Holistic medicine is the science and art of healing, which uses an approach that considers the mind, body, and spirit of a person. Holistic medicine practice also involves both alternative and conventional types of treatment to achieve optimal health and wellness.
In holistic medicine, practitioners believe that an individual consists of interdependent parts, which work together to achieve balance in the body. If one part of the body is not functioning well, other parts and their functions in the body will also be affected. It means that when imbalances in the body take place, it can result in negative consequences in people’s mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual health.
Principles of Holistic Medicine
Similar to conventional medicine’s approach, holistic medicine focuses on the prevention and treatment of illnesses, including the improvement of the overall well-being and general health of patients.
The techniques and therapies used in holistic medicine help improve the natural healing abilities of the body. Another significant component of holistic medicine is patient empowerment, in which patients have the responsibility of being in charge of their own health.
Holistic health practitioners also consider the following elements when diagnosing diseases and treating their patients:
- Nutritional health
The following are other significant aspects of holistic health:
- Providing natural, safe, and effective treatment options, which include lifestyle changes and self-care practices.
- Offer alternative treatment options instead of using conventional drug therapy and other medical procedures when possible.
- Treating the underlying or root cause of the disease instead of simply treating the symptoms.
- Working in partnership with patients to get to know them better and understanding a patient as a whole person.
- Acknowledging diseases as not isolated events, but symptoms of an imbalance or dysfunction within the whole patient.
- Promoting prevention as the primary goal to achieve optimal health as well as consider a patient's natural healing abilities.
Types of Holistic Treatments
Holistic medicine practitioners utilize different types of treatment techniques to help improve the overall well-being of their patients. These holistic treatments also depend on the practitioner's training. Some of these treatments may include:
- Self-care and patient education regarding lifestyle changes to promote overall wellness. These include exercise, healthy dietary intake, spiritual and relationship counseling, and psychotherapy, among others.
- Alternative and complementary treatments, such as homeopathy, naturopathy, chiropractic care, acupuncture, and massage therapy, among others.
- Western medicine along with surgical procedures (as needed)
Acupuncture is a well-recognized and unique component of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) that has been around for thousands of years.
During acupuncture treatment, sterile and very thin needles are inserted into the body's different acupuncture points. It is believed that this process helps regulate the normal flow of energy (qi) through the body's energy pathways and relieve symptoms as well as restore overall health in the body.
Although acupuncture may seem intimidating because of needle insertions, it is actually a gentle therapy. Some people even find it very relaxing that they can fall asleep while therapy is ongoing. The needles used in acupuncture are extremely thin, making needle insertion often painless. They are also quite flexible, made of stainless steel, and are sterile for one-time use only. Once these needles are in place, patients feel no pain at all.
Acupuncture is used to help relieve the following:
- Smoking cessation or reduction
- Dry mouth
- Nausea and vomiting
Ayurvedic medicine or commonly called Ayurveda, originated in India and is one of the oldest medical systems in the world. In Ayurveda, unique health practices, such as the use of herbal medicine and special or therapeutic diets are followed.
Within the context of the Eastern belief system, the Indian government and other institutes all over the world support and promote laboratory and clinical research studies on Ayurvedic medicine. However, Ayurveda is not typically studied as part of Western medicine.
The philosophy behind Ayurvedic medicine involves the elements of ether, air, fire, water, and earth. These five elements combine with a person's soul and influence a number of bodily functions.
Reiki is a form of alternative medicine that originated in Japan. Reiki practitioners utilize a technique called hands-on healing or palm healing to help transfer universal energy from their hands to their patients. This technique is said to promote physical and emotional healing.
Reiki is a safe and natural method of self-improvement and spiritual healing, which all people can use. It also works together with other therapeutic or medical techniques to help treat symptoms and promote recovery.
Like Ayurvedic medicine, yoga is also an ancient practice that originated in India thousands of years ago. Yoga is specifically designed to enable the union of mind, body, and spirit. There are also plenty of research studies that show the therapeutic effects of yoga. Researchers have found that yoga significantly contributes to a person's psychological and physiological growth.
Yoga also helps regulate the chemical and electrical impulses in the brain as well as normalize blood pressure, heart rhythm, and other internal functions of the body. Practicing yoga also helps relieve depression, anxiety, irritability, and other mood disorders. It improves emotional stability, memory, past traumas, and comprehensive ability.
Osteopathy is another type of alternative medicine that uses the holistic approach. It is based on the belief that the body is capable of healing itself by activating its natural healing response. The practitioners of osteopathy are called osteopaths.
Manual readjustments and physical manipulation of the musculoskeletal system (muscle tissue and bones) are involved in osteopathy. When there is an improper alignment in the body, the body's ability to maintain homeostasis is affected leading to the impairment or damage of the body's interdependent physiological processes.
Homeopathy is another form of holistic medicine that is based on the like cures like principle. It means that when a substance taken in large doses causes symptoms, the same substance taken in small amounts can also cure the symptoms. Homeopathic medicines are natural and safe. They also rarely cause side effects, which means that they can be taken by people of all ages under the guidance of a qualified homeopath.