Holistic Health: Getting Healthy Starts with Living Healthy
Getting Healthy Starts with Living Healthy
Holistic medicine is an approach to life rather than a structured system of healthcare; patients attempt to balance physical, emotional, social, and spiritual aspects of health. Holistic medicine emphasizes the scrutiny of the patient as a whole being, including analysis of the patient’sphysical, nutritional, environmental, emotional, social, and spiritual lifestyle values before achievement of health and wellbeing can occur.
The concept of holistic health developed as far back as 5,000 years ago in both India and China. Both cultures stressed the importance of harmonizing physical health with nature. Greek philosopher, Socrates warned against treatment of one part of the body over the while and warned, “for the part can never be well unless the whole is well.” The term “holism” was developed by Jan Christian Smuts in 1926 as a way to view living things as “entities greater than the sum of their parts.” The term “holistic” was not widely used or accepted until the 1970’s.
There is more to holistic health than simply not being sick. A way to further understand is to picture health as a continuum along a line. The line represents all aspects of health; the left indicates death and the right is the highest possible level of wellness or wellbeing. The center simply indicates the absence of illness or disease, placing all discomforts or afflictions on the left side of the continuum. To achieve maximum well being there is a constant struggle to propel oneself further onto the right. This consistent propulsion represents the idea of holistic health as a continuous movement towards improving the level of wellbeing.
Holistic patients learn to focus on education and responsibility to better their lives and move toward the right end of the wellness continuum. Holistic health is an ongoing process, each day one must make the proper decisions and choices to improve continue heading towards personal wellness.
Holistic Health Treatments
There are three main categories in holistic health treatments including:
These three interventions overarch hundreds of different types of holistic treatments. Physical interventions involve direct physical involvement in treatment. Biologically based interventions include biological treatments to aid a person in better themselves. Mind-body interventions involve a much more spiritual/physical balance that can only be achieved through careful balance.
Bionic Hydro Therapy
Bionic Hydro Therapy is essentially an ionized salt bath. It can be localized to just one area of the body or used in a bathtub for full body stimulation. Bionic Hydro Therapy uses controlled ionic pressure to draw out toxins at the cellular level from the body.
Toxins and heavy metals are difficult for the body to eliminate normally. To reduce the effect these toxins have, your body naturally encapsulates them and stores them in various tissues across the body. Bionic Hydro Therapy delivers a gentle pull on these metals and causes them to be eliminated through the skin and into the bathwater. Because Bionic Hydro Therapy provides this pull in pulses instead of a potentially damaging constant stream the body does not encounter the leftover “trail” of toxic residue. Bionic Hydro Therapy signals the body to release a portion of the encapsulated metal along with other toxins to be programmed for release.
Bionic Hydro Therapy is a simple, easy process for anyone to try at home. First one must acquire an ion generator. The ion generator is the part of the Bionic Hydro Therapy bath that creates the flow of positive and negative ions in the water, resulting in both the color change and toxin removal.
The ion generator is controlled through the power box, a simple piece of equipments that also counts down the 30 minutes needed for detoxification. A plastic tub required for beginner detoxification, as a full bath is reserved for those who have been using Bionic Hydro Therapy for a long time and are familiar with their body’s responses.
Once the tub is roughly half full of water 1/4 teaspoon of salt is added to encourage the ionization process. Then the generator is placed in the tub, the feet are placed on either side of the generator and the power box is activated and begins counting down the 30 minutes and initiating ionization.
After a thirty minute Bionic Hydro Therapy session one can expect to see a massive difference in both the water color and quality used in the bath. This change in the water is a natural part of detoxification and differs from patient to patient depending on the level of heavy metals and toxins stored in the body. Lifestyle also affects the water quality, smokers or those who have worked in highly polluted atmospheres will typically see much more significant results than those who may not have been exposed to such toxicity.
While Bionic Hydro Therapy is an exciting and interesting method of holistic medicine it should not be used to diagnose or treat any disease. It is always recommended that you discuss beginning any health related program with your physician.
