The National Institute of Whole Health (NIWH) | Pioneers of Whole Health Education® and Whole Person Care
December 12, 2017

Our Love Affair With Pets Contributes To Healing

By Georgianna Donadio, MSc, DC, PhD

love affair with pets and healing

While it may be difficult to get large numbers of Americans to collectively agree on any issue, it seems that when it comes to pets and the value we place on them, there is little disagreement. The 2015-2016 American Pet Products Association survey reported that an astounding 65% of all American households have a pet living with them.

An identified 79.7% of all households have dogs – over 100 million of them. Cat owner households total 42.9 million, while dogs make up 54.4. Fresh water fish, birds, reptiles and horses, along with small animals such as rabbits, hamsters, and others make up another 25 – 27 million pets.

Americans, it seems, have also come to view and treat their pets in human terms. No longer satisfied with relegating the family pet to its own domain, today’s pet lovers are demanding the highest quality products and services for those they love.
The idea of buying a simple dog chew or catnip toy now takes a backseat to designer sweaters and jewelry for our beloved companions. The current trend of dog hotels instead of kennels, indoor animal toilets, perfume and even pet trench coats have flooded the marketplace. A hugely popular service “doggie dates” and exotic animal sitting services have also found their way into today’s pet economy.

For the most passionate pet lovers, faux mink coats, lumberjack vests, designer jackets, matching jeweled leather collars and leash sets, Halloween costumes, and holiday outfits are becoming part of the new “pet fashion.” Safety seats for transporting pets in vehicles are also becoming popular. Still, one of the larger pet expenditures is for pet food.

These days the pet food aisle looks strikingly similar to the rest of the “human food” aisles in chain grocery stores. Specialized, balanced gourmet meals are readily available in the refrigerator section as well as all variations of animal treats, vitamins and supplements. Special diet foods for the senior pet population offer life extension and prolonged health.

Pet dental care, tooth brushes, mouth wash, braces to correct crooked bites, and even cosmetic dental surgery are all available to the concerned pet lover. There are also pet lovers who are having their animals’ vasectomies reversed and paying for cosmetic surgery to enhance their pet’s beauty.

Expenditures on pets by their household for 2015-16 was in excess of 62.75 billion dollars. It is easy to imagine that this number must be a mistake as this is more money being spent on pets in the United State than the gross national product numbers for all but 64 countries around the world. This 62.75 billion dollar figure also represents almost double the approximately $35 billion dollars Americans spend on going to movies, video games, or for listening to recorded music.

The approximate 20% of non-pet households are for the most part made up of individuals with allergies, who live in apartments or living environments that do not welcome pets and those who have no time left in their over-scheduled lives to care for a pet. It seems people of all ages, ranging from infants to very elderly enjoy and welcome the company of pets. The presence of pets is so population today, that nursing facilities have therapy pets at the facility on a regular basis. The one downside to this practice is that sometimes the residents start arguing and competing over who gets to keep the cat, dog or bird with them for the day.

What ties this into our typical discussions of whole health healing, health coach certification or the health advocacy program is what fuels this passion for pets. It is really quite simple. Our pets love us unconditionally. They listen to us when we speak, provide companionship without politics or the agenda of most relationships. They accept our love and affection the way we chose to give it without complaint and they provide us in return with affection and loyalty.

They are the ultimate loving family member and we are now treating them as such; can anyone blame us? Social networking has become the way we communicate and “do” relationships. These days it is often over e-mails and text messages that we are starting relationships or ending them, sharing major life events –  even proposing marriage. The intimate contact of human connections we had even 15 years ago before the dominance of the internet and cell phones is being replaced by our pets. From the health coach advocacy program, we know that feeling connected socially and giving and receiving love are big components of health and wellness.

Pets are not only beloved companions, but are also taking on the role of healers. Dogs have been long known for their service as seeing eye dogs, but the use of dogs and other pets in many areas of healing and health monitoring are becoming more widely spread. Dogs who alert their companions for seizures or “sniff out” cancer or horses that assist with helping autistic children to interact with others are easily found on the news or the internet.

