Updated: Jul 11
There was once a time in the history of mankind when the occurrence of illnesses was thought to be the result of God's wrath. As more time passed, philosophers from different eras continued ruminating over the actual reason behind illnesses. Some believed it was an essential part of living which led up to the ultimate end of all of man; death. These people believed that illnesses came as a gentle reminder of what the end is. This particular philosophy, however, doesn't explain the cause of illnesses and so there were more inquiries into the human condition to better pinpoint a more tangible reason for the occurrence of illnesses.
Hippocrates, in 4th Century B.C., believed that illnesses were a result of imbalances in the four basic substances inside every human body; the blood, phlegm, yellow bile, and black bile. You may be inclined to chuckling at the thought of Hippocrates' simple beliefs but these philosophies gave rise to what we now know in the modern sciences of both alternative and conventional western medicine. Another major thought process that came to light during the renaissance period focused on the belief that illnesses came from external sources rather than from within; a rather astute deduction coming close at the heels of the bubonic plague that wiped more than half of the population in 14th century Europe.
The fact remains that as a natural course of living, we will fall sick once in a while and there is no harm in this as far as we go through the healing process completely and get restored to good health or anywhere close to that.
Sadly, that last bit of being restored to full health is something we've begun to lose touch with by the approach we take to healing our bodies when we fall ill. Some people believe that this has become the case because we have increasingly replaced a thorough understanding of our bodies and the way it works with a focus on only alleviating the illnesses that present symptoms we can see and diagnose through various modern diagnostic or surgical measures. The sole focus on eliminating the disease or illness has led to the adoption of healing practices that can eliminate the disease well enough but will inevitably cost the body it's more natural reparative abilities.
Today, we know a great deal about the actual causes of the illnesses that plague us; we know more about our body and the way it works than any other generation in the history of our evolution as humans. This wealth of knowledge has been utilized in both productive ways and not-so-productive ways but all the same, it is important that we know at the very least, the way our bodies work and why we fall sick when we do; as they say, some knowledge is better than no knowledge at all.
Holistic medicine, more recently known as integrative medicine has been around for thousands of years and was known to the ancients from as far back as the time of Hippocrates; these ancients practiced a holistic approach to alleviating the illnesses that plagued their population and often used natural remedies.
Healing practices from the 6th century B.C. India such as Ayurveda focused on harnessing the elements of the universe and the human body which were believed to result in good health when properly aligned. It is more likely to believe that most of these practices that comprise holistic medicine may be fake or based on unverifiable assumptions and maybe these people are right to be skeptical about the efficacy of holistic medicine but a quick look at the feedback that has been linked to its adoption in even the most unlikely areas of conventional medical practice can show that holistic medicine is not a fad after all.
In the late 1960s, there was a renewed interest in alternative or complementary forms of healing. This came in the wake of the growing awareness of the more detrimental effects of chemical drugs on the body; substances that had hitherto seemed to be the only feasible means of alleviating illnesses due to the persuasive nature of the science that backed them up. This renewed interest has brought about a wave of increased adoption by conventional medicine practitioners and major hospitals in developed (as well as developing) countries have since joined the train in pioneering research and awarding similar degrees to holistic medicine practitioners.
The first-ever National Conference on Holistic Health was held in the year 1975 in California and for many existing practitioners in the field, this heralded a new dawn for a more integrative approach towards administering health care and improving the human condition. Many associations that unite doctors and nurses alike have sprung up since that time like the American Holistic Nurses Association which was founded in 1981.
For the receivers of health care for even the simplest ailments, this new infusion of options has been met with some speculation but also some level of acceptance. In the time that elapsed within the years 2016 and 2017, an estimated 27% of Americans have gone into health care facilities requesting alternative treatments ranging from acupuncture, chiropractic care, and various massage therapies to alleviate chronic pains, migraines and lower their stress levels.
The principles that govern the administration of holistic medicine have also been a major source of its rising popularity among individuals looking for solutions to various health problems. Unlike the administration of western medicine and other diagnostic procedures, holistic medicine aims to incorporate more information about an individual’s lifestyle, inclinations, and habits in a bid to solve the root cause of these illnesses and prevent further occurrence. For many, this approach is refreshing and provides them with an even greater amount of information about the inner workings of their bodies; the kind of information that they may not have if they were just going to receive the conventional kind of treatment.
In a typical acupuncture session, an individual can better understand what nerves or muscles in their body are supplying (or are present in) specific areas of their body and this kind knowledge can enable this individual take better care of their body – the way they sit, stand or bend – which can influence how fast they develop pains in different areas of their body; joints, back, neck, etc. The access to information that holistic medicine avails its recipients makes it possible for these individuals to understand the inherent powers that they possess to heal themselves of the illnesses that plague them ever so often; information that we may never be aware of if we increasingly alienate the different organs and parts of our bodies in our bid to eliminate the diseases in them.
The holistic approach to health believes that the body is filled with interconnected parts and when a fault develops in one part, it would not be long before more faults develop in more parts of the body. As with all things, these principles can be misconstrued and put forward in false ways that can be misleading for the individuals who are actively seeking relief from their ailments. These fads are especially rampant in our Internet Age due to the ease with which a wide number of people can access information for their use. These fads promise the fastest recovery periods and the most miraculous solutions to the problems that plague the human body and we, desirous of all these benefits in such a short time-frame, will be more susceptible to their stories.
It is important however to try to obtain the right kind of information for one’s benefit. The major focus of a holistic approach is in equipping the individual with the best practices that they can adapt for their well-being and never to spoon-feed them with miracle potions that can take all the pain away. Unlike conventional medicine that mostly deals exclusively with the symptoms of an illness, holistic medicine encourages the individual to educate and coach themselves to adopt more self-care practices that can prevent the occurrence of the more preventable illnesses.