Colon Hydrotherapy is the practice of cleansing one’s colon, both large intestine and lower bowel, of metabolic waste without the use of a prescription drug or toxic agent. A colon cleanse is a simple, safe, and healthful procedure that aids the body’s natural elimination of waste and build up fecal matter. No chemicals or drugs are involved in Colon Hydrotherapy and the entire process is both relaxing and highly effective.
During therapy a client will lay on a custom treatment table and a small, disposable speculum will be inserted into the client’s rectum. This speculum is the instrument through which warm water will pass into the colon. In modern, state of the art Colon Hydrotherapy a closed system consisting of water purification systems, a lighted viewing chamber, and a system for additives administration is used. This closed system prevents contamination from previous patients and allows any waste to be transported discreetly and without odor.
During the average 45 minute Colon Hydrotherapy session about 3-5 gallons of water will be flushed in and out of the colon. This water helps to dislodge fecal matter that may be trapped in the intestine. It is important to remove this waste because if left inside the matter begins to rot. The rotting matter produces toxins that can be highly damaging to the rest of the body. The toxins produced reabsorb into your body and are responsible for making you achy, queasy, and tired. A dirty colon can quickly become a breeding ground for parasites, infections, tumors, and disease.
Although the human body is designed to be a self cleaning-organism, modern eating habits and lifestyles have contributed to a decrease in the functionality of waste removal. A lack of exercise, improper diet, environmental pollution, and ingestion of pesticides are all responsible for placing abnormal burdens on the colon, making the natural removal of waste much more difficult. When this occurs colon hydro therapy is an excellent method of aiding in natural waste removal. It is safe and hygienic and can become an integral part of most health and wellness plans.
Colonics can be used to rid the body of built up toxins, stimulate the liver and kidneys, and jump start the lymphatic system in natural toxin removal. There are numerous benefits for exploring this method of treatment. Patients who have undergone colon hydrotherapy report an increase in energy, weight loss, natural digestion stimulation, and even improvement in overall physical wellbeing.
Why colon hydrotherapy may not be for everyone, they are well known for improving energy, maintaining a healthy weight, and disease prevention. It is important to determine what course of treatment is right for you, and although invasive, colonics can greatly improve patient’s functionality and physical health.
Chiropractic therapy is a health care discipline that relies heavily on the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disorders of the musculoskeletal system. These disorders are believed to affect a patient’s general health through transmission of pain through the nervous system. Main chiropractic treatments involve joint and soft tissue as well as spinal manipulation and correction. Other treatments include lifestyle advisement and prescribed exercises.
Chiropractics were developed in 1890 by D.D. Palmer, a former magnetic healer who discovered the affect spinal health has on the rest of the body. His son B.J. Palmer was responsible for its wide acceptance in the twentieth century. Currently chiropractic services rank as the third largest utilized health professions, behind medicine and dentistry.
Traditional chiropractic therapy relies on professional manipulation of the neuromusculoskeletel system to correct misaligned vertebra or subluxations to relieve pain. A misaligned vertebra is one that has shifted out of place; a sublaxation is an area of spinal dysfunction that interferes with nerve transmission.
Practitioners report that a misalignment of the vertebra in the spine can cause joints to press on the spinal nerves and lead to pain directly in the spinal region and “referred” pain which is pain that has spread to other areas of the body.
Chiropractic therapy addresses major concepts of health, it suggests that the condition and structure of the body influences the way the body functions and its ability to heal. Chiropractic therapy is also founded in the principle that in order to achieve health and wellbeing the mind-body relationship must be carefully nurtured and developed. Chiropractic therapy also instills in patients that the body is a self-healing organism. Healing, as well as other functions are controlled in the spinal column. With an adjustment, the patient is not only repairing the damaged area but also any other parts of the body the damaged area may have been affecting.
There has been much research done into the effectiveness of chiropractic therapy. While some claim life-changing results, others are concerned that the placebo affect is altering the patients perception of the treatment’s affects.
Available evidence suggests that chiropractic therapy or spinal manipulation is more effective when treating lower back pain that any other method of traditional remedy including: medication, diet and exercise, and prescribed stretching.
