Holistic Health Care

Health care today includes a state of absence of disease in addition to physical, mental, and social well being of a person according to the World Health Organizarion (WHO) Conference held at Alma Ata in 1978. John Last (1987) defined health as a state of equilibrium between human beings, and the physical, biological, and social environment. Thus the complete health care infrastructure and training needs a transformation of approach for meeting the objective of "Health for All" by 200 AD, as earlier laid down by the WHO. This ushers in the era of Holistic Medicine. The foundation of holistic health lies in the healthy soul which in turn needs a systematic understanding of the nature and functioning of the soul, including the practice of meditation. The concept of holistic health was first conceived in the USA, and continues to spread all over the globe.

Holistic medicine considers the personality of the patient as a whole, i.e.,physically psychologically, socially, and spiritually aiming at the management and prevention of disease. All these different states are equally important, are interrelated and essential for the well being of the person. For this the treating doctor has to be well informed about the patient's whole life situation. Holistic medicine is something that practitioners of alternative medicine use as the basis of their treatment regimens. However, it it just not identical to alternative medicine, as it allows a wider range of treatment approaches. Nutrition, exercise, prayer, homeopathy, acupuncture, and meditation are employed in addition.

Historically, clinical holistic medicine dates as far back as Hippocrates (406-370 BC), referred to as "Father of Medicine". Many of his writings deal with the Anatomy and Physiology of the human body. The Hippocratic Oath reflects the high esteem with which the Greek physician is regarded.

Percival (1803) recorded that emotions of a patient require attention and evaluation while treating the symptoms of then disease. Later, John Macleod (1904) comments that doctors must aim to be holistic while treating a patient, rather than looking at the isolated pathology only. A holistic approach has been strongly advocated by the Royal College of General Practitioners. During the last several decades diseases related to changing life-styles and emotional stress have taken a big toll. Thus, a holistic approach to the problem is the need of the day. The following features have to be looked into:

  1. Holistic History:
    The doctor must try to elucidate as to:
         (i) Why has the patient decided to consult;
        (ii) What does the patient think is the problem;
       (iii) What does the patient fear may be the problem; and
       (iv) What is the patient hoping hoping to achieve from the consultation.
  2. Good doctor-patient relationship is essential.
  3. Receive the patient with a smile
  4. Explain the disease properly to the patient.
  5. Express empathy towards the patient.
  6. Don't criticize other doctors.
  7. Don't discuss serious matters in the presence of the patient.
  8. Apply relaxation techniques, and impress the patient to think positively.
  9. Apply yoga and meditation as a tool for holistic healing.

Yoga can be effectively employed to manage cases of depression, obsessive-compulsive neurosis, addictions, peptic ulcers, hypertension, and psychosomatic diseases.

Ref: Holistic Health Care by Dr. Girish Patel, Om Shanti Press, Abu Road, Rajasthan, 2005-6.


More by :  Dr. Frank S. K. Barar

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