There are many healing practices that fall beyond surgical treatments and pharmaceutical therapies. Also known as alternative medicine, natural healthcare, complementary therapies or integrative medicine, these holistic practices include but aren’t limited to massage, acupuncture and meditation.
Until recently, alternative and complementary medicine were considered as any therapy that wasn’t taught in medical schools or provided in regular hospitals. Today, things have completely changed. Hospitals and medical clinics offer a wide range of holistic practices and alternative therapies and more and more medical doctors start acknowledging integrative medicine and its benefits.
However, regardless of what you decide to call these holistic practices or integrative therapies, their definition stays the same: a set of healing practices that fall beyond surgical or pharmaceutical treatments.
How Can Holistic Practices Help My Healthcare Efforts?
Such practices can replace conventional medicine to a certain extent. However, giving up conventional treatments in favour of alternative therapies may pose risks. For instance, it would be wrong to refuse conventional cancer treatment to use a ‘miracle’ alternative therapy such as natural extracts from plants. On the contrary, it might be a good idea to get massage therapy or reiki while sticking to your chemotherapy treatment to reinvigorate your body.
All these being said, we consider holistic healing practices as a complement to conventional treatments and a very important part of integrative healthcare.
How Can I Benefit Form Both Conventional And Alternative Practices?
In our opinion, the goal is to make the shift toward integrative care practices – a world where holistic healing practices meet and complement conventional treatments, providing the best of both worlds to patients in need for healthcare.
This new world is already here – many physicians and healthcare practitioners recommend chiropractic care, botanical medicines, massage or acupuncture. This trend can only grow, taking into consideration that healthcare consumers learning about alternative practices demand the best of both realms.
What Are Some Examples Of Holistic Therapies?
There are so many holistic therapies, that you can easily feel overwhelmed with such a wealth of information.
Fortunately, the National Centre for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) tried to help consumers by grouping these practices under five major categories. By getting in-depth knowledge about any of these categories, you’ll also gain a better understanding of the specific details of a particular practice. Here are the five categories, briefly explained in layman’s terms.
1. Alternative Medical Systems – These systems developed independently of the Western approach to medicine and healthcare. Examples are Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine.
2. Mind-Body Interventions – This category includes all behavioural, spiritual, social and psychological therapies. Examples are cancer support groups, mindful meditation and relaxation classes.
3. Biologically-Based Therapies – These alternative treatments use plants or other biological materials. Examples are herbal medicines and aromatherapy.
4. Manipulative and Body-Based Methods – These healing techniques use manipulation, touch, or movement of the physical body. Chiropractic and massage therapy are probably the most popular practices in this category.
5. Energy Therapies – These practices rely on some form of energy to heal. Examples are healing touch and Reiki.
Before choosing any of these therapies, it is very important to consider both their safety and their efficacy.