Holistic remedies are often viewed as “woo” or “make believe.” In reality holistic remedies, referred to as “complementary alternative medicine” (CAMs) in the medical field, are supported by research which suggests they are effective. Understanding the value of holistic remedies and how to use them can help people with chronic conditions ranging from multiple sclerosis to ADHD.
What is holistic medicine?
Holistic medicine considers and addresses treatment of the complete person — physical, psychological, social and spiritual — when managing disease instead of focusing on a single symptom. Additionally, holistic medicine practitioners believe in the interdependence of the whole person and that if one part is not working properly, all the other parts will be affected. Physical, social, emotional, or spiritual imbalances can negatively affect their overall health, which is why restoring balance is essential.
Is there research to support complementary alternative medicine?
Yes. Since 1999, The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCAM) has funded more than 2,500 research projects to learn about how CAM therapies work as well, as their safety and efficacy. The 2007 National Health Interview Survey found that 38% of adults and 12% of children had used CAM in some form during the 12 months prior to the survey. Nonvitamin, nonmineral natural products are the most commonly used CAM therapy among adults. Use has increased for several therapies, including deep breathing exercises, meditation, massage therapy, and yoga.
Why should I use holistic remedies for chronic conditions?
Individuals with chronic disease often go from specialist to specialist searching for relief and answers without getting either. Holistic medicine treats symptoms but focuses on the underlying or root cause(s) of these symptoms, unlike Western medicine. Getting the system back into balance helps to restore wellness and reduce or eliminate symptoms.
How do holistic remedies impact the nervous system?
Chronic disease patients often have systems so out of balance that their nervous system in its heightened state doesn’t respond to many traditional therapies. Holistic therapies help calm the nervous system allowing the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems to be balanced enough that the body can heal itself. When the nervous system’s fight, flight, or freeze mode of overactivation kicks in, or the system is simply overworked, the body is physiologically designed to deal with stress first and healing second. By getting the nervous system to calm down, the body will be able to divert energies and hormones to promote healing.
What are some common holistic remedies for chronic conditions?
There are many safe and effective types of holistic therapies available to support chronic disease. One has to examine what works best for their issue(s), lifestyle, and personal needs. Rearching both the therapy and practitioner is always a good place to start.
Common holistic remedies include, diet and nutrition, biofeedback, neurofeedback, PEMF, psychotherapy, meditation, homeopathy, supplementation, herbs, and so on.
Holistic Health Remedy 1: Diet/ Nutrition
Healthy dietary habits can help optimize nutrition and the absorption of nutritional supplements. Many people find some relief with an anti-inflammatory diet. Common inflammatory foods like gluten, dairy, and sugar are eliminated and the amount of vegetables, fruit, and healthy fats are increased. It is important to have non-dairy protein consistently throughout the day and drink plenty of water.
An anti-inflammatory diet not only reduces inflammation, but also increases nutrient consumption through food and helps the body detoxify. Food sensitivities irritate the body and make it work less efficiently. By reducing the inflammatory response, the body can function more optimally to deal with the infectious agent.
Holistic Health Remedy 2: Neurofeedback
Neurofeedback is a safe and effective treatment because it works at the subconscious level. Its goal is to change the brain by creating new electrical activity through a process of measurement and reinforcement. Quite simply, one is reinforced for changing their brain waves at a subconscious level through the use of computers. Through this the brain learns to self-regulate, which calms the nervous system, reducing or eliminating symptoms. Without self-regulation, many problems of the central nervous system can result, including anxiety, problems with focus, etc.
Holistic Health Remedy 3: Biofeedback
Biofeedback is a technique one can use to learn to control the body’s functions, such as heart rate, skin temperature or breath. When one has a chronic illness, learning how to self-regulate one’s bodily functions can bring pain and stress relief by balancing the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous system.
With Biofeedback, one is connected to electrical sensors that measure and give information (feedback) about the body (bio). This feedback helps one focus on making subtle changes in the body, such as relaxing certain muscles, to achieve the desired results, such as reducing pain or controlling body temperature to reduce stress. It differs from Neurofeedback because it requires conscious control over one’s thoughts and autonomic functions. Biofeedback gives one the power to use thoughts to control the body, often reducing stress or improving a health condition or physical performance.
