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Holistic healing, we can safely say, has become mainstream. An example is Massage therapy, which is used to relax the body and relieve a number of acute and chronic conditions. It can be found everywhere, and more qualified practitioners are graduating every year to serve the needs of an awakening population. Multiple healing modalities and natural products and supplements make the holistic approach one of the most sought-after forms of treatment today.
But holistic healing approaches – defined as a view of health care that focuses on the “whole self” (body, mind and spirit) and natural or spiritual cures – are not only provided by small centers. Large, established health-care institutions have responded to the public’s demand for more natural care, and integrative, holistic medicine is driving innovation in hospitals throughout the Twin Cities, and nationwide.
Holistic Medicine, according to www.holisticmed.com, commonly includes these popular terms:
- Alternative Medicine is often used by the general public and some health-care practitioners to refer to medical techniques which are not known or accepted by the majority “conventional” or “allopathic” medical practitioners (usually M.D.s). Such techniques could include non-invasive, non-pharmaceutical techniques such as Medical Herbalism, Acupunture, Homeopathy, Reiki, and many others. As non-invasive, non-pharmaceutical techniques become popular and accepted by a large number of “conventional” practitioners, these techniques will no longer be considered Alternative Medicine.
- Complementary Medicine is often used by “conventional” medical practitioners to refer to non-invasive, non-pharmaceutical techniques used as a complement to “conventional” medical treatments, such as drugs and surgery. The term implies that “conventional” medicine is used as a primary tool and the non-invasive, non-pharmaceutical techniques are used as a supplement, when needed. In many cases, properly chosen non-invasive and non-pharmaceutical healing techniques plus properly chosen lifestyle changes can completely and safely heal both acute and chronic illnesses.
- Natural Healing usually refers to the use of non-invasive and non-pharmaceuticals techniques to help heal the patient.
An approach to life
The American Holistic Health Association (AHHA) reminds us that Holistic Health is actually an approach to life: “Rather than focusing on illness or specific parts of the body, this ancient approach to health considers the whole person and how he or she interacts with his or her environment. It emphasizes the connection of mind, body, and spirit. The goal is to achieve maximum well-being, where everything is functioning the very best that is possible. With Holistic Health, people accept responsibility for their own level of well-being, and everyday choices are used to take charge of one’s own health.”
The AHHA reports that ancient healing traditions, some taking place 5,000 years ago in India and China, stressed living a healthy way of life in harmony with nature. Socrates (4th century BC) warned against treating only one part of the body “for the part can never be well unless the whole is well.” Although the term holism was introduced by Jan Christiaan Smuts in 1926 as a way of viewing living things as “entities greater than and different from the sum of their parts,” it wasn’t until the 1970s that holistic became a common adjective in our modern vocabulary.
The principles of Holistic Health state that health is more than just not being sick, according to the American Holistic Health Association: “A holistic approach to healing goes beyond just eliminating symptoms. For example, taking an aspirin for a headache would be like disconnecting the oil light on the dash of a car when it flashes. The irritation is eliminated, but the real problem still exists. In holistic medicine, a symptom is considered a message that something needs attention. So, the symptom is used as a guide to look below the surface for the root cause. Then, what really needs attention can be addressed.”
Ten Principles of Holistic Medicine
The American Holistic Medical Association outlines these principles:
- Optimal Health is the primary goal of holistic medical practice. It is the conscious pursuit of the highest level of functioning and balance of the physical, environmental, mental, emotional, social and spiritual aspects of human experience, resulting in a dynamic state of being fully alive. This creates a condition of well-being regardless of the presence or absence of disease.
- The Healing Power of Love. Holistic health care practitioners strive to meet the patient with grace, kindness, acceptance, and spirit without condition, as love is life’s most powerful healer.
- Whole Person. Holistic health care practitioners view people as the unity of body, mind, spirit and the systems in which they live.
- Prevention and Treatment. Holistic health care practitioners promote health, prevent illness and help raise awareness of dis-ease in our lives rather than merely managing symptoms. A holistic approach relieves symptoms, modifies contributing factors, and enhances the patient’s life system to optimize future well-being.
- Innate Healing Power. All people have innate powers of healing in their bodies, minds and spirits. Holistic health care practitioners evoke and help patients utilize these powers to affect the healing process.
- Integration of Healing Systems. Holistic health care practitioners embrace a lifetime of learning about all safe and effective options in diagnosis and treatment. These options come from a variety of traditions, and are selected in order to best meet the unique needs of the patient. The realm of choices may include lifestyle modification and complementary approaches as well as conventional drugs and surgery.
- Relationship-centered Care. The ideal practitioner-patient relationship is a partnership which encourages patient autonomy, and values the needs and insights of both parties. The quality of this relationship is an essential contributor to the healing process.
- Individuality. Holistic health care practitioners focus patient care on the unique needs and nature of the person who has an illness rather than the illness that has the person.
- Teaching by Example. Holistic health care practitioners continually work toward the personal incorporation of the principles of holistic health, which then profoundly influence the quality of the healing relationship.
- Learning Opportunities. All life experiences including birth, joy, suffering and the dying process are profound learning opportunities for both patients and health care practitioners.
Sources: www.holisticmed.com, American Holistic Health Association, American Holistic Medical Association