The statistics on health and disease are quite frankly outright scary. One in two will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime – that’s one person in every relationship – one in five will develop cardiovascular disease, one in ten will develop chronic kidney disease, one in nineteen will develop diabetes and, according to the ‘Young Minds Matter’ national survey that was released in August this year, 560 thousand Australian children and adolescents aged between 4-17 (14%) had experienced mental health disorders in 2012-2013. These are very conservative figures – not taking into account anyone who is yet to be diagnosed and living with the condition. I was part of these statistics when in 2013 I was diagnosed with cancer. It took me 2 years to journey back to health and now I am happy to say that I am cancer free, but this isn’t the case for many people. What is wrong with the healthcare system that is allowing people to get this sick? What is wrong with how we view health that is allowing us to get this sick? Through my journey with cancer I have Iearned much about health and illness and the true nature of wellness and what it truly means to be healthy. I already had a pretty solid understanding of health and wellness before I was diagnosed, being a health professional who treated chronic disease and cancer, but as I danced with my diagnosis, everything started to fall into place and a new paradigm of health and wellness came into my awareness – it was nothing new really, it’s just the framework became clear to me and has changed me, my practice and how I approach my clients.
Health and wellness or more precisely, the lack of health and wellness, can be a complex issue. Most people when they think of health think only in terms of their physical health, the body. When the body is broken, I’m unwell. To be truly healthy, happy and well a different perspective is needed. A more holistic view you might say. Now this doesn’t mean dusting off the Thai fisherman pants, chucking on a tie dye singlet and dancing under the moon and stars, it just means we need to alter the way we view our body and our health and what health actually is. Physical health is only one part of a healthy body and by focussing on the physical body alone, we will only achieve a certain level of healing – this is where orthodox medicine fails and why they are unable to effectively treat the chronic diseases that are so prevalent today. Orthodox medicine relies on an overly reductionist model, with specialists coming out of its ears who rely on medications and the art of diagnosis.
A diagnosis is an opinion. If you tick enough boxes in a certain order from a specific model, your suffering gets a name – your diagnosis. I choose to practice from a different and more holistic model of medicine which negates the need for a diagnosis. A diagnosis can give the patient peace of mind but it doesn’t change the fact that orthodox medicine doesn’t have the answer for the chronic diseases such as cancer, auto-immune diseases, fibromyalgia, the chronic gastrointestinal diseases, the fatigue syndromes, Lyme disease, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and mental illness to name a few. In my experience and personal opinion there is but one disease of the human body – imbalance in the organism, the lack of balance. Whether it be caused by deficiency or excess at the micro or macroscopic level of the organisms’ functioning, it is the root cause of all disease.
As alluded to earlier there is more to health than merely physical health and the physical body. There are 7 areas of health that combine and interact to achieve complete wellness.
Understanding the role each of these areas of health play in wellness and achieving a healthy balance, is the key to a happy, healthy life. I’m sure you can appreciate that one area of health can have a negative impact on others, for example – financial health negatively affecting your mental and emotional state which can eventually impact on your physical health. A true health professional deeply understands this and makes this balance a priority on the journey towards true health – they don’t just throw medications, herbs, vitamins, minerals and other supplements at you in the hope that something helps. With the complex chronic diseases often enough you will find their root causes lie in a chronic imbalance between these areas – the organism (you) is in a state of chronic imbalance. Reestablishing health in these cases is a journey of transformation, literally recreating a ‘new you’. A healthier, happier, balanced, nutritionally optimal, stress and toxin free version of you.
Symptoms of disease, although an inconvenience, are nothing more than a feedback system that allows the organism (you) to recognise that things are out of balance and action needs to take place. Unfortunately in this modern world of over the counter quick fixes, there’s a so called ‘pill for every ill’. We ignore the symptoms and what they are telling us and ‘solider on’.
In this article I would like to introduce you to a new paradigm of health and wellness, one that is long overdue – one that has come out of my experience of being met with my mortality. To understand this paradigm I need to introduce you to a few key concepts. I’ve already mentioned above, the seven classifications of health, now, for each of these classes imagine there are three influencing factors – the same factors for each class. The three influencing factors on health are Nourishment, Stress and Toxicity, in all their forms and contexts. To understand how this works, simply overlay the influencing factors one by one over each class of health and work your way around asking this question – Is there a deficiency or excess here? I.e. Physical health – 1. Is it being excessively or deficiently nourished? Is it getting a nutritious, clean diet? Am I being too obsessive about my diet? Am I getting enough exercise? Enough relaxation time? Etc. 2. Is there an excessive amount of stress being put on the physical body? Too much exercise, not enough sleep, too much extracurricular activities etc. 3. Is there an excessive amount of toxicity – do you smoke? Drink too much? What type of potions and lotions you put on the body? Etc.
Can you see how this works? It’s actually really simple when you think about it but I’ve never seen it combined in the full spectrum combination of all the classes of health and presented this way. The aim is neither for a deficiency or an excess in any area of health (with one exception) – it’s about a healthy balance. The only exception to the rule is toxicity from external sources in the physical body – any amount of toxicity is damaging on some level to the functioning of the physical body. Balance is the key. Some of the most important lessons I learned on my journey with cancer were that of balance and gratitude. There are positives and negatives, blessings and drawbacks in everything, as well as pay-offs, but that’s the way it is. Learning to develop a balanced, gracious perspective in all areas and experiences in life is one of the keys to a happier, healthier life.
As mentioned earlier in this article, symptoms are the body’s way of communicating. When treating chronic disease we must take note of the language of the body but not solely focus our treatment on it for if you treat only the symptoms you only get symptomatic results. We need to look beneath this to what the symptoms are trying to get us to recognise. Where is the imbalance? When working from this paradigm we are exploring and bringing into balance not merely the physical body but the 7 classes of health. This results in a deep recreation of the individual. Chronic disease often comes into your life to grab your attention. It’s your body telling you it is not happy with the direction its heading – it’s asking you to change – will you listen? Are you up for the challenge