More and more, the holistic approaches to medicine is being vindicated.
The recognition that the body cannot be effectively divided into organ systems and that the mind and body are interconnected is becoming better recognized and accepted into mainstream medicine. For example, evidence exists that the heart is linked to the brain, digestive health impacts the immune system (and every other system), and that mental health affects physical health.
The narrow viewpoint that health is simply the absence of symptoms, or a disease state, is also becoming obsolete. Health and wellness are comprehensive and dynamic concepts that are inclusive of the body, mind, spirit, lifestyle, genetics, environment, and socioeconomics.
Obtaining health is not a means to an end, but it can be used as a resource for better living. It is personalized in that everyone’s goals for why they wish to achieve optimal well-being in their life is different.
As in medicine, where the pursuit of health may narrowly translate to using a medication to chase away symptoms of a disease, in integrative medicine the focus can be too heavily placed on diet, lifestyle, and exercise. Although these are very important factors, not enough attention is given to community, mindset, and honoring one’s connection to their beliefs and values. This is unfortunate, as these latter aspects may be even more important in determining health outcomes.
This is why I’ve been so adamant about sharing resources on wellness that incorporate a truly integrative philosophy that considers the interaction between the mind, body, spirituality, lifestyle, and relationships. Paying attention to mindset, another often ignored topic, can be a gamechanger in medicine. This is because our thoughts and beliefs influence health results and minding our self-care and stress response is an imperative factor that supports all areas of wellness!
My recent post exhibited how the vital connection between the heart and brain provides another example of the need to focus more on integrative methods in healthcare.
- The biology of the brain-heart-stress connection
- The psychology of the heart-brain
- The psychological factors that influence heart health
- The importance of social connections and their influence on cardiovascular disease risk
- Why we need to be mindful of heart health
- Some tips to support mind-heart care
Today, and for many years prior, cardiovascular disease stands as the number one cause of death in America. Why I believe this cycle is perpetuated is that conventional medicine’s approach is not emphasizing the important role of social connections and mental health on the heart.
We must care for our emotional, mental, and social health to live a heart-healthier life.
In this article, I’m going to review the importance of incorporating a naturopathic approach to supporting heart health. In a follow up post, I will offer you another resource that expands on my previous article and one of my favorite tools to do that, essential oils.
Naturopathic Medicine and Heart Health
In a past article, I explained how healthcare needs to move beyond its current tactics of addressing cardiovascular health:
February is appropriately deemed heart health month and heart disease is still the number one killer. Yet, most of allopathic medicine continues to narrowly focus on fixing the end result, rather than addressing it at the root cause. Diet, exercise, supplements, and medication, if needed, are important, but they are not enough to prevent cardiovascular disease (CVD) and death.
It has been shown in a clinical study that naturopathic doctors who provide holistic interventions for supporting cardiovascular health get better results than usual care. Furthermore, it is cost effective.
I believe that naturopathic medical doctors’ “secret sauce” for triumphing in circulatory support is in their ability to build quality, therapeutic relationships. After all, the most important predictor of cardiovascular death is not a healthy diet, exercise, or weight.
The number one determinant of cardiovascular death is isolation and perceived loneliness.
This is why cardiologists may want to consider writing “healthy relationships” on their prescription pads to promote positive, people connections. This recommendation only enhances any additional treatments and effective lifestyle interventions, such as movement and nourishing heart-soulful nutrients.
Furthermore, we need to consider the downstream impact of interventions on mental health and relationships. Prescribing restrictive, elimination diets that can lead to stress, disordered eating patterns, and avoidance of social settings may be counterproductive and exacerbate nutrient deficiencies contributing to heart disease. (R, R, R, R) Dietary rules and body shaming has also caused a lot of damage emotionally and socially in diet culture.
Our heart and brain are connected on both the physical and emotional level.
Now, what can be done on the global level to get this information into the hands of more people through their healthcare providers?
Below are some steps I feel we can take as a medical community to redefine cardiovascular care and make it more whole.
- Consider the efficacy and wellness benefits of the mind-brain connection and applications from the research of HeartMath Institute.
- Be open to new approaches and bridge valid ones with conventional treatments. Avoid heightening adversary between various practices in integrative heart medicine which can damage patient trust and comfort levels. Acquaint ourselves with “out of the box” approaches, such as the philosophy that the heart is not just a pumpand the thrombogenic hypothesis in order to stay open-minded and open-hearted.
- Keep at the forefront of all patient and client interactions the impact of healthy, unhealthy, and absent relationships on cardiovascular wellness.
- Evaluate the role of blood type and genetics on cardiovascular risk and how epigenetic factors such as lifestyle, stress management, and nutrition can mitigate harm.
- Assess the functional medicine antecedents, triggers, and mediators of heart and endothelial imbalances within an interconnected, systems-based model.
- Promote to the public the use of mind-body therapies and essential oils, which can be used to enhance emotional resiliency, stress relief, and hormonal balance for better intimacy skills and healthier hearts.
It’s time for all physicians to unite and be an example to their patients and clients on how when we pool our resources together and create healthy, working relationships, we can get better results.
As an individual, you can start now, empowered with the tools discussed previously.
Do you agree?
Now, I’d like to hear from you.
Comment below and share your feedback here so we can all benefit.
Soon, I will have an invitation for you that truly incorporates all these aspects of health.
I’d love for you to join me and allow me to guide you in the process of becoming a more vibrant, healthier, happier person! Stay tuned!
This is part of my passion project to bring the heart and mind-body-spirit back into the forefront of medicine.
Sarah LoBisco, ND, IFCMP, is a graduate of the University of Bridgeport’s College of Naturopathic Medicine (UBCNM). She is licensed in Vermont as a naturopathic doctor and has received her certification in functional medicine through the Institute of Functional Medicine (IFM), which is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME). She holds a Bachelor of Psychology from State University of New York at Geneseo and is also certified in Applied Kinesiology. Dr. LoBisco currently incorporates her training in holistic and conventional medicine through writing, researching, and through her independent consulting work with individuals and for companies regarding supplements, nutraceuticals, essential oils, and medical foods. Dr. LoBisco speaks professionally on integrative medical topics and has several journal publications. “Dr. Sarah” also enjoys continuing to educate and empower her readers and clients through her blogs and social media. Her main blog can be found at dr-lobisco.com.