The use of holistic medicine to promote health has historically not been recognized in US medical practices as well as the capitalistic health insurance model. The advancements of science, pharmaceuticals and technology have provided people the ability to live longer lives. In recent years, studies have shown a growing discontent with the lack of satisfying relief offered by Western medicine. Today more people are exploring and using holistic medicine including energy focused modalities in conjunction with traditional Western methods to alleviate medical problems and promote health. As this trend continues to grow, Western medical approaches will need to evolve towards a more holistic perspective in order to meet the demands of the culture.
Western medicine, which is the basis of US practice, views a person’s well-being as made up of good physical health and good mental health. Physicians prescribe drugs and perform surgery to counteract physical ailments. While psychiatrists and psychologists use drugs and discussion to control harmful thoughts and emotions. Holistic Medicine is about healing the total person. The philosophy is not simply to react to symptoms as they emerge, but to resolve the cause of the illness. A healthy person is viewed as a balance of mental health, physical health, and spiritual/energetic health. According to Cooperman, in the 1960’s Americans embraced diet programs, vitamins and self-help groups. The 1970’s focused on exploring herbal medicine, biofeedback and energy. The 1980’s were marked with massage and naturopathy. In the 1990’s to present time, there has been a growing popularity of massage along with aromatherapy, energy healing, herbal medicine and yoga. Currently, massage therapy, acupuncture and yoga have been mainstreamed into Western medical recommendations and been proven scientifically to enhance a person’s physical and mental health. All of these modalities embrace holistic philosophical practices that date back to historical times. The foundation of these ancient teachings are the body’s energy field as well as a person’s conscious and spiritual beliefs. Healing seeks to release energy blockages and achieve balance. Once balance is achieved physical and mental healing targets the origin of the disease or dysfunction. Although the acceptance of these modalities is based on the physical realm, the popular interest is creating more research into the benefits of energetic healing with these modalities.
It is my belief that holistic medicine, especially modalities engaging a person’s energetic field, will continue to gain momentum in the coming decades as regular forms of maintaining health. There are so many different possibilities, not one of us can alone understand the whole of healing, but can only approach it from all perspectives: physically, mentally, emotional, spiritually and energetically. This new perspective has specific implications for Western medical physicians. Doctors need to become conversant with multiple alternative practitioners and healers and understand their place in the universe of healing. Today, steps have been made in Western medical practices including the gaining acceptance demonstrated by doctors having a knowledge of nutrition, acupuncture, massage therapy and yoga. In addition, US health insurance policies are incorporating incentives in their health plans for these treatments. If the trend continues, energy based therapies will sure to be implemented in to the traditional Western model.