What is Holistic Healing?
The American Holistic Health Association defines holistic medicine as, “the art and science of healing that addresses the whole person – body, mind, and spirit.” Therefore, holistic healing considers the entirety of an individual, including mental and social factors, rather than just the physical symptoms of a disease.
Holistic medicinal philosophy encourages balance to foster wellness. Therefore, holistic doctors believe that physical, emotional, and spiritual imbalances can be interconnected and lead to overall ill health, rather than viewing disease as an isolated event. These physicians also encourage patients to release negative energy and adopt positive attitudes to promote a balance between a healthy body and mind as well as a belief in the body’s power to heal itself. Holistic healing promotes treating the fundamental cause of a disease rather than just mitigating its symptoms. By favoring prevention over treatment, holistic medicine aims to stop an illness before it occurs by maintaining an overall healthy lifestyle.
Complementary and alternative medicine is a collaborative effort between doctors and patients, requiring a supportive environment to promote healing. Holistic doctors may use a variety of treatment options that take into account a patient’s lifestyle and situation rather than merely using medication as the only remedy.
Types of Holistic Treatments
There are all types of holistic physicians, including medical doctors, doctors of osteopathy, naturopathic doctors, chiropractors, and homeopathic doctors. While these physicians might specialize in different areas, they all consider physical, nutritional, environmental, emotional, spiritual and lifestyle elements when healing a patient. Integrative healthcare often combines conventional healthcare practices with complementary healing methods. Treatments might include alternative medicine, such as acupuncture, or biologically-based therapies such as herbal medicines or aromatherapy. Other methods include manipulative and body-based approaches involving physical contact or movement such as massage therapy or chiropractic techniques. Energy therapies, such as Reiki, also may help patients and can involve electromagnetic, ultrasonic, thermal, or subtle energy. Finally, mind-body interventions, such as support groups or relaxation class, involve behavioral, psychological, social, and spiritual elements and can also support healing.
While there is still much research to be done on complementary and alternative medical practices, evidence suggests that holistic methods can help. Complementary and alternative methods can be a non-invasive and a more natural way to maintain your health. For example, proper diet, exercise and stress management all contribute to a healthier and happier wellbeing.
Use of complementary and alternative medicine is certainly growing. A 2007 study conducted by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health and the National Center for Health Statistics indicates that approximately 38 % of adults and 12% of children in the United States use some form of holistic healing methods. A review in the International Journal of Health Sciences concluded that, “As long as alternative treatments are used alongside conventional treatments, the majority of medical doctors find most forms of complementary medicine acceptable.”
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