Today I was writing a story on sleep apnea and was looking for some “holistic” treatment options. I learned an important lesson here. The term holistic is a fuzzy word. Yes, I knew this, but sometimes I think I have a narrow view of what fits there. What I discovered was that there are very few holistic therapies for sleep apnea. But I was very wrong. Once I thought about it more, most of the treatment options are holsitic in nature; I was just seeing them as traditional, and thus, not holistic.
Let me explain. One treatment option is to learn how to sleep on your side. This helps with the collapsing or obstruction in the airways. Since this is a normal intervention, mentioned by hospitals, physicians and associations with a more biomedical focus, in my mind, it wasn’t holistic. Oh but it is! An alternative that isn’t harmful and isn’t ignoring the problem – this is one of the definitions of holistic interventions!
What I think ended up being most important in this process for me was remembering how wide the holistic net is, and how differently it is interpreted by different people. There are quite a few options for sleep apnea, and most importantly, many of them are lifestyle changes, which are holistic in nature. Rather than being in the holistic camp and scoffing at mainstream medicine (I’m working on that), I am beginning to see the interconnectedness. This is true integrative medicine. It’s a beautiful thing, you know, the best of modern medicine when it’s really needed and choices when it’s not.