Treatments that fall outside of conventional medicine such as pharmaceuticals and surgical procedures are referred to by a number of different names including complementary therapies, alternative medicine, natural healthcare and holistic practices. Acupuncture, chiropractic, massage and meditation are all examples of these types of healing practices.
Until recently, alternative or complementary medicine were defined as any treatment or therapy that was not taught at medical schools or offered in mainstream medical centres or hospitals. These therapies are now available in many hospitals, clinics, and therapists, such as Essence of Healing, and are becoming far more widely accepted as treatments to complement conventional medicine. The practices have been given another name (to add to the many) which is used in these medical settings and that is “integrative healthcare”.
No matter what name is used to describe these practices, they all refer to the wide range of healing therapies or treatments that fall outside of the scope of conventional medicine, it’s medical and surgical procedures and pharmaceuticals.
How Do Holistic Practices Complement Your Healthcare?
While it is possible to benefit from holistic practices as an alternative to conventional medicine, this is not recommended and may pose risks. For example, it is not advisable to discontinue chronic medication for a heart condition in lieu of a botanical remedy that only claims to have relevant health benefits. Massage, acupuncture and other alternative therapies can, however, complement conventional treatments while helping the body to heal and recuperate.
Instead of replacing conventional medicine, holistic practices form an essential integrative function to complement conventional treatments.
How Can You Benefit From Both Holistic Practices And Conventional Medicine?
It is the growing belief that an integrative approach between conventional treatments and holistic therapies from primary healthcare providers and holistic therapists will provide the greatest benefit to the patient.
Many medical practitioners and physicians have already started using this integrative approach and are already prescribing botanical medications and referring patients to chiropractors, acupuncturists and massage therapists. This evolution towards integrative medicine will continue to grow as a result of increasing informed consumer demand for alternative treatments.
What Are The Different Types Of Holistic Practices?
There is a multitude of different holistic healing practices and new therapies or variations in treatments continuing to emerge. The sheer number of holistic practices available can seem overwhelming for those who are new to alternative or complementary medicine.
The National Centre for Complementary And Integrative Health (NCCIH), which forms part of the National Institute of Health (NIH) have determined 5 categories under which of these practices fall. Understanding these categories provides a framework from which to identify characteristics of specific therapies or practices:
1 – Alternative Medical Systems provide a complete system that does not include Western biomedical approaches. Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda are two examples of Alternative Medical Systems.
2 – Mind-Body Interventions are approaches that see to the behavioural, psychological, social and spiritual needs of patients. Support groups and meditation are an example of these approaches.
3 – biologically-based Therapies include the use of biological or plant matter. Herbal medicines and aromatherapy are examples.
4 – Manipulative and Body-Based Methods use touch, manipulation and movement of the physical body. Massage therapy, acupuncture and chiropractic are all examples of this approach.
5- Energy-based Therapies which involve healing through energy and include thermal, electromagnetic, ultrasonic and subtle energy therapies. Healing Touch and Reiki are both examples of energy-based therapies.
It is critical to weigh up the risks vs. the benefits and evaluate each aspect of an integrative healthcare plan in order to ensure the most effective and beneficial outcome for each individual patient.