Sometimes when people hear about holistic healing, they shake their heads. There’s no way aromatherapy and salt baths could help, right? With so many holistic methods out there, it’s hard to know which ones have scientific evidence behind them and which ones are just bologna. There are some holistic healing methods that you shouldn’t shake your head at though. Those methods have the research and science to back them up.
Holistic healing isn’t just a healing method for those that want to be their best selves. It's also not just for people that want to find their inner truth on their winding journey through life. It’s a great healing method to pair with traditional medicine to work toward a healthier and happier life. What exactly is holistic healing, though?
What Is Holistic Healing?
Holistic healing is just a little different from your traditional doctor's trip. Instead of focusing just on the problem, holistic healing focuses on all parts of the body. Holistic healing focuses on your physical health, mental health, and spiritual health with the idea that it's all intertwined. The ultimate goal for holistic healing is feeling whole, while treating all three parts of yourself together. Overall, this kind of healing focuses on bringing any imbalance of all these parts into alignment. It helps you function in your natural state.
There are a wide variety of ways you can use holistic healing in your day-to-day life. Some of the practices for holistic healing have quite a lot of evidence behind them. There are even holistic practices that have strong evidence in the scientific community as helpful. How does holistic healing hold up when paired against traditional medicine?
Holistic vs. Traditional
The two kinds of medicine are very different from one another, and sometimes holistic healing gets a bad name. For example, holistic medicine focuses on promoting optimal overall health. Traditional medicine focuses on treating or curing a specific problem or disease. In emergencies, it's wise to stick with the traditional method, especially if you think your life could be in danger. You're not going to go to a holistic healer if your appendix is erupting -- you're going to go to a hospital.
A holistic healing method does a great job in making you take responsibility for your own overall health. It can be therapeutic and can help treat a wide variety of issues. Traditional medicine isn't great at focusing on the whole. In an emergency, the traditional route does a good job of correcting or treating acute, life-threatening injuries. If you'd like to be healthier, physically, mentally, and spiritually though, holistic medicine is a great way to put you on the path you want. There are a lot of ways traditional and holistic medicine face off against each other.
Different Kinds of Holistic Healing
There are plenty of different holistic healing methods to use for different ailments. The people in the United States used to roll their eyes at the idea of using holistic approaches, but that was back when there was little evidence behind any of the methods available. Now people are growing more and more interested in non-traditional practices. Some of the different techniques have more studies behind them than others, and others still are common practice.
Each of these techniques is unique in their own way. Some of them will fit well with what you may need and some of them won't. Remember to talk to your doctor before you add anything to your medical treatment regimen. You never know how something will affect you, and your health is incredibly important. Alternative practices are only alternative when holistic healing is replacing traditional medicine. You should add holistic healing to conventional medicine, which is called complementary practice instead. The different individuals practicing these holistic methods sometimes pair them with salt or stones to encourage spiritual and physical health.
This holistic healing practice started in China and has engaged practitioners for more than 2,000 years. It's still used regularly today, and it's used specifically to deal with pain and illness. Acupressure is applying pressure on specific points on the body. You can also use pins to stimulate these different points, which is acupuncture. Doing so turns on your body's own self-healing and regulatory mechanisms, helping with issues from vomiting to pain. It helps to relax the muscles, and it can minimize a wide variety of recurring symptoms.
One study focused on whether acupressure could help manage various symptoms in a non-invasive manner. Forty-three people were hosted in the study conducted, and it focused on acupressure use on people with a variety of symptoms. Investigators reported that this holistic healing method was effective with a range of symptoms -- including management of nausea in cancer patients and reduction in pain during labor. There's a wide variety of potential uses for the control of symptoms without having to deal with invasive procedures.
This holistic healing method is one that has been thoroughly accepted by the scientific community. Chiropractors started as holistic healers, but as evidence and popularity grew, the practice became more common. Chiropractors will perform adjustments to the spine as well as other parts of the body. They try to adjust alignment problems to help ease your pain and help you properly support your body. They also may try a variety of other methods to assist you in the healing process. You'll find they can apply heat or cold, counsel you about your weight or diet, and teach you relaxation techniques.
The first chiropractor and developer of the method was Daniel David Palmer. He examined a deaf janitor in 1895, who had become deaf after something in his back seemed to give way. Palmer examined the area, felt what he thought was a misplaced vertebra, and made the first chiropractic adjustment. The janitor found that his hearing improved, and Palmer would continue to create the first College of Chiropractic. This holistic healing method gave a janitor his hearing back. It's noteworthy enough that other scientists have accepted the method as logical, sound, and incredibly helpful.
