Popular Holistic Approaches to Medicine

 Complementary and alternative medicinal practices can either stand alone as treatments for what ails you or can do as the name implies: complement western medicinal practices.

If you’re exhausted by hitting deadends when it comes to improving your health, it might be time to look at holistic forms of treatment. From herbal supplements to meditation, you’re bound to find something that works for you on a physical, mental, or spiritual level. 

What is Holistic Medicine?

Holistic medicine involves looking at health care as something that treats the body, mind, and spirit. If one element of a person is suffering, the health of the other elements may be compromised as result. A holistic approach to health requires treating all aspects of the self in order to find harmony.


For example, a holistic approach to treating headaches wouldn’t be to take ibuprofen with a glass of water. A holistic doctor would take a look at diet, emotional wellbeing, and sleeping patterns that may be triggering headaches. After a thorough examination of these parts of a person, a treatment plan for the headaches may include eliminating certain foods, adding magnesium supplements to one’s diet, or using an essential oil such as lavender or peppermint on the skin.

Types of Holistic Medicine

There is a wind range of holistic approaches to health and wellness. Some may be more readily available to you than others, but all have a history of implementation dating back thousands of years. Here are some popular holistic practices still in use today.


  • Acupuncture

  • Ayurveda

  • Homeopathy

  • Naturopathy

  • Chiropractic Adjustments

  • Massage

  • Tai Chi

  • Yoga

  • Meditation

  • Electromagnetic Therapy

  • Reiki

  • Qigong


Let’s take a deeper look at what some of these are and how they are used.

Acupuncture

While acupuncture didn’t show up on the radar in the United States until the 1800s, it has long been an ancient Chinese practice of medicine used to redirect the flow of qi (energy) in the body. Before small, sharp needles were used to pierce the skin, the Chinese may have used sharpened stones or bones. The use of needles in acupuncture is complemented with herbal supplements and massage. As of 1995, acupuncture needles were classified as medical instruments by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).


The purpose of acupuncture is to stimulate the central nervous system of the body, promoting biochemical changes. It is often used to treat the following:


  • Addiction

  • Asthma

  • Carpal Tunnel

  • Fibromyalgia

  • Headaches

  • Menstrual Cramping

  • Nausea


Many people turn to acupuncture when suffering from chronic pain.

Ayurveda

This practice of medicine originated in India and translates to mean “knowledge of life.” Ayurveda attempts to identify where in a person’s consciousness an imbalance exists and aims to treat it via changes to diet, herbal supplements, therapeutic massage, yoga, and meditation.

Homeopathy

Homeopathy is a health concept that was developed in Germany. With the use of plants and minerals, the practice involves allowing the body to otherwise heal itself. A homeopathic remedy for an ailment may involve diluting an ingredient prior to ingestion or application in order to trigger the body’s natural immune response and encourage healing. Illnesses treated via homeopathy may include:


  • Allergies

  • Chronic Migraines

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis

  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome


Homeopathy is not intended to be used as a treatment for potentially fatal or terminal conditions.

Naturopathy

Like other holistic approaches to medicine, naturopathy puts an emphasis on using natural forms of treatment vs synthetic. This means focusing on the use of herbs, massage, acupuncture, and exercise to promote health. It is another German health practice, and it involves analyzing the whole person, not just the physical symptoms. A Naturopath wants to know about a person’s lifestyle and mental health before developing a customized treatment plan.

Chiropractic Adjustments

It’s no mystery that our bones play a significant role within each of our bodies, but let’s not forget about the connection points— the joints. For chronic joint pain or body aches, many people turn to a chiropractor. This practice involves manually manipulating joints and bones to reposition them and relieve headaches, neck pain, and back pain. 

Massage

Therapeutic massage can help reduce stress, improving your mood, and contributing to overall good health. Massage is implemented by chiropractors, physical therapists, and acupuncturists. More than just a way to relieve muscle aches, massage is also known to relieve the severity of the following:


  • Migraines

  • Tendonitis

  • Effects of whiplash

  • Discomfort caused by scar tissue

Tai Chi

Tai Chi is an ancient Chinese martial art that leads the body through a series of poses meant to exercise and stretch the body. Since it’s low-impact, it is ideal for nearly anyone. Benefits of Tai Chi are noted below:


  • Lower blood pressure

  • Reduced joint pain

  • Improved balance

  • Better sleep

Yoga

Often seen simply as a form of exercise in the West, yoga is actually an ancient Indian practice of wellness. It involves yoking the mind, body, and breath as one through the practice of poses. There are numerous forms of yoga, and they can be complemented with meditation and breathing practices for varied results. Yoga can offer strength training, improve mental clarity, and reduce body inflammation.

Meditation

This holistic health care practice can actually rewire the brain so it responds differently to stimuli. If you want more control over your anxiety, try meditation. If you want to feel less stressed by the daily demands of your life, try meditation. If you want to lower your blood pressure, try meditation. Studies show meditating regularly can achieve all this and more. One of the best parts is that meditation can look different for everyone while still generating the desired results. You can meditate in a class, with the use of an app, or simply by taking a walk in nature.

Electromagnetic Therapy

This therapy utilizes magnets and electromagnets (magnets with an electric charge) in an attempt to rebalance a person’s electromagnetic field. Some people wear jewelry with magnets in them, while others seek treatment from a specialist. It is a painless, non-invasive form of treatment, but it should not be utilized by anyone with a pacemaker, an insulin pump, or who is pregnant.

Reiki

Reiki is another form of energy healing that can be performed via touch. Translated from Japanese, Reiki means “universal life force.” Reiki treatments can help you handle stress better, which can improve your body’s immune response to illness. 

Qigong

Similar to Tai Chi and yoga, Qigong is a practice of poses, breathwork, and meditation. Like acupuncture, the practice is intended to enhance energy flow through the body, benefitting the body’s organs, improving circulation, and reducing stress. You can explore different forms of Qigong depending on whether you want to focus on personal health, spiritual development, or even martial arts training. Whatever your intention, the benefits can follow with proper practice.


Holistic health plans do not have to completely replace western medicine. With the advice of a trusted doctor, you may determine that your current treatment plan of medications isn’t helping you get any better, but is instead simply masking the symptoms of your illness or imbalance. This is why some doctors, including those at Alpine Clinic, believe in treating the person as a whole, and not just symptoms.

No comments