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Holistic Medicine

Holistic Medicine Image - Photo credit MicrosoftHolistic Medicine (also known as, Alternative Medicine) is the art and science of healing by encompassing the body, mind and spirit as a whole for treatment. The origins of these practices are derived from ancient cultures, philosophies and traditions of the Greeks, Romans, Chinese, Egyptians, and other cultures. It involves techniques that are not usually accepted by the majority of conventional medical practitioners.

Many of the methods used in holistic medicine are non-invasive and non-pharmaceutical. They include medical herbalism, acupuncture, hydrotherapy, Reiki, homeopathy and other natural healing practices such as meditation or faith healing. Below are descriptions of these techniques:

Herbalism (also known as, herbal medicine or herbology) is the practice of using plants and other natural herbs, minerals and/or spices to the healing areas of the body internally or externally. Herbalists extract parts of plants, such as the roots or leaves, and combine them with other herbal ingredients to develop compounds used in a vitamin or a topical cream. The practice of herbalism in history can be traced to Ancient Egypt, India, China, Greece and Roman Italy.

Acupuncture is the science of inserting fine filiform needles into specific points on the body to alleviate and relieve pain. It is considered a therapeutic treatment that is relaxing. Acupuncturists assess the blood flow and distribute this balance of "vital energy" or "qi" within its pathways, known as, meridians and channels. Today, licensed Acupuncturists know the human anatomy and can insert the needles safely preventing bleeding or infection. The needles penetrate the skin that are pre-sterilized and then disposed of after a single use. The practice of this discipline is derived from traditional Chinese medical theories of Ancient China.

Hydrotherapy is the use of water in the treatment of diseases and pain among joints and muscles. The treatment consists of whirlpool bath, Jacuzzi, hot tubs, cold plunge or mineral baths. Water is therapeutic in treating rheumatic diseases and musculoskeletal disorders such as arthritis and spinal cord injuries. It is also used in treating patients suffering from burns, strokes, spasticity or paralysis. It is used in the orthopedic conditions of dogs and horses as part of therapy. The history of hydrotherapy is recorded by the ancient Egyptian, Greek and Romans. The Egyptians royalty was bathed in water with a mixture of oils and flowers. The Romans had public baths and the Greek philosophers would prescribe bathing in hot spring water as part of healing.

Reiki is a Japanese technique to reduction stress and promote relaxation through the administering the laying on hands on an individual for healing. It is based on the idea that life force energy flows through us and can be transferred to another. It is the life force energy that causes us to be alive.

For additional information on holistic medicines and treatments, please visit the American Holistic Health Association (AHHA) and the American Holistic Medical Association (AHMA)