Holistic Practices

Complementary, Alternative and Preventive Health Care

An at-a-glance reference of common holistic modalities.
Acupuncture is a highly effective system of medicine that uses natural laws and energetic principles with the application of needles, energy, and pressure to specific points on the body. Each point provides a specific function in the body in regulating the free flow of vital energy for health and well-being. It is a highly effective system of medicine which aids in strengthening the immune system and serves to prevent disease, control pain, and increase both the ability to function and quality of people’s lives.

Acupuncture is used within the complete medical system of healing known as Oriental Medicine. Health and sickness is viewed based on concepts of "vital energy," "energetic balance" and "energetic imbalance." An acupuncturist assesses the flow and distribution of "vital energy" within pathways, known as "meridians and channels" then opens or closes specific “gates” or points grouped along an energy pathway, which go deep into the body. Acupuncture influences health, disease, pain or sickness by stimulating or reducing the flow of vital energy or “chi” through specific points in the body. Vital energy is strengthened or sedated, monitored, and balanced to achieve a desired result. Traditionally these points are stimulated by fine, slender needles. Today, many other forms of stimulation may be incorporated, including herbs, electricity, magnets and lasers, to adjust the "vital energy" along the channels throughout the body. Acupuncture works with the body, strengthening and balancing energy and helping the body to heal itself.

Studies indicate that acupuncture influences the central and peripheral nervous system and releases endorphins from the brain, which make acupuncture particularly effective in pain control. Acupuncture affects sugar, cholesterol, and triglycerides levels in the blood, the functioning of the gastrointestinal system and the activity of the endocrine system. It improves circulation and allows the body to heal itself more quickly and more completely. Western medical doctors have developed great interest in incorporating acupuncture, particularly as they have noticed its impact and success—with addictions, AIDS, sports injuries, trauma, and pain relief. Those who receive acupuncture often not only heal physically, but experience new and profound states of peace, clarity and harmony through treatment, which often has lasting impact.

Affirmations are positive statements that influence the subconscious mind and trigger it into positive action. Affirmations program the mind in the same way as creative visualization. To ensure the effectiveness of the affirmations, they should be repeated with attention, conviction and desire. The repetition helps you to focus your mind on your goal and automatically builds a corresponding mental image in the conscious mind, which then affects the subconscious mind. The conscious mind, begins the process, and the subconscious accepts the thought or image. By using this process consciously and intentionally you can affect your subconscious mind and transform your habits, behavior, mental attitude and reactions, and even reshape your external life.

People often repeat negative statements in their minds, without even being aware of what they are doing and consequently bring undesirable situations upon themselves. Words and statements can work to either build or destroy. It is the way we use them that determines whether they are going to bring good or harmful results. It is important to understand that repeating positive affirmations for a few minutes, and then thinking negatively the rest of the day, neutralizes the effects of the positive words. You have to refuse thinking negative thoughts, if you wish to attain positive results. The use of affirmation is an intentional life practice.

Alternative Medicine
Alternative Medicine refers to techniques that are not currently accepted by "conventional" medical practitioners. Although what is currently accepted is rapidly changing, as the definition of "conventional practitioners" is quickly changing. Therefore, techniques that are now considered part of Alternative Medicine will soon be considered part of "conventional" medicine. References to such practices may also be referenced as:

· Complementary Medicine refers 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.

Often, properly chosen non-invasive and non-pharmaceutical healing techniques plus carefully selected lifestyle changes can completely and safely heal acute and chronic illnesses. In other cases, "conventional" medicine is only needed in emergencies or when the safer non-invasive, non-pharmaceutical methods fail.

· Natural Healing usually refers to the use of non-invasive and non-pharmaceuticals techniques to help heal the patient. When most people use the term Natural Healing, they are generally referring to physical healing techniques only.
· Preventive Care is a program of health care designed for the prevention and/or reduction of illnesses by providing such services as nutrition and lifestyle counseling, exercise and physical examinations. This care is in contrast to curative care, which goes into effect only after the occurrence of an illness.

Ayurveda is a holistic approach to health that is designed to help people live long, healthy, and well-balanced lives. Ayurveda is a Sanskrit word that means ayur – “life”; veda – “knowledge”. The basic principle of Ayurveda is to prevent and treat illness by maintaining balance in the body, mind, and consciousness through proper drinking, diet, lifestyle, and herbal remedies.

Ayurvedic practitioners believe that disease results from an imbalance in the doshas - Vata, Pitta, Kapha - which are distinct energy patterns or combinations of physical, mental, and emotional characteristics of each individual. Many factors can disturb the dosha balance, such as stress, an unhealthy diet, the weather, and strained relationships. This disturbance is expressed in the body as disease. Ayurvedic treatment is designed to bring the doshas back into balance.