Our health advocacy program took a look at a recent study by researcher Dr. Karen Allen, at the State University of New York at Buffalo. She identified that individuals suffering from hypertension after adopting a dog or cat had lower blood pressure reading in stressful situations than their counterparts who did not have a pet companion. The National Institute of Technology Assessment Workshop: Health Benefits of Pets identified that pets provide greater psychological stability which protects not only from heart disease and other stress related conditions but also reduces depression. In the same study pets have been shown to lower the cost of health care as individuals with pets make fewer doctor visits, especially “for non-serious medical conditions.”

A Perdue University study demonstrated that when seniors face traumas of adversity, the affection received by their pets and the bond between them helps prevent depression and loneliness. As a means of enhancing our psychological and physical well-being, pets have the power to love us, heal us and help us to live longer. If only we could get other humans to do so with the same honesty and loyalty that our pet companions provide.


Join the conversation. If you enjoyed this article, be sure to follow NIWH on Facebook and Twitter for regular updates filled with useful health advocacy program information for holistic nurses and whole health coaches or advocates.


References  (Between Pets and People: The Importance of Animal Companionship)

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December 5, 2017

Healing Outside The Box With NIWH’S Accredited Health Program

By Georgianna Donadio, MSc, DC, PhD


Healing Outside The Box With NIWH’S Accredited Health Program

Many of us don’t realize how much of a role environment, emotional state and spirituality play in our current health status. In NIWH’S accredited health program, all of these factors take center stage–a big leap outside the box of traditional healing programs then tend to only focus on physical conditions.

Understanding these connections can be especially helpful during the peak of cold and flu season. To fully grasp this “cause-and-effect,” it’s a good idea to have a larger perspective on the following contributing factors to illness.


The late psychologist Abraham Maslow, Ph. D., said that aside from basic survival and safety needs, we possess an innate drive to belong, develop self-esteem and actualize our authentic selves. While it might seem that exposure to more people is an invitation for illness, a study found the exact opposite: According to the researchers, people with one to three social “roles,” such as a parent, child and friend, are more than four times as likely to get sick than those with six or more social roles.

This may stem from the relationship between your immune system and the self-esteem you get from your interactions with others. The more positive social interactions you experience, the greater your self-esteem and the more you enhance your immune system’s functions.


One of the most unique features of NIWH’S accredited health program is its inclusion of spirituality as a major factor related to wellness. Spirituality can be broadly defined as the things you hold important and sacred, and the relationships you form with others and with the world around you. Boundary setting is one of the most important aspects of spirituality; it is especially important if you want to create a meaningful and fulfilling life.

The boundaries you set are codes of conduct relating to how you behave toward yourselves and others. For instance, how you eat, work, exercise, and live all reflect your individual boundaries. All of these actions have a profound effect on your health and sense of well-being.


Your body actually has two distinct environments that interact with one another: the internal, and the external. This is something you should always be mindful of. In the external environment there are sources of noise, stress, toxicity, temperature and mood affecting weather, and volumes of work or exertion to complete. All of these things affect your health directly by influencing the nervous system and your immune systems.

Internally, your body’s chemical environment has a large bearing on weather germs are allowed or prevented from inhabiting your bloodstream. This makes it important to consider the ways your internal environment is manipulated by the foods you select, your sleep cycles, and the kinds of thoughts you allows to take up residence in your mind. Both positive and negative ideas can have a big influence on your choices and behaviors each day.

When all is said and done, illness can be caused by a wealth of seemingly insignificant factors that affect the whole person. Various strains of colds and viruses have different dimensions. This is because humans are also multidimensional. Our accredited health program fosters the understanding and application of emotional, spiritual, and environmental cause and effects of sickness. This comprehension and practice allows you to prevent colds and flus from affecting you.

Join the conversation. If you enjoyed this article, be sure to follow NIWH on Facebook and Twitter for regular updates filled with useful information for holistic nurses and whole health coaches or advocates.

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November 28, 2017

Unwrapping The Need For More Whole Person Care

By Georgianna Donadio, MSc, DC, PhD

unwrapping the need for more whole health care

In this week’s blog, I would like to begin unwrapping the need for more whole person care in this country and the world at large. This is a big part of the philosophy behind NIWH’s accredited health program. If I had a nickel for every time I heard the words “specialty” or “specialize” in the healthcare field, I would be a very wealthy woman. These are among the latest buzzwords and for good reason. Given the increased competition and expansion of healthcare options, specialization – even among “natural” or “alternative” health care providers—has emerged as the way to stand out in today’s consumerist economy.

