Holistic treatments in simple terms, means you treat the ‘whole’ person. You do not just look at the symptom presented to you and treat that alone. You take an overall appraisal of the patient. You need to take their full case history – details about the symptom in the patient’s words. You look at their general well being, take notes of any previous conditions, enquire about their lifestyle, their environment and job, and assess their constitution. Each of those points is multi layered, and depending on how Holistic you want to go, together with the expectations of the patient, depends on how indepth you go in the treatment plan, or indeed the treatment. There needs to be some form of diagnosis on the practitioners part.
Each patient, in fact, all of us are unique, and our bodies are unique, so in turn each treatment programme or session is unique to that patient. There are general similarities, and similar manipulations, but ultimately, holistic therapies mean they are as unique as the individual.
If a patient comes in with a ‘bad back’ for example, which came on after lifting something heavy, then you have a pretty good idea of the cause of the problem. But, you would still assess whether the patient has had recurrent back issues, whether the muscles involved are generally weak or in spasm. Whether the lifting manoeuvre was the last straw to make the patient stop and address a residual problem that had not been previously treated. You observe, ask the patient to perform some movements, and you feel the muscles, touching certain areas, asking for feedback as well as feeling the tissue involved before treatment would start. Patients may present symptoms that can make it easy to miss the cause. In holistic healing you try to get to the cause and wherever possible address that so that the whole body is balanced and there is no longer a cause for the symptoms to manifest. At the same time of treating the cause, you also help to eliminate the symptoms in the earliest possible way.
In treating physical conditions, nine times out of ten, some stretches or exercises will usually be advised to continue the treatment outside the clinic appointment, and I endorse getting patients involved in their treatment plan. The more we understand the workings of our bodies, the better we can look after them, through exercise, diet, mental focus and lifestyle. Sometimes a treatment can be a ‘one-off’ remedial treatment, and if the stretches and exercises are carried out, then the patient can manage their own body thereafter, or until the next time. More often it would take three treatments to treat and balance the muscles to have a true chance of remedying the condition. Muscles have memories and depending how long the condition has been in the state necessitating treatment, depends on how quickly they will respond to the therapy. Treatments are usually 45 to 60 minute appointments.
The ability to keep things simple helps in many ways. It is so easy to get lost in the depth of complicated implications and approaches to dealing with life’s lessons. In treatments, I like to explain in simple terms what is happening, so the patient can take some knowledge away with them from each treatment they have. It helps in understanding the functions of the body or system and hence makes more sense of the treatment plan, the after care required and or dietary advice. Breaking down what is often a huge life obstacle, into pieces that are understandable takes away a lot of the fear and stress that builds up when pain or illness takes a hold of your body. It is a common thought in holistic practitioner’s minds that many physical conditions are directly connected to the mental/emotional state of the patient, and many are manifestations of psychological states.
As an Holistic Practitioner you do need to understand the makeup of the body, muscle functions and positions, origins and insertions. You need to know how the body works, and what influence the psychological aspect of a patient has on well being. I find it a most fascinating aspect of who we are. Someone can be in physical agony yet shows no real outward sign of it, others have the slightest ache and everyone knows about it. It isn’t a case of who’s right and wrong, but an indication of the constitution of the patient and is an important factor in their treatment plan.
It’s all a question of balance; harmony thrives when there is balance, yin and yang, polarity, one needing the other. In healing, be it of the mind or the body, balance is an ultimate objective. We try to bring balance back to a muscle, the inner workings of the body, ie digestion, lymphatic system and circulation, but also mental balance too. Stress, worry, fatigue, fears; are often as important to balance in a condition, as the physical balance. Imbalances in any part of our human form will create a weakness and therefore a vulnerability to an injury or disease. We are all predisposed to one thing or another purely by our make up. In holistic therapies these can be discovered and advice given to help compensate our innate weaknesses.
Breathing is an essential key to that total wellbeing and balance we strive for. We have to breathe to be here, so if only we could educate the populous on how different breaths have different applications we could ward off many everyday nuisances we consider to be part of our everyday lives; stress, fatigue, insomnia, poor diet assimilation and poor sleep. So much is governed by the simplicity of breathing. It also boosts our recovery rate from illness or injury; it is an essential part to any of my treatments. It is sadly something we have become ignorant to, we pay no attention to how we breathe, and the functioning’s of the breath. The pace of life today has made us very detached from our bodies and the knowledge of how our bodies work. So the information I impart in treatments is relevant in helping give the responsibility back to the patient, to let them take back control in getting better; to be educated and empowered in their own healthcare. I am an aid in the process of getting through an injury or illness, but not a crutch to be relied on. Changes generally have to be made by the patient, and they generally do have to take responsibility for what they do. Needless to say, irrespective of whether we have a condition dictating terms or not, we all should have the ability to take responsibility for our own well being.
