The Many Paths of Holistic Medicine
A form of traditional Chinese medicine based on the same principles as acupuncture, acupressure is an Asian Bodywork Therapy (ABT) in which practitioners apply pressure to the body’s energy centers, called meridians, in order to restore and maintain health. Acupressure practitioners apply touch and massage to selected acupressure points that correspond to symptoms in need of treatment. Acupressure has been used to treat pain, relieve stress and fatigue, counter nausea, and help with depression.
The most widely known of all types of Chinese medicine, acupuncture practitioners treat illness and pain by applying extremely thin needles to specific points on the body. This procedure alleviates the patient’s symptoms by unblocking the flow of Chi, or life energy, and restores the body to balance. The World Health Organization lists numerous successful clinical trials for more than two dozen ailments in which acupuncture was shown to be effective, including high blood pressure, knee and back pain, and arthritis.
Aromatherapy makes use of the scented oils in plants in order to treat illness and maintain health. These “essential oils” feature prominently in the plant’s composition; each with a unique fragrance and medicinal power. Extracted from the roots, bark, leaves, and flowers of a plant, essential oils are used in aromatherapy to trigger nasal nerves that send messages to the brain. This stimulates enzymes and causes hormonal changes that induce calming, numb pain, and regulate blood pressure and pulse rate.
This form of chiropractic treatment focuses on the upper cervical spine and is rooted in the theories B. J. Palmer developed at his Palmer School of Chiropractic. Atlas Orthogonal focuses on inflammations, called subluxations, which occur at the top of the spinal region known as the Atlas bone. Treatment makes use of percussive tools to make adjustments that alleviate pain and discomfort while promoting overall health by aligning neural connections between the spinal cord, brain and nervous system.
One of the oldest healing traditions in the world, Ayurvedic Medicine has been practiced in India for thousands of years. Ancient Sanskrit texts document ayurvedic medical information from the work of the physician Sushruta in the 6th Century BC. This body of ancient wisdom is continually growing, with modern research conducted in India by the Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences and in the United States at the Chopra Center and the American Academy of Ayurvedic Medicine. Ayurveda means “science of life,” and examines each individual as a whole person in order to prescribe herbal treatments and techniques that bring mind, body and spirit into harmony and health.
Auriculotherapy works on the premise that the surface of the ear contains specific points that correspond to the body as a whole. The French neurologist Paul Nogier, known as father of auriculotherapy, developed the method after fifteen years of mapping the ear and its relationship to bodily organs. There are forms of auriculotherapy that incorporate acupuncture, but the use of a needle-free electrical probe manipulating appropriate points on the outer ear is most commonly used for diagnosis and treatment.
Back pain, fatigue, migraines and even symptoms of Parkinson’s disease and asthma can all be addressed by the Alexander Technique, developed by Shakespearean actor Frederick Matthias Alexander in the 1890’s. This technique involves observation and bodywork that fosters healing by reducing and ultimately eliminating stressful movements and rigid postures that cause pain and restrict mobility. The technique is not a series of exercises, but an overall makeover of a client’s habitual patterns that leads to physical well being and mental and emotional clarity through freedom and fluidity of movement.
Autogenic Training offers six primary exercises devised in 1932 by German psychiatrist Johannes Heinrich Schultz. These combine visualization and movement to lower blood pressure, counteract insomnia and migraines, heal ulcers and thyroid problems, reduce stress and achieve profound states of peace and relaxation. These techniques requires regular practice to be effective, and are thought to work in a manner similar to biofeedback as mind and body work together to achieve an optimal state of health and balance.
Based on Rudolf Steiner’s philosophy of Anthroposophy, Anthroposophical medicine is a multifaceted method of strengthening a patient’s self-healing ability while providing the body with natural medicines. Therapeutic treatments also engage mind and spirit, which Anthroposophical medicine views as inseparable from the body. Steiner desired to bring the sacred and holistic dimension of healing back into modern medicine, and contemporary Anthroposophical medicine realizes his vision as a branch of complementary medicine combining the best of Western medicine with a wide range of holistic healing techniques.
Urotherapy is the use of one’s urine, usually taken from a morning sample, for both internal consumption and as a therapeutic substance for massaging the skin. In Ayurvedic medicine, the practice known as amaroli incorporates urine with food and water in appropriate solutions designed to alleviate illness and promote general well being. Drinking the mid-stream of auto-urine is a yoga practice that fosters meditation, and such urine has been shown to contain high amounts of melatonin.
This practice utilizes controlled, intensive breathing in a sensory stimulating musical environment to achieve altered states of conscious and breakthroughs in awareness. Psychiatrist Stanislav Grof developed Holotropic Breathwork in the 1970’s when he was seeking drug free methods of inducing transformative experiences that promote self-realization, healing, and expanded consciousness. Holotropic Breathwork fosters wholeness and psychological integration and provides a safe method for participants to undergo profoundly transformative life experiences.
Biofeedback uses monitoring devices to provide immediate information about ordinarily unconscious bodily processes such as brain waves, heart rate and muscular tension. Clients learn techniques that enable them to control these physiological functions and attain peace of mind and better health. Used for ailments including high blood pressure, psychological distress, pain, and migraines, biofeedback gives the client the tools to bring their body into balance using the power of the mind.
Bach Flower Remedies
Edward Bach developed his system of healing in the 1930’s, using dilutions of flowers to promote calmness and inner peace. His solutions are still used today to treat anxiety and panic attacks and to replenish the soul. Bach Flower Remedies are designed to bring stability and balance to the mind and emotions, thereby having a positive effect on the entire body and assisting in healing when health issues are present. Certain remedies such as crab apple not only work on internal states but are also used topically in treating skin conditions.
Cellular therapy, developed by the Swiss physician Paul Niehans in the 1930’s, transfers processed tissue from animal organs or embryos to patients in order to stimulate corresponding organs in the human body. The method is designed to heal illness and also claims to rejuvenate cells that have grown old or dysfunctional. Virtually any organ is subject to cellular therapy, including the heart, brain, liver and kidneys. The theory of cellular therapy is based on the premise that the transferred cells will automatically find the appropriate organ in the patient’s body and be able to regenerate and restore it to health.
Chromotherapy or Color Therapy
Chromotherapy is color therapy that uses light to balance energy and increase the strength of a patient’s aura. Color therapy has been used in many healing traditions and modern practitioners explain its effectiveness by pointing out that light itself is a form of energy. When color is produced by the interaction of energy and matter, it produces a strong response from both the mind and the human body. Chromotherapy practitioners act on the theory that color and light affects both the physical and spiritual body.
Colon therapy purifies the colon with the use of water, herbs, enzymes, or other substances, and in the process acts to rid the entire body of toxins. This is said to help the body cleanse itself and bring the patient an overall increase in health and well being. Colonics have been used historically, with reports of similar cleansings dating back to Ancient Egypt. Colon Therapy has been popular in the United States as far back as the 1920’s, though modern techniques are more sophisticated and effective.
Chelation therapy uses organic compounds to bind metal ions and has effectively been used to remove toxins such as mercury and arsenic from the body. Iron chelation therapy has been used in the treatment of haemochromatosis and is also used to treat lead poisoning. Chelation therapy is currently being tested for potential effectiveness in treating coronary artery disease and other potential uses. Chelating agents can be given intravenously, intramuscularly, or orally.
Chiropractors focus on treating issues related to the body’s neuromusculoskeletal system, and heal the effects that disturbances to this system have on a person’s overall health and well being. Particular emphasis is placed on the spine, which chiropractors see as literally the backbone of a healthy body. Chiropractors have discovered that numerous pains and ailments can be attributed to issues affecting the spine and vertebrae, and these can be properly treated and healed through chiropractic care.
Psychotherapy and counseling involves in-depth exploration of a client’s life through profound discussion with a trained mental health practitioner. Psychotherapy helps a client identify their core issues, explore the quality of their relationships, examine career choices, and review lifestyle issues to encourage changes that lead to improved happiness, health, and peace of mind. There are numerous types of psychotherapy ranging from behavioral therapy aimed at practical changes of habitual patterns to psychoanalytic models that take years to uncover deep-seated, unconscious motivations and truths. Individuals are encouraged to find the form of psychotherapy that best meets their own unique needs.
This form of traditional Chinese medicine applies suction cups to specific areas of the skin in order to promote the healthy flow of energy. Cupping improves oxygen flow in the lungs, restores proper circulation, treats pain and swelling, and detoxifies the body. Its breath enhancing properties also make it a common treatment for respiratory ailments. Cupping has a long history in Chinese medicine, and was written about by the Taoist healer and herbalist Ge Hong (281–341 A.D.) at a time when the cups were made from the horns of animals.
Craniosacral therapy (CST) was developed in the 1980’s by John Upledger and is based on the theory that the pressure from arteries and cerebrospinal fluid produces rhythmic movements in the body. CST practitioners use touch to manipulate these rhythms and adjust their flow, thus inducing states of balance and well being. Patients frequently report immediate benefits and feelings of extreme relaxation and peace. Pain, stress, TMJ, muscular tension and migraines are among the conditions that have been treated using craniosacral therapy.
Dance/Movement Therapy (DMT) utilizes movement and the freedom of expression provided by dance to bring about physical, emotional, cognitive and social wellness. Rooted in the belief that mind, body and spirit are interwoven threads in the tapestry of life, dance therapists use movement to explore the connections between physical and mental health. Dance/Movement Therapy is used to awaken emotional sensitivity through bodily awareness, bring confidence and wholeness to those with physical or psychological disabilities, connect couples and families through movement exercises and allow the spirit in each person to feel the joy of dancing through life.
The practice of dowsing is best known as a means to find water or lost objects, but in recent years it has become a popular method of alternative healing. Dowsers use the same techniques they employ to find water to locate places in the body that are the source of illness and energetic imbalance. Dowser healers then utilize natural vibrational medicines, including plants and other natural sources, to bring about healing and restore balance to the body and the mind.
Ear candling, or ear coning, involves lighting one end of a hollow candle and placing the other end in the ear canal to clear up ear wax, treat sinus infections, and improve hearing. Ear candling is also used to promote general wellness and enhance equilibrium and balance, and the procedure has been found useful for removing harmful bacteria such as Candida from the body. Clients generally report feelings of calmness and pleasant warmth.
Electropathy (Electro Homeopathy)
Electropathy, also known as electro homeopathy, was developed in the 19th Century by Count Cesare Mattei. It draws upon the biological energy of plants and humans and uses crushed botanical essences for treatment. Despite its name, it does not use electricity but the electro bio-energy of life to heal. It differs from conventional homeopathy in that electopathy does not follow the “law of similar” but uses over 114 plant essences in the preparation of remedies that treat a wide range of ailments.
Fasting is an ancient form of natural healing, long used as a means of purifying the body and encouraging spiritual and psychological growth. Fasting is discussed in the Bible as well as in Buddhist, Hindu, Islamic and Taoist teachings. Indigenous culture practiced fasting as a means to attain visions, and contemporary healers and spiritual seekers utilize this technique to raise self-awareness and cleanse body and mind. Many people use fasting as a means of purification before committing to a new diet or spiritual path, removing accumulated toxins so they can make a truly fresh start on a healthy way of life.
Feng Shui means wind and water, and this Chinese method of spiritually aligning environments to foster well being and success is based on bringing natural rhythms into our lives. The healing elements of Feng Shui are often overlooked, but its ability to increase the flow of positive energy not only enhances mental clarity and emotional stability, but has beneficial effects on the body as well. That Feng Shui is an important tool for healing can be seen in the fact that hospitals and health care centers are increasingly using Feng Shui to create the best possible healing environments.
Developed by Moshé Feldenkrais after being informed he needed a knee operation that would leave him confined to a wheelchair if unsuccessful, this method of holistic, healing movement therapy restores mobility to injured bodies and brings renewed energy to healthy individuals by enhancing awareness of the body’s natural patterns. The method increases neuromuscular control and biomechanical efficiency, reduces or eliminates pain, and encourages the processing of deep feelings that emerge when the body is free to move naturally.
In addition to the widely known Bach Flower Remedies, there are other floral essences that can be used to bring about mental and emotional stability and clarity, and even stimulate bodily wellness. These essences are composed of highly diluted solutions, with the final product containing the vibrational essence of the flower. Practitioners are trained in using the appropriate essence to heal a client’s specific issues and suggest essences for continued wellness.
Gemstones have long been known for their healing properties and play important roles in the practices of Ayurveda, Chinese medicine, and Native American shamanism. From crystals to sapphire, emeralds, and amethyst, gemstones are sources of vital energy or the life force. Every gemstone has its own vibration frequency and can be used to heal energy blockages and bring about balance. Practitioners of gem therapy use the precious stones for healing emotional, mental and physical difficulties, and understand the correct correspondence required in order to choose the appropriate gemstone for specific healing needs and total energy enhancement.
Perhaps the original human form of healing known to indigenous cultures the world over, the use of herbs and plant medicines is also the most widespread form of holistic, traditional healing. Herbalists today have a worldwide body of knowledge to draw upon, and herbal medicines feature prominently in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine. Herbalists create healing remedies using naturally sourced wild plants or those grown specifically for healing, and herbs are used to treat almost any imaginable ailment as well as to reduce stress and combat depression.
Heliotherapy, or light therapy, utilizes controlled exposure to light in order to treat a variety of symptoms ranging from sleep disorders and psychological issues to skin problems, poor circulation and sinus conditions. Light boxes and controlled exposure to rays of ultraviolet light that mimic sunlight are the most common tools used in light therapy, with care taken to maintain a safe level of exposure. Controlled laser light is sometimes used when treating specific areas of the body. Heliotherapy has also shown promising results in limiting tremors associated with Parkinson’s disease.
Holistic dentists view dental care as inseparable from the care and well being of the entire person, treating patients by taking into account their overall physical health and their emotional and psychological balance. Holistic dentistry is defined by its commitment to safe and effective dental practices and its refusal to use toxic materials such as mercury in filling cavities. Holistic dentists emphasize the importance of proper nutrition, and prefer to use non-invasive treatments for gum disease and seek alternatives to procedures such as root canals.
Holistic medicine is a broad term for the many branches of alternative medicine that use natural healing methods and substances. Holistic practitioners view the body as one whole system, inseparable from the mind and the total environment. Holistic medicine as a philosophy of medical practice is as ancient as the very first healers, and today the field makes use of modern scientific knowledge and a vast body of traditional data to bring an integrated approach to patient care that is safe, affordable and effective.
Samuel Hahnemann developed homeopathic medicine in 1796 while seeking effective methods of healing without harsh side effects. He discovered the principle of “like causes like,” finding that a substance that causes illness when taken in large doses produces healing effects in highly diluted solutions. Homeopathic doctors use in-depth explorations of a patient’s history to make accurate and effective diagnosis, and draw on an extensive body of knowledge that includes hundreds of unique remedies to cure virtually any illness. Homeopathic practitioners work from a holistic philosophy that sees the mind, body and spirit as essential aspects of the whole person, and offer treatment that not only addresses specific symptoms, but also promote the overall well being of the client.
Hypnotherapy utilizes hypnotic states of consciousness to create positive changes in the mood, behavior or emotions of a client. Trained hypnotherapists use various methods to achieve the desired result, with the hypnotic trance being the common thread weaving the various therapies together. Milton Erickson’s hypnotherapy uses informal dialogue that carries indirect suggestions rather than the usually direct hypnotic instructions, while other therapists use principles of cognitive behavioral therapy in their approach. This is particularly effective in goal-oriented hypnotherapy aimed at changing behaviors to achieve weight loss or the cessation of smoking.
Also known as hydropathy, this water-based therapeutic approach uses water pressure and the properties of hot and cold water to induce healing. From spa treatments to full body immersion tanks and whirlpools that direct concentrated bursts of water to injured areas, hydrotherapy encompasses a wide range of practices. Mineral baths and hot springs (also known as geothermal waters) are natural forms of hydrotherapy that have healing properties and are said to increase blood circulation, alleviate hypertension, and provide relief to joints affected by arthritis.
Iridologists study the iris of the eye in order to diagnosis and prescribe natural cures for a wide variety of illnesses and diagnose potential health issues. Iridology is based on the concept that every organ in the body corresponds to a point in the iris, thus examination by a trained iridologist can provide insight about the health of the entire body. Iris charts that map sections of the iris to the corresponding part of the body are used as guides during iridology examinations that involve intensive scrutiny of the iris with a magnifying glass or slit-lamp microscope.
Kinesiologists study all the factors that affect human mobility, from the muscular system to the impact of nutrition and psychological states on fluid and healthy movement. Kinesiologists possess extensive knowledge of anatomy and often employ muscle testing to locate areas of stress in the body. Kinesiology offers a wide range of treatment options ranging from physical therapy to massage and lifestyle advice. Applied Kinesiology was founded by Michigan chiropractor Dr. George Goodheart in 1964, and is today practiced across the globe.
Lymph Drainage Therapy
Lymph Drainage therapy utilizes touch and massage to enhance and maintain the smooth functioning of the body’s lymphatic system. Stagnation of the natural flow of the lymphatic system slows the regeneration of cells and hinders the body’s ability to fight infection. Therapists use wave-like motions that promote healthy circulation of fluids through the body, and are trained to detect the direction of the lymphatic flow and its rhythms so as to assess and treat blockages, swelling, or stagnation.
Massage therapists use a wide variety of touch therapies to bring healing to muscles and joints, promote relaxation and peace of mind, energize and awaken the muscular system to achieve its optimal state, and alleviate stressful posture caused by emotional or psychological tension. There are literally dozens of massage techniques, from sports oriented therapies designed for athletes to spiritual massage traditions that balance mind and body. Massage also has a long history in the traditional medicines of numerous cultures.
Magnetotherapy, or magnet therapy, is based on the premise that the body responds to magnetostatic fields that practitioners arrange to effect physiological changes and bring about healing of body and mind. Magnets may be worn by the patient in the form of bracelets, though advanced magnetic therapies for reducing pain or localized healing are directed by a trained practitioner of magnetotherapy using a series of magnets or a magnetized device.
Astrology is the well known practice of finding correspondences between the cycles of celestial bodies and human events. There are various forms of astrology, from Indian Vedic astrology to Chinese, Natal, and Sidereal astrology. When astrology is utilized as a diagnostic tool in alternative medicine, astrologists seeks insights into the physical, psychological and emotional well being of the individual, as well as information that can be acted upon to encourage health and healing in the future.
Midwifery and Childbirth Support
Natural childbirth is the way that most human babies who have ever been born entered this world. Many women today wish to regain the joy and freedom from invasive techniques and drugs that comes from a natural birthing experience. Midwives not only assist with the birth of the child, but also provide a supportive and nurturing presence throughout pregnancy and guide the mother through healthy post-natal care. Other forms of childbirth support include doulas who act as advocates for the mother and offer emotional support to the entire family during the birthing process.
Native American Herbalism
Native American shamans and medicine people possess a body of knowledge about medicinal plants that goes back thousands of years. Passed on from generation to generation, this wisdom has been kept alive by traditional healers despite attempts to eradicate the aboriginal culture of the Americas. This vital information is a virtual encyclopedia about plants and herbs used for healing numerous illnesses, as well as some used to induce visionary awareness. Documented by anthropologists and shared by contemporary Native teachers in hopes of bringing balance to a troubled world, Native American herbal wisdom plays a prominent role in holistic medicine.
Natural products are simply those without artificial chemicals or materials, and include a wide range of items from food and medicine to household goods, beauty and cosmetic supplies, clothing, and even furniture. Natural products are a part of a healthy lifestyle, as it has repeatedly been shown that exposure to artificial chemicals and substances have side effects that cause poor health, discomfort and even serious illness. Fortunately there are numerous socially and environmentally conscious businesses providing the goods and services needed to ensure a healthy lifestyle for every family.
Naturopathy is a form of holistic medicine with roots in ancient traditions of natural healing, though its modern incarnation is the legacy of the Natural Cure movement in 19th Century Europe. In 1901, Benedict Lust founded the School of Naturopathy, and is known as the Father of Naturopathy to this day. Naturopaths draw on a diverse range of natural healing options, but share an underlying belief in the efficacy of natural medicines and non-invasive techniques and the body’s ability to heal itself. Healthy lifestyles and good nutrition are also stressed as keys to maintaining a healthy body and mind.
Network Chiropractic care uses Network Spinal Analysis (NSA) to reduce tension in the spine and alleviate pain, heighten awareness of the spine, and deepen spirituality. NSA uses the least amount of force required to reduce tension in mind and body, and is far less painful than traditional chiropractic treatments. In addition to restoring balanced posture to enhance freedom of movement and flexibility, mental and emotional healing is frequently reported during Network Chiropractic treatments.