Evidence also shows patients who are experiencing upper limb or leg pain have benefited from spinal manipulation.
Although the majority of this research is still being conducted experts feel confident recommending chiropractic therapy to many patients experiencing debilitating lower back and limb pain.
There are many varieties of chiropractic therapy. Some doctors choose to use physical contact when administering care to their patients; others chose to manipulate the spine through the use of specially designed instruments.
One such method of instrument manipulation is through the Torque Release Technique. The Torque Release technique involves a small instrument that was designed to convey the same results as a regular adjustment but with much gentler, precise, and effective method of delivery.
Any method of chiropractic therapy should be well researched before treatment begins, each delivery method is unique to the practitioner and may be beneficial to different patients depending on their needs and pain levels.
Acupuncture is the process of penetrating the skin with long, hair-thin, stainless steel needles into varies areas of the body to improve health, manage pain, and encourage mental and physical wellbeing. Originating in China more than 2,000 years ago, acupuncture has been used ever since as a method of relieving pain and increasing wellness. A recent resurgence of patient interest in acupuncture occurred in the late twentieth century and led to a regained interest in researching this controversial treatment.
Traditional Chinese Medicine, the umbrella term that covers treatment such as acupuncture consists of four methods of diagnosis.
These methods include:
Inspection primarily relies on facial cues to determine problems; a practitioner will examine a patient’s mouth, eyes, and focus primarily on the tongue to gauge overall health.
Auscultation and Olfaction involves focus on breathing sounds and body odors. Inquiring refers to an overview check of the patient’s body temperature, amount of perspiration, defecation and urination, pain level, hours of sleep on average per night, and appetite. Finally palpitation includes an overall physical examination of a patient’s radial points and tender areas.
Acupuncture treatment is highly individualized to each patient’s specific needs. A proper practitioner will first assess the patient using the four methods of diagnosis discussed above. This step helps the practitioner to develop an accurate picture of treatment needs and behaviors contributing to the patient’s condition. It is important to provide accurate medical information at this stage, including but not limited to prescribed medications, ongoing medical treatments, and preexisting conditions.
Following this information gathering session the practitioner will have determined the best course of action for treatment. Specific acupuncture points will have been highlighted to best treat the patient’s ailments and the patient will be informed of the location and duration of any potential treatments. The patient will then lie on a table while the acupuncturist inserts the hair-thin needles into varies areas of the body. The overarching goal is to reduce patient pain and improve quality of life. While each patient experiences acupuncture treatment differently, most insist there is minimal to no pain during needle insertion and the treatments leave them energized and revitalized.
Current research on both acupuncture points and corresponding meridians has not produced any measurable results; however the subjective nature of the treatment has made it difficult to use the proper scientific controls in tests. Some scientists believe the placebo affect has a great impact on patients, while others concede the treatment may very well be releasing toxins and improving patient health.
In 2007, a National Health Interview Survey determined that more than 3 million American adults and 150,000 children have undergone acupuncture in the previous year. While treatment is still controversial, it has been a benefit to many and continues to grow in popularity and application. It is up to each potential patient to decide whether or not acupuncture is the right course of treatment for them.
Massage therapy dates back to 3,000 years and is one of the oldest Chinese healing arts. Both the ancient Persians and Egyptians used massage techniques to improve ailments and increase healing time. Even Hippocrates recommended the use of friction and force to remedy joint and circulation problems.
The word comes from the French word “massage” meaning, “friction of kneading.” The definition matches the term perfectly, most massages involve the practitioner applying gentle force to release stress literally knead out knots found in the human back.
Today, massage is a widely known and widely accepted method of non-invasive therapy used to improve patient’s health and wellness. Most professionals will concede that massage therapy is an excellent way to improve and help eliminate chronic patient pain and is a standard part of many physical rehabilitation programs.