As a Practitioner, being entrusted with someone else’s health and body is a big deal. The trust needs to be respected and is always confidential. So when a patient presents their condition to you, you need to be able to communicate in order to diagnose and have any chance of offering Holistic Therapy. You need to have an ability to empathise and have a patient calm persona to allow the patient to feel relax enough to confide and trust you. The relationship between practitioner and patient is often very unique; you are often the only person they share their feelings, thoughts, and fears with. It is a very privileged relationship, one that I hold very dear, knowing how difficult and painful it can be for patients to share their inner thoughts with someone. They often need to talk and off load their troubles, some of which could be attributing to their condition, it can make patients feel vulnerable and exposed, so the right tone has to be taken by the practitioner for the relationship to work. There is a huge responsibility on the part of the Practitioner to be professional first and foremost. This ambience is part of the holistic ethos, the whole person being recognised.
Naturally when a patient comes with a problem, a Holistic Practitioner will need to be able to diagnose within their fields. Diagnostic disciplines do vary depending on the type of treatment you use. In my circumstances I have the use of Iridology amongst others, diagnosing through the iris. Our iris (the coloured part of our eye) is as unique as we are. It is a map of our inner body, like a mirror of our inner workings, with different colours, marks, weave of iris layer, all indicating something of note. You can take in depth photos of the iris and blow up the images to see as much detail as you could wish, and it is truly fascinating. With practice you can assess much through the naked eye, without the need of a magnifying glass and torch. Then there is the general eye colour, basically blue or brown, variations are just that, variants of one or the two, but each being more predisposed to certain conditions than others. I’ll write another post on this with more depth at a later date. Iridology is used more when the condition is more of an illness rather than an injury, but is still invaluable.
Your face also maps a lot of information about your body, your forehead, mouth, around the eyes; then your tongue, they all give clues to how your body is working, together with imbalances and weaknesses within the body. The odour from your body also helps in attaining a fuller understanding of your body.
The ultimate in body watching is a skilled art. You notice tiny mannerisms that are indicators to the trained eye. The way you hold your body, your head, shoulders, the angle you turn your feet on walking, your gait, your posture, the breath combined with movement, the colour of your skin, how it feels to the touch. Much of what you need to know is observed as the patient walks into the room and sits before you and how they communicate to you. It is truly fascinating and you never stop learning as a Practitioner.
The more you need to know, the deeper you go. With many conditions you do still benefit from medical screening, like X-ray, blood tests, scans etc, so in a perfect world, our therapies and the ‘medical’ world should work together to offer the best possible prognosis for patients. But I seriously doubt it will ever happen, sad as that is. For centuries there was only natural therapies, be that from the world of herbs and diet, or hands on healing. In the early days of Doctors becoming the deities they are today, even in my grandparents childhood days, they only had natural medicines to administer. In the last 75 years science has taken a more and more dominant role in their profession, and that has driven the natural world and theirs further apart. I am not saying that is bad, but ultimately because of the money and power involve in the drug companies who have manipulated the medical world to a point, in my opinion, that is creating as much illness and death than it is reputedly meant to be saving. Drugs and synthetic medication, and many therapies do nothing to help heal the body, they mask a symptom without every trying to get to the cause. It is hugely controversial and sadly political, but having watched the changes in my own 30 years experience in the therapy world, I have seen enough to have reason for this opinion.
Everyday I get emails and read articles that confirm that much of the human body is still very misunderstood, and does not conform to the many screenings of sciences. There are energies within us that have no place in science, they cannot be seen, cannot be touched so therefore we are told either they do not exist or, non scientific minded people such as myself, speak non-sense. Yet these ‘invisible’ energies, for sake of a better word, are essential parts of us, they are within us for a reason and in natural therapies, we work with their flow and influence; Meridians in eastern medicine, Chakras in Yoga Therapies.
We are fortunate to have the developments science has given us, and they are invaluable in many many circumstances, but it should not be at the expense of therapies that have been around for centuries. If there were no merit in these ancient therapies, they would not have survived the centuries, and many people would not in be in the state of well being they are today; I am a prime example of that. Science cannot explain my scenario, so have nothing to offer me, whereas without dietary, herbal, homeopathic, yoga therapies and meditation I would more than likely fit their perception of how I should be; wheelchair bound and in pain. One retiring consultant I had seen for years, off the record, said though he could not understand how I was as I am, whatever it was I was taking and doing, keep doing it, because it was obviously working, and apologised for not being able to help me in his capacity as my Consultant. Ethically he was not allowed to endorse me on the record. So the two worlds are veering away from each other.
