WELLNESS WISDOM NEWSLETTER

Holistic Health and Healing

Holistic health and healing is total wellness of the body, the mind, and the soul. If you have this total alignment of the body, the mind, and the soul, you may be able to say this: "Doctor, you're fired!"

The American Holistic Medical Association gives the definition of holistic medicine as "the art and science of healing that addresses the whole person—the body, the mind, and the soul—by integrating conventional and alternative therapies to prevent and treat disease, and to promote optimal health." That is the essence of holistic health. Only with holistic health can you tell your doctor: “Doctor, you’re fired!”

The Essentials of Holistic Health and Healing

Life force energy

The source of human life comes from an integrated and intelligent energy known as life force energy, which sustains the life of body organs, cells, and tissues, as well as supports the spiritual entity of the soul. This invisible life force energy flows freely throughout the body to give an individual not only health and vitality by efficiently transporting oxygen and nutrients to different parts of the body, but also an expression of the inner self. The flow of this life-giving energy follows an organized pattern by way of meridians connecting different parts of the human body. This life force energy has different names for different cultures: the Chinese call it qi; the Japanese, lei; the Hindus, prana; and the Greeks, pneuma. But they all mean the same thing: the essence of life.

Any blockage or diminution of life force energy may result in reduction in oxygen supply, deficiency in nutrients intake, and accumulation of waste products produced, and hence the beginning of degeneration and disease. Disease symptoms are only signs of diminution of life force energy within the body. Robert S. Ivker, D.O., past president of the American Holistic Medical Association said "the unlimited and unimpeded free flow of life force energy throughout your body, mind, and spirit" has the capacity to bring about self-healing, which is fundamental to holistic health. 

Balance and harmony

Holistic health  and healing is a manifestation of internal balance and harmony in the human body, which is but a microcosm of nature. Life force energy flows optimally in a state of balance and harmony, expressed in equilibrium of tensions between expansion and contraction.  A contraction in one part has to be followed by an expansion in another, just as anything that goes up must also come down—this is just the law of nature. To illustrate, high blood pressure is a result of extreme expansions and contractions of arteries in certain parts of the body, causing irreparable damage to heart muscles.

Chinese medicine, for example, is based on the philosophy of balance and harmony, expressed in the yin and the yang




In the symbol, the small black circle within the white shows that yin is always within the white yang; likewise, the small white circle within the black shows that yang is always within the black yin. In other words, all things are both yin and yang simultaneously. The concept of balance and harmony of life force energy--yin and yang--is central to the Chinese healing methods that use foods and herbs as medicine. In Chinese healing, disease is seen as the result of imbalance of qi (positive life energy) in the body, which is essentially a reflection of the lack of balance and harmony between yin and yang.

Control and restrain

In Chinese health, the balance and harmony of yin and yang is further governed by the Five Elements (wood, fire, earth, metal, water), also known as "Wu Xing" (the Five Processes), representing the cycles of nature, as well as corresponding to the five body organs (heart, kidneys, lungs, liver, spleen).

The Five Elements control and restrain one another: fire controls metal, which controls wood, which controls earth, which controls water, which controls fire. They are inter-dependent on one another for existence in the form of a cycle of nature: water nourishes trees or wood, without which there will be no fire, and without fire, there will be no earth, and without earth, there will be no metal, and without metal, there will be no liquefaction, generating no water, thereby forming a continuous controlling and restraining cycle, which balances and harmonizes everything, including your health, for natural health and healing.

To illustrate:

In nature, fire melts metal. Likewise, the blood of your heart controls the functioning of your lungs.

In nature, metal (a blade) cuts wood. Likewise, your lungs control the blood gathered by your liver.

In nature; wood breaks up earth through its roots. Likewise, your liver controls the digestive functions of your spleen.

In nature, earth dams water. Likewise, your spleen controls your kidney's ability to concentrate and retain moisture.

In nature, water puts out fire. Likewise, the essence of your kidneys controls the fire of your heart.

