Holistic therapy has recently become a global sensation. Though it remains somewhat controversial, its growing popularity and success are indisputable. A 2017 survey reported that 40% of people had tried one or more holistic therapies. Often referred to as alternative medicine, holistic treatment focuses on finding balance by achieving a healthy mind, body, and soul.
What has led to the increasing mainstream acceptance of holistic remedies? And, why is it referred to as alternative medicine? To understand its evolution and the reasons for its appeal, we must first define holistic therapy.
What Is Holistic Therapy?
Originating from the Greek word ‘holos’ meaning whole, holistic therapy refers to treating the person as a whole. Compared to traditional Western medicine, holistic treatments focus on treating all aspects of a person’s health to achieve balance throughout the body rather than curing one ailment in isolation. It considers an individual’s physical, mental, and social health all together and views these as interconnected rather than separate entities.
A critical difference that sets holistic therapy apart from conventional medicine is that it uses only natural and non-surgical methods and treatments. A person may undergo holistic therapy for a physical problem, such as trauma or back pain, or a psychological imbalance, such as depression or anxiety.
The History of Holistic Therapy
Holistic therapy began in ancient times with the Greeks, who, according to the teachings of Socrates, believed that for one to be healthy, the whole body had to be well. Hippocrates also promoted the healing properties of natural substances such as plants and herbs. In the Eastern hemisphere, Chinese Traditional Medicine has been in practice for over 5,000 years. It focuses on aligning energies such as the “Qi” to achieve a state of wellness.
The modern rise of holistic therapy began in the late 1960s in response to the increasingly complex drugs and medical technology available to treat diseases in developed nations. Many Western people felt these options were too invasive and sought a more natural and humanistic healthcare approach. Holistic therapy offered precisely that, and soon its popularity began to explode.
The first milestone for the widespread acceptance of holistic therapy in the United States was a conference on this topic in California in 1975. Since then, alternative medicine such as massage therapy, homeopathic medicine, and acupuncture has flourished.
Its practice has also spread to Europe, where associations such as the Federation of Holistic Therapists, the largest professional organization for holistic practitioners in the United Kingdom, provide education and resources to those seeking holistic therapy in Great Britain, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland.
Types of Holistic Therapy
There are various complementary and alternative holistic therapies, and each has a different use. Some of the most common are:
- Reflexology – This is a practice based on the belief that the hands, feet, face, nose, and ears connect to the rest of the body through the nervous system. During treatment, the therapist will use his or her hands to apply gentle pressure to these body parts. Reflexology can help relieve tension, stress, improve mood, and aid in sleep.
- Reiki – As the name suggests, reiki is a Japanese technique that involves laying the practitioner’s hands on the head, shoulder, stomach, and feet. It centers on the belief that energy known as the life force flows inside of the body. When this energy is low, one feels unwell. A reiki treatment aims to restore life force energy to help you heal and stay fit. Reiki can help you feel more relaxed, less stressed and improve overall well-being.
- Acupuncture – Acupuncture, a Japanese technique, involves inserting needles into specific body points to improve energy flow and stimulate nerves and muscles. This stimulation can also lead to the release of natural pain-relievers in the body. Acupuncture can treat headaches, chronic pain, and back pain. Some people think it also helps to relieve symptoms of depression and anxiety.
- Massage therapy – Probably the most well-known type of holistic therapy, massage uses touch to release muscle tension. Some common types of massage are Shiatsu, deep tissue, and Indian head massage.
- CBD oil – Cannabidiol oil is a popular natural remedy derived from cannabis that has therapeutic benefits without causing a high or psychedelic effect. Therapists recommend CBD oil as a food supplement for many ailments, including pain, sleep problems, anxiety, poor appetite, and fatigue.
- Ayurveda – Based on ancient Indian theory, this practice uses herbs and minerals to restore balance in the body. It also includes massage and panchakarma, a detoxification process that uses five natural methods to remove impurities.
Top 5 Reasons for Using Holistic Therapy
Proponents believe that holistic therapy offers a healthier and safer alternative to modern Western medicine. Healing occurs naturally and without exposure to prescription drugs or invasive procedures. Here are the top 5 reasons to opt for holistic therapy:
- Offers multiple benefits – Holistic therapy seeks to improve all aspects of a person’s health to achieve physical, mental, and social balance. A massage, for example, won’t only soothe your muscles but also your mind and soul.
- Cost-effective – Holistic therapies tend to be much less expensive compared to traditional medicine. Although insurance doesn’t cover all types of holistic treatments, many may be partially or fully covered. Also, some holistic therapies require as little as one session to begin to feel the benefits.
- Lower risk of side effects – While modern medicine should help your body, it is a well-known fact that many drugs and procedures have unwanted side effects. Because holistic therapy is natural and non-invasive, many people feel it is less risky than traditional treatments.
- Helps prevent disease – If an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, holistic therapy is the way to go. While some holistic therapies can treat conditions, many times, the focus is keeping your body healthy. Improving your well-being can help the body naturally heal itself if needed.
- Stress relief – Many holistic practices include calming sensations and are considered excellent natural stress relievers. Stress can contribute to mental health issues like depression and anxiety or have physical manifestations like headaches and high blood pressure.
Why Choose Holistic Therapies Over Traditional Medicine?
By now, you are probably considering all the ways holistic therapy can improve your total health. Still, you may not be completely ready to book a reiki session or incorporate CBD oil into your diet. The good news is that adding holistic practices to your life doesn’t need to be overwhelming. Even one small change can significantly improve your health as holistic therapies benefit your entire body.
And, as mentioned above, these options can be a lot less risky than traditional medicines since they are entirely natural and don’t contain any artificial or chemical ingredients. Their low monetary cost and ability to offer a benefit after only one or a few sessions make them easy on your wallet and schedule.
The rise of holistic therapy has helped many people worldwide by bringing to light the benefits of natural healing and overall wellness. Though it remains controversial, many people in Ireland and worldwide attest to its effectiveness.
Given that in 2017 40% of people had already tried one or more holistic therapies, it is likely that this alternative to traditional medicine will continue to gain traction. Now that you know how holistic treatments can help you achieve a healthier lifestyle, which alternative medicine practice will you try first?