This system of therapeutic touch integrates stretching, movement, and energy healing to bring health to the body and balance to a client’s emotional and mental meridians. Unlike traditional shiatsu or deep tissue massage, Ohashiatsu can be done very gently and still be effective. The practitioner moves around the client, stretching and moving their arms and legs to open up the meridians so that health and well being can be attained.
Osteopathy originated in the United States in 1874 and is based on a holistic view of the body and the interconnectedness of body, mind and spirit. Osteopaths believe the body has great capacity for self-healing, and osteopathic techniques of non-invasive manipulation have beneficial effects on the lymphatic system, circulation, and the spine. Osteopathic practitioners use techniques to restore balance to the entire body, having discovered that when one area of the body is under stress, the entire body suffers by trying to compensate. Osteopaths use a mixture of targeted touch and physical manipulation to achieve a stress free and healthy body and mind.
Physiotherapy, or physical therapy, involves treating patients suffering from a wide range of injuries and debilitating illnesses that hamper bodily movement. Physiotherapy restores strength and coordination through exercises tailored to each individual patient. Some physiotherapists specialize in cardiovascular care while others work primarily in sports medicine, but clients of all ages and levels of physical wellness often obtain dramatic healing from physical injury by working with a trained physiotherapist. Restoring freedom of movement and reducing or eliminating pain are among the major reasons people seek out the potentially life changing gifts of a physiotherapist.
Pyramid Healing is a means of tapping into the healing energy of the life force by channeling it through the shape of the pyramid. The method is based on observation of pyramids in ancient Egyptian and Mayan civilizations, and theorizes that the same powerful energy focused by the massive stone pyramids of those cultures can be absorbed through personal-sized pyramid shaped conduits. Pyramid healing may sometimes be accomplished by wearing pyramid-shaped jewelry, but most practitioners apply a pyramid directly to the client’s skin or have a client enter a pyramid shaped space to fully absorb the healing energy.
This is a diagnostic tool that uses the results of a pulse examination in order to diagnose the health and well being of the patient, as well as discover emotional and personality attributes that can guide the patient to improved health. This diagnostic method is used in Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ayurveda, Unani, and Traditional Tibetan Medicine. Pulse levels are used to gain a variety of insights into the patient’s overall health and help determine the most beneficial form of treatment.
Practitioners of radiesthesia use their ability to detect energy, or radiations, within the body in order to assess a person’s physical and mental health. Radiesthesia is performed by the act of engaging a client’s vibrational field and then being sensitive to the effects it has on the practitioner. This information allows the practitioner to offer advice and guidance about the client’s physical, emotional and mental health. Radiesthesia is thought to work through the same principles as dowsing.
Created by Dr Albert Abrams in the 1900’s, Radionics works on the premise that all living beings emanate energy and that it is possible to transmit healing energy to diseased parts of the body. This is done with the use of radionic devices that measure a person’s vibrational state. Healing is also said to take place at a distance with the use of radio transmission, and radionics has been used to heal animals as well as people.
Prolotherapy is a method of stabilizing the joints of the body by strengthening ligaments and tendons. The process works by causing minor disturbances through the injection of non-active solutions into areas that will benefit from regeneration. The body treats these areas as minor injuries and starts rebuilding and restoring connective tissue, thus strengthening the joints. One of the major uses of reconstructive therapy is the management of pain, which is diminished as the affected area is restored to its original strength.
Based on the correspondences between the feet and hands and internal bodily organs, reflexologists manipulate the extremities of the body in order to guide the whole person to better physical and mental health. Reflexology is also known as zone therapy, as practitioners identify specific zones of the feet and hands that correspond to every single organ and part of the body. Treatment consists of the careful manipulation of appropriate areas based on each patient’s individual needs, and is often used to enhance circulation and relieve tension.
Reiki practitioners, also known as Reiki Masters, are trained to identify and guide the life energy of an individual to foster healing, clarity, and profound peace and relaxation. Reiki has long been used as a tool for spiritual growth and a means of pain management, and is most often transmitted with touch, but can be applied over distance. Reiki was formally developed in 1922 by Japanese Buddhist Mikao Usui, and today has a worldwide following owing to its natural, safe and nurturing techniques and the increasing number of teachers available to those wishing to learn the practice.
