Hi, friend! I’m bringing you all of my experience as an integrative medicine physician assistant in this 6 part series on Holistic Health. I want to take you through some of the fundamental concepts to help you get a better understanding and shed some light to help you feel your very best naturally.
Both as one who’s been there (I’ve healed from adrenal fatigue, leaky gut, and food sensitivities twice) and treating lots of patients, I want to pull back the curtain and give you an insider’s view.
You know that you could feel better than you do. I want to give you the tools to help you feel your very best naturally so that you can jump up out of bed every morning excited about creating a life you love!
This is Part 1 of a 6 part Series on Holistic Health. The rest includes:
- Leaky Gut and Food Sensitivities
- Adrenal Fatigue and the HPA Axis
- How to Have a Happy Thyroid
- Reducing Toxin Exposure
- Balancing Female Hormones
Let me walk you through what holistic health is, how to find a holistic healthcare provider, and what to expect on your first visit.
Some things are easier to explain “in person,” so step into my office for this curbside consult. Show notes are written out below too.
What Is Holistic Health?
Holistic health is the concept of helping you feel your very best by treating you as a whole person, including your mind, body, spirit, and emotions… not just your medical lab tests or your symptoms.
The goal of holistic health is to help you achieve your health and wellness goals by addressing you as a total person. If those areas are not addressed, they have the potential to negatively affect your overall health.
Negative Labs, Now What?
Have you ever gone see your regular doctor because you know that something feels off, and been told that everything’s fine because your labs are normal?
In holistic health, we’re concerned about getting to the root cause of your symptoms. What causes abdominal bloating? Why is your body attacking itself with an autoimmune disease? Why can’t you release extra weight and fit into your skinny jeans anymore?
With holistic health, we may do some additional lab work or symptom tracking to get to the bottom of this, and offer you solutions to get better naturally.
How Do I Find A Holistic Healthcare Provider?
If you just google “holistic health,” you’ll probably get a list of local providers pop up immediately. If you’re looking for a licensed medical provider who has additional training, here’s some additional ways to refine your search.
Alternative Names For Holistic Health
My personal recommendation would be to find someone with medical training and background to guide you in your search for natural solutions for optimal health.
Other terms for holistic health include:
- Integrative Medicine
- Functional Medicine
- Alternative (and/or) Complementary Medicine
- Naturopathic Doctor or Naturopath
If you search for a medical office using the first three terms, that should lead you to a healthcare provider who has a degree and certification in conventional medicine and has received additional training in holistic health. That gives you the best of both worlds, since they understand where you’re coming from and can offer natural solutions moving forward.
Quick Note on Naturopaths– they are doctors who have been trained in natural remedies for medial issues. Their training does not include conventional medical school, but they do have a higher education degree and residency. For this reason, their ability to practice depends on which state they work in.
I have worked with many fantastic naturopathic doctors, but please be sure to do your research. Some states do not have a licensing board for naturopaths, so patients of a naturopath may be required to see a licensed medical practitioner once a year (like an MD, DO, PA, or NP).
Board Certification for Holistic Health
There’s no clear standard for certification in holistic health at the moment, but there are few different US national boards that offer credentials for practitioners:
- American Board of Integrative Medicine
- American Alternative Medicine Association
- American Council of Holistic Medicine
- American Naturopathic Medical Certification Board
Services That May Be Available in a Holistic Health Office
Of course, every office is different. But you might find:
- chiropractic care
- IV infusions of vitamins and nutrients
- a compounding pharmacy for natural remedies
- hyperbaric oxygen therapy
- hydrogen peroxide therapy
- lab and allergy testing
- a supplement store with carefully selected (often private labelled) supplements
What To Expect On Your First Holistic Health Office Visit
You’ve found a provider, and you’re ready for your first visit to dive into what holistic health can offer you. Your first visit should be a long one, typically they last about an hour.
