Top 5 Problems with Holistic Health Care and their Solutions
If you’re interested in holistic health care or considering it for yourself, you might have some worries or concerns about it.
This article will address, with full disclosure, the five most common issues and problems that people have with holistic health care. I’ll also discuss the causes of these problems and how you can avoid them.
As a holistic doctor for almost thirty years, and after working with over ten thousand patients, I can tell you that these problems are both rare and usually completely avoidable.
1: Incomplete results because a patient doesn’t understand the actions required on a treatment program.
The patient has too little knowledge of holistic health care with incorrect expectations and a lack of understanding of the requirements to be successful.
2: A decline in health after a good initial response.
The patient incorrectly estimates the length of time required for a damaged body to heal to a state of stability and stops treatment too soon.
3: Incomplete results because the patient stays in a state of anxiety about their symptoms and often doesn’t comply with recommended actions or does incorrect actions.
The patient second-guesses their doctor, googling their symptoms and worrying about or trying random solutions.
4: Incomplete results because the patient only does some recommended actions on their treatment program.
The patient tries to run their treatment program, deciding which recommended steps they should do.
5: Poor or no results because of a mismatch between the experience and qualifications of the doctor and the severity and complexity of the patient’s case.
Doctors are unqualified for or are mismatched with the patient or health problem they are trying to resolve.
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Problem #1: Missing Knowledge
Most people are very familiar with medical treatment but less familiar with holistic care. If you come to a holistic doctor with only medical experience and without understanding holistic health care, you may be confused by your treatment program.
- Medical treatment of chronic conditions: Manages symptoms with long-term medication.
- Holistic solution for chronic conditions: Handles the causes of underlying health problems to recover overall health to a stable condition.
Important differences between the two that can cause confusion:
- The time and effort required for a holistic treatment program to create long-term stable good health will be much greater than managing symptoms with a conventional medical program by taking a daily medication.
- In holistic care, there is no treatment explicitly targeting your chief complaints. In most cases, symptom relief is more rapid with holistic care than using any other solution, but not treating your most important symptom could be confusing if you are used to conventional medicine.
- Medicine has been so prevalent for so long that I’ve had many patients who cannot wrap their minds around the idea that it could be possible to have any form of health care without medications.
Holistic health care addresses chronic health conditions or overall poor health.
With medical treatment for chronic (ongoing) illness, the patient takes medication to manage the symptoms long-term (high blood pressure, diabetes, allergies, etc.).
With a holistic treatment program, the doctor and patient work together to assist the body back to a state of healing. The treatment is designed to improve and stabilize health with a high quality of life and much less risk of future health problems.
Current symptoms and health problems usually improve or resolve as the patient’s body becomes healthier. Still, the focus of a treatment program is on improving health and not on addressing any particular symptom.
A holistic treatment program will go on for months or longer to help the patient become stable enough to graduate to a wellness program with minimal doctor input.
A holistic patient will be very involved in their treatment program, modifying diet and lifestyle, taking daily supplements, coming in for treatments, and staying physically active (specifics vary, every program is individualized).
A holistic treatment program will have more frequent visits and treatments than a conventional medical treatment program.
What’s the solution?
I recommend that you approach your treatment program with an “open to learning” attitude. Holistic treatment is very different from conventional medicine, even in the basic ideas of what you and your doctor are trying to achieve. If you think that you “already know,” this can prevent you from learning what you need to know to be successful.
New patients spend upwards of two hours of education and consulting at my clinic before starting treatment. Then there are hours more of education and consulting during the first weeks of the treatment program. I can always tell which patients are most likely to get the best results by their attitude toward their educational steps. Those who are excited, interested, and soaking up the information like a sponge generally have the best and fastest results.
Problem #2: Not Following Through with Treatment
Patients who stop a holistic treatment program when they feel better are often unhappy with their health after months to a year or two later. The person may feel that they wasted their time and money on the holistic program because “it was temporary.”
You’re usually motivated to do something about a health problem because the symptoms affect your life and because you’re worried that the situation may worsen. Once the symptoms are much better or gone, the motivation to address your health can be reduced, and it’s easy to lose focus and quit a treatment program too soon.
You may have experience with medical treatment, which often has no reason to continue once the symptom has disappeared.
The desired result is STABLE long-term health with a holistic health care program. If you stop doing the things that supported and helped your body heal and restore itself before stability is achieved, you’ll eventually slide back into having health problems again.
Your body is designed to hide symptoms when it regains some resources or has less stress. Improving or disappearing symptoms indicates progress but does NOT mean that you are now healthy.
What’s the solution?
I recommend starting a holistic program with the intention of continuing for at least a year. This way, if it takes less time, that’s a pleasant surprise!
Holistic treatment programs typically start intensively and then get progressively easier to do. As your body improves, your immune system can take on more of its healing load. So, your treatment is likely to take less time and less finance as you progress.
Always regard symptoms as very poor indicators of overall health. Many serious health problems have few or no symptoms (such as high blood pressure). Conversely, some very intense symptoms can resolve quickly.
Focus on the underlying health problems causing your symptoms instead of judging your health from symptoms alone.
Problem #3: Dr. Google
With my patients, I am testing for and discovering the proverbial needle in the haystack: the one correct treatment program that would result in stable health improvement, out of an infinite number of incorrect treatment programs that wouldn’t work.
I can consistently find this needle and get great results with patients because I use techniques and information obtained from reliable sources.
Source: A person, place, or thing from which something originates. The main cause, the person or group that originated or created something or a body of knowledge.
Our entire society suffers from difficulty understanding the importance of reliable sources for a successful result.
