The evolution of healthcare: Should doctors adopt a more holistic approach?
How many pills do you pop in a day? Whether a light fever or appendicitis, people seem to be craving for a pharmaceutical fix to all their health problems. But is that really advisable? Should doctors consider a more holistic approach when treating patients, instead of simply focusing on medication? Alternative treatments from animal-assisted therapy to naturopathy are known to improve health, so why the focus on tablets and syrups? Is healthcare too myopic or are patients hesitant? Gulf News readers debate.
Don’t go to a general practitioner expecting holistic healing
If a doctor recommends and prescribes a medicine, I would hope and assume that it is necessary. Yes, it does sometimes happen that some prescriptions are just borderline necessary or sometimes doctors overprescribe, but I would hope that a completely unnecessary medicine would not be recommended to a patient. My experience in the UAE, at least, has been quite good.
Stress, for example, can be a massive cause of health problems but I don’t know if meditation alone is enough. However, in general, people need to find a way to manage stress.
If I did feel that a doctor was overprescribing medicine or was not looking at the issue as a whole, I would not go back to the doctor. I recently went to a doctor with a pulled hamstring and even though it was a simple diagnosis, which even I could understand, the doctor did take some time to ask questions on how long I play a sport and what my medical history is. He could have gotten rid of me in two minutes and recommended physiotherapy, but he didn’t. Similarly, I broke the fifth metacarpal in my foot and the doctor specifically said let’s give it eight weeks and if it still hasn’t healed we’ll go for surgery. This was a doctor who could have made a lot of money by recommending surgery, but he didn’t.
Also, if you go to a doctor for a flu or cold and he prescribes a common paracetamol, a patient might ask: why am I paying for consultation for a medicine I could have picked up at the pharmacy? So, a doctor might just prescribe a lesser known brand because of patients’ expectations.
As for focusing too much on pills and medication, if something is proven as a treatment method and there is hard data supporting its effectiveness, I don’t think people would reject it. I can understand why a doctor who has studied in a medical school would focus on treating patients through medicines.
As a patient you can chose to treat yourself however you want. For example, there are certain injuries that I know an acupuncturist could treat better, so that’s when I would go to an acupuncturist. But if I do go to a medical doctor, I wouldn’t really expect them to do holistic healing.
From Mr Necip Camcigil
Entrepreneur living in Dubai
Doctors might offer alternative treatments if patients wanted it
I’ve actually had a family doctor for the past 20 years, it helps especially if you’ve known someone for a very long time. You develop and share a different kind of bond with them. You become more like friends than a consumer who they need to sell things to.
Healthcare has become more commercial than it is supposed to be. My maternal uncle, for example, who is diabetic is obviously on medication, which can already be quite a lot. He had a minor injury on his foot and if you are diabetic and don’t take care of the wound you could get gangrene.
Unfortunately the doctor my uncle was seeing simply kept recommending bandages and dressings. One day, my uncle collapsed in his house because of the severe pain and lack of sugar. They decided to take him to India and the doctor had to amputate the leg from above the knee. When he came back to the UAE and visited the doctor, he said that he knew this would happen but didn’t say anything. You’d think a doctor would say something if he feared this would happen. The actual problem was mole-sized but it turned into a huge loss for my uncle in a span of two months.
Other doctors are willing to make a patient go through unncecessary procedures just to extort money out of them. My assumption is that greed has taken over.
I would be more than happy if a doctor didn’t give me pills and gave me alternative treatments. Popping pills can be negative so if a doctor prescribes something a little out of the box, there is no harm in trying it. However, a lot of people believe pills, injections or syrups will help them. I know people who have a fever and instead of burning it out at home, which is actually healthier, they go to the hospital and get an injection or antibiotics because they need to get back to work.
So, it works both ways, you can’t just blame doctors for overprescribing medicines. If the doctor sees that you are open to alternative treatments, I don’t see why they wouldn’t give it to you.
