Many holistic health providers are trained in more than one specific kind of holistic healthcare practice. Western medicine and doctors are increasingly recognizing the value of holistic healthcare and often recommend that patients seek this kind of treatment in conjunction with their conventional treatment plans. As well, it is becoming more common for Western medical doctors who are trained and licensed to practice medicine in the US, to have one or more degree, certificate or training in a holistic healthcare practice.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)
Traditional Chinese medicine encompasses many different kinds of holistic healthcare practices that were developed thousands of years ago to prevent, diagnose, and treat disease and other ailments. It is based on the principle that the body has an energy life force, qi, that flows along meridians in the body. In Western terms, meridians can be thought of as channels or systems. TCM tries to keep a person’s physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health in balance by restoring the body’s natural balance and harmony between the body’s yin and yang, which can block qi and cause health and other problems. TCM includes acupuncture, diet and nutrition counseling, herbal therapy, meditation, tai chi, and massage, to name just a few common traditional Chinese medicine practices.
Modern acupuncture has evolved from ancient Chinese practices and is now performed with extremely thin needles that are inserted into different points in the body to stimulate energy flow. When done successfully, this releases blocked qi in the body and stimulates function. Acupuncture was recognized in 1997 by the US National Institutes of Health as a safe and effective method of treating a wide range of conditions. Some insurance companies and policies now include acupuncture as a treatment option for their policy holders.
Ayurveda is a natural, mind-body health system of medicine that was developed in India over 5,000 years ago and based on the notion that good health depends on the balance between mind, body, and spirit. It treats illness through an integrated approach of preventing and treating illness through lifestyle interventions and natural therapies. While different ayurvedic practitioners have different styles and approaches, a common Ayurveda treatment plan will include diet, exercise, herbs, yoga, meditation and massage.
A doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO) is a professional doctoral degree for physicians and surgeons. Many medical schools in the US offer DO programs whose graduates can become licensed as an osteopathic physician with the equivalent rights, privileges, and responsibilities of a regular medical doctor (MD). A DO sees good health as more than just the absence of pain or disease and seeks to treat the person as a whole. DOs consider themselves to be partnered with their patients and will get to know about many different aspects of a person’s life besides just their physical health.