Personally, when I first stumbled upon the word wholistic, and the phrase wholistic health, I thought it was my own original life philosophy (silly me!). I’m sure I read about it in one of the many self-help books I was reading almost 30 years ago now, like Norman Vincent Peale’s “The Power of Positive Thinking,” M. Scott Peck’s book “The Road Less Traveled,” or “What to Say When You Talk to Yourself,” by Dr. Shad Helmstetter (truthfully this book was a turning point in my life).
As I moved on into chiropractic school, and started my own practice, and even through the process of obtaining my post-doctorate degree as a chiropractic internist, I think it was an evolving process of coming to learn more what the term wholistic health really meant. Even today I suppose I have tweaked the definition a bit over the years, without losing its true meaning, as to what it means to me, personally. Let me share some insight with you to hopefully answer this question – what is true wholistic health?
Let’s First Define Wholistic Health
The World Health Organization’s definition of health is “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” More accurately, wholistic health is having your mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual health all in balance and functioning optimally. When one of these areas is out of balance, it’s going to have an effect on the others. They are all interconnected and related. To focus on one area while ignoring the others will eventually lead to a state of dis-ease, imbalance, and ultimately, sickness. For example, if someone is always an angry person (emotional health), they just might end up having a heart attack (physical). If someone has unforgiveness on their heart (spiritual), they will more than likely find it quite difficult to achieve optimum emotional health. If someone is trying to fit 28 hours into a 24-hour day (as in time-management and our mental health), it’s most certainly going to take a toll on one’s physical health.
Using the bounty God has created for us to help maintain and restore our health has been acknowledged and implemented for centuries. In fact, as far back as 400 BC, Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine, said to his students, “Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food.” He also said, “A wise man should consider that health is the greatest of human blessings.” I couldn’t agree with both of these quotes more, they both support the wholistic health paradigm.
What are the Differences Between Conventional Medicine and Wholistic Health?
Now when most of us first hear the word “health” we naturally automatically connect this word to what we are familiar with, conventional medicine and the medical world. After all, that is a word that is used quite commonly in that arena. For example: “health insurance,” “well checks,” “health check-up,” and so on. Perhaps at one time striving for health was the objective of the medical profession, but unfortunately, it no longer is. Now don’t get me wrong, there certainly is a time and a place for conventional medicine, but in the majority of cases, the intent isn’t to restore your body back to good health, it’s to treat your disease – acute and chronic. Not to restore health. Let’s dig a little deeper into how each of these disciplines differ:
Conventional Medicine treats the disease — Wholistic Healthcare treats the patient
If I had an acute disease or injury, I most definitely want to seek out care from a conventional medicine doctor. They are very well trained and have access to the latest technology to address these issues, and in some cases, perhaps even save a life. But if I am struggling with a chronic health condition, I want to seek out the practitioner who will help me restore my body back to good health, using natural approaches. Practitioners in the wholistic healthcare arena have access to incredible scientifically proven research, diagnostic tools and testing, as well as natural treatments to assist the patient in getting to the root cause of their chronic disease and then help them restore their body back to good health.
Conventional Medicine is linear – Wholistic Health is connected
In conventional medicine a list of symptoms, plus a list of standard lab values, equals a disease. This is linear, it has an end. Conditions that have names to them like “complex” or “syndrome” are simple examples of how a set value system equals a disease. With wholistic thinking, each person is unique, and therefore a systematic formula cannot always be applied the same way. The patient is assessed from a unique, individual approach. No two people are alike, therefore greater time needs to be spent on the discovery process by assessing the patient’s whole health – mental, emotional, physical and spiritual, as the root can lie in any area.
Conventional Medicine you are either diseased, or you are not – Wholistic Health looks for the root cause, even in the absence of symptoms
Conventional medicine is focused on finding a disease — either you are diseased or you are healthy, without much room for treatment in between these two points. Quite often a “let’s wait and see” approach is taken if you don’t yet fall into the designated reference range for disease. Wholistic health’s objective is to get to the root cause of the problem and work toward restoring the body back to good health, using natural and wholistic approaches. The wholistic approach is looking at a person’s health as the whole, taking all factors into consideration – mental, emotional, physical and spiritual – as to where the root may lie.
Conventional Medicine manages the disease with drugs and/or surgery – Wholistic Health works towards restoring the body back to functional health using natural approaches.
The conventional approach is to manage a determined disease with drugs and/or surgery. At times exercise and diet may be recommended, but a specific, unique, patient-centered plan for these is typically not prescribed. And when they are, they usually follow the government food pyramid, which is conducive to managing disease, but certainly not for restoring the body back too good health. Wholistic Health looks at the foundational tools that are vital to a person’s health, first: Rest, water, exercise, good nutrition/eliminate toxic foods, and good nerve supply, with the objective of restoring the body back to good health (more about these in a moment). Supplementation can also be utilized, as well as a whole slew of additional wholistic methods of treatment.