Ayurveda also promotes meditation as a method for experiencing the pure consciousness of the universe and the need to express positive emotions and attuning your life to the natural rhythms of the body. The goal of Ayurvedic medicine is to prevent diseases before they occur.
Holistic refers to the approach how treatment should be applied, it is not itself a treatment method. Holistic concepts of health and wellness require more than just taking care of the singular components that make up the physical body. It incorporates the emotional, physical and spiritual well-being. Wellness encompasses the entire person, rather than just the lack of physical pain or disease. This means that not feeling sick, does not necessarily mean you are well, just that you are between well and sick. When symptoms develop, it is often long after the causes of the symptoms occur.
A holistic approach focuses on the cause, in contrast to the medical model that focuses on treating symptoms without attempting to address functioning beyond the absence of disease. It looks at the whole person, analyzing physical, nutritional, emotional, environmental, social, spiritual and lifestyle values, and fosters cooperative relationships to attain optimal health. A holistic approach may encompass several modalities of diagnosis and treatment including drugs and surgery if no safe alternative exists. Holistic medicine focuses on education and responsibility for personal efforts and behaviors to achieve balance and well being. The holistic process offers individuals the opportunity to be the creators of their own reality of health, through an understanding of all levels of health and a balanced lifestyle.

Homeopathy is a system of medicine, notable for its practice of prescribing water-based solutions that do not contain chemically active ingredients. It is not to be confused with herbal medicine or nutritional therapy, as it is a distinct and integral system unto itself. The fundamental principle of homeopathy is called the “Law of Similars” and is based on the observation that the specific medicine most curative for a patient will be one that will cause a pattern of symptoms very similar to the characteristics or symptoms from which the patient suffers. The similar nature of substance and symptoms allows the homeopathic remedy to touch the deep root of disease. Homeopathy acts upon the constitution as a whole; therefore, when a person becomes well through homeopathy they find improvements in their overall health.

Homeopathy is a truly holistic approach to health that emphasizes the person rather than the disease. It recognizes that each person responds uniquely to the forces of their heredity and environment. The total patterns of mental, emotional and physical alterations from health symptoms are indications of the body's effort to defend and heal itself. Homeopathic medicines may be effectively applied in chronic, long-term conditions, as well as acute, short-term illnesses of adults, children and animals. Homeopathic philosophy contends that if the organism is brought back into balance, the symptoms of disease (imbalance) will resolve accordingly.

Meditation means awareness. Meditation is 'cessation of the thought process'. It describes a state of consciousness, when the mind is free of scattered thoughts. The observer (the person doing meditation) realizes that all the activity of the mind is reduced to one. The use of meditation for healing is not new. Meditative techniques are present in diverse cultures and peoples around the world. It has been rooted in the traditions of the world's great religions. In fact, practically all religious groups practice meditation in one form or another.

Meditation is a proven to be an affective alternative therapy. It can be broadly classified under the mind-body medicine. An ordinary person may consider meditation as a worship or prayer, but it is not. Whatever you do with your awareness is meditation. "Watching your breath" is meditation; listening to the birds is meditation. As long as these activities are free from any other distraction to the mind, it is effective meditation. Meditation is a safe and simple way to balance a person's physical, emotional, and mental states. It has been scientifically shown that meditation works. It is simple; but it can benefit everyone.

Massage Therapy
Massage therapy, often referred to as bodywork or somatic therapy, refers to the application of various techniques to the muscular structure and soft tissues of the body that include applying fixed or movable pressure, holding, vibration, rocking, friction, kneading and compression using primarily the hands, although massage therapists may use other parts of the body, such as the forearms, elbows or feet. Massage therapy improves circulation by bringing oxygen and other nutrients to body tissues. It relieves muscle tension and pain, increases flexibility and mobility, and helps clear lactic acid and other waste, which reduces pain and stiffness in muscles and joints.

All of the techniques are used for the benefit of the musculoskeletal, circulatory-lymphatic, nervous, and other systems of the body. In fact, massage therapy positively influences the overall health and well-being of the client. Massage therapy is affective for relaxation and for a variety of health conditions. Massage therapy is recognized as one of the oldest methods of healing.
Nutrition is the nourishment of the supply of materials - food - required by organisms and cells to stay alive. In science and human medicine, nutrition is the science or practice of consuming and utilizing foods.
Nutrition is the science that studies the process by which living organisms acquire all the things that are necessary for them to live and grow. Nutrition focuses on the role of nutrients, which are defined as substances that the body needs and cannot make on its own, and includes vitamins and minerals. On the most basic level nutrition consists of diet - what you take in, and metabolism – the assimilation and utilization of nutrients in the body.
Qigong (ChiGong)
Qi - loosely translated as vital energy - is considered to be the force that animates and informs all things. Qigong literally means: qi – “energy”, gong – “ work." QiGong is the ancient Chinese science of becoming aware of life energy and learning how to control its flow through a precise choreography of posture, movement, respiratory technique, and meditation. Like biofeedback, qigong teaches psycho-physiological self- regulation. A student becomes aware of bodily functions normally considered involuntary-- blood pressure, respiratory rate, even the flow of blood and nutrients to internal organs-- and learns to restore a healthy balance.

