When I was sixteen years old, I was diagnosed with lupus. After I was diagnosed, a family member disclosed to me that two of our family members died from lupus while in their twenties.
At this early age, I had a choice of surrendering to a horrible fate or educating myself about the disease. I made the choice to learn everything and anything about lupus.
At the time, I was dating a young man whose mom was a nurse. One day, this wonderful woman sensed I was scared and nervous about my diagnosis. She gave me the names of several doctors in our area that specialized in lupus.
I will never forget the first day I met Dr. Griffin. For the 1980s, he looked very unconventional. His hair was long and curly. He wore gym shoes, blue jeans and a tie.
He talked to me in words I understood and said; ʺYou may want to consider some holistic treatment along with conventional medical treatment.ʺ
According to the American Holistic Medical Association, ʺholistic medicine is the term that brings together the best of conventional, complementary, alternative and integrative medicine, emphasizing the whole person and including the spiritual nature.ʺ
A holistic medical approach falls under the definition of complementary and alternative medicine, also known as CAM.
Over the years, the medical community has become more open to CAM. In my case, I visited an herbalist, acupuncturist, attended yoga classes and met with a mental health professional who specialized in chronic illness.
According to the AHMA, more than 50 U.S. hospitals and medical centers have integrative medicine centers or programs. One perfect example of this type of initiative is at the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital.
The website states, ʺDr. Benson has long described health and well-being as a three-legged stool. One leg is drugs, the second is surgical procedures, and the third is self-care.ʺ
The third leg incorporates the following items:
• Physical activity
• Social support
• The relaxation response
• Positive coping strategies (cognitive behavioral therapy)
Here are some other interesting CAM facts by the AHMA:
• Four in 10 U.S. adults use some form of CAM annually
• In 2007, more than $34 billion was spent on CAM
• $12 billion on visits to practitioners and $22 billion on products, classes materials
• Over the last 10 years, more than $10 billion has been spent on CAM research
• Chronic back, neck and joint pain are most likely to generate CAM usage
If you are interested in learning more about holistic medicine, visit the American Health Holistic Association website. The AHHA offers a free 30-page booklet titled ʺWellness from Withinʺ at http://ahha.org/ahhastep.htm/
This booklet offers a wellness quiz, tips on balancing your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual self, goal worksheet, wellness contract, and additional information on holistic medicine.
LAWS/ETHICS. Fast Facts. American Holistic Medical Association (AHMA). Retrieved January 23, 2012, from
Mind Body Basics - Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA. Massachusetts General Hospital Home. Retrieved January 23, 2012, from http://www.massgeneral.org/bhi/basics/default.aspx.
Relaxation techniques. University of Maryland Medical Center | Home. Retrieved January 23, 2012, from
Reviewed January 24, 2012
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith