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MoonDragon's Alternative Health Information
AN EXPLANATION OF HOLISTIC MEDICINE





HOLISTIC MEDICINE TOPICS

  • Introduction
  • Treating The Whole Person
  • Power of the Mind
  • The Spiritual Dimension
  • Homeostasis
  • Holistic Links




  • INTRODUCTION


    Holism (the word is derived from the Greek holos, meaning "whole") is the idea that everything in the universe is greater than, and different from, the sum of its parts. Holistic medicine is an approach to health that aims to deal with the patient as a whole and not merely with physical symptoms. It takes into account the psychological state of an individual, social and environmental factors, and an indefinable dimension known as "spirit".

    complimentary practitioners


    Most complimentary-holistic practitioners look not only at the physical symptoms of illness, but also work closely to explore the emotional and spiritual concerns as well. This holistic approach to health encourages the patient's powers of self-healing.





    TREATING THE WHOLE PERSON


    According to many of the world's holistic health systems, such as naturopathy, homeopathy and Traditional Chinese Medicine, the body has a natural tendency toward equilibrium, or homeostasis, the maintenance of which is the key to good health. When equilibrium is disrupted, holistic practitioners work in partnership with the patient, focusing on all aspects of his or her life, to promote self-healing. A common misconception is that holistic healing is the sole preserve of complementary practitioners. In fact, many conventional health care providers have a holistic approach, considering patients in the context of their lifestyle and emphasizing health education and self-care. Psychiatrists and psychologists also give a distinct nod to holistic principles.

    On the other hand, not all complementary therapies are inherently "holistic" or "spiritual" - terms often used to distinguish them from "uncaring" medical science - nor are they necessarily "anti-scientific" or "anti-intellectual." Some complementary practitioners, for example, might focus on certain physical symptoms in a similar way to conventional health care providers, and therapies such as osteopathy and chiropractic are in many ways as practical and grounded in anatomy and pathology as conventional medicine. Because of this confusion of meaning, conventional and complementary practitioners interested in holistic principles often prefer to talk of "integrated" medicine.

    An integrated approach can - and often does - combine the best in mainstream medicine and complementary therapy. While a non-holistic conventional health care provider would only treat asthma symptoms, prescribing drugs to suppress them, a health care provider with an integrated approach would treat the symptoms with medication but also address underlying causes, such as an allergy reaction or anxiety, and investigate the patient's emotional makeup. Cognitive behavioral therapy might be suggested as a strategy for coping with asthma attacks, hypnosis to relieve stress, or the purchase of special bedding and vacuum cleaners to minimize house dust mites if they trigger attacks. A complementary practitioner might prescribe an herbal remedy to relax bronchial muscles, a diet to eliminate food intolerances, acupuncture to restore the flow of qi (chi or ch'i pronounced as "chee"), or essential oil massages to ease tension and induce relaxation.

    caduceus Yin and Yang


    Ancient Symbols of the equilibrium between opposing but interdependent forces can be found in both Eastern and Western cultures. The Western emblem of medicine, the caduceus, and the Chinese symbol for yin and yang both represent opposites held in a healing balance.





    THE POWER OF THE MIND


    Modern epidemics of long-term and stress-related diseases that only seem to be partially alleviated by conventional medicine have led many medical practitioners to question 20th-century science's distinction between mind and body. The origins of this schism are often ascribed to the 17th-century French philosopher Descartes, who sought to accommodate tensions between the Catholic church and the emerging science of medicine by allotting the intangible soul to care of priests and the physical "measurable" body to that of physicians. From here it was an easy step for the medical establishment to regard illness as purely a mechanical breakdown in the body's machinery.

    But can our emotions affect our physical health? After all, we talk about "butterflies in the stomach" before an important event, and traffic jams as a "pain in the neck". At the very heart of science lies a phenomenon that supports the theory of holistic medicine - The Placebo Response, in which an inactive treatment has a positive effect, providing intriguing evidence of the power of the mind over the body. Belief in a treatment, whether on the part of the patient or practitioner, or simply faith in the practitioner, can be so powerful that the patient actually gets better. The placebo response has reduced blood pressure, healed ulcers, eased swelling, overridden the effects of stimulants, and relieved arthritis, hay fever, and depression. In actively encouraging patients to participate in their own healing, practitioners may be able to exploit the power of this mind/body response.

    It has been reported by Professor Herbert Benson of the Mind/Body Medical Institute of Harvard Medical School that when actual patient cases are studied, the success rate of the placebo response can be as high as 90 percent. The power of belief and expectation, he believes, may be harnessed by eliciting the "relaxation response," a mental state that triggers significant physiological changes, including lowered blood pressure, slower breathing, reduced muscle tension, and diminished stress hormone levels (as seen in meditation therapy). Any technique in which the mind is quietly focused, such as meditation, visualization, diaphragmatic breathing, biofeedback, hypnosis, qigong, or yoga, can induce the relaxation response, and conventional practitioners at medical centers in the US and UK now employ these methods to improve the well-being of their patients.





