Why Holistic Healthcare is Not Just Using “Natural” Substitutions for Medications


Holistic Healthcare 101

Yes, running in the sunshine and enjoying nature is holistic ‘healthcare’!

What defines holistic treatment?




Based on the idea that you should take care of your whole body and mind, rather

than just treating a partof the body that is ill.

Thinking of health problems holistically is a learned behavior, but once you are used to it it becomes second nature.  The main objective is to get to the root of any given problem, by treating the entire body and environment, notjust the specific part of a person that is ill.
The holistic approach takes more time and thought at first, and requires that you know the patient (often yourself or your family members) well.  But the benefits are great.  As we have found with the GAPS Diet, when holistically treating something like autism we end up also treating skin, blood sugar, allergy, and energy issues as well.
An example of ways to think holistically vs conventionally about a common childhood problem, diaper rash:
Baby has rash.
Conventional treatment: Desatin and frequent changes, possibly fresh air.
Holistic treatment; try any or all of the following until something that works long term is found:
Is baby in disposables?  Switch to all natural diapers or cloth.
Is baby in cloth? Check for synthetic materials, many babies are sensitive to PUL, polyester, fleece, or microfibers used in diapers. Change to all cotton, wool covers.
Does baby have food allergies? Remove common allergies (wheat, dairy, food dyes) from mom’s and/or baby’s diet.
Is baby breastfeeding? Is baby getting enough fatty hind milk? Try block feeding (4 hours on each side) rather than switching sides at each feeding.
Does mom have yeast issues?
Treat mom and baby with probiotics and possibly an anti-candida diet.
Is baby getting plenty of fresh air daily? Yes, we love sunshine, even for little babies (careful that it’s not for too long!)

Why choose the more time consuming holistic treatment?

To those who are not used to the idea of treating the whole person often think that the holistic option is an awful lot of work for something simple as a diaper rash.  The conventional treatment, which claims a quick fix, sounds much more appealing to a busy mother.
But when we look at all the different root causes for the diaper rash, we end up preventing that problem from coming back, and future problems from coming up.  A baby with a yeast rash is showing that they have a yeast overgrowth in their system. Without treating that, later in life they often develop attention deficits and other issues.

How ‘natural alternatives’ often are not holistic


When first looking into natural health it’s tempting to just keep the same conventional mindset (a quick fix) but use natural treatments.  I do this too sometimes, but it’s not what holistic healthcare is all about.  Yes, a natural medicine is usually better than a conventional one, but it still is applying a bandaid fix rather than a permanent one.


I do use ‘natural fixes’ that are for a temporary specific problem, but it’s still preferable to really get to the root of a problem. Sometimes all that means is making sure you get enough sleep, cut out the junk food from your diet, and reduce stress.

Just because it worked for one person…

Another common mistake, for in both conventional medicine and holistic medicine, is to assume that just because something worked for you, it is the solution for everyone with your same problem.  Holistic medicine is very individualized and the slow and steady ‘educated trial and error’ approach seems to work best for finding what treatments are needed.

It’s exciting to find an easy natural remedy for a chronic condition that you’ve had, but try to be objective and realize that just because, for instance, removing dairy (or gluten or nightshades) from your diet cured your arthritis (or digestive trouble, brain fog, eczema, sinus infections, etc), doesn’t mean that everyone with arthritis will find the same benefit from removing that particular food.  It has to do with their specific body.  A good holistic treatment recognizes this, be wary of any ‘holistic’ practitioner who is pushing a one-size-fits-all treatment.

Healthcare as a Lifestyle

Keeping heath in the back of your mind and making small changes to your every day activities ends up changing the way you do life.  It might take a little bit of time to get used to, but eventually you will crave the stuff that’s healthy for you!

Some examples of everyday ‘healthcare':

  • Being out in the sunshine (seriously- enjoying nice weather is healthy!)
  • Eliminating allergies though food elimination and the GAPS Diet
  • Adding cultured foods to your diet
  • Making sure there is healthy food in the house
  • Reducing your stress level by keeping relationships healthy
  • Getting enough fresh air and enjoying exercise
  • Researching routine prenatal/baby care
  • Focusing on priorities and enjoying the simple small things
  • Making a hobby/social network of sourcing quality foods

 Prioritizing treatment options

When it comes to holistic treatments, there can be so many good things that we get overwhelmed.  Holistic healthcare takes time, effort, and money.  I prioritize treatments based on what I believe to be most effective for the least amount of time/money.

Here’s how I start:

1.  Food, add in the good, take out the bad. You’ve gotta eat anyway, so start here. (Healthy eating 101, GAPS Intro)

2.  Sleep (Epsom salts can help, I use melatonin as well simply because I have a set amount of time that I can sleep each night, and I need to make sure I’m actually asleep during that time)

3.  Stress

4.  Supplements and herbal remedies (cinnamon and honey for a cold, elderberry syrup, other supplements, dandelion root, etc)

5.  Reducing toxins in the home (natural mattresses, sunscreen, etc)

6.  Other alternative medicines as you think they would help (chiropractic, acupuncture, visiting a naturopath, etc)

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About Cara

Cara is the main author here at Health Home and Happiness. She loves the health and energy that eating well and playing well provides and has a goal to share what she's learned with as many families interested in making healthy changes as possible.

She helps other families achieve health in simple steps with the GAPS Starter Package, The Empowered Mother Pregnancy Resource, and helps them stock their freezer for busy days with Grain-Free Freezer Cooking Guide.


  1. A nice, concise explanation. Nicely done!

  2. It’s so encouraging to read this and actually be able to mentally check things off your lists! Sorry while I pat myself on the back for a sec. We are on the right track. We really are!

  3. Great post! In our office we teach the 5 essentials to health! Here’s a little bit about them: http://www.maximizedliving.com/5Essentials.aspx
    You are very right, health is up to you and you don’t just want to cover up symptoms, you want ot find out why they are happening. It’s sad that we live in a generation (even the generations ahead of us) who this it is normal to be in pain and sick, or to have diabetes, a chance of getting cancer, etc. Your health is YOUR choice!

  4. When do you add the liver to the recipe?

  5. Hi Cara,
    I have just found you and am enjoying looking around and reading. I started the GAPS diet in Nov. 2010 b/c of rheumatoid arthritis pain, osteoporosis (at 48!) and the results have been phenomenal! Within 2 weeks my pain was almost gone to the point I could once again function. In Feb, the whole family started the Intro Diet (husband and 7 of the 10 children still at home) and again great progress has been made! All this is to say, I am new to the holistic approach but am so excited to learn more – Thank you for the time you put into Health, Home and Happiness!

  6. After a busy day, I use Young Living Essential Oil – Lavender, on the bottoms of my feet & put a few drops into my hands, cupped over my nose & breathe in. Its relaxing scent calms my mind & body.

  7. This is a great article! Holistic healthcare is down to earth, uses common sense and works with the body. Your lists are very helpful!

    ~ Robin

  8. Hi, Awesome write-up. Likely to issue along with your internet site with web browser, may well go here? IE still is the marketplace leading along with a big element of other people will probably pass up a person’s wonderful crafting for this reason dilemma.

  9. Thank you so much! This is such an amazing blog! Already shared with my friends! Been doing gaps diet now for 2 weeks, as your videos/blogs are very useful!


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