT resulting in improved health?
I term this approach “treating health synergistically”. It multiplies the effectiveness of the individual treatments and strengthens the whole body rather than attempting to isolate a specific body part suffering a symptom. It also empowers the patient by taking a greater role and responsibility in their health and lifestyle.
Start learning today what steps you can take to improve the quality of your health. The more you are willing to learn the better your chances for enjoying a life of your choosing.
A TEAM APPROACH IS MORE EFFECTIVE AND OFFERS BETTER RESULTS THAN A LONE RIDER.
THE SAME FACT HOLDS TRUE FOR HEALTH CARE.