The natural inter-restrain puts each of the Five Elements under control, just as the appropriate functioning of one organ puts the other organs under control and restrain for balance and harmony, thereby instrumental in contributing to holistic health.

Principles of Holistic Medicine

Search for the underlying causes of disease

Inherent self-healing capacity and disease resistance immunity hold the key to the absence or presence of disease. In other words, knowing why you are vulnerable to a disease or disorder may heal you from that affliction. According to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), 40 percent of hypertensive patients could do without their medications when they gave up smoking, limited alcohol consumption, reduced sodium intake, and exercised moderately. Therefore, understanding the causes of disease can bring about not only the prevention but also a cure of a disease.

Prevention better than cure

Unlike conventional Western medicine, which focuses on reducing and mitigating disease symptoms, holistic medicine emphasizes the importance of prevention, rather than the cure, through lifestyle changes, such as, nutrition and exercise.

Concept of the whole person

Disease is looked upon as manifestation of a dysfunction of the whole person, not just an isolated event. For example, cataract is more than a disease of the eye. Therefore, lens implant surgery is not a long-term solution. Instead, the whole person has to be addressed, such as nutrition therapy, especially the need of antioxidants supplementation, smoking cessation, avoidance of strong sunlight, and regular exercise. Treating the whole person can significantly reduce cataract by as much as 70 percent, according to a study.

Quality doctor-patient relationship

The doctor-patient relationship has a great impact on the outcome of a disease. Quality relationship enhances healing through confidence, enthusiasm, and trust. To illustrate, Hippocrates, the father of medicine, was said to have tasted the urine of his patients in order to assess the conditions of his patients.

Opportunity for learning

Disease is looked upon as a learning opportunity. Life is an ongoing learning experience, including health and wellness. The objective is to improve the quality of life in the brief lifespan.

Positive attitudes


According to Dr. Robert Anderson, M.D., a founding member of the American Holistic Medical Association, "unconditional love, released through the act of forgiveness, is the most important tool for self-empowerment, development of positive attitudes, and optimism, all of which contribute to better therapeutic outcomes." Remember, optimal health embraces all aspects of the human experience.

Attributes of the Individual

Holistic health is the pursuit of the highest qualities of the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual aspects of the human experience in order to initiate holistic healing to recover from any disease or disorder.

Is holistic health for everyone?

Almost anyone can pursue holistic health. But for the individual to eventually embrace holistic health, he or she must have the following attributes:
Intent to heal

The intent to heal is expressed in a deep desire to improve health in order to heal. That begins with self-awareness. That is, you must, first of all, become aware of the need for living for life to the fullest. If you are already content with the life you are living at the present moment, you will continue with your current lifestyle patterns. If, on the other hand, you are dissatisfied, you will have to make meaningful changes in your life. So, it has to do with self-awareness of the intent to heal.

Self-responsibility

Life is full of choices, and holistic health is simply a choice. You are responsible for your life. Once you decide that the power to change is well within you, almost anything can happen. But if you hand over your responsibility for your health and well-being to the professionals, you cannot and will not live your life to the fullest. Why? It is because others cannot live your life for you; given that life is about choices, nobody can make those life choices for you, and, above all, no one can establish balance and harmony in your life.

Self-acceptance

Self-acceptance is as important as self-responsibility in holistic health. You must accept yourself for what and who you are. Never strive to become the someone else that you are not. Mental anguish impairs holistic health.

Self-empowerment

Empower yourself with knowledge and information so that you may have the wisdom to discern the truths from the myths about health and healing. For example, there is a growing body of evidence showing that antibiotics and other pharmaceutical drugs weaken the body's immune system, and thus increases the susceptibility to illness over the long haul. 
According to Buddha, ignorance is the source of human miseries. Knowledge holds the key to holistic health and healing. According to a research study at Purdue University by Mohan J. Dutta-Bergman, published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, “individuals who searched for health information on the Internet were indeed more likely to be health-oriented than those who did not. Consumers who sought out medical information on the Internet reported higher levels of health-information orientation and healthy activities, as well as stronger health beliefs than those who did not search for medical news on the Internet.”


Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

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