Holistic Health Remedy 4: BRT/ PEMF
Bioregulation Therapy (BRT) is a unique approach to health and wellness that uses Biofeedback and PEMF-based Electromagnetic Technology (PEMF stands for Pulsed Electromagnetic Field) to help the body better self-regulate, adapt, and heal naturally. It helps to align to body so the brain can work better.
All energy is electromagnetic in nature. All atoms, chemicals and cells produce electromagnetic fields (EMFs). Every organ in the body produces it own signature bioelectromagnetic field. Every single cell in the body communicates via these electromagnetic fields– at the overall rate of trillions of chemical reactions per second. In order to process these instantaneous exchanges – and sustain optimum health – cellular communications must be fluid, precise and synchronized. In other words, if these critical communications are disrupted or blocked in any way, the body’s cells, tissues and organs may be compromised, and unhealthy symptoms will follow.
Holistic Health Remedy 5: Homeopathy
Homeopathy is a natural form of medicine used to treat both acute and chronic conditions. It is based on the principle of ‘like cures like’ or that a substance taken in small amounts will cure the same symptoms it causes if taken in large amounts.The similar medicine acts as a stimulus to the natural vital response, giving it the information it needs to complete its healing work.
Holistic Health Remedy 6: Herbal Medicine
Herbal medicine, also known as herbalism or botanical medicine, is the oldest system of medicine based on the use of plants or plant extracts that may be ingested or applied to the skin. It is becoming more mainstream as advances in clinical research show the value of herbal medicine in treating and preventing disease. In fact, many modern pharmaceuticals have been modeled on, or derived from chemicals found in plants. Herbal medicine is effectively used to treat many conditions and it is best to use herbs under the care of a trained practitioner or physician.
Holistic Health Remedy 7: Supplements
Nutritional supplements include vitamins, minerals, herbs, meal supplements, sports nutrition products, natural food supplements, and other related products used to boost the nutritional content of the diet. Supplements are used for many purposes. They can be added to the diet to boost overall health and energy or to improve performance in athletic and mental activities. For those with illness, disease, immune system issues, or age-related conditions, supplements are used to support the healing process. Specific vitamins or minerals are often given to supplement low nutrient levels in order to support health or directly treat an issue.
Holistic Health Remedy 8: Craniosacral Therapy
Craniosacral Therapy stems from osteopathy, which is an approach that emphasizes the role of the musculoskeletal system in health and disease. Craniosacral Therapy is a gentle, hands-on method of evaluating and enhancing the functioning of a physiological body system called the craniosacral system. The craniosacral system is comprised of the membranes and cerebrospinal fluid that surround and protect the brain and spinal cord. Using a soft touch, practitioners release restrictions in the craniosacral system to improve the functioning of the central nervous system. While it is used to treat many conditions, it is very often used to treat stress and pain. It also helps the system detoxify and can do wonders for normalizing the bowels.
Holistic Health Remedy 9: Psychotherapy/ Talk Therapy
In Psychotherapy, therapists and psychologists apply scientifically validated techniques to help people develop healthier, more effective habits. It is a process whereby psychological problems are treated through communication and relationship development between an individual and a trained mental health professional. There are many approaches to psychotherapy, including cognitive-behavioral (CBT), behavior therapy, exposure therapy and more. The goal of psychotherapy is to help individuals work through their problems in healthy ways. Through the psychotherapy process, you learn how to take control of your life and respond to challenging situations with healthy coping skills.
Holistic Health Remedy 10: Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT)
Emotional Freedom Techniques, or EFT (often known as Tapping), is a tool used for physical, emotional and performance issues, and should be done under the care of a licensed professional. EFT operates on the premise that no matter what part of your life needs improvement, there are unresolved issues in the way. Any kind of emotional stress can impede the human body’s ability to heal itself.
EFT works like emotional acupressure to quickly, gently, and easily release negative emotions and beliefs that are at the root of the problem.* EFT is a form of psychological acupressure, based on the same energy meridians used in traditional acupuncture to treat physical and emotional ailments for over five thousand years. Simple tapping with the fingertips is used to input kinetic energy onto specific meridians on the head and chest while you think about your specific problem and making statements.