In the human body, Qi flows throughout the body via meridians, or energy pathways. We live in a field of qi, "vital breath" or "life energy." Qi travels through the body and the body's various organs send messages to one another. Keeping the meridians clear is imperative for the body's natural self-regulating actions to occur. Through proper training, people can develop the sensitivity to feel the flow of Qi. Qigong is one of the most cost-effective self-healing methods in the world. No technical devices are needed. The only investment needed is time, a half-hour to an hour each day; the dividends of better health, increased vitality, and peaceful alertness accrue daily and are cumulative.

Reiki is a Japanese word meaning: rei – “spiritually guided”, ki - “life energy”. Commonly known as Universal Life Energy, it is an energy which animates and surrounds all of us. Reiki is a form of spiritual healing using "universal life energy" channeled through the practitioner to the recipient. Reiki helps to harmonize body, mind and spirit. Reiki practitioners channel energy in a particular pattern to heal and harmonize. Reiki seeks to restore order to the body whose vital energy has become unbalanced. Reiki energy has several basic effects: it brings about deep relaxation, destroys energy blockages, detoxifies the system, provides new vitality in the form of healing universal life energy, and increases the vibrational frequency of the body.

The laying of hands is used in Reiki therapy also as in spiritual healing. However, there is a difference. In spiritual healing, a person with a strong energy field places his or her hands above a particular part of the recipient's body in order to release energy into it. In Reiki, the healer is the one who is sending out the energy. The Reiki healer places the hands above the recipient; however, it is the recipient that draws the energy as needed. Thus, in this case, the individual being healed takes an active part in the healing process as opposed to having a passive part in spiritual healing. The individual takes responsibility for his or her healing. The recipient identifies the needs and cater to them by drawing energy as needed.

Although there are a few positions in which the practitioner is in contact with the patient, most Reiki treatments do not involve actual touching. The practitioner holds his or her hands a few inches or farther away from the patient's body and manipulates the energy field from there. Reiki is an effective healing method. As in any healing the first step towards a healthier life is a desire to be healed.

TCM (Chinese Traditional Medicine)
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is an ancient and comprehensive, holistic medical system which combines the use of acupuncture, Chinese herbs, nutrition, massage, and movement exercises such as Tai Chi or Qi Gong to bring the body into balance. TCM looks at the body as a whole, whereas Western medicine looks closely at a symptom and tries to find an underlying cause. The goal of the TCM practitioner is to assess the entire constitution of the patient -- considering both physiological and psychological aspects. The practitioner first observes the general characteristics of the patient, then tries to discern a relationship between symptoms in order to establish what is called a "pattern of disharmony". Treatment is aimed at restoring harmony and bringing the body into balance.

Yin & Yang, describing two polar opposites, is one of the fundamental TCM theories used to determine the pattern of disharmony. Each body part, each organ, and even each symptom in the body can be described in terms of Yin and Yang. Yin and Yang levels are constantly changing as they are influenced by lifestyle - behaviors, emotions, environment, diet, stress, etc. It is rare for one of these states of imbalance to exist by itself. Excesses and deficiencies of Yin and Yang almost always appear in combination. In treating the overall pattern of disharmony, the TCM practitioner uses acupuncture and Chinese herbs to address all imbalances of Yin and Yang - body, mind and spirit.

Yoga means "union" or “to yoke”. This implies joining or integrating all aspects of the individual - body with mind and mind with soul to achieve a happy, balanced and useful life, and spiritually. Yoga is an ancient art based on a harmonizing system of development for the body, mind, and spirit. The practice of yoga makes the body strong and flexible and improves the functioning of the respiratory, circulatory, digestive, and hormonal systems. A yoga practice is a tool to realign and rebalance your body on a regular basis. You gain control and then become your own body mechanic. When your body is finely tuned you will find that your chances for injuries and illnesses will decrease as you are in a much more attuned state. Yoga brings about emotional stability and clarity of mind.

There are several Yoga styles or methods to be considered, some more effective than others or may suit an individual's temperament better. These schools are usually established by renowned teachers or gurus and reflect their methodologies and ways of practicing, teaching and following the path of yoga. Remember that all these are merely different methods of reaching the same ultimate goal. They are all aspects of the overall philosophy of Yoga. A continued practice of yoga will lead you to a sense of peace and well-being, and a feeling of being at one with your environment.



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