    THE SPIRITUAL DIMENSION


    In holistic medicine, spiritual concerns rank with those of the mind and body. We are creatures that puzzle over what life means, where we come from, and where we are bound. To be anxious and bewildered at times is to be human. For many of us, the past has been painful, the present is insecure, and the future uncertain. In the struggle to make sense of life, certain activities create a supportive framework that connects us to our "inner selves", to each other, and to the world. These activities include art, literature, music, community, family, worship, and play, and they are especially important when illness presents us with the reality of our vulnerability, limitations, and dependency. Broadly speaking, this is the realm of spirituality.

    In his studies, Professor Benson found that 23 percent of his patients reported feeling "more spiritual" after relaxation exercises and experienced fewer medical symptoms than those reporting no increase in spirituality. In 1995, US researchers at the Dartmouth Medical School found that patients who derived strength and comfort from religious faith were three more times more likely to survive the six months after open-heart surgery than those with no religious beliefs. The same study also reported that people who never crossed the threshold of a church, yet nonetheless held deep spiritual beliefs, were equally likely to survive. Being actively involved with some sort of organization, whether a choir, political party, religious group or coven, conferred the same protection, and the combination of faith and participation in any kind of group increased the likelihood of postoperative survival ninefold. More relevant to our well-being than organized religion or membership, it seems, is a spiritual awareness and "connectedness" with fellow human beings.






    HOMEOSTASIS


    Holistic practitioners believe that the mind and body tend toward a state of balance, or homeostasis, and have a natural capacity for self-regulation. The ability to maintain equilibrium, however, can be overwhelmed when we are under stress and strain, physically or emotionally.

    MoonDragon's Alternative Health Information: The Balanced Body

    Demands on one part of the "whole" affect other parts - constant emotional tension, for example, may cause physical fatigue. Optimum health, therefore, is achieved by attending to all parts of the whole.


    homeostasis maintained
    homeostasis breakdown





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    AROMATHERAPY: ESSENTIAL OILS DESCRIPTIONS & USES


    Allspice Leaf Oil
    Angelica Oil
    Anise Oil
    Baobab Oil
    Basil Oil
    Bay Laurel Oil
    Bay Oil
    Benzoin Oil
    Bergamot Oil
    Black Pepper Oil
    Chamomile (German) Oil
    Cajuput Oil
    Calamus Oil
    Camphor (White) Oil
    Caraway Oil
    Cardamom Oil
    Carrot Seed Oil
    Catnip Oil
    Cedarwood Oil
    Chamomile Oil
    Cinnamon Oil
    Citronella Oil
    Clary-Sage Oil
    Clove Oil
    Coriander Oil
    Cypress Oil
    Dill Oil
    Eucalyptus Oil
    Fennel Oil
    Fir Needle Oil
    Frankincense Oil
    Geranium Oil
    German Chamomile Oil
    Ginger Oil
    Grapefruit Oil
    Helichrysum Oil
    Hyssop Oil
    Iris-Root Oil
    Jasmine Oil
    Juniper Oil
    Labdanum Oil
    Lavender Oil
    Lemon-Balm Oil
    Lemongrass Oil
    Lemon Oil
    Lime Oil
    Longleaf-Pine Oil
    Mandarin Oil
    Marjoram Oil
    Mimosa Oil
    Myrrh Oil
    Myrtle Oil
    Neroli Oil
    Niaouli Oil
    Nutmeg Oil
    Orange Oil
    Oregano Oil
    Palmarosa Oil
    Patchouli Oil
    Peppermint Oil
    Peru-Balsam Oil
    Petitgrain Oil
    Pine-Long Leaf Oil
    Pine-Needle Oil
    Pine-Swiss Oil
    Rosemary Oil
    Rose Oil
    Rosewood Oil
    Sage Oil
    Sandalwood Oil
    Savory Oil
    Spearmint Oil
    Spikenard Oil
    Swiss-Pine Oil
    Tangerine Oil
    Tea-Tree Oil
    Thyme Oil
    Vanilla Oil
    Verbena Oil
    Vetiver Oil
    Violet Oil
    White-Camphor Oil
    Yarrow Oil
    Ylang-Ylang Oil
    Aromatherapy
    Healing Baths For Colds
    Aromatherapy
    Herbal Cleansers
    Using Essential Oils


    AROMATHERAPY: HERBAL & CARRIER OILS DESCRIPTIONS & USES


    Almond, Sweet Oil
    Apricot Kernel Oil
    Argan Oil
    Arnica Oil
    Avocado Oil
    Baobab Oil
    Black Cumin Oil
    Black Currant Oil
    Black Seed Oil
    Borage Seed Oil
    Calendula Oil
    Camelina Oil
    Castor Oil
    Coconut Oil
    Comfrey Oil
    Evening Primrose Oil
    Flaxseed Oil
    Grapeseed Oil
    Hazelnut Oil
    Hemp Seed Oil
    Jojoba Oil
    Kukui Nut Oil
    Macadamia Nut Oil
    Meadowfoam Seed Oil
    Mullein Oil
    Neem Oil
    Olive Oil
    Palm Oil
    Plantain Oil
    Plum Kernel Oil
    Poke Root Oil
    Pomegranate Seed Oil
    Pumpkin Seed Oil
    Rosehip Seed Oil
    Safflower Oil
    Sea Buckthorn Oil
    Sesame Seed Oil
    Shea Nut Oil
    Soybean Oil
    St. Johns Wort Oil
    Sunflower Oil
    Tamanu Oil
    Vitamin E Oil
    Wheat Germ Oil





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