Holistic medicine views illness and injury as the result of disharmony in the mind, body, and spirit of an individual. This disharmony is often the result of a dysfunction in any of the areas mentioned above, which proceeds to affect the whole person rather than just one specific area.
A holistic approach includes treating the whole person rather than just one part or symptoms alone.
Holistic medicine aims to improve the general sense of well-being. This is achieved by promoting a healthy lifestyle, emphasizing the body’s ability to restore and revitalize itself, and the preferred selection of natural treatments and remedies as opposed to synthetic compounds.
Conversely, conventional medicine, also referred to as ‘Western medicine’ or ‘traditional medicine,’ is the standard form of medicine that is used in the Western world today. This form of medicine has been hugely successful in the treatment of common and life-threatening conditions. However, conventional medicine tends to be highly reactive rather than preventive, treating disease and trauma rather than improving and supporting health and well-being. Therefore, it is thought that an ideal approach to medicine is utilizing aspects from both holistic and conventional medicines.
Improve Your Health With Qi Gong
The most efficient method of pain management is neither that of holistic medicine nor conventional medicine, but rather a combination of both.
While prescription medications and bodywork can aid with muscle and joint pain relief, they are not a cure. It is highly recommended to incorporate gentle movement exercises – such as yoga, Qi gong, etc. – to aid health and recovery. Both can loosen and strengthen muscles, which can help with long-term pain relief.
Qi Gong employs the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) in balancing the qi, the energy or life force that binds everything in the universe together. It also focuses on opening the meridians, or energy channels, present across the body to enable the qi to move freely. Furthermore, Qi gong facilitates more in-depth understanding and communication with the activities going on in the human body. Qi gong is a practice of the mind, body, and spirit, and it involves breathing, intention, sound, movement, and self-massage.
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Combining Topicals With Chinese Medicine
Chinese medicine has increasingly infiltrated the Western medical system. In fact, the United States alone is home to about 27,000 licensed acupuncture practitioners. The continuous growth of this practice in America has resulted in the development of further insights into Chinese medicine.
Acupuncture is a method of holistic medicine that can be used to access the endocannabinoid system (ECS). It is a practical approach that liberates adenosine, a neuromodulator with anti-nociceptive properties, used to reduce discomfort.
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Cognitive-behavioral Therapy and Pain Management
Ever since its advent, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) has become an essential therapy option, as it seeks to change the distorted thoughts that can negatively influence one’s emotional and mental state. It is also able to influence how an individual feels about his or her pain and the response to it. CBT can be highly effective for pain management. So much so that hospitals are beginning to adopt its use in their treatment regimens.
CBT is a unique method of pain management that employs mindfulness, which involves paying close attention to thoughts and analyzing them without judgment. While some CBT techniques require a counselor, some other methods do not.
There are several methods of CBT you can teach your patients that they can practice on their own at home to help reduce their pain.
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Improve the Physical and Mental State of Your Client With Aromatherapy
Aromatic essential oils are a vital addition to the tools of a clinician. The scents of these oils alone are highly beneficial to both the clinician and their client, as they stimulate the amygdala and hippocampus, which then may help reduce psychological and physiological symptoms.
To further enhance the effectiveness of aromatherapy, you can combine it with a massage to balance the qi and restore and revitalize the physical and mental state of your client. A blend of oils is recommended to avoid triggering unconscious memories when one smells is used. When the qi is unbalanced, the body suffers from fatigue, illness, or pain. However, the essential oils can signal the sensory neurons along the pathway of the qi, which may further promote the feeling of homeostasis in the nervous system.
You can also combine aromatherapy, skin conditioning hemp extract with CBD, and localized pain relief – such as menthol and camphor – to provide a highly effective holistic approach that will ensure soothing and pain relief.
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Importance of Self-care
Self-care can prove difficult for those who spend most of their time caring for others. However, if you are a healthcare practitioner, you must constantly be at your best to provide the best care for your patients. While healthcare practitioners may neglect self-care due to overwhelming work/life balance or perhaps seeing their patients as more important than themselves, neglecting self-care can lead to:
- A lack of self-interest, which makes it more challenging to care for others.
- Mental and physical health issues, including depression, low self-esteem, anxiety, etc.
- Exhaustion and burnout
- Compassion fatigue, which can result in a lack of empathy
Ensuring you have time for self-care is not only beneficial to you, but it is also helpful to your patients or clients. It is imperative that you take steps to ensure your physical and mental well-being are cared for, whether with exercise, meditation, or taking on a long-term project that interests you.
While it is essential to care for your patients, it is equally important to take care of yourself. Take time out to engage in self-care, or you can choose to mix up a few methods.
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The Integration of Traditional Medicine Into Conventional Medicine
In 1977, George L. Engel made a controversial claim that medicine was in crisis. This prompted him to propose a biopsychosocial model of pain management, thereby challenging biomedicine. The proposed model suggested that “the phenomenological “human experience” of illness included social, psychological, and behavioral dimensions as well as biological factors.”
In previous years, the United States alone has experienced an increase in the demand for holistic medicine. Although little research has been conducted on naturopathy and the use of herbal medicine, between 2012 and 2017, research in mind-body practices have shown a dramatic increase in their usage and popularity. Moreover, a National Health Statistics Report found that “there was a small but significant linear increase in the use of homeopathic treatment, acupuncture, and naturopathy.”
Perhaps the primary reason for the continuous transition from conventional medicine to holistic medicine is the potential side effects of the former, as opposed to the benefits associated with the latter. Further research into mind-body practices, such as mindfulness meditation, expressive arts therapy, hypnosis, acupuncture, etc. have shown that they are effective as a holistic approach to pain management. While they don’t always replace the need for pain medication, they help to deal with the biopsychosocial factors that cause pain.
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