Have you ever been to see a traditional doctor or other healthcare professional and felt like your symptoms or conditions weren’t being taken into account with your whole person?
That your mentality and emotional needs played no partner in your diagnosis or treatment plan? If so, then holistic medicine may be for you.
But what is holistic medicine?
Well, put simply it is an approach to health that takes your whole person into account, with your spiritual and mental health given as much importance as your physical health.
Paying equal attention to your body, mind and spirit encourages your body’s natural ability to health itself and can have a significant improvement on health outcomes.
But what about holistic acupuncture(see also: 9 Remarkable Benefits Of Holistic Acupuncture)? Is acupuncture considered a treatment of holistic medicine? This is what I’ll be finding out in our article today!
What Are The Principles Of Holistic Medicine?
Just like traditional medicine, the goal of holistic medicine is to prevent and treat ailments and diseases and improve your general health and well-being.
The techniques and treatments used help encourage your body’s abilities to heal naturally.
Encouraging the patient to take control of their own health is another essential factor of holistic medicine.
Holistic medicine practitioners take the following elements into account while diagnosing and treating patients:
Other essential components of holistic medicine are the following:
- Effective, natural, and safe treatment options including advice on self-care and lifestyle changes, as well as alternatives to traditional medicine and procedures when appropriate.
- Treating the underlying cause of a condition or disease is more beneficial than just trying to get rid of the symptoms.
- Practitioners working collaboratively with patients, so they can get to know them and understand them as whole people.
- Prevention is the main goal, as well as harnessing your body’s own healing abilities.
- Illnesses are not just isolated incidents, but a symptom of a larger issue.
Treatments considered holistic include:
- Biomolecular therapies
- Herbal medicine
- Manual medicine
- Physical therapy
- Sometimes, surgery and drugs may also be recommended.
What Can Acupuncture Help With?
Acupuncture is a treatment originating in ancient Chinese medicine, and involves fine needles being inserted in particular areas of the body for preventative or therapeutic purposes.
It is available in most NHS GP practices, and also in the majority of hospices and pain clinics. Acupuncture is usually considered a type of alternative or holistic medicine.
Acupuncturists (acupuncture practitioners) use acupuncture to treat a huge variety of health conditions. Still, while acupuncture is possible, its benefits are not all based on scientific evidence.
NICE (the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) has guidelines for the NHS on the use of acupuncture treatments.
At the moment, NICE recommends acupuncture as treatment for the following conditions:
- Chronic pain
- Chronic tension-type headaches
- Prostatitis symptoms
Acupuncture is also commonly used to treat other symptoms and conditions, such as:
- Cancer symptoms, particularly chronic pain.
- Feeling sick following surgery.
- Jaw pain.
- Muscle and joint pain.
- Side effects of cancer treatment like vomiting or nausea following chemotherapy.
Still, more data needs to be gathered on how effective acupuncture is when compared to other more traditional treatments.
Is Acupuncture Safe?
There is currently no statutory regulation of acupuncture in England, so if you would like to explore acupuncture, it is recommended that you check if an acupuncture practitioner is a regulated healthcare professional like a doctor, physiotherapist, nurse, or a member of a national acupuncture organization.
If you need help finding a suitable acupuncturist, check out the Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care site.
When acupuncture is performed by a practitioner who is qualified, then acupuncture is very safe. However, some patients may experience temporary, mild side effects like:
- Bruising or bleeding where the needles were inserted.
- Feeling faint or dizzy.
- Feeling nauseous.
- Pain where the needles were inserted.
Serious side effects to acupuncture include infections or a punctured lung, but luckily these are extremely rare.
If you suffer from a bleeding disorder like haemophilia, or are taking medications like anticoagulant medicine, discuss this with your acupuncture practitioner or GP before you proceed with acupuncture.
If you have an infection in the area where needles might be inserted, or if you have a metal allergy, then it’s recommended that you avoid acupuncture(see also: What Should You Avoid After Acupuncture?).
If you’re pregnant, then it’s fairly safe to have acupuncture. Still, inform your practitioner if you’re pregnant before your appointment, as particular acupuncture points are not safe for pregnant people.
How Do I Find A Good Holistic Medicine Provider?
Holistic medicine providers may involve medical doctors, chiropractors, homoeopathic doctors, naturopathic doctors, and osteopathic doctors.
But how do you find a good holistic medicine provider? Let’s find out:
- Ask for recommendations: Just like all other professionals, there are people who are good at their jobs and have good intentions, and those who are lacklustre or cut corners.
Before you select a holistic medicine practitioner, ask for recommendations from a friend, or research credible health organizations for good recommendations.
- Do your research: When looking around for a holistic practitioner, find out as much as possible about that practitioner’s experience, speciality, training, and whether they are associated with professional organizations or are affiliated with any hospitals.
For example, are they certified in holistic medicine? You should also look into their treatment philosophy, to see if their views align with yours.
- Trust your gut feeling: Take into account how comfortable you are with your holistic medicine provider. Do they make you feel relaxed? Do they respect your beliefs and any concerns?
It’s important to remember that holistic medicine is a collaborative effort, involving you and your practitioner working together.
So you should feel respected and comfortable when receiving holistic treatments.
- Consider appointment time: Select a provider who will spend enough time with you to gain a good understanding of what you need.
- Are you being asked the right questions? To properly understand you as a whole person and not just a set of symptoms, you should be ready to answer a lot of questions, such as questions about your diet, sleep habits, exercise, your emotions, your relationships, your religious beliefs and practice, and more.
- Available treatment options: When figuring out an approach to treatment, does the treatment plan involve more than just pills?
Ensure your practitioner takes all lifestyle factors into account, including medical factors that could be contributing to your condition.
What Is Integrative Care?
Integrative care is a combination of Western traditional medicine (see also: Western Medicine Vs Traditional Chinese Medicine – What’s The Difference?)and holistic treatments, and is being embraced by more people, and it’s easy to see why.
A lot of people feel like they are not being listened to in conventional health care settings, and turn to holistic and natural therapeutic treatments as an alternative to traditional treatments.
While your GP may spend 10–15 minutes with a patient, appointments with holistic practitioners tend to last 30 minutes to 2 hours, because they want to understand their patients as a whole to provide the best treatment possible.
Holistic health gives people a way to take more control over their own health and well-being since patient empowerment is an essential principle to the philosophy of holistic care.
It’s easy to see why more people are giving holistic treatments a try to get the best health outcomes for them, and I hope our article has given you more insight into how acupuncture can be a great gateway to holistic medicine.