I was recently asked what I was most interested in: Holistic, Herbal or Homeopathic. Let me first define these terms to show that they are not mutually exclusive.
Holistic Health is an umbrella term for many alternative health practices that suggests all aspects of a person’s life must be considered in sustaining a healthy body. Nutrition, exercise and stress-reduction are viewed as contributing factors in maintaining a healthy body and state of mind.
Symptoms of dis-ease, unexpected or distressing symptoms are considered in relation to the whole person when viewed holistically. A remedy is sought that encompasses all aspects of the person, including the physical symptoms and corresponding psychological, social and spiritual conditions.
What this means is that Holistic medicine/health/healing deals with the whole body, including the body of our affairs. We are not an automobile that might have a bad carburetor, brakes or battery. We don’t have removable replaceable parts; we are a whole package and all aspects of our life figure into our health and well-being, including nutrition, stress level, exercise, toxins, whether taken orally or through our breath, skin, or environment. In Holistic Healing work we look at the whole picture. See American Holistic Health Association for more information.
Homeopathy is defined by Wikipedia as “a system of alternative medicine originated in 1796 by Samuel Hahnemann, based on his doctrine of similia similibus curentur ("like cures like"), according to which a substance that causes the symptoms of a disease in healthy people will cure similar symptoms in sick people”.
I find homeopathy often serves as an initial stepping stone into alternative health care by parents. Frequent minor issues in children, such as ear aches or pink-eye will wear the patience of parents repeatedly returning to a doctor of western medicine with associated office visits costs, prescription refills and often missed work due to day-care, school rules or children’s discomfort. A trip to the health store might simply involve asking a well-informed clerk for over-the-counter remedies which are not designed to just hide the symptoms. For less than $10 usually, a small container of what appears to be tiny sugar pills will be suggested. The instructions will indicate that 5-7 pills should be placed under the tongue several times a day without touching the skin. A specially designed container makes it possible to avoid fingers touching medicine. A quick recovery without side effects, or an infection return, will create a positive impression in the parent and the creation of a lifelong habit.
Herbology is another school of study, falling under the holistic health and healing umbrella. Herbs have been used for health and nutrition for thousands of years. The Bible lists herbs used for food and nutrition. Herbs grow wild in many regions and interestingly enough, with nature unchecked, you will frequently find that the very herb you need for your specific condition is growing right outside your door.
Unfortunately, our society has determined that herbs are weeds and should be killed. The pharmaceutical industry has dissected herbs into creations of their own so they may be tested and patented with resultant high costs and side-effects. God gave us the plants to heal our bodies and as such, are in perfect form where allergic reactions are rare and side-effects don’t exist.
Herbal lore has been handed down over the centuries from mothers to daughters and witch-doctors, shamans and wise-women to apprentices. Thousands of books have been written and historical texts are treasured. The appropriate herb to use for a specific condition is selected based on region and availability, raised organically or wild crafted, grown easily in your kitchen garden or in danger of extinction from over harvesting.
There are thousands of herbs and varieties. Some herbalists recommend taking one or two herbs and studying them for awhile and then moving on to another few choices, combining various uses – culinary or medicinal. Many people visit doctors of Chinese Medicine, which is a more holistic approach than western allopathic medicine, primarily encompassing acupuncture and Chinese herbs.
Ayurvedic medicine, originating in India, analyzes various aspects of a patient in order to categorize them before selecting the appropriate herbs. Questions are asked about diet, behavior, lifestyle, recent illnesses and their system’s resilience. The practitioner observes the patient’s teeth, tongue, skin, eyes, weight and overall appearance. Finally, checks are performed on urine, stool, speech, voice and pulse.
In summary, holistic health and healing encompasses many forms of observation and choices for nutrition and health based on the total body system. It would be a lifelong ambition to know ‘all’ herbs. Rather herbs are chosen based on region, availability, patient condition and personal choice. I believe in a holistic approach to health. I believe in prevention rather than cure. I am a massage therapist, reiki master, herbalist, breathwork facilitator, shamanic practioner and craniosacral therapist. Nutritionally, I am Vegan, omitting white sugar & flour. I have herbs growing in my kitchen and bottles of herbal capsules in my medicine chest. I make my own herbal extracts and tinctures. Thanks for the opportunity to answer the question!