There are various methods for manipulating the muscular structure and soft tissue associate with massage therapy. These methods include: massage, the application of soft tissue manipulation intended to improve circulation, eliminate stress, and reduce fatigue; bodywork, which consists of various forms of stretching and touch therapy intended to affect structural physical changes; somatic, literally meaning “of the body” somatic includes a mental link, encouraging the inclusion of a mind-body approach rather than a purely physical one.
Massage includes more than 250 various forms of physical manipulation techniques. These include, but are not limited to: tapping, pushing, kneading, vibration, rocking, stroking, and pressure on the muscular structure and soft tissue of the human body. Massage can be done through various body parts as well; it is not just limited to the practitioner using their hands. In fact some forms of massage are delivered through unconventional means such as: use of the feet, elbows, knees, and forearms.
Delivery is not important; it is the results that determine the effectiveness of treatment. Most patients undergoing massage therapy will lay on a massage table either partially or fully unclothed for treatment. Most massage therapists provide sheets or towels for the client to cover themselves, however this is left to the discretion of the patient. The typical commercial massage table consists of an easily cleaned, heavily padded surface and a donut shaped head support that allows the client to relax when laying on either their front or back. There are also massage chairs available for use, these chairs consist of the same easily cleaned and heavily padded surface as their table counterparts however they allow the patient to remain in a comfortable sitting position while receiving treatment.
Most massage therapists chose to use either oil or lotion when treating patients. The lubricity aids in treatment and can even be scented or heated to further increase patient relaxation. Other therapist will include a rock in their tissue manipulation techniques. These rocks, usually carved out of stone are referred to as “body rocks” and can help to amplify the therapist’s strength and focus attention of specific parts of the body.
There are many practitioners of massage; it is not limited to those who have studied ancient Chinese medicine. Today both athletic trainers and physical therapists utilize massage techniques to improve their patient’s health and aid in the healing process. Athletic trainers can apply massage immediately after a sports injury has occurred, they can deliver fast results and decrease immediate pain experience exponentially. Physical therapists may apply massage therapy to patients that are undergoing rehabilitation for a sustained injury. Massage in this instance is used to increase blood flow to the affected area and reduce healing time.
Massage techniques and uses vary by each practitioner as their patient’s needs dictate. Some patients may require a more intensive treatment while others may prefer a more superficial means of treatment. With the enormous variety of techniques and methods available there is a treatment program for everyone. It is up to the patient to determine which fits their lifestyle and circumstances the best.
Hot Stone Treatment
Hot stone treatment involves the use of heated and cooled stones along with massage oils to relax the muscles and deliver a deeper and more intense treatment experience. Practitioners utilize smooth, water heated basalt stones to key areas of the patients body. These hot stones use direct heat to relax the muscles in a way massage itself would otherwise be unable to.
The size of the stones varies according to the parts of the body the treatment is intended for. Most therapists chose to rotate the water heated stones with marble ones that have been super cooled or frozen for a maximum stimulation of the body’s nervous system.
While it is generally accepted that variations in hot and cold are stimulating and beneficial to the body, hot stone treatment is thought to take this a step further by encouraging the body to detoxify and heal. As with any treatment, it is important to share with the practitioner any medical conditions or afflictions; this is instrumental in the practitioner’s ability to provide the proper treatment.
Most hot stone treatment practitioners will recommend that patients drink plenty of water before receiving therapy and abstain from alcohol the night before. Hot stone therapy can be intense as well as relaxing and it is important to abide by any and all suggestions given by a therapist prior to treatment.
Patients can expect to undress and lay down on a table similar to one used in massage therapy prior to treatment. As with massage therapy, towels or sheets will be provided for the comfort of the patient. The therapist will alternate hot and cold stones to provoke a relaxing reaction from the patients.
Most who undergo treatment report that the techniques utilized renders them into a dreamy, relaxed state and they simply begin to enjoy the feelings rather than focus on where the stones will be placed next.
Patients are welcome and expected to provide constant feedback to the therapist. It is important to inform them if the stones are too hot or too cold or if one placement felt better than another. The treatment is meant to improve patient health, and without feedback it would be impossible for the practitioner to accurately increase patient wellness.
