Our aim is to raise awareness of the benefits of holistic health and promote the services of practitioners. We do this because we believe that natural therapies offer many benefits in treating chronic and mental health conditions. By treating a person as a whole as opposed to their individual symptoms, can be very effective for their overall health and wellbeing.
However, just because we’re in this business, we don’t want to assume that everyone knows what holistic therapies are. It’s a question we’ve received numerous times over the past few months. So here we’ll dive deeper and explore exactly what holistic therapies are.
So, what are holistic therapies?
Holistic therapies come under the umbrella of therapies that treat a person as the sum of their mental, emotional and physical symptoms. The aim of treatment by a holistic therapist will be to heal a person on these levels because they are all interlinked. It is also known as the whole person approach and therapists will look for underlying causes of what the body and mind are manifesting. Treatment will help regain the physical, mental and energy levels of your body.
There are a large number of different therapies available today, some focus on specific healing modalities. Nutrition for example, which uses food and supplements to heal your body. Other therapies can address multiple issues and underlying causes. Acupuncture is one example, which is commonly used to treat pain, but can also be effective in balancing hormones in your body.
To help simplify things, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), grouped therapies and practices into five categories. The categories can help you better understand the key characteristics of a particular therapy.
- Alternative Medical Systems – are complete systems that developed outside of the Western biomedical approach such as Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ayurveda and Homeopathy.
- Mind-Body Interventions – include behavioural, psychological, social and spiritual approaches. Examples include Psychotherapy, Mindfulness and Meditation.
- Biologically-Based Therapies – use plant or other biological materials. Examples include Herbal Medicine, Nutrition and Aromatherapy.
- Manipulative and Body-Based Methods – use manipulation, touch or movement of the physical body. Examples include Massage Therapy, Chiropractic and Osteopathy.
- Energy Therapies – involve some form of energy to heal, including electromagnetic, ultrasonic, thermal, or subtle energy. Examples include Reiki, Healing Touch and Bio-resonance.
Western or conventional medicine is not disregarded over holistic therapies, holistic therapies can actually work very well alongside conventional medicine. This is why holistic therapies are commonly also known as complementary therapies.
Conventional medicine is definitely superior in acute conditions and in accidents requiring immediate medical attention. If you rupture your appendix, you will of course quickly be seen and treated by a surgeon to remove it, as this can be a life-threatening situation.
However, when it comes to chronic conditions, the ones that have developed over a longer period of time. These are not immediately life threatening but can be very hard to live with. Conventional medicine doesn’t have as many solutions in these cases. There is a myriad of drugs that can be used to help regulate these symptoms and conditions. However, this does not necessarily lead to a cure. You may also be required to take the drugs on a long-term basis, maybe even for the rest of your life.
According to the Department of Health, around £7 out of every £10 spent on health and social care is for long term chronic conditions. Many chronic conditions can be improved using holistic therapies, particularly when there are elements of nutrition, lifestyle and stress which contribute to the worsening of your condition.
High blood pressure for example. Is typically treated with medication by doctors, but certain risk factors can be reversible. These include quitting smoking, consuming a healthier diet with less salt, getting regular exercise, losing weight and managing stress.
Type 2 diabetes is another example, as one cause can be related to our lifestyle. When your lifestyle choices cause insulin resistance, which is when your body doesn’t use insulin as well as it should, this can also be addressed holistically so your body is able to use insulin in the way it should be used.
Treatments to some chronic conditions, can come with unpleasant side-effects and require monitoring so they don’t create more issues in the body. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories are commonly used to treat pain and inflammation associated with arthritis. But these drugs can also cause stomach irritation and gastrointestinal bleeding if taken for a long period of time. One holistic treatment from a nutritional perspective could be to take the supplement Curcumin, which is the primary bioactive substance in turmeric. Studies have shown that curcumin is as effective as non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, but with far fewer side-effects.
But which holistic therapy would be best for me?
There is no one fit all answer here and it very much depends on what you are suffering with. If your condition is predominantly stress related, you may benefit from more of a mind-body approach such as psychotherapy, counselling or hypnotherapy. Or perhaps more of an energy-based therapy such as reiki or acupuncture. Which aims to improve the flow of vital force through the body and reduce stress. If the condition is due to lifestyle choices, then a nutritionist or a health coach could be very beneficial in supporting you in making changes to improve your health.
Multiple therapists may need to be seen if you wish to address a number of concerns. A holistic therapist will support you based on their experience; they may also refer you to another practitioner should different expertise also be required.
Your next steps
Begin by getting clear on what you would like holistic therapy to support you with. This will help bring some clarity on the types of therapies that might be best suited to your needs. Use our search tool to browse therapists using type of therapy, location or keyword to get you started. Reach out to therapists who come up in your search and ask them any questions you have.
Each healing journey will be as unique as the person seeking healing. If you are unsure and don’t know where to start, please reach out to us as firstname.lastname@example.org. One of our qualified practitioners will assist where they can.
You can also take our short quiz and find out what therapies may be beneficial for you. This is by no means a replacement for professional support, but can help to shed a little light on possible directions to take.
This blog post is part of our reader Q&A series. If you have a question you would like us to delve into deeper, please email us at email@example.com