Rolfing is designed to foster improvements in a client’s posture and flexibility, relieve stress, and provide the deep sense of well being that comes when the body is able to move in a free and natural manner. The Rolfer applies pressure to the client after careful observation of the client’s posture and movements, and often teaches new ways of moving and sitting that affect both mind and body in a positive way.
Shiatsu literally means “finger pressure” in Japanese, and utilizes finger and palm-applied pressure to induce health, healing and a balanced and peaceful mind. Tamai Tempaku founded the first Shiatsu School of Bodywork in 1919, and today there are several forms of Shiatsu based on this ancient Asian healing practice. The pressure that Shiatsu therapists apply is directed to the same meridian points identified by acupuncturists as having energetic properties and relating to bodily health, and Shiatsu is an equally effective way of stimulating these points to bring about renewal and strength.
Sound therapists use everything from music that carefully awakens selected centers in the brain to bring about healing and mental balance to low frequencies and vibrations designed to foster healing and enhance awareness. Sound therapists also engage in voice work, helping clients discover repressed emotions, inner peace and relief from pain and illness by expressing themselves through vocal utterances and song. Some sound therapists analyze a person’s speaking voice to break down patterns that may indicate ill health or areas where emotional and psychological wounds limit a client’s full potential.
Tibetan medical practitioners draw on a long history of local knowledge regarding herbal medicines, natural methods of healing through diet, and Tibetan forms of acupuncture, combined with a Buddhist philosophical perspective. While Tibetan traditional medicine is a spiritually rich healing tradition that focuses on mind, body and spirit, the emphasis is placed on spirit as the highest level of being. Nonetheless, Tibetan traditional medicine features many practical techniques for healing illness and keeping the body strong through physical and mental disciplines such as yoga and meditation.
Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM)
Traditional herbs and acupuncture are the most common forms of Traditional Chinese Medicine, whose practices and remedies have a 5,000 year history. Though the tradition’s herbal cures and acupuncture techniques are as precise and exacting as the techniques of Western medicine, the view of the patient in Chinese medicine contrasts dramatically with the Western view. In Chinese medicine, the person is seen as a microcosm of the entire universe. The body is viewed as an interwoven network that forms a single organism that is part of the holistic web of all life. Illness is viewed as a symptom of imbalance and Chinese medicine acts to restore harmony and balance to mind, body and soul.
Based on an ancient Greek system of medicine, Unani is one of the most widely practiced alternative medicines in south Asia today, with over 40 medical schools in India alone. While incorporating Ayurvedic principles such as the healing properties of herbal medicines, Unami is rooted in the concepts of the founder of medicine, Hippocrates, and his theory of the four humors. Unani practitioners act to balance these four aspects of the human being to bring about healing and wellness.
The most common forms of vision therapy, or vision training, involve the use of special lenses to improve vision by enhancing coordination between the eyes, eye exercises for improving perception, and techniques for treating eye fatigue and discomfort. Under the supervision of an eye care practitioner, eye health and the ability to focus can be improved. Vision therapy has helped athletes focus more clearly in fast paced situations, and is used to alleviate headaches and eye stress.
Vitamin therapy uses a carefully selected blend of vitamins as the primary tool for healing illness and enhancing health. Doses and specific vitamins are chosen by the vitamin therapist, and vary based on the symptoms and health requirements of each patient. High dose treatment is also known as megavitamin therapy, and conventional medicine has identified dozens of conditions that respond well to high doses of certain vitamins.
Wellness Restoration is a multi-layered approach to bringing each person to their optimal state of health and well being, restoring the body to a state of wellness through careful assessment of lifestyle, health issues, nutrition and exercise. A wide variety of practitioners and clinics operate in this field, using various methods that all focus on the whole person and an understanding of the client’s emotional, mental and physical needs. Wellness Restoration is also sometimes aimed at a specific group, such as programs designed to restore wellness in those afflicted with HIV or other debilitating conditions.
Widely known as a profound physical practice that excels at balancing mind and body, yoga therapy extends the usual practice of yoga to specifically address health issues. When practiced with the goal of therapeutic improvement of mental and physical health, yoga therapy can help clients speed their recovery from illness and injury, support healthy blood pressure and circulation, and aid in balancing mental and emotional turmoil to alleviate psychological distress by fostering clarity and peace of mind.