If you struggle with a chronic dis-ease you might be sceptical about alternative treatments for it. Afterall, if with all the advances and technology we have available doctors haven’t yet found a cure, why would holistic approaches have the answer? It sounds a bit too simple for something that seems too complex doesn’t it?
However, there is scientific research showing that many chronic dis-eases, recurrent symptoms and conditions to include autoimmune issues can be managed and sometimes even reversed by making lifestyle changes. This is normally related to diet and nutrition, exercise and now people are starting to become aware of the power of the breath.
Meditation and hypnosis have also been studied and considered a powerful tool for pain management.
If you think about it, the reason why holistic methods such as lifestyle change and meditation are so effective is precisely because it was exactly the unhealthy lifestyle combined with unprocessed emotions such as resentments, fear, anger, shame, guilt and stress that created the chronic inflammation that triggers your chronic dis-ease (a state of not being at ease).
The concept of chronic diseases emerged in the 1970s with high blood pressure (hypertension) being the first. Type 1 diabetes (a complete lack of insulin) became understood in the early 20th century, but the far more common type 2 diabetes (due to excess carbohydrates and insulin resistance) emerged with the epidemic of overweight and obesity.
High cholesterol became recognized as a disease in the 1980s. Auto-immune diseases were known in the past but exploded in frequency in the 1970s and a new medical specialty developed – rheumatology.
We live in a society that is struggling to overcome these dis-eases and they are becoming an epidemic, not only in adults but in children as well. The National Institute of Health recommends that lifestyle intervention or lifestyle medicine should be the ﬁrst line of treatment for many chronic health problems.
To revert inflammation and therefore chronic illnesses, the first step is to change your lifestyle, which includes 4 essential pillars:-
In terms of nutrition there is plenty information out there so I will just emphasize the importance of having a diet that is more alkaline than acidic. An alkaline diet includes plenty of fruits and vegetables and not much of the foods that create acidity such as gluten, processed foods, sugars, dairy and meats (to include fish). Your diet should be about 80% alkaline and 20% acidic.
Fasting also plays an important role here. When you fast, you clear out body toxins and forces cells into processes that are not usually stimulated when a steady stream of fuel from food is always present.
The liver helps by converting non-carbohydrate materials like lactate, amino acids, and fats into glucose energy. Because our bodies conserve energy during fasting, our basal metabolic rate (the amount of energy our bodies burn while resting) becomes more efficient, thereby lowering our heart rate and blood pressure. It’s overall fantastic to improve metabolic functions and reduce inflammation.
You can do 2 or 3 days of full fasting but if that is too challenging then at least you should try the intermittent fasting. Having your last meal no later than 6pm and breakfast at around 9 am the next day will give a good resting period for your body which is crucial to boost your immune system. It’s when the digestive system shuts down that your immune system reaches its peak.
Exercise is also important and I believe that any form of exercise is valid. However, I do advocate for Yoga because asanas were designed to allow the body to relax and heal. You can target specific parts of your body and direct the postures to your specific issue.
The third pillar is the breath. Pranayama breathing is scientifically proven to improve hypertension, digestive functions, immune and respiratory system and chronic stress. It oxygenates all the cells of the body providing rejuvenation of organs, regulation of glands and balancing hormonal production.
Finally, you need to manage your stress levels. Stress creates toxicity in our bodies and is a common cause of chronic disease. We live in a society that is moving so fast, working too hard, not sleeping enough, rushing and running until our bodies can no longer function.
To cope with stress you should allow plenty of time for relaxation. And here is the thing. For many people the main form of relaxation is to watch TV. However, when you do your brain is still receiving a lot of stimulus so you are not fully relaxing. Allowing time to do nothing and restore is extremely important.
Meditation is probably the best option for relaxation. It can be hard to do it without guidance in the beginning but if you incorporate it to your daily life it has many benefits such as reducing chronic pain, anxiety, blood pressure and reducing serum cholesterol level besides lowering blood cortisol levels initially brought on by stress.
There have been over 1,000 research studies, most of them published in reviewed scientiﬁc journals that show how meditating can effectively calm the mind, improve human functioning and reduce symptomatology.
But is a lifestyle change enough to revert chronic illnesses?
Maybe. All the above can greatly contribute but there are also other two pivotal ingredients to revert chronic dis-eases: your emotions and belief system.
It’s important to understand the impact emotions have in our physical health. Emotions are electric currents that travel throughout our nervous system impacting the release of chemicals in our bodies.
When unprocessed emotions such as resentment, feelings of revenge, our grudges, self-hatred, anger, fear, shame, humiliation and guilt are not addressed they remain stuck in our nervous system making us feel triggered whenever our brain makes an association of the present moment with a traumatic event of the past. And most of us are not even aware of this process when it’s happening.
Addressing traumas and challenging emotions plus watching the thought patterns that go through your mind when you are triggered/emotionally struggling are a fundamental part of the healing process that might revert chronic dis-eases.
There are even studies showing that the act of forgiveness can reap huge rewards for your health, lowering the risk of heart attack, improving cholesterol levels and sleep, reducing pain, blood pressure and levels of anxiety, depression and stress.
Finally, the third component of reverting dis-ease lies on your belief system. You probably heard about the placebo effect. Patients that received a sugar pill believing it was a proper medication, had the same benefits as if they had taken the medication itself.
The same happens with the nocebo effect. If you believe a symptom or dis-ease has no cure your very negative expectation of a treatment can cause the treatment to have a much less effective result than it otherwise would have.
Therefore, it’s important to have a close look at our thought processes and work on an unconscious level to release traumas and reframe perception so we can experience more positive emotions that naturally regulate our body chemistry.
The combination of your lifestyle and how you cope and manage your emotions together with what you believe it’s possible in terms of healing can do you a few favours: reduce symptoms and pain, possibly revert your condition, most likely free you from medications and its side-effects, prevent future ailments and allow a healthy aging process without dis-eases.
Of course, this is all dependable on what stage you are at in relation to your illness but if you choose to work holistically you can certainly relieve symptoms, reduce pain and avoid all the stress, anxiety, panic and frustration that chronic symptoms cause.
I personally healed from interstitial cystitis, IBS and fibroids in a holistic way so I totally believe it’s possible. For this reason, it became my mission to help others do the same so we can live in a healthier society, less dependent on medications and their nasty side-effects.
*We do advice that you keep any medical treatment you are currently undertaking as you go through any type of holistic treatment. A holistic approach can be extremely beneficial but it doesn’t bring immediate results since it’s a process. My practice aims to be an integrative and complementary treatment and not an alternative one.