Thus body healing, whether as a result of illness or an accident, is not looked at in isolation in terms of the body alone, but requires that a connection be made with the mind and the spirit, which have as a matter of course, also been affected by the illness or accident. In healing of the body, a person who adopts the holistic approach to health will not just seek conventional therapies, especially those that are advocated by Western medicine, but will instead be open to a wide range of alternative and natural healing therapies.
These holistic health therapies fall under what is known as Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM), which groups together diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not presently considered to be part of conventional medicine.
Complementary medicine is an approach to body healing which incorporates healing therapies that are used together with conventional medicine, for example the use of aromatherapy to alleviate a patient’s discomfort after surgery. Alternative medicine, on the other hand, is used in place of conventional medicine in healing the body. This could, for example, be the use of a special diet to treat cancer, in place of surgery, chemotherapy or radiotherapy.
What constitutes CAM therapies for body healing is continually changing as a number of such therapies become absorbed into conventional medicine. This gradual absorption of these therapies points to the realization within the conventional medical field that holistic approaches to health have their place in body healing, and the rigid separation of the two fields that was there in the past really has no place in our modern world.
The CAM therapies that are key to holistic health include:
(i) Alternative Medical Systems
These are complete systems for body healing that have both theory and practice, and which have been in existence even before that of conventional medicine. They incorporate many natural healing therapies. Examples of such systems include homeopathic medicine, naturopathic medicine, Chinese medicine and Ayurveda and some spiritual healers.
(ii) Mind-Body Interventions
As indicated above, holistic healing recognises that the mind and the body are intertwined. As a result, body healing using mind-body interventions involves the use of techniques which enhance the mind’s capacity to affect the functions and symptoms found in the body. These interventions also incorporate the spiritual connection, and have often been classified as spiritual healing techniques. The techniques include prayer, meditation, mental healing, as well as therapies that use creative outlets such as music, dance or art.
(iii) Biologically Based Therapies
The holistic therapies used under this category emphasise on natural healing, as they use substances found in nature, such as foods, herbs and vitamins. Under this category, one would find dietary supplements that are very popular in holistic body healing, herbal products, as well as other natural, although as-yet unproven, therapies.
(iv) Manipulative and Body-Based Methods
These methods of body healing involve the manipulation or movement of one or several body parts. Examples of such methods include chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation, as well as massage.
(v) Energy Therapies
These are holistic therapies for body healing that make use of energy fields. There are biofield therapies and bioelectromagnetic-based therapies. Biofield therapies act on those energy fields that are said to surround and penetrate the body, in such a way as to result in body healing. The methods that are used to act upon these energy fields include applying pressure or working on the body by placing hands in or through the fields. This is exemplified in such therapies as Reiki or Therapeutic Touch. Bioelectromagnetic-based therapies, on the other hand, are holistic body healing therapies that make use of electromagnetic fields, including alternating or direct-current fields, as well as magnetic and pulsed fields.
As can be seen above, holistic health goes beyond conventional medicine in looking at a health problem in a person as being only confined to either the mind or body, but instead sees the connection of between the two and the mind body spirit, as well as with the healing power itself, and seeks to achieve body healing by acting on the mind, body and spirit at once as an internal healer.