Modern Western medicine evolved from the holistic philosophical and scientific foundations established by ancient Greek and Roman physicians like Hippocrates, Galen and Aulus Cornelius Celsus.
As the science of medicine progressed, it became more precise and highly specialized that the holistic foundations of Western medicine are now largely ignored and downplayed by most physicians and other health practitioners.
But even as modern medicine continues to progress with further studies and developments in technology, the value of a holistic approach to treating bodily ailments has experienced some resurgence. Below are some reasons why:
1. Broad rather than narrow
Why would or should a physician specializing in nephrology study the same academic subjects studied by a holistic massage therapist?
Well, the probable answer is that there is no reason. A nephrologist does not have to study massage because it has no benefit for the kidneys.
But, how about a sports doctor? The connection, in this case, may seem a little clearer.
Sports massage therapy is already an established practice in sports medicine as both serious athletes and recreational sports enthusiasts recognize the benefits of especially tailored massages.
Sports massage aids greatly in pre-event preparation as well as in post-event recovery, offering the following specific benefits:
- Promotes flexibility
- Aids in preventing injuries
- Enhances endurance
- Reduces tiredness or fatigue especially after strenuous events
- Induces a sense of general well-being that complements sports performance
Actually, when it comes to the principle of holistic medicine, everything about the body is connected and, therefore, should not be isolated from the rest.
Holistic modalities like acupressure massage and aromatherapy are not meant to heal just one type of disease or simply relieve symptoms.
2. Interconnected rather than isolated
The main idea is that every disease does not have only one or several isolated causes but rather a set of progressive and interdependent causes. These involve not only the body but also the mind, lifestyle, and the environment. Hence, the best remedy is a holistic approach.
For instance, chronic headaches could be caused by stress, which is caused by interactions with other people and by the personal mindset of the sufferer.
Stress modifies a person’s behavior that may lead to irritability and overeating. A holistic approach will not merely treat the headache but will rather try to eliminate, modify or mitigate the various interconnected causes.
3. Minimal or zero side effects
Many types of diseases are treated with an assortment of pharmaceutical capsules and tablets that often have serious side effects. For some conditions, minor or major surgery would be recommended, which will later require a regimen of antibiotics and painkillers.
If you are a physician, you most likely want to minimize the suffering of your patients. You would not want to give a patient medicine that would treat one ailment just to exacerbate another condition.
For patients with multiple ailments, it would be very hard to find pills that do not have contraindications and side effects.
A holistic approach can substantially treat a set of symptoms or unhealthy condition without causing other unwanted symptoms.
For instance, instead of recommending liposuction surgery, you may recommend cardiovascular exercises, yoga and natural weight loss supplements for overweight patients who need to lose weight.
4. Better treatment for some autoimmune diseases
Many types of autoimmune diseases are very difficult and frustrating to treat using conventional medicines like steroidal pills.
Multiple sclerosis, for instance, is primarily considered as an autoimmune disease that is seriously life-threatening. It is a disease that has been proven to be responsive to diet modifications like paleo diet treatment.
Aside from a paleo diet, the treatment may also include detoxification process that is intended to reduce the hypersensitivity of the immune system.
5. Lower risks of infection from superbugs
Modern medicine has an obsession with sterilized environments that it has become over-reliant on antibiotics and disinfectants. However, this obsession led to a biological arms race that is now producing superbugs resistant to antibiotics.
Consequently, higher doses of antibiotics must be administered to patients. This perpetuates the vicious cycle of ever-evolving bacteria that are more deadly that what medical science has ever encountered.
Minimizing or eliminating the use of antibiotics through holistic and more natural approaches will significantly reduce the risks of triggering the evolution of super bacteria. For instance, instead of prescribing antibiotics for simple cold and minor infections, you may instead recommend food that will boost the immune system of your patients.
Massage therapy is also known to boost the body’s immune system naturally. It not only helps a person reach a blissful state of relaxation; research has proven that it also helps in decreasing the body’s production of the stress hormone cortisol as well as vasopressin — a hormone associated with aggression.
Swedish massage, in particular, has been associated with changes in the lymphocytes — a type of white blood cell known to play a significant role in defending the body against disease. Studies have also shown how beneficial massage is for the immune system of HIV positive adolescents, and in women diagnosed with stage 1 and stage 2 breast cancer.
A focus on the natural
The body has natural defenses that can effectively fight off a wide range of infections. It is just a matter of boosting this mechanism.
Whether you are a physician, a health worker or a medical student aspiring to become a doctor, you can augment your knowledge and healing skills by studying holistic medicine.
You can use various types of modalities as alternatives to invasive procedures and pills that have bad side effects, and ensure the total health and wellness of your patients.
Marc Innes is the Owner and Principal of the School of Natural Therapies, a training school for Massage & Holistic Therapies located in London. Marc began his career in the NHS, working in a number of managerial and training roles within the Ambulance Service in London. He spent much of that time educating and coaching medical staff. Over time, he developed an interest in all things complementary to Allopathic Medicine, in particular, Reiki Healing and EFT, which culminated in running a successful teaching and ‘energy healing’ practice. Marc is passionate about the massage and complementary therapy industry.