The wellbeing, at least as important as physical wellness, in chronic diseases – how can integrative medicine help?

by Expat Life

Wellness is a pursuit of overall health in a physical and mental matter. It is a multidimensional state of wellbeing. Health and wellbeing are inseparable. Since 1946, World Health Organisation has defined health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” (1).

The wellbeing can refer to different notions. First is the physical wellbeing which is defined by a general
good physiological health and a satisfaction of the primordial needs of the body. The second notion refers to the psychological wellbeing that comes from a personal evaluation of various perceptions or satisfactions and sentiments
as well as from the absence of mental disorders (2).

RelaxDeveloping our wellbeing is possible for everyone and with simple actions. For example,let’s think about an essential gesture of life: breathing. By breathing more consciously and more through the belly, we can have a deeper breathing. And this has a”relaxation” effect guaranteed. It is an ideal act to reduce the feeling of stress, to apprehend an event or, simply, to take care of ourselves. The most complicated part is to integrate it in our daily life. The wellbeing is important for each of us not only when we are healthy in order to feel good and to prevent disease but also when we suffer from chronic diseases. The wellbeing may seem futile compared to care for any long-term condition. Nevertheless, it is essential. Higher levels of wellbeing are also associated with decreased risk of disease, illness and injury; speedier recovery;
better immune functioning; and increased longevity (3) (4). Evidence suggests an association of trait positive affect and lower morbidity and of trait positive affect and decreased symptoms and pain (5). Besides, positive affect seems to be
a protector factor for individuals against physical declines in old age (6) (7).

Caring for one’s body and mind can be done in different ways and should be individually different according to the characteristics of the illness one suffers from. However, here are some of the common ways.

 1.  Keep and maintain a positive image of ourselves through adapted ways like detox treatments and massages is important (4).
 2.  Stress can be a triggering factor or even aggravating factor of the symptoms of the disease. So, we have to find our way to remove the stress from our life as much as possible.
 3.  Engage in physical activity and maintain physical activity habits are essential. In some situations, it also helps to overcome fatigue during and after treatment and reduces the risk of recurrence of the disease. Physical wellness is also about making responsible decisions and responding appropriately to physical stressors. 
 4.  Pay particular attention to our diet by emphasising the variety of foods, the diversity of flavours, and the appropriate quantities is elementary. This attention can, for example, delay the development of cardiovascular diseases. However, a good diet is not only helpful to lower the risk of chronic health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, and cancer. It can furthermore increase the energy level, improve the sleep quality, improve mood and mental wellbeing, maintain a healthy body weight, and help to have clearer skin.
 5. Creativity development and flourishment in more artistic areas can support to escape the ongoing pains. It is important to rediscover our creativity rather than focusing on our pain, our disease and the treatments.
 6.  Stay positive and think about the benefits of the actions we undertake, aim for achievable goals quickly, and value  the approach to ourselves as well as the loved ones.     

In chronic disease, such as autoimmune diseases, cancers, some viral diseases, arthritis, diabetes, and many others diseases, there are 3 different parts of treatment in Integrative Medicine. There are treatments used to tackle the cause of the problem, some treatments used to control the symptoms, and there are also treatments used to improve the wellbeing of the patient which have shown positive effects to the quality of life in, for example, cancer patients over the course of their illnesses (8).

Integrative medicine doctors choose different treatment pathways for each and every patient according to the diseases and the treatments that we have undergone and will receive as well as our personality, feelings, and environment with an aim to treat not just the disease but also the patient.

Clean Food
  • WHO, 1946, Constitution of the World Health Organization, 25/10/2019,
  • Hartig, T., van den Berg, A. E., Hagerhall, C. M., Tomalak, M., Bauer, N., Hansmann, R., Waaseth, G. (2010). Health Benefits of Nature Experience: Psychological, Social and Cultural Processes. Forests, Trees and Human Health, 127–168. doi:10.1007/978-90-481-9806-1_5 
  • Frederickson BL, Levenson RW. Positive emotions speed recovery from the cardiovascular sequelae of negative emotions. Cognition and Emotion 1998;12:191–220
  • Diener E, Biswas-Diener R. Happiness: Unlocking the mysteries of psychological wealth. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing; 2008
  • Pressman SD, Cohen S. Does positive affect influence health? Psychol Bull 2005;131:925–971
  • Ostir GV, Markides KS, Black SA. et al. Emotional well-being predicts subsequent functional independence and survival. J Am Geriatr Soc 2000;48:473–478
  • Ostir GV, Markides KS, Peek MK, et al. The association between emotional well-being and incidence of stroke in older adults. Psychosom Med 2001;63:210–215
  • Collins, J. F., Hanson, K., Mulhern, M., & Padberg, R. M. (1992). Sense of coherence over time in cancer patients: A preliminary report. Medical Psychotherapy: An International Journal, 5, 73-82

Sevcan Gast, MD
Verita Life, Integrative Cancer Centre                    
02 554 8333                            
[email protected]

Did you like this article? Become a Patron and help us bring you great content in the future!

You may also like