What Are the Components of Wholistic Health?
There are four basic components of what I call the Wholistic Health Pie. They are Mental – as in time management, budget, career, goal-setting, our purpose in life etc. — Emotional, Physical and Spiritual. Let’s delve a little deeper into each one of them, keeping in mind they are all connected and inter-related. If one component is out of balance, it is certainly going to have an effect on the other areas of our health as well.
While all of the quadrants of the health pie are vital and important, I feel like all the other pieces hinge on our spiritual health. It’s the measuring stick. It’s where the truth of all the other aspects of our health comes from—the One Who created us and literally breathed the breath of life into us. Don’t get me wrong: we can’t just have our spiritual health in balance and ignore the other parts of our health—they are all vital. In fact, our spiritual health really wouldn’t be in good balance if we ignored the other parts. God created us in His image, that is “whole”—mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual—and if we ignore the other parts, we are ignoring a part of Him. Hence, an imbalance to our spiritual health is the result.
I think a vital tool to not only our spiritual health, but for our entire health, is to be able to hear God’s voice and to be confident in that ability. His voice is what will properly direct us toward keeping (or bringing) all the areas of our health into balance. An excellent resource to learn how to hear God’s voice—is a book written by Dr. Mark Virkler, entitled, “How to Hear God’s Voice.”
To summarize his book on hearing God’s voice, there are four simple steps: 1) quiet yourself down; 2) picture yourself with Jesus (or Papa God); 3) be open to spontaneous thought and vision; 4) write it down—journal what you hear or see. For a greater appreciation on how to hear God’s voice, I highly encourage you to purchase Dr. Virkler’s book. The bottom line is hearing God’s voice for His direction for your health and life is vital.
The term “mental health” can be utilized in a variety of ways. It could be referring to one’s mental state – are they depressed, anxious, or been diagnosed with a disorder such as bi-polar. I would define this as an illness, and viewed in a negative light. But it can also refer to the overall well-being of a person, how they view life, and how they function through it. It’s more of the wholistic definition. By mental health in this context I mean things like: time management, budget, career, goal-setting, our purpose in life etc. Let’s break some of these down a little further.
The Truth about Goal-Setting
Benjamin Franklin said “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Have you ever heard that adage? Setting goals can help us plan better, let’s break these steps down a bit:
- You need to write down your objective. Consider why you even want to reach your particular goal and your reason for wanting to do so. What is your motivation?
- Next, write down your goal. I always suggest writing a goal or two in each quadrant of your health—mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual. One key to this is to write it down. The other is to give it a “by date,” an end date.
- Lastly, write down your action steps. These capture how you are going to reach this goal. This is where planning becomes so important. Your action steps need to be specific. No step is too small to write down.
The Truth About a Budget
There are two huge factors that lie within the mental part of our health that can throw the rest of our health out of balance, if not literally into a diseased state—time and money. “I don’t have enough time” and “I don’t have enough money” are the two biggest areas of resistance I hear when talking with someone about their health. I can appreciate that since I’ve been there and those words come out of my mouth at times as well. Yet I think it is very important that we are at least conscious of not falling back onto these areas of resistance—or even downright excuses.
The Truth About our Purpose
Every single one of us has a unique divine reason for being here on this earth. And it is God, Who gives us our purpose, and it is Him we should be committed to fulfilling it. If you don’t believe this, then it is understandable that you don’t believe you have a purpose. But you do, and it is from Him, and it is Him alone Who can help you fulfill it.
I like to break the physical part of the wholistic health pie down into five vital, and foundational pieces. They are rest, water, exercise, good nutrition in/toxic substances out, and good nerve supply. Too often we want to skip these basic foundational pieces in lieu of the “quick fix.” Let’s now dig a little deeper into the importance of each of these foundational pieces.
The Truth about Rest
The only time the body is able to heal and repair itself, build new cells, etc., is when it is sleeping. The body does its best healing and repairing between 10:00 p.m. and midnight. If you are not asleep between these hours, you have just lost the most essential time for your body to heal and repair.
Lack of sleep has a direct negative impact on the majority of chronic degenerative diseases. If you are not getting your proper sleep, it stresses the adrenal glands. One of the main functions of the adrenals is to release a hormone called cortisol, which is the body’s natural anti-inflammatory. It responds to all stresses to the body—mental/emotional stress, chemical stress, and physical stress. Lack of sleep is a physical stress to the body.
Water, Water, Water: The Truth about Water!
Picture a very dry, cracked Arizona desert. The land has not seen rain in months; then the monsoon hits. During the first hour of rain the land is so dry that the water just runs off. After a few hours of constant watering, the land gets wet and then saturated, allowing the water to seep deep into the soil. Now think of that desert land as each individual cell in your body. Are your cells saturated with water as they need to be, or are they dry and parched, crying out for help before they die? Water is literally vital to every cell in our bodies in order for them to be healthy.
Do you have constipation, headaches, joint or muscle pain, dry hair, or dry skin? Maybe you don’t like the taste of water. These and many other signs could be an indication that your body is dehydrated, which starts way before you are thirsty.
There are four main organs or systems that the body uses to rid its waste and toxins. Fifty percent of the body’s waste should be eliminated through the kidneys. Twenty-five percent should be eliminated through the skin, 23 percent through the lungs and 2 percent through the colon. All four of these mechanisms, however, have to have water in order for the waste and toxins to come out of the body. And the only way the body can get water is if you provide it. The fact of the matter is this: water is vital to life.
The Truth about Exercise
- Exercise is so important for many reasons. We know it’s important for our cardio-vascular health; it strengthens the heart muscles and gets the blood pumping strong and lungs working fully.
- Our lymphatic system is like the sewage system of our bodies. The body’s waste travels through the lymph system before being dumped into the liver to get sorted out for elimination. However, the only way this waste can travel through the lymph vessels is by our arms, legs, and other muscles pumping it out. The muscles can only pump if we use and exercise them.
- Exercise is a GREAT stress reliever! Even conventional medicine says exercise is a more effective remedy for depression than an anti-depressant.
- When we exercise it causes us to sweat. Remember, 25 percent of our body’s waste is eliminated through the skin, primarily through perspiration.
- Twenty-three percent of our body’s waste should be eliminated through the lungs. Exercise gets the bad air out (carbon dioxide) and gets the fresh, good air in (oxygen), working the muscles of the lungs. Otherwise, those toxins stay inside the body, which is not good.
Good Nerve Supply: What Is It?
When you hear the phrase “good nerve supply” what do you think of? You probably have never heard it before, have you?
“Subluxation” is a word you probably have never heard before either, unless you have been to a chiropractor. In a very simple sense, a subluxation is when the bones in our back or neck, called vertebra, are misaligned. Just a millimeter of a shift is all it takes and they can stay stuck or locked in that position, putting pressure on the spinal nerves that pass in between the bones. Every cell, tissue, organ, and system of the body needs good nerve supply.
Chiropractor’s remove the nerve interference through a chiropractic adjustment, rendering good nerve supply back to the body. Good nerve supply is a vital, foundational piece to our physical health.
The Truth about the Foods That Heal and the Foods That Kill
We are what we eat! It’s a wonder I don’t look like a convenience store burrito with extra cheese, given how many of those late-night snacks I had in my “BJ” (“before Jesus”) days! Thank God He can restore not only souls but bodies as well!
I go into great detail about the foods that heal and the foods that kill in my book “Are You Being Deceived About True Wellness,” but let me just summarize by saying: it’s not about the calories, it’s about the right nutrients.
A better measuring stick to determine which foods to avoid and which to eat is whether those foods are inflammatory or non-inflammatory foods. Inflammation is at the root of all chronic and degenerative diseases. Here is what I call the “short list” of inflammatory foods, and the short list of non-inflammatory foods:
- Fast Food
- Fried Foods
- PACKAGED and PROCESSED foods (this list of foods is huge)
- Animal Products
These last 2 are real foods, but if consumed they must be non-GMO, organic, grass-fed, free-range etc. The first 4 however, aren’t even real foods; they are “food-like substances.” These foods have NO nutritional value to them, and in fact, they are literally killing us.
- Nuts & Seeds
- Good Fats (e.g., avocados, flax seed, olive oil, coconut oil – LOVE my coconut oil!)
These foods are healthy and healing to the body. You can have 4,000 calories of vegetables if you want, and you will not get fat.
Sometimes the root of our physical health problems really can lie within the emotional quadrant of the health pie, and the emotional and spiritual are quite hard to separate at times as well. To put it simply, I say the good emotions are from God and the bad emotions are from the enemy.
As an example of our emotions having an effect on our physical health, think about this: if someone is always angry (an emotion, yes?), they just might very well have a heart attack. I simply can’t imagine that the people of the world who are chronically angry wouldn’t experience high blood pressure. The same goes for the spiritual connection; I highly doubt that someone could have tremendous peace (a spiritual component) in their life if they are always angry. They truly are connected.
To Summarize What Wholistic Health is
Believe it or not, this is just the very tip of the iceberg of what Wholistic Health really is all about. If any of this has stirred a hunger in you to learn more, and you now want to know what you can do, and the steps you can take to address your health wholistically, then I highly encourage you to pick up a copy of my book “Are You Being Deceived About True Wellness” to learn so much more on this important, vital, but little known topic of Wholistic Health and Wellness.
To book Dr. Jackie for speaking engagements go to: https://jackiemckool.com/schedule-jackie/