I have been interested for some time in complementary and alternative healing and self-care. I have to admit some of that came from a curiosity about New Age ideas, and some came from people I knew who were also curious or using alternative self-care practices like herbs and supplements and yoga. (Back then it wasn’t quite as popular and the benefits had not been studied as much. Yes, that was a while ago. Now many complementary and alternative approaches have been scientifically validated and the body of research grows.)
I became a fan of chiropractic for helping with stress and back pain. I tried herbal supplements to treat simple health issues and found they worked well. I found that watching what I ate and when helped me feel better both physically and mentally. And I’ve appreciated how many of the complementary and alternative approaches dovetail nicely with conventional medicine, and with what it means to be a good steward of both creation and my self.
Dr. Wayne Jonas, a physician, defines integrative health as “the pursuit of personal health and wellbeing foremost, while addressing disease as needed, with the support of a health team dedicated to all proven approaches – conventional, complementary and self-care.” (http://drwaynejonas.com)
Dr. Leslie Korn, a psychologist and integrative mental health professional, says integrative medicine “refers to the integration of conventional biomedical methods with Complementary/Alternative/Functional [methods].” (Certified Mental Health Integrative Medicine Provider (CMHIMP) Training Course)
An integrative mindset to health is also very biblical. After all, we are created whole beings, with a mind (Genesis 2, Adam is able to follow verbal instructions and name the animals), a body and a spirit (Genesis 2:7), and we are at our best in community with and helping one another (Genesis 2:18). God created with world with everything we need to be healthy (even if it is fallen now). God gave humans reason and curiosity and creativity, with which we explore what it means to be human, how to alleviate suffering and evil, and how to live into all that God has designed for us. God approaches us as whole beings, addressing our physical problems and our mental states as much as our spiritual and communal lives. (See Proverbs 17:22, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, Jeremiah 33:6 among others.) And God certainly sees us, as we should see one another, as more than our symptoms. (Yes, there’s a lot of theology packed into this paragraph, and not everyone will agree with all of it – that’s another discussion.)
I also appreciate integrative medicine and mental health because we are all unique individuals, and a one-size-fits-all approach fits most of us about as well as those rain ponchos they sell in discount stores. The thing works okay for most of us, but it tends to get in the way of a high level of functioning and sometimes we still get wet.
The longer I practice therapy, the deeper I dig into my faith – the longer I’m alive, really – the more I see how wonderfully we are created as physical beings with thoughts, emotions, and a spirit in relationship with one another and all creation.
I could keep going, but I’m aware that you may not keep reading. This is, after all, a blog post. I would love to discuss these ideas further, in any realm (theological, medical, etc., since they should be integrated too). To find out more, contact me, sign up for my newsletter, or follow any of my resources links.
To your health!