Causes, triggers & root causes; these are all words we hear when speaking of health and wellness. But can you distinguish the three? Although there are fine lines between them, they have distinct differences and are often are confused with one another.
Causes are not the definition of the disease and nor are they to be confused with the triggers of diseases. Cause of disease is also known as the etiology, or origin, of disease. The cause of disease is the disorder of a structure or function in the body, or living organism, that is not due to any external injury. Causes of disease include external factors such as pathogens; and internal factors such as immunodeficiency, hypersensitivity and autoimmunity.
Doctors and scientists are more likely to be able to give the cause of acute (and more simple) illnesses, such as the common cold and flu, than more chronic and complex conditions that tend to have more triggers and subjective causes. I think that it is important to note that many causes of disease are idiopathic, or unknown.
To make it easier to comprehend the different subheadings of disease, here is an example (of Asthma) broken down into different subheadings:
The different modalities in holistic / alternative / integrative medicine.
The previous article, Holistic Health Concepts: P1, focused on basic ‘treat yourself’ therapies as well as some advice and questions to ask yourself to determine which therapy is best for you.
This article will focus on the alternative / holistic Doctors and Therapists who are recognised by the Allied Health Professions Council of South Africa (AHPCSA).
Most people in South Africa have not explored the complementary or alternative medical options. One reason being, that there is less information and education provided on it.
The modalities that I am focusing on are all listed and registered with the Allied Health Professionals Council of South Africa. If you decide to see one of these Doctors / Practitioners / Therapists, it is advisable to check that they are registered with the Council. This means that they have the correct qualification and apply to the standard requirements.
We need to understand that there are many facets to disease. These include immune system, environmental factors, emotional / psychological factors and epigenetics; bearing in mind that each person is different and may require different healing methods.
One of the major differences between alternative / holistic medicine and orthodox medicine is that alternative medicine aims to heal the disease, it is a process of getting to the root cause and solving the problem entirely. Orthodox medicine’s main aim is to cure disease or manage a symptom.
The field of holistic therapies is very vast. It ranges from Homeopathic, Naturopathic and Ayurvedic doctors to Reiki and Body Talk practitioners. Different therapies work for different people and sometimes it may feel like trial and error until you find the therapy or practitioner that helps you.
So how do you go about choosing the ‘right’ therapy? To find the right therapy, therapist or practitioner, you need to ask yourself and the therapist / practitioner the right questions:
1.) Why are you seeking this therapy? Is it for a specific condition; is it of physical or psychological manifestation; do you have a diagnosis; what helps ease the condition and what exacerbates the condition?
2.) Talk to the therapist or practitioner before the consultation – this helps them ‘plan’ your session and if they cannot help you, they would be able to tell you beforehand
3.) Open yourself up to the healing modality and all that it has to offer. Being able to communicate openly with the therapist / practitioner is also very important.
4.) Be aware of your body / mind and any changes that have occurred. If the therapist / practitioner refer you to a different practitioner, it is a good idea to investigate.
In essence Autumn is the season of letting go of the ‘rubbish’ and taking in the pure.
In TCM Autumn is associated with the Metal element which controls the Lung and the Colon.
Autumn is the season of slowing down and becoming more contemplative.
As you enter this stage it is no use dwelling on the negative aspects of the past and hanging on to negative energy. Now is the time to let go and make peace with the past.
It is time to take in the pureness and positive energy.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, the 5 elements are the basic principle of all life. Each element is related to a season, climate, time, sound emotion, colour, flavour, smell, body fluid, physical manifestation, organ and even an age cycle. Therefore, in essence, the elements affect our entire lives. Although every living thing contains all the elements, there is always one element more dominant than the rest. This deals with our personality and the period of our lives that we are in.
We can determine this by observing the person’s behaviour, stature and susceptibility to disease or weakness in certain body parts.
The 5 elements are wood , fire, earth, metal and water. More information about the elements are covered in my article “How the 5 elements & meridians relate to reflexology” It is also important to note that in Chinese medicine the organs have metaphysical functions as well which link with emotions.
We start off with ‘Wood’ the element associated with spring. It is the foundation of life and can be known as the ‘birth’ and ‘growth cycle’. The quality and nutrition of food intake is vital in this period. The foundation of education is also very important. Generally we would say that this period is from birth to adolescence in a person’s life.
In essence Summer is the season of maturity, growth and awareness.
In TCM Summer is associated with the Fire element which controls the Heart, small intestine, circulation and the endocrine meridians.
Summer is the season to have fun and pay attention to the things you are passionate about. It is the season to get active to get your body, heart and circulation working.
Understanding body constitutions of homeopathy, Chinese medicine and Ayurveda
As holistic health practitioners, we often mention that no treatment is the same because no person is the same. This goes beyond genetics and lifestyle, however, the latter may affect your constitution or your constitution may affect your lifestyle and other things that make you you, particularly your health and the way that you respond to the environment and other stimuli.
Salads are not always that healthiest option!
The field of food and nutrition is quite complex. It is no wonder people get so frustrated with diets and jump from one diet to the next. Personally, I do not believe in ‘dieting’, but rather to incorporate a way of eating with your lifestyle. Articles on nutrition are often said to be ‘contradictory’. I believe this to be because different people need different nutrition and react to foods differently. What is good for one person is not always good for another. It is difficult to incorporate everyone in a generalised write up.
There are so many lifestyle ‘healthy’ diets that are out there today. There’s the banting diet / paleo foods, rawtarians (raw food diet), acid alkaline, the low-fat diet, etc. Now, I’m not saying that any of these diets are wrong, but I don’t think any of them are completely right for the entire population either.
I recently came across an article about yin / yang balancing and thought I’d do some more research about yin and yang foods. I have found this to be one of the most holistic ways of eating. I personally find that this way of eating lives up to its nature. It is very balanced and logical. I feel many people have lost ‘common sense’ when it comes to food.
Salads for summer and veggies for winter.
I decided to write up about bone health (as well as nails and hair), because in TCM (traditional Chinese medicine), winter is the season where bones, hair and nails is mostly affected. I am sure many can relate with increased skeletal pain and dry, brittle hair and nails.
An holistic health approach is necessary to look after our bones and skeletal system. When thinking of healthy bones we need to think of nutrition, exercise, hormonal balance, medication and the health of the rest of the body.
When it comes to nutrients, most of us assume that more calcium is the answer, but it is not.
“Bone health depends not so much on calcium intake, but rather on its metabolism and utilization. The major players in this regard are vitamin D, vitamin K, and magnesium — which are woefully under-publicized in the campaign against osteoporosis”. 
Magnesium is in actual fact the key mineral in bone health, and taken with collagen is even better. One study showed that taking calcium supplements increased bone density by 7%; Magnesium supplements increased bone density by 70% and Magnesium and collagen increased bone density by 170%.
21st June is the winter solstice, the shortest day and the longest night…also officially the first day of winter.
In essence, winter is the season of resting and inner work.
In TCM Winter is associated with the Water element which controls the Kidney and the Bladder. Winter is the season to slow down even more than in autumn. It is the season for quiet and stillness, to be able to listen to our intuition.