The Importance of Holistic Therapies
“How are you?” A simple question that we get asked daily. You normally respond with “Aah, ja, coping hey”. Perhaps you start listing your health problems one by one or simply reply with “good”, but all the time actually feeling like the world is on your shoulders. Statistics show that the number of patients diagnosed with depression is increasing by 20% every year. It is estimated that 121 million people suffer from depression worldwide.(1) In this new age of modern medicine there seems to be a drug for everything. There are even “happy” pills now …with hidden side-effects of increased aggression and suicidal thinking.(2) Most of us have to take some form of drug, whether it is coffee (caffeine) or a head-ache tablet, just to function in daily life. Let us examine a number of interesting facts;
- Over the last 10 years, the percentage of Americans who took at least one prescription drug in the past month increased from 44% to 48%. The use of two or more drugs increased from 25% to 31%. The use of five or more drugs increased from 6% to 11%.
- In 2007-2008, 1 out of every 5 children and 9 out of 10 older Americans reported using at least one prescription drug in the past month.
- The most commonly used types of drugs included: asthma medicines for children, central nervous system stimulants for adolescents, antidepressants for middle-aged adults, and cholesterol-lowering drugs for older Americans. (3)
Why are we so over-medicated and unhappy?
We live in an age where technology and instant gratification is a normal part of our lives. I often see entire families at take-out venues sitting on their phones while gulping down their soda and shoveling food into their mouths. We don’t listen to our bodies anymore and all we want is easy, nice-tasting food. More importantly, communication is lost and we feel alone while being surrounded by virtual friends. Unattainable expectations have been placed upon us and we are being told how to live every aspect of our lives. ‘You can’t do this’, ‘you can’t act like that’, and ‘you need to dress like this’. How can we be happy when every day we are being told we aren’t good enough? This unhappiness doesn’t just stay in the mind and will eventually affect the body negatively by creating an imbalance. So what do we do? We take medication because we believe it’s the only way to cope.
Your body is the canvas for your mind and every emotion is painted onto it.
Emotions are part of the mind and have a significant effect on the body. “Psychosomatic disorders are physical diseases that are thought to be caused, or made worse, by mental factors”. Some physical diseases are thought to be particularly prone to mental factors such as stress and anxiety. For example, psoriasis, eczema, stomach ulcers, high blood pressure and heart disease. It is thought that the actual physical manifestation of the illness (the extent of a rash, the level of the blood pressure, etc) can be affected by mental factors. This is difficult to prove. However, many people with these and other physical diseases say that their current mental state affects the extent of these diseases at any given time.” (4)
Emotions and state of mind run far deeper than we currently realize. Traditional Chinese medicine is incorporated into many holistic practices and dates back to more than 3000 years. It has formed a unique link between emotions and the specific organs they affect.
For example, it is believed that:
- Persistent anger manifests in the liver. (Eg. indigestion, cirrhosis, blood disorders)
- Grief/anxiety in the lungs. (Eg. asthma, bronchitis, TB)
- Resentment in the gall bladder. (Eg. gall stones, acidity, jaundice)
- Agitation/over excitement in the heart. (Eg. palpitations, heart attack, fainting)
- Over-thinking in the spleen. (ANY low immune system symptoms)
- Fear in the kidneys. (Eg. infection, lower back pain, kidney stones)
- Overly-emotional states in the bladder. (Eg. infection, weak bladder, incontinence)
Your body has the ability to heal every aspect of itself. If you cut yourself, your body will immediately start the repair process and within a few days the cut is healed. If you witness something traumatic, recently or long ago, your subconscious mind will bring it up in your dreams to help you process and deal with it. In that way the body and mind constantly seeks out balance and optimum health. It is when the body and mind is out of balance that illnesses manifest. This is a sign of your body trying to get your attention and tell you “Hey! something isn’t right here, you need to fix this.” Most of us ignore our bodies and take tablets to mask the symptoms so that we can return to our busy lives. We need to address the real cause of the illness and that is where holistic therapy comes into the picture.
Holistic therapies are based on ancient knowledge and techniques from thousands of years ago. Reiki, reflexology and specialised massage (just to name a few), were used as medical treatments and practitioners were seen as doctors. Holistic therapies take your emotional and spiritual state into consideration and structure the treatments specifically around your needs. They can deal with emotional issues that you didn’t even know were there, and connect you to aspects of yourself that you have never experienced. They can clear and balance your mind and ease physical pain without any chemicals. This will align your mind, body and soul, making you more aware of your body’s needs and help you to find the root cause of your illness.
All holistic therapy is based on the same principles but use different methods to achieve them. It is up to you to decide which therapy you feel most comfortable with. Holistic therapy is often not easily understood and so has a negative stigma attached to it. Unfortunately, there are many that claim to be skilled in holistic therapy but are not fully trained. Always enquire of the qualifications of your therapist.
We are all multi-faceted beings, and understanding every aspect of yourself puts you on the path to true balance and healing. Holistic therapy can assist you on that path. Remember to keep an open mind when you see your chosen practitioner.