Holistic Health Remedy 11: Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, or EMDR, is a powerful psychotherapy technique originated by Francine Shapiro, PhD. It is very successful in helping people who suffer from trauma, anxiety, panic, disturbing memories, post-traumatic stress and many other emotional problems. Tactile, audio and visual stimulation is used to activates the opposite sides of the brain to help release emotional experiences that are “trapped” in the nervous system. Whatever fires together wires together. Therefore, the goal is to reprocess the trauma and allow the “rational brain” to kick in to free the “emotional brain” of the high levels of emotion tied to the trauma to achieve a more peaceful state.
Holistic Health Remedy 12: Hypnosis
Hypnotherapy involves the induction of a trance-like condition, but when in it, the patient is actually in an enhanced state of awareness, concentrating entirely on the therapist’s voice. In this state the conscious mind is suppressed and the subconscious mind can become more open.* The therapist may suggest ideas, concepts and lifestyle adaptations to the patient, the seeds of which become firmly planted for positive change.
Hypnotherapy aims to reprogram patterns of behavior within the mind, helping the patient to overcome irrational fears, phobias, negative thoughts and suppressed. As the body is released from conscious control during the relaxed trance-like state of hypnosis, breathing becomes slower and deeper, the pulse rate drops and the metabolic rate falls. Similar changes along nervous pathways and hormonal channels alleviate the awareness of unpleasant symptoms.
Holistic Health Remedy 13: Meditation
Mindfulness techniques like meditation are techniques that encourage and develop concentration, clarity, emotional positivity, and a calm view of the true nature of things. Meditation means a cessation of the thought process or, in other words, to stop your thinking. It describes a state of consciousness where the mind is free of scattered thoughts and various patterns, that takes time and practice to achieve. The clinical effects of meditation impact a broad spectrum of physical and psychological symptoms and syndromes in a variety of ways, including reducing anxiety, pain, and depression, enhancing mood and self-esteem, and decreasing stress.
This daily practice is an an amazing tool in getting the nervous system to calm down and reduce racing thoughts, which helps the body self-regulate and promotes healing.
Holistic Health Remedy 14: Helminth Therapy
Helminthic therapy is an experimental type of immunotherapy used in the treatment of autoimmune diseases and immune disorders. Through the deliberate infestation of helminth worms or with the ova of a helminth, it is believed the treatment promotes healing of the immune system and gut. The premise behind Helminthic therapy is that “biome depletion, or loss of biodiversity from the ecosystem of the human body” is the underlying cause of many inflammatory diseases in the Western world.
Helminthic therapy isn’t a new therapy and has been used for centuries but it is controversial. It has, however, been proven through research to reduce the inflammatory response.
Holistic Health Remedy 15: Reiki
Reiki is a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing. It is a very specific form of energy healing, in which hands are placed just off the body or lightly touching the body, as in “laying on of hands.” In a Reiki session, the practitioner is seeking to transmit Universal Life Energy to the client.
It is based on the idea that an unseen “life force energy” flows through us and is what causes us to be alive. If one's “life force energy” is low, then we are more likely to get sick or feel stress, and if it is high, we are more capable of being happy and healthy, so changing that balance promotes healing. The intention of this therapy is to create deep relaxation, to help speed healing, reduce pain, and decrease other symptoms you may be experiencing.
Many individuals with chronic disease states report calming, advanced healing, and pain reduction after this therapy. It is a safe therapy used with children and adults of all ages and supports a variety of conditions.
Holistic Health Remedy 16: Reflexology
Reflexology is an ancient Chinese medical art where certain organs are stimulated by putting pressure on specific areas of the feet, ears, and hands. It is a holistic treatment based on the principle that there are areas and points on the feet, hands, and ears that map via the nervous system to corresponding parts of the body. Applying pressure to these areas and points stimulates the movement of energy along the nerve channels and helps restore homeostasis or balance in the whole body. This normalizes areas of dysfunction within the body.
Since chronic disease states can disrupt the balance of bodily systems, the rest of the body works harder to compensate. This causes problems in other components leading the body to be out of balance. Reflexology restores that balance in a safe, gentle manner.
Holistic Health Remedy 17: Massage
Whether you have a massage for relaxation or a therapeutic massage, the goal is to reduce pain and muscle tension, and increase relaxation. A therapeutic massage is different from a massage for relaxation.You present your therapist a specific complaint, such as head pain, and they target areas to relieve discomfort.
