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Embracing Holistic Approaches in Women's Health: A Multidimensional Perspective





Introduction

Women's health has traditionally been approached through a narrow biomedical lens, often focusing solely on biological factors without sufficient consideration of psychological, environmental, and social influences. This article advocates for a holistic approach to women's health, emphasizing the integration of physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. It reviews various holistic practices and their effectiveness in addressing ordinary women's health issues, including reproductive health, mental health, and chronic diseases. By examining evidence from recent studies, this article highlights the benefits and challenges of implementing holistic health practices and argues for a more integrated healthcare system that supports holistic strategies for improving women's health outcomes.

Women's health encompasses many complex issues that require a multifaceted approach. The traditional medical model often falls short of addressing these complexities comprehensively. A holistic approach, which considers a range of physical, emotional, social, and environmental factors, presents a promising alternative to enhance health outcomes for women. This approach is particularly pertinent in addressing the unique lifecycle challenges women face, such as menstruation, pregnancy, childbirth, and menopause, along with general health issues like cardiovascular disease and mental health disorders.

 

 Holistic Health Defined

Holistic health is predicated on the principle that individual well-being depends on the interplay between various aspects of life, including physical health, mental balance, emotional well-being, social connections, and environmental factors. This perspective aligns with the view emphasizing complete physical, mental, and social well-being, not merely the absence of disease or infirmity (Bircher & Kuruvilla, 2014). Harmony within and around is essential for a balanced and happy existence.

 

Women's Health Issues and Holistic Practices

Research has shown that holistic practices such as yoga, meditation, acupuncture, and dietary modifications can have substantial impacts on various health conditions disproportionately affecting women, including autoimmune diseases, depression, and osteoporosis (Smith & Pukall, 2011; Wang et al., 2012). For example, mindfulness and yoga have been found to significantly alleviate symptoms of premenstrual syndrome and menopause (Woods et al., 2019). The use of alternative forms of medicine, which in the beginning of time were the only forms of medicine, has proved invaluable to the balance and harmony of one's health.

 

Method’s

This review analyzes qualitative and quantitative studies focusing on holistic interventions in women’s health. Data sources include peer-reviewed journals, healthcare databases like PubMed and Web of Science, and books on holistic medicine. Studies were selected based on their relevance to holistic health practices and women’s health outcomes, methodological rigor, and recency of publication.


Impact of Holistic Practices on Reproductive Health

Practices such as yoga and dietary adjustments have shown promise in managing polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and enhancing fertility (Patel & Maturi, 2015). Additionally, acupuncture has been reported to improve the efficacy of fertility treatments (Cheong et al., 2008). Massage therapy also offers another modality that helps individuals to allow their body to balance hormones naturally, which lends to balanced reproductive health.

 

Mental Health and Emotional Well-being

Mental health is a critical component of women’s overall health. Holistic approaches, including meditation and cognitive-behavioral strategies, have demonstrated effectiveness in treating depression and anxiety, common among women (Jain et al., 2017). All body systems can align and work harmoniously when the mind and body are in harmony.

 

Challenges in Integrating Holistic Health Practices

Despite the benefits, there are challenges in integrating holistic health practices into mainstream healthcare, including a lack of standardized guidelines, varying acceptance levels among healthcare providers, and inconsistent insurance coverage for such treatments (Hart, 2018). However, a holistic approach to healthcare, specifically women’s healthcare, allows individuals to advocate for themselves and take charge of their life and well-being.

Conclusion

Holistic health approaches offer valuable alternatives and complement traditional biomedical treatments in women's health. By embracing these practices, healthcare systems can provide more comprehensive care that meets the varied needs of women throughout their lives. Future research should focus on creating integrated health models that combine the best of both conventional and holistic medicine, ensuring women receive the most effective care possible.

Allow KINA Wellness to jump-start your journey to wellness.


Kiara Poloney FNP-C, AFMCP, LMT

References

Bircher, J., & Kuruvilla, S. (2014). Defining health by addressing individual, social, and environmental determinants: new opportunities for health care and public health. Journal of public health policy35(3), 363–386. https://doi.org/10.1057/jphp.2014.19

Cheong, Y. C., Dix, S., Hung Yu Ng, E., Ledger, W. L., & Farquhar, C. (2008). Acupuncture and assisted conception. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 4, CD006920. https://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD006920.pub2


Hart, J. (2018). Challenges in the adoption of holistic treatments in the public health system. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 24(6), 621-627.


Jain, F. A., Walsh, R. N., Eisendrath, S. J., Christensen, S., & Rael Cahn, B. R. (2017). Critical analysis of the efficacy of meditation therapies for acute and subacute phase treatment of depressive disorders: A systematic review. Psychiatry Research, 256, 237-244.


Patel, S., & Maturi, B. (2015). The effectiveness of yoga in modifying risk factors for cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, 22(3), 291-307.


Smith, C. A., & Pukall, C. F. (2011). An evidence-based review of yoga as a complementary intervention for patients with cancer. Psycho-Oncology, 20(5), 465-475.


Wang, C. W., Chan, C. L. W., Ho, R. T. H., Chan, J. S. M., Ng, S. M., & Chan, C. L. (2012). Managing stress and anxiety through qigong exercise in healthy adults: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 12, 8.


Woods, N. F., Mitchell, E. S., & Smith-Dijulio, K. (2019). Yoga for menopause: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Maturitas, 116, 57-67.

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