Created by the Japanese, this holistic healing method is great for reducing stress and helping you relax. There isn't a lot of scientific data for this method, though, and what little there is doesn't support its supposed capabilities. It's known as a complementary health approach and uses a life force or unseen energy that science has been unable to prove exists. The idea of an energy force that passes from one being to another needs more proof for valid confirmation. If it's confirmed someday, Reiki could help people, but currently, there's more against this potential holistic healing method than there is for it.
Scientists have studied Reiki in depth, but can't conclude if it's helpful or not. Another similar holistic healing method was therapeutic touch, which was debunked by a nine-year-old and faded from use. This therapeutic touch method, once debunked, made way for Reiki in the holistic community. There's also the fact that any research that supports Reiki seems to do so by default. The studies are small, and the research is usually low quality and poorly controlled. The truth is that the practice of Reiki is inconclusive. There are no scientific studies about Reiki that are unbiased and have a solid structure.
Reflexology is similar, but not quite the same as acupressure. Reflexologists will use maps and guides to the body to find and apply pressure to an area they believe is associated with another area. Usually, they work with maps of the feet, using them to connect to the rest of the body. Reflexologists also can use the hands and ears to manipulate and help their clients. A reflexologist essentially uses reflex points across the body to target other points. These points don't line up with acupuncture or acupressure points at all and are considered different trigger points on the body.
This delightful holistic healing method isn't known by many, but there is still enough research to support its capabilities. It's a great practice to use if you want to reduce stress and relieve pain from injuries or illnesses. Though it doesn't directly treat a disease, it does help ease causes of them, one of the main causes being stress. Stress alone is responsible for over 80 percent of illness development. Reflexology helps ease that stress. This holistic healing method does a great job at helping you live a healthier lifestyle, with the science to back it up.
If you're looking for a holistic healing method with salt, balneotherapy is the way to go. Many of these holistic methods will use salt and stones to help and encourage healing, but balneotherapy takes it a step further. It's a type of hydrotherapy. It involves using warm water, often with salts, minerals, or other sulfur treatments to help ease a wide variety of issues. You should use this holistic healing option with current medical treatment.
Balneotherapy has even had scientific studies finding that it reduces pain, as do mud-bath therapies. The study found though that balneotherapy results may be short-term, with results showing after treatment is completed and only lasting a few months. The mud-bath therapy that the study speaks of had longer lasting results.
There are three different types of biofeedback, and each one has its benefits. Thermal measures your skin temperature, electromyography measures muscle tension, and neurofeedback measures your brain activity. Each method is non-invasive, doesn't require drugs, and helps a variety of conditions from high blood pressure to chronic pain. Patients are essentially using their brains to control different bodily processes. No one is sure how biofeedback works with the body, just that it does. Studies have been done with significant improvements when stressed individuals receive this holistic healing treatment.
Biofeedback has made a difference with many people to help in dozens of different ways. It helps individuals who have PTSD with the use of the neurofeedback option. It's even helped with chronic constipation and eased the childhood fear of going to the dentist. There's a lot of potential with biofeedback, and it has the research to back it up.
Using natural plant extracts to create soothing smells that promote and encourage well-being is called aromatherapy. That is a holistic healing option that has quite a bit of interest lately, and there's some science behind it as well. Aromatherapy has a history of practice going back for thousands of years and has physical and psychological pros. It has a plethora of potential benefits, such as stress reduction, soothing sore joints, managing pain, and sleep assistance.
Aromatherapy is one holistic healing method that has some scientific punch. This study found that patients in the ICU were stressed and had restless sleep patterns. But patients treated with aromatherapy had closer to normal sleep patterns and restfulness. Aromatherapy helped reduce anxiety, increase sleep, and stabilize the blood pressure of patients undergoing this specific treatment. That supports the idea that aromatherapy could be a great holistic helper.
So What Do We Know?
We know that some of these methods have more science behind them than others. Some, such as chiropractic healing, have been taken into the folds of traditional medicine and are used regularly. Others don’t have much science behind them yet but may have more evidence in the future. The scientific community is slow -- any of these methods may be valid, and we just don’t know it yet. If you want to try any of these methods to help you, talk to your doctor first to clear it. Once you get the all clear, you’re safe to jump in and see if these holistic healing methods just might work for you.
Have you tried any of these methods? Do you have any stories on how these holistic healing methods helped you? Leave us a comment telling us how it went!