Thanks to a combination of the Internet, increased communication, and a fast-paced economy, competing for the health consumer is only expected to become more and more commonplace in the decade. What is getting abandoned in the clamor to remain competitive as a health provider in either the allopathic or alternative fields is the quality of care. Fortunately, this isn’t the case in our accredited health program.

What once distinguished “alternative” health care providers—mindful and respectful listening to the individual and being present in a way that addressed their needs as a whole person—has gradually been replaced by practicing or promoting the specialty that we have been trained and are experts at.

Critics of allopathic medicine have for a long time pointed to the specialization and fragmentation of health care services as the “demon” preventing the creation of an integrated, whole person health care system. Yet we see alternatives to allopathic medicine being practiced in an identically fragmented, specialized way.

The applications of nutrition, herbs, energy healing, body alignment, yoga, meditation, aromatherapy, and so forth, are primarily offered to the consumer without an integral whole picture of how healing takes place. Specifically, how our body functions as an integrated, homeostatic living being and how the specialty sciences that we call “alternative healing modalities” enhance or assist the function of our overall health on a physical, emotional, nutritional, environmental or spiritual level. The modalities of alternative care are now being offered in the same way medical specialties have been over for years; now, we just have more items on the menu to choose from.

It is also concerning is that alternative health care practitioners seem no better educated in integrated anatomy and physiology than most allopathic practitioners. One of the legitimate criticisms of alternative health care is the lack of evidence-based knowledge on the part of the practitioner to explain the effective outcomes from their application. Alternative practitioners, like their allopathic counterpart who focuses on prescription writing as a cure, are woefully uneducated in the evidence-based sciences of human anatomy and physiology as well as lacking an authentic education and understanding in whole person science.

When I opened my accredited health program in the early 1970’s the alternative practitioner was often seen by the suffering individual who sought their assistance as “an angel of mercy.” Today, it’s quite a different story. It is a sad testimony to the popularity of alternative health care that in the dawn of the 21st century people are more confused, less informed and even less aware of how their bodies work and how to take care of themselves over their lifetime than they were thirty years ago!

Today I repeatedly overhear people confiding that they are disappointed with the alternative health care profession, and feel that there is the same focus on selling product or treatment plans as there has been in the medical practices they used to turn to. No longer do alternative practitioners spend the time they once did explaining and demystifying the process of disease and the cause and effect of where it comes from, but rather are busy selling the latest product of their trade or re-scheduling people for their next ten visits of care. Economic success has come to alternative health care and with it the same issues that have plagued the practice of allopathic medicine for many years. Success is a strange bedfellow. If we lose the very essence that crafted our field then we have lost our personal and professional integrity.

The philosophical foundation of alternative health care is the knowledge and ability to address the whole person rather than just one isolated aspect of health. The five aspects of health include the physical, environmental, spiritual, nutritional and emotional. The specialization of alternative health care attacks the very core of this practice.

Modern practitioners are continuously specializing in physical areas of the body or specific conditions or diseases such as chronic fatigue syndrome or environmental allergies. This specialization is creating isolation where practitioners are failing to treat the whole person. Countless studies have shown the effectiveness of treating the whole person in a relationship-centered, education-focused model of practice.

In our roles, whether as advocates, alternative or holistic health practitioners, whole health coaches, or holistic nurses, we must establish and promote a practice of treating the entire person and addressing the bigger picture of their illness or presentation. Given rapidly rising chronic diseases such as diabetes and obesity, it is our duty to remain true to this integral approach to healing and serve our patients in the way they want and need us to.

I encourage this initiative to health practitioners across the country: Fight specialization and favor treating the Whole Person. It is only with such an accredited health program that we can begin to solve that which ails us.

Join the conversation. If you enjoyed this article, be sure to follow NIWH on 
Facebook and Twitter for regular updates filled with useful information for holistic nurses and whole health coaches or advocates.


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