Following the treatment, patients report feeling relaxed, meditative, and in a blissful state. These results are not atypical; the process is relaxing and due to its noninvasive nature can be performed on almost anyone.
Biologically Based Interventions
Aromatherapy is a form of alternative medicine that utilizes essential oils and plant extracts to promote psychological and physical wellbeing through stimulation
of the olfactory nerves. The aromatic compounds have been known to alter a person’s mind, mood, cognitive function, and overall health.
In the first century aromatherapy was discussed as regarding intensive healing properties. The Chinese have recorded using essential oils to increase health and wellbeing. The Chinese practitioners chose to burn incense to help create harmony and promote balance in an individual’s life. In Egypt oils and spices were used to embalm the dead, even today when tomes are opened the smells remain and many body parts have been preserved.
The Greeks also recognized the impact and medicinal properties of essential oils and aromatherapy. A Greek perfumer has been noted as creating a perfume containing myrrh and a fatty based oil. This perfume showed extraordinary anti-inflammatory properties and had the ability to help speed a wound’s healing process.
Distilled essential oils have even been used as medicines since the invention of distillation in the eleventh century. The pharmaceutical industry was born in the thirteenth century and with the aid of distillation herbal preparations began to be packaged and sold widely.
The fourteenth through the nineteenth century brought the development of perfume forefront and the use of oils began to increase exponentially.
By the twentieth century separation of the elements found in essential oils helped to create medications we use today. One scientist, Rene-Maurice Gattefosse was doing work into separating elements when he suffered a terrible burn, panicking he stuck his arm into the nearest liquid available. The liquid happened to be a vat of lavender oil and surprisingly Gattefosse’s arm healed rapidly and did not leave any trace of a scar. Gattefosse is credited with developing the term “aromatherapy” in a 1928 article where he supported the use of essential oils to treat ailments.
Aromatherapy can be applied through a variety of methods, the most common being using heat to warm the oil and release the smell. Other methods include: applying the essential oils through a body spray or lotion, placing the essential oils inside of a scented satchel, inhaling the oils directly into the lungs, or even placing the essential oils directly on the skin. When the oils are applied directly to the skin this allows the healing properties to be absorbed directly into the bloodstream, inhaling the essential oils such as oil like eucalyptus has been known to decrease congestion and improve breathing.
It is important to be careful when undergoing an aromatherapy treatment. Some oils are incredibly strong and need to be diluted before proper use can occur. Dilution can be achieved through combination with a carrier oil. Common carrier oils include: vegetable oil, grape seed oil, sweet almond oil, and apricot kernel oil. These carrier oils dilute essential oils to the point where they are not harmful to human skin and contact will not produce adverse affects.
Some essential oils, such as tea tree oil have demonstrated anti-microbial properties. These properties suggest that there may be use for aromatherapy in treating diseases. Many studies however lack the rigidity of a true scientific experiment. However, patients of aromatherapy report the essential oils help to clear their minds, enhance healing abilities, and promote relaxation.
It is important to be careful and cautious when beginning an aromatherapy treatment schedule.
Oils can be strong or dilute depending on the manufacturer. As of now the United States does not regulate the ingredients on packages labeled with the term “aromatherapy”. Manufacturers can claim that the product contain any number of essential oils when in actuality the oils are synthetic or contain unnatural ingredients. It is important to thoroughly research any aromatherapy provider before treatment begins.
More than ever before people are looking for natural ways to improve their health and promote wellbeing. Natural remedies are thought to be less harmful than pharmaceutical drugs and with an eye on wellness, many people are choosing to supplement a healthy diet and exercise with herbal supplements.
Herbal supplements, sometimes called botanicals, can radically impact an individual’s health. There is a strong correlation between an improvement in health and the addition of herbal supplements through extensive scientific study.
Herbal supplements are used for a variety of treatments, from the mundane as use as a daily vitamin to the extreme when taken to treat a serious illness. Herbal supplements work as part of the health continuum when applied to a lifestyle in which healthy ideals are already in practice. It is important to not rely on herbal supplements as a replacement for proper eating habits and exercise. Instead view herbal supplements as an additional component of an intricate health promoting whole.
