What Is This Crazy Thing Called Holistic Health?

Are you just parts of a whole or are you greater than the sum of your parts? I promise that’s not a math question.

I believe you aren’t just organs and bones held together with tendons, ligaments and skin. You are more than just body parts. Just like a tree isn’t just leaves or just roots, the tree is everything that makes up the tree.

You are body, mind and soul.

Each part of you affects the other. This is not the principle that governs our medical system, which is one of the many reasons why it’s broken.

I’ll use my story to illustrate…

I suffer from chronic migraines. So many years ago, I visited a neurologist. Well I visited quite a few neurologists. Each one, after questions and examinations, ultimately prescribed me pharmaceuticals.

Antidepressants affect neurotransmitters which are linked to migraines. There are 3 classes of antidepressants. I’ve taken at least one brand from each class. No pharmaceutical ever brought me much relief.

One of three things always happened:

  1. I developed a tolerance to the medication. This would require an increase in dosage…over and over again until the side effects were intolerable.
  2. The medication produced immediate side effects. One made me suicidal. That was awful. Getting fat on amitriptyline wasn’t fun either.
  3. The medication didn’t work on my migraines.

A doctor’s arsenal of solutions consists mainly of pharmaceuticals. So my doctor just picked another category!

Anti-seizure pharmaceuticals were prescribed. Well, at least they didn’t make me fat…

None of these ever brought me much relief. One of three things always happened…


Haven’t we already heard this sad pharmaceutical story already?

Yep. That expensive pill popping merry-go-round is why I became convinced something was wrong with the whole system.

The medical system has a specialist for everything. I always thought this was great. A doctor focuses all his expertise on one body part. This seemed great, except…

…all the parts are connected.

I’ve discovered through my own illnesses (yes, there’s more) that the holistic approach is the only way to actually achieve wellness.

Never was I healthy on that expensive pharmaceutical merry-go-round. I wasn’t getting anywhere. I just managed symptoms.

You are the sum of your parts, each depending on the other.

The Greek word “holos” means whole, entire, complete. Merriam-Webster defines holistic as relating to or concerned with wholes or with complete systems rather than with the analysis of, treatment of, or dissection into parts.1

Do you want to be partly healthy, or holistically healthy: body, mind and soul?

I challenge you to see yourself differently.

Are you healthy in all three areas? Most of us aren’t. Don’t be discouraged. Instead use this new way of thinking about yourself to decide if maybe some changes need to be made.

Can you think of any?

Pick just one very simple change you’d like to make. Write it down, along with why you want to change it and how to work it into your day.

Don’t choose something big like, “start working out 4 days a week because I need to lose weight”. Start smaller. Try, “take the kids for more walks or bike rides because we could all use a little exercise and fresh air”.

Simple. Healthy. Doable!



  1. Reprinted with permission from Merriam-Webster.

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