Holistically Speaking

Elizabeth Hanna Pham

About eight years ago my mom tried acupuncture – and it changed my life.

At first, I protested, NOOOO YOU CAN’T!! THAT’S NEW AGE! But one of her doctors had highly recommended acupuncture and pointed to some science to back it up. My mom wasn’t selling her soul to anything, and it was worth trying if it could help her feel better.  But I remained as skeptical of acupuncture as I was about all the environmental/health issues which we often associate with liberalism, new age-ism, and/or radical feminism.

Now, just a few years later, I am a pescatarian, gluten-free eater, acupuncture client, whole foods-shopper, seasonal eater, backyard garden grower, almost completely raw diet eater, herb user, and in the process, have almost cured my Crohn’s disease and many other bodily ailments.  Perhaps more important than any of these cures is the realization I came to during these past years.

I already knew that women tend to be the ones most concerned with our health. (Yes, sometimes it’s the men who are the health conscience ones in the family—but not usually.) We are the mothers, the wives, the sisters; the ones who make sure we eat our greens and brush our teeth and go for our yearly physicals. As my fiancé remarked the other day, “I see now why men get so unhealthy when they’re single… I can’t wait till we’re married and you’ll make me eat healthy.” And it’s true. My fiancé completely supports my pursuit of holistic health, but on many occasions, when left to his own devices, his meal may consist of string cheese and gummy worms.

My realization instead was this:  Holistic health has been associated with the wrong group of women. It is actually not in line with the manifestos of those who preach relativism, new age religion, or those who demand birth control insured by their employer.

In fact, if you use birth control to control birth, you are not thinking about health in a holistic way. You are thinking about health in a compartmentalized and short-term way. To take the morning after pill, to preach that abortion, premarital sex, euthanasia, in vitro fertilization, and the like are relative issues, and then to insist that parabens in shampoo are bad for you or that it is best to eat locally is very contradictory.

Conversly, while there is hypocrisy among the stereotypical holistic health promoters, there is hypocrisy also among those on the other side. There are those Catholics, Christians, conservatives, etc who have no interest in or may be close minded toward the holistic health movement or health in general. As I will later address, these are the people who, according to their doctrine, ought to be most in favor of holistic health.

As women, we are born nurturers. It is a biological fact. And for the rest of our lives, people, including ourselves, will depend on us and come to us for care and healing—whether it be our children, our husbands, our boyfriends, our friends, our mothers, our fathers. Thus it is our responsibility to open our minds, whichever side we are already on, and consider what is best for the total well being of those we love.

To be continued in my next post.


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