You can expect to talk about:
- your current symptoms (when they started, how often they occur)
- your current health conditions (anything you’ve been diagnosed with, medications and supplements you’re currently taking, recent lab tests and results)
- your past medical history (conditions you’ve had before including during childhood, previous antibiotic and steroid and birth control use, past surgeries, known medication or food or environmental allergies, number of pregnancies and miscarriages, previous head injuries, tick bites, smoking and alcohol intake)
- possible environmental toxin exposures (well water, live near contaminated area, previous CT scans or MRIs, mold exposure)
- current typical habits (what do you eat on a typical day, salt or sweet cravings, how many times a day do you have a bowel movement, typical sleep patterns, exercise level, energy level throughout the day, hotter or colder than everyone else, memory and concentration, your typical mood, possible fungal infections, muscle aches or pains, abdominal bloating or gas)
These items are all important for getting to the bottom of your symptoms and helping you to feel better naturally.
If your holistic healthcare provider doesn’t mention any of these items, please consider volunteering this info.
After a thorough medical history, there should be a physical examination from head to toe. The practitioner may look for:
- signs of allergies (bags under the eyes, inflamed tongue, nasal congestion, fluid behind the eardrum)
- signs of an enlarged thyroid, goiter, or nodules
- heart (listening for possible abnormal sounds or speed, muffled heart sounds may indicate subclinical hypothyroidism)
- lungs (possible abnormal sounds related to mold exposure or other toxins)
- abdomen (checking for liver enlargement, abdominal bloating, possible pain at site of the gallbladder)
- muscle strength, tone, coordination, reflexes
- nerve sensitivity
- feet and hands (checking the nails for signs of nutritional deficiencies, fungal infections, etc)
After an exam, the holistic healthcare provider should be able to give you an idea of what may be causing your symptoms based on the history and exam.
This usually leads to lab testing for further confirmation and treatment planning.
Often, you’ll receive instructions on diet and lifestyle changes that you can start today as you wait for those labs to come back. It may also include some detox recommendations and possibly some supplements to start to improve how you feel.
When the labs come back (which can take up to 3-4 weeks), you will most like get more detailed information and instructions for your particular holistic health situation.
Heads’ Up– It’s most likely not ONE thing causing your symptoms!
It’s typically a combination of systems working together (haha so in this case, not working together so well) leading to your symptoms.
It may be possible to speed up the process (and save some money) by doing some of your labs in advance at home through EverlyWell! It’s wayyyyy cheaper than what my office charged patients, and all your results are reviewed by doctors and emailed to you. You can use code EVERLYWELL to save 12% off your first order!).
For my patients, I most often need all of these:
- a stool analysis and food allergy panel
- HPA axis/adrenal testing
- full thyroid panel
- female hormone panel
Dive Deeper Into Holistic Health Topics
Thanks for reading this Holistic Health Intro (from a holistic healthcare insider!). Check out the rest of this series on these important Holistic Health Topics:
- Fix That Leaky Gut and Food Sensitivities
- Heal Adrenal Fatigue and Reset Your HPA Axis
- How to Have a Happy Thyroid
- Reducing Toxin Exposure For True Health
- Balancing Female Hormones
Resources That I Love
…to help you be healthy naturally:
- Supercharge Your Weight Loss- Need a little extra “oomph” to help you stay on plan? Several of my friends recently introduced me to HealthyWage. If you’re losing weight well with THM or if financial rewards motivate you to stay on track, then HealthyWage is perfect for you!
- Save on Healthy Meat– ButcherBox is my new favorite way to buy antibiotic free, grass fed beef, pork, and chicken! It’s cheaper than I can get it in the local stores, and it comes right to my door! Use the code AP10 to get $10 off your first box and FREE nitrate-free bacon!!
- Get Healthy Foods for Less- Thrive Market is like the online Costco for healthy groceries, and they even carry healthy meat and seafood! We love saving money with wholesale prices on healthy groceries and products that get sent right to our home! Get an extra 25% OFF your first order when you sign up at Thrive Market HERE!
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