Aside from having physical advantages like pain reduction, reduced muscle tension, and improved detoxification, therapeutic massage can also be psychologically beneficial in that it reduces stress and anxiety, and can improve mood.
Holistic Health Remedy 18: Vision Therapy
Vision therapy (also known as: visual training and vision training) is an individualized, supervised treatment program designed to correct visual-motor and/or perceptual-cognitive deficiencies which have various causes. It is a type of physical therapy for the eyes and brain, where one performs exercises to correct common visual problems. Vision Therapy should be supervised by a optometric vision care professional.
Holistic Health Remedy 19: Oxygen Therapy
Oxygen Therapy is a type of medical intervention that provides extra oxygen to people who are suffering from sudden or long-term health conditions. It increases the amount of oxygen in the body and encourages the body to heal itself. Ozone and Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy are two types of oxygen therapies.
Holistic Health Remedy 20: Ozone
Ozone therapy is a form of alternative medicine treatment that increases the amount of oxygen in the body through the introduction of ozone. By increasing the amount of oxygen present in the body, ozone therapy may help to reduce the clogging of blood cells; detoxify the liver; decrease uric acid in the body; improve circulation and oxygen supply; kill viruses, bacteria, and fungus, and improve the activity of the white blood cells.
Holistic Health Remedy 21: Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT)
Your body's tissues need an adequate supply of oxygen to function. When tissue is injured, it requires even more oxygen to survive. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy increases the amount of oxygen your blood can carry. An increase in blood oxygen temporarily restores normal levels of blood gases and tissue function to promote healing and fight infection. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is used to treat several medical conditions.
Holistic Health Remedy 22: LDI/LDA
LDI works to help the immune system restore proper balance by reducing inflammation caused by foreign invaders (LDI) or allergens (LDA). Most autoimmune diseases are triggered by an initial infection. As the immune system fights the infection, it may begin to confuse the body’s own proteins with proteins made by foreign invaders such as bacteria and viruses, causing it to attack itself long after the bacteria is gone.
LDI combines specific antigens (bacteria, toxins, or other foreign substances that induce an immune response in the body) with an enzyme called beta-glucuronidase. The LDI diminishes the abnormally activated TH2 immune system, which is the major cause of symptoms in chronic disease states, but allows the TH1 to take over and effectively attack the bacteria or foreign substance in the cells. The enzyme makes T-cells (a type of immune cell) pay attention to the antigen included with it, down-regulating the immune response to that allergen so it doesn’t keep overreacting to specific things. It does not completely suppress immune function though as we need our immune system to be function well.
Holistic Health Remedy 23: NAET/BioSET
Nambudripad’s Allergy Elimination Techniques (NAET) is an allergy elimination technique used for the treatment of allergy related illness. It is a non-invasive procedure that uses muscle testing (applied kinesiology) and acupressure to reverse the allergy or sensitivity. This technique does not require any blood draws, scratch tests, or shots. If the children are small, an adult becomes the energy conduit. Large numbers of autism spectrum children have been studied following aggressive allergy elimination treatment (NAET) with quite remarkable success.
BioSET is similar to NAET by working as an allergy elimination technique. However, this process was created by Dr. Ellen Cutler. It is being used in the treatment of many other ailments. It uses applied kinesiology, acupressure, enzyme therapy, and the laws of quantum physics to redirect and reprogram a body’s immune responses to ordinary benign substances like food.
Holistic Health Remedy 24: Family Support and Lifestyle Changes
The absolute most important factor in managing chronic disease is making lifestyle changes. Changes in diet, stress and exercise help support the body’s ability to fight disease. Adhering to an anti-inflammatory diet is can bring on changes very quickly, but means a commitment that often requires preparing most of your own meals. Not only does a person’s thinking become clearer, changes in their immune system often happen quicker. Reducing stress, including minimizing unhealthy relationships and simplifying routines, has a positive impact on the brain and body. Lifestyle changes are processes that require commitment, time, and hopefully full family involvement to increase success.
Always remember… “Calm Brain, Happy Family™”
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Disclaimer: This article is not intended to give health advice and it is recommended to consult with a physician before beginning any new wellness regime. *The effectiveness of diagnosis and treatment vary by patient and condition. Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge, LLC does not guarantee certain results.