Holistic medicine attempts to address the overall wellness of the entire patient. As a result, you may hear that holistic practitioners treat the patient, not the condition. Using integrative treatment therapies, they seek to promote balance and good health. 

Holistic healers often employ non-traditional or alternative methods in their efforts. Many of these have been used for centuries (or longer) to address health concerns, relieve symptoms of illness, and promote overall wellness. Take a few minutes to learn about some of the most popular holistic healing methods and how they can be used as part of modern medicine. 

1. Acupuncture

First appearing in Chinese literature around 200 BCE, acupuncture has an incredibly long and rich history as a treatment of many conditions. It is recognized as an effective method of resolving pain associated with conditions like arthritis, injury, and soreness. 

Acupuncture uses very thin needles that are inserted into the skin. They are placed along energy meridians in the body to help increase the flow through them and break up restrictions or blockages. 

Scientists don't fully understand how acupuncture works within the brain and body. It is generally considered safe when practiced in a hygienic manner. 

2. Ayurveda

Ayurvedic medicine evolved in India. The practice uses a combination of therapies including herbs, specialized diets, and massage to create balance within the body. While some practices may seem unusual or foreign to you, some are more commonly accepted. For example, using a neti pot to cleanse sinuses is a form of Ayurveda. 

3. Cupping

Another energy practice, cupping uses the power of suction to stimulate the flow of your internal energy or life force. It has been used for more than 3,000 years by cultures around the world. 

There are two primary types of cupping therapy: wet and dry. They both involve using small bowls (the cups) that are heated and placed on the skin. As the air inside cools, it draws the skin into the cup and creates the telltale round marks you may have seen on athletes and celebrities. Dry cupping ends there. Wet cupping, however, involves a small incision or puncture made to the treatment area. Suction is then reapplied to the spot. 

Many people believe that cupping can help reduce soreness and improve muscle recovery. That has made it popular among athletes. Most notably, Michael Phelps sported cupping marks at the Rio Olympics. 

4. Massage Therapy

The gentle, healing power of touch is on full display in a massage therapy session. A trained therapist will work to release constrictions, stretch and lengthen muscles, and soothe irritation. Because massage is also very relaxing, it can help ease stress and the aggravation of symptoms it causes. 

5. Herbal Medicines

There is a lot of power in nature, and the medicinal use of plants dates back millennia. This trend is widely embraced in holistic medicine because of the natural properties of herbal remedies and their ability to heal a wide range of conditions. 

The recent cannabis boom is a perfect example of herbal medicine's growing prominence. Where several years ago people may have wondered "What is hemp?", now CBD shops and dispensaries are in virtually every town. Of course, CBD isn't the only herbal remedy. Some others that are widely used include:

  • Turmeric to relieve inflammation
  • Thyme and Oregano for antimicrobial properties
  • Lavender to fight skin irritation and infection

6. Aromatherapy

Many plants have healing powers that can be harnessed without direct application. Aromatherapists use the power of chemical compounds within those plants to activate the olfactory nerves. Certain scents are known to trigger specific responses within the body, resulting in various effects. Lavender and chamomile, for instance, offer a calming effect that has been shown to reduce anxiety and promote sleep. Citrus scents, on the other hand, are bright and uplifting, and they generally produce feelings of happiness. 

7. Reiki Healing

Reiki healers use bodywork techniques to cultivate energy and promote healing. This ancient Japanese art of stress reduction and healing offers a relaxing experience. A 2014 review of research shows that it can help reduce pain and promote wellness in post-treatment cancer patients. 

Modern medicine has embraced many holistic healing practices as part of or complementary treatments. Be sure to talk to your medical providers before adding any alternative treatments to your routine since some can interact with medications.