From Ms Charmaine Fernandes
Customer services advisor living in Abu Dhabi
Holistic medicine focuses on the person and not the disease
Holistic medicine focuses on treating the entire person and not just a disorder or a symptom. Holistic healthcare providers believe that an individual is made up of different parts including physical, emotional, environmental and spiritual aspects. All pieces must be addressed and balanced to solve any issues, sickness or disorder, and to make a person whole.
Holistic providers do not discount traditional medicine; rather, most use it in tandem with alternative methods. Holistic treatment focuses on the idea that each person can take charge of their own well-being, and unconditional love and support are the best healers.
Some holistic principles are that each patient should be treated as a person and not as their disorder or disease, that everyone has the potential to better themselves. that treatment works to fix the root cause and not just the symptoms, and a team approach where patient and healthcare provider work together to solve the problem. By listening patiently to the patient not only helps in healing the person but also helps in understanding the psyche of the individual.
Some advantages of holistic treatments are that holistic medicines works by finding the root cause of the disease and so the chance of relapse is very, very low. It also takes into consideration the mind, body and soul, and the environment of the individual, which often changes the whole lifestyle of an individual. They are also cost effective.
Holistic healing is not intended to serve as a bandaid or a one-time fix. It is an ongoing journey of discovery in search of more answers and ultimately - living better, being healthier, and striving for wholeness. Some holistic healing therapies and treatments are meditation, yoga, aromatherapy, counselling/talk therapy, ayurveda, homeopathy, acupuncture, naturopathic medicine, and Chinese medicine.
From Dr Rupal Merchant
Homeopathic doctor living in Dubai
Our bodies have the ability to heal from within
We live in a world where we search for quick, easy and convenient solutions. However, extensive research and science is proving that traditional medicine, specifically a holistic approach to healing, can be astoundingly effective in dramatically transforming a person’s health.
We must ask ourselves why chronic illnesses and mental health problems are a continuous epidemic. Modern medicine often overprescribes heavy medication that results in devastating side effects, as well as lack the ability to deal with the root cause of the individual’s condition.
We, humans, are all made of one single cell, which develops into trillions of cells that constantly change and regenerate. We must appreciate the fact that our beings are the creators from the inside and that our bodies are able to regenerate naturally. It is through understanding this process, that we can teach our bodies to not only recreate health and harmony within, but to sustain this state for longevity and happiness through the process of a holistic approach. We then no longer need vast amount of pills and other harmful stimulants; all we need to do is to support our health by natural ways, the same natural way our health was created. Today’s modern medicine presents the public with endless amounts of pills and quick fixes, while simultaneously millions of dollars are spent on marketing these products. Therefore it is no surprise that this industry is able to attract patients suffering from different conditions. However the majority of doctors are prescribing medication, to simply support the suppression of symptoms, rather than dealing with the underlying cause and curing people wholly. Taking endless amounts of medication, pills and/or supplements for various conditions are often not absorbed properly by our bodies and in many cases they counteract, resulting in dangerous side effects and internal imbalance within the human system. The holistic approach supports the mind, body and soul to have health, harmony and happiness from within, which no prescribed pill could ever offer. While mainstream medicine’s approach towards health and happiness is to simply suppress the body, holistic treatments support the system to find its natural state of being, balance and restore health from within. Our health is the harmony of activity within our body. Happiness is harmony within our emotions, and therefore health is the foundation for any human’s happiness. A simple example is that of a diet, which nowadays is used as a trend, like fashion; it comes and it goes, it is not sustained! But a style remains a style, a definition of person’s harmony with oneself; similarly, a lifestyle that supports health and happiness throughout is a holistic lifestyle.
This journey towards health, is a deep transformation from within, that when experienced, creates inner happiness, contentment and most of all a feeling of liberation. It allows the individual to take control of his/her life.
From Dr Ludmila Vassilieva
Founder and medical director of a holistic centre in Dubai