Holistic medicine has recently grown in popularity as healing methods have gained mainstream attention. Though these methods have been around for thousands of years, their effectiveness and affordability continue to appeal to generations seeking health directly from nature.
Specifically, acupuncture and herb supplements are some of the most popular holistic techniques for healing today, according to holistic professionals.
What is holistic medicine?
“Holism is a term used to describe something in its entirety,” said Michael Salas, director of the Holistic Health Center. “For this reason, holistic health care focuses on the person as a whole, as well.”
For example, when treating a sore throat, medical doctors will test for infection and prescribe medication for the infection, while holistic doctors would explore different alternatives, such as home remedies to help treat the infection as they focus on the individual’s overall wellness.
The key difference between scientific medicine and all other forms of medicine is the educational qualification of practitioners to a particular scientific standard, according to the American Medical Association.
Forms of holistic medicine include chiropractic services, massage, acupuncture, meditation, exercise and more, according to Dr. Randy Martin, a holistic medicine doctor in Valencia. In Martin’s 30 years of practice, he has treated depression, insomnia, anxiety, high blood pressure and more with holistic medicine.
“Most of my patients are sent to me by their doctors or their insurance company,” said Martin. “If they are seen on insurance, I’m only allowed to treat the pain.”
What is holistic healing?
“Holistic healing is a process whereby an individual balances all three parts of the equation, physical, mental and spiritual attributes to obtain a result that is favorable to an illness or disease process,” said Salas.
Facilitating a patient’s own healing is an underlying trait in holistic healing.
“I work with my clients to help them empower themselves and facilitate their own healing,” said Kiara Akasha, owner of The Truth House. “I am simply their guide.”
According to Akasha, holistic professionals do not mask symptoms, but instead, they heal the underlying issue.
Holistic healing techniques do not necessarily fall within the definition of conventional medicine, but a lot of times they work alongside traditional medicine.
Holistic healing can be practiced in conjunction with medical treatment, according to Salas. In many cases, utilizing both natural and medical medicine can be beneficial for a patient’s healing.
“Some people also integrate holistic approaches in more serious illness such as cancer, in these cases, we work with the person’s primary care provider to ensure adequate care in handling the physical and chemical attributes of the illness while we work on the mental and spiritual,” said Salas.
Holistic healing methods, such as acupuncture, have been used to help ease patients with side-effects from medical treatments they’ve received. Specifically, acupuncture claims to work as post-operative pain control.
“Acupuncture is effective for control of pain, of local swelling post-operatively, for shortening the resolution of hematoma and tissue swelling and for minimizing use of medications and their attendant side effects,” said Dr. Eugene Mak, from the American Academy of Acupuncture, on his website.
Treating pain is 70% of Martin’s practice, he said.
Though acupuncture is seen as an alternative health care treatment, many medical professionals are beginning to prescribe acupuncture as a way to treat different symptoms.
For example, some Blue Cross health plans cover acupuncture.
“Our doctor may prescribe acupuncture to treat: chronic pain that has lasted at least six months and did not respond to more conservative forms of treatment, like drugs or physical therapy and nausea due to surgery or chemotherapy,” according to the Blue Cross website.
“More and more people are interested in their nutrition and want to be sure they are taking the right supplements and herbs,” said Martin.
Since most holistic healing methods are not covered by insurance, so patients who want to practice other methods will need to pay out of pocket. At Martin’s practice, patients can receive other holistic services such as traditional Chinese medicine herb therapy.
Herb supplements are “products made from botanicals, or plants that are used to treat diseases or to maintain health are called herbal products, botanical products, or phytomedicines,” according to a John Hopkins Medicine news release.
These herbal supplements are used in different ways including swallowed as pills, powders, or tinctures, brewed as tea, applied to the skin and added to baths, the release adds.
“Herbs are just as effective (as traditional medicine) in many cases, as long as their medical doctor doesn’t have a problem with them switching over,” said Martin.