Some patients believe what they find on the internet, especially if it agrees with their preexisting opinions.
For a patient with migraine headaches, I could:
A: Google “make migraine headaches go away.” Google returns 70,100,000 results for this, so now I must decide which of these 70 million ideas I should try. There’s the haystack!
B: I could use testing, labs, my doctorate in healthcare, 30 years of experience, tremendous amounts of additional study and education, and some very finely honed observational skills to find the needle (and help the patient regain their health, also resulting in a resolution of the migraines).
Imagine my dismay after designing a correct treatment program, only to have my patient tell me they plan to do something completely different based on Googling their symptoms.
Random internet research can lead to massive failure and trouble.
What’s the solution?
The “Dr. Google” phenomenon is a problem for doctors of every persuasion. I’ve even seen signs warning people of this trap on the walls in my veterinarian’s office.
My recommendations for Google research:
- Unless you have a definitive medical diagnosis and are looking for medical or scientific disease-specific information about this, googling health questions will most likely result in a negative outcome. I can say this because I’ve tested it out: there is no chance of finding reliable information that you KNOW is accurate doing random google searches on health problems.
- Most people do better concentrating on positive actions to heal, such as stress reduction, being active, eating healthy foods, and being as involved as they possibly can in their lives. Random internet research on symptoms (just about any symptom can have an almost unlimited number of causes—especially on the internet!) can cause anxiety, stress, and confusion.
- The time you spend with your doctor is incredibly valuable to you. I recommend spending every minute in a positive and productive activity aimed at you recovering your health. Don’t waste time making your doctor debunk false internet information.
A replacement for google:
Find a well-educated and experienced alternatively minded doctor to help you with your health problems (See Problem 5 for finding a good clinic). This is your excellent source for all information regarding your health problems. This solution will give you the best chance of getting well and staying that way, without being made anxious and confused by a firehose of false, misleading, and irrelevant information from the internet.
Problem #4: The Patient Runs Their Own Treatment Program
My job as a doctor is to create and run an effective treatment program that produces excellent results for my patients. If the patient modifies their program or decides what they will and won’t do, it can slow down or destroy any chance of good results.
When I design a treatment program for a patient, it consists of several parts (lab tests, supplements, acupressure treatments, diet modifications, lifestyle modifications, etc.). These are all “interlocking” parts that depend on each other to create an effective overall plan.
If a patient decides that they know best and should do only a part of their program, slow or poor results are a near certainty.
- “Supplements are too expensive; I’ll take just the ones that I think are helping me.”
- “I don’t need to have visits as often as recommended; I’ll just come in when I think I need to.”
- “It won’t hurt me if I eat sugar and junk food; that makes me feel happy.”
- “Follow-up labs are too expensive. I’ll continue my treatment without them.”
What’s the solution?
Talk with your doctor! I’ve found that patients who want to “do it their own way” are often anxious about their treatment. If you’re doing a holistic program and have doubts or worries about your results or treatment, fix this with your doctor. Don’t try to run the program yourself; this will guarantee that you’ll have compromised results.
One great piece of advice: Never assume that your doctor knows how you’re feeling or what you’re thinking. Make sure of this. The more you communicate, the better and faster your results will be. I’ve had patients who were unhappy with their treatment because of a fundamental misunderstanding of what I was doing. But the patient wouldn’t tell me because they were afraid of upsetting me! Once I smoked this out and got them the missing information, everything was great, and they fully regained their health.
Problem #5: Mismatched Doctor and Patient
This problem can occur with any health care but is more pronounced with holistic care. If you have a long-term and challenging health problem, or if your case is very complex, you’ll need to find a doctor with sufficient capabilities to get good results with you.
This also applies to how various holistic and functional medicine clinics run their treatment programs. If you have a difficult or complex case, you will require a high level of ongoing care. A clinic that wants to see you monthly is less likely to get good results. Difficult cases require monitoring and help in every aspect of health: labs, testing, supplementation, treatments, diet, and lifestyle.
It would be best to find a doctor you want to work with and feel comfortable talking to with a high level of trust. And your chosen doctor must start to get excellent results with your case in a reasonable amount of time (a few weeks to a month, typically).
What’s the solution?
Be very selective in your choice of doctors and clinics.
You’ll probably need to do an initial visit with a doctor to have enough information to decide if you want to work with them. This can cost several hundred dollars, but you’re better off doing this a few times and getting the right practitioner to help you resolve your case. Nothing is more expensive and time-consuming than using the wrong doctor and getting nowhere.
- Most health insurance provides little to no coverage for holistic practices. Patients must pay for their treatment programs. To continue to exist, such a practice must get very good results on most patients, so a long history is an excellent clue that they know what they’re doing.
- Holistic practices that make extensive use of functional lab tests are 1) More likely to get good results, and 2) The doctor will be very knowledgeable, as it takes years of experience, training, and study to use functional labs for holistic care.
- Holistic practices that have a primary focus on nutrition (supplementation) and do other treatments as well (chiropractic, acupuncture, homeopathy) tend to get better results than practices that focus on a treatment technique (acupuncture, chiropractic, etc.) and “add in” nutrition.
- Clinics that do treatment programs with visits a month or more apart are usually not a good choice for difficult or long-term cases, especially if you don’t have extensive experience doing holistic treatment programs.
It’s not a coincidence that I’ve been able to identify these problems, or that I have legitimate solutions to all of them.
I have been practicing holistic health care for almost thirty years. But more than this, I’ve spent these years researching better treatment techniques and better ways of getting improved results with my patients.
I have developed an entirely new system of holistic health care called EvecticsSM, which addresses previous problems with holistic program results and provides more uniform and stable answers for my patients.