Hygieia vs Hygiene

hygiene vs Hygieia

The Holistic Side of Hygiene

This pivotal year in human history has brought attention to the way we define health and wellness. At the forefront is hygiene, with a microcosm view of germs and how to avoid them. This is an extension of the modern medical establishment – the allopathic perspective.

Catching up quickly in popularity is historically marginalized Hygeia. This Greek Goddess represented what we would now call wellness. Through the centuries, Hygeia was a symbol of health in a holistic perspective. By this definition, health was not only the absence of disease, but the presence of mind to have healthy relationships and make good choices, the balance of the organs to avoid disease in the future, and a depth of purpose as part of a community.

Depending on where you are in the world will determine whether you see medicine from a hygiene or Hygieia perspective. There are many cultures which include a holistic approach to staying healthy, relying on traditional self-care practices to avoid having to visit a medical specialist. The need for an outsider to intervene in health care is much lower in these cultures, only necessary when the cultural methods have not worked. These methods include herbs, diets, movements, music, community elements of nature, spirituality and much more.

Some regions have managed to integrate the allopathic and the cultural-holistic perspectives. In Greece, for example, a modern and extremely successful medical system has been created without abandoning the traditional practices that have kept people well through the ages. A strong sense of community, communing with nature, healthy ancestral foods, and cultural expressions over generations – these are elements of Hygieia that help to keep the Greek people strong.

This integration of modern technology with the traditional wisdom of the people, could easily be the next step in keeping humanity healthy. It is up to each of us to find creative or cultural ways to take care of ourselves and those that we share our lives with.

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