Supplements can help fill in the gaps where a person may be lacking vitamins. Unlike the drugstore vitamins sold, herbal supplements are a natural answer to the body’s needs. While vitamins may be cheaply made and hard for the body to absorb, the herbal nature of the supplements helps the body to easily absorb the vitamins and minerals contained.
Some of the major herbal supplements currently on the market are widely used in the treatment and prevention of illness. Examples include herbal remedies like St. John’s Wart, which is a wild plant that when taken as a supplement is used as treatment for depression.
Ginko Biloba is another popular herbal treatment, it is used to treat many conditions such as aging, poor circulation, and even memory loss.
Feverfew is a herbal supplement well known for its pain reducing properties, it is taken to reduce both headaches and mental.
Echinacea is often used reinforce the body’s natural immunity, this US native plant is also taken to prevent common colds or the flu.
Ginseng can be taken to improve overall body tone and elevate energy levels and reduce stress.
As with aromatherapy, herbal supplement providers are not well regulated by the United States government. Ingredient claims may not always reflect the actual contents of the supplement. It is important to research any potential supplement programs with a doctor before establishing a regimen.
Meditation is the practice of training one’s mind to achieve a higher state of consciousness. Generally this higher state of consciousness is sought after to improve the overall health and wellbeing of the practitioner. Derived from a Latin root meaning “to ponder” meditation as part of a formal, step by step process has been in existence since the twelfth century. Meditation has remained a constant part of many eastern religions throughout the ages. In fact, some religions feel that in order to reach a higher place, or heaven, one must first achieve a state of higher consciousness.
There is no one concrete definition for meditation just as there is no one way to practice meditation. Some choose to meditate by clearing their minds and focusing within, while others insist that for proper meditation a chant is required to focus the energy. However a meditative state is achieved, the benefits of meditation are widely agreed upon.
Meditation is used to promote feelings of calm and relaxation among participants. The practice can greatly decrease feelings of stress and anxiety through the unwinding of the participants psyche. Meditation can also be applied in counseling and psychotherapy settings to help the patient unwind and freely discuss any problems or issues comfortably.
There are many suggested poses for optimum meditation; experts suggest sitting, standing, or even laying down when attempting to meditate. Other poses include those found in yoga to help the participant engage in an altered state of awareness. Since the 1960’s meditation has been under scrutiny and the focus of many scientific research programs.
The various methods and poses of meditation have been found to affect changes in metabolism, brain chemistry, blood pressure, and other bodily processes. A 2007 study showed that more than 20 million American adults had practiced meditation in the previous year. Current numbers are on the rise due to the increasing popularity and notoriety meditation is finding in both the media and traditional medicinal practices.
The term yoga was developed to describe the physical and mental disciplines originating in India. Yoga broken down literally means “to control” and “to unite” and is associated with the meditative practices found in Buddhism and Hinduism. More than just stretching, yoga encourages participants to forge a mental/physical link.
Although deeply steeped in religious tradition, yoga has gently moved away from its roots and has developed its own identity as a calming and strengthening exercise gentle enough for the very young or elderly, or rigorous enough to provide a full body workout for those who desire it.
Those who participate in yoga report that they are able to center themselves and reach a higher state of consciousness and science is beginning to back these claims up. Studies show that yoga can help trigger the release of a chemical in the brain called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a chemical that regulate nerve activity.
The findings establish a connection between yoga, higher levels of GABA, and an elevated mood. Findings such as these can be used to help mainstream yoga into normal treatment programs for people struggling with depression and anxiety.
Yoga classes are now found at gyms and health centers across the United States. Many Americans choose to participate in yoga to better their physical and mental health and wellbeing. As a practice, yoga encourages participants to focus on themselves and their bodies and remain mindful of the connection the two share.
As stated above, yoga can differ for those that chose to participate in it. Yoga can be a low impact exercise that gently strengthens and builds muscle or it can be an intense full body workout. It is up to the individual to find a program suited to their own personal needs.
All photos provided by Rebekah Schweiger