Having said that, there are some disciplines of natural therapies that are being taken under the umbrella of the medical world. I would normally have rejoiced at such news, but again with my many years of experience, I have witnessed what that has meant. Acupuncture for example that is offered on the NHS, is not the true discipline, it does not have the holistic connotations applied to it. It is used more for pain relief for example, instead of taking a painkiller, within the pain management programmes offered. No longer an Holistic treatment, more of a symptomatic adaptation. The same with Osteopathy of old where massage was an integral part of the treatment, and for good reason; was all revamped to standardise the discipline to fall in line with a more Chiropractic approach. The latter being much more of a clunk click and off you go, less holistic in its approach and administer. The treatments were often a 10 – 15 minute appointment, in and out, rather than the holistic approach of working with the body, giving it the appropriate time and attention to rebalance the condition. Of old the treatments were 30 – 45 minutes, massage and time given for the body to respond to the manipulation gently and was extremely effectively. Standardisation enabled the practice to be more of a business builder, and at some point be carried out by personnel who have not undergone the holistic approach to their training.
Physiotherapy used to involve mainly hands on massage and soft tissue manipulation, and still does if you go privately to a practitioner, but in the medical world much now is done by machine, and very little physical contact is encouraged. The treatments are shorter in duration, and many a time totally ineffective in trying to help a person in need as a result.
Some disciplines, like acupuncture, were being discussed to be only be given by medically trained people, ie doctors or nurses; a way of taking the very successful therapy into its fold. This totally dispels what the true therapy has to offer the patient. Acupuncturists train for many years, and they treat the whole person within their treatments, holistically. This is not the case when medically trained people, like those mentioned, apply the therapy. The understanding of the body is totally different to an holistic natural therapy practitioner, and therefore, the treatment by any other form than the holistic nature of its origins, makes the treatment less complete, less effective, more symptom chasing than helping the body balance and heal.
Herbalism for centuries has been at the forefront of natural healing through the many remedies. Most of the medicines used by doctors today had their origins in plants, but they have taken the synthetic equivalents and changed the format to no longer have any resemblance to the plant it first came from. In other cases, the scientific world have taken one chemical element out of a plant, and advised that if large quantities of that single extracted chemical were taken, it could cause illness and potential death. Every herbalist would agree. The fact is, in natural medicine, you cannot get that one chemical component in isolation, and you would never administer the quantities mentioned in their studies for it ever to be a reality. There are other chemical components within the plants that all work together, holistically, they give the true benefit of the plants healing properties, in whatever medium prescribed. Herbalism has undergone huge criticism, and many products that were once readily available in health stores are no longer available, because of ridiculous scientific tests that hold no relevance to how the herbs were being administered. Such is the ability of drug companies to dictate to the population, what they can and can’t have. The power they hold is frightening in my humble opinion and is taking away the safe practice of medical herbalism; that has been around for centuries, so they can prescribe their synthetic so called equivalent drugs. The holistic approach of administering natural herbal remedies is being ostracised.
Of course there are toxic herbs, we all know that and in the profession we would never use them, just like doctors wouldn’t give you a poison, well some drugs are toxic, but that’s getting a little too deep. But my point being, the natural therapy world is a huge market, and is under ever increasing threat of being closed down, because of scientific restrictions that bear no relevance to the purpose of them, so that, no matter what ails us, we will have to pay into the drug companies pockets to get the help we seek. And even then, it wont be of natural pure means, it’ll be a cheap, imitation, synthetic, lab tested equivalent product that the body has no way of utilising, assimilating or absorbing. Making us more and more dependent on the drugs industry. It is scary and a horrendous concept. How can something so natural and pure be cast as the bad guy, over something so man made, alien to the natural world? It’s wrong in my humble opinion, and that of many others, but where there is money, there is power as they say, and sadly, we are on the wrong side of the scales in that respect. Holistic Therapies have been given the slur of being non sense and a waste of money with potential health risks, by people who have no concept or knowledge of how the body works in a holistic manner.
However, the world of natural holistic therapies is still alive and well as I write this post, and with all my heart I hope it continues and starts to flourish, as working with the body, with pure natural holistic therapies has something to offer everyone of us. We are not robots, we are not clones who can all be treated the same, one pill suiting all. We are as individual and as unique as nature intended; and to keep us well, heal us when we are not, we should be allowed the uniqueness of nature and natural holistic therapies to be applied by those who know them best, Holistic Therapy Practitioners.
Holistic Treatments treat all the facets of who we are and what ails us, using natural means in the therapies applied. It works with the body not against it. It strengthens and heals the body, not weakens and disguises it. It’s holistic because it treats the whole of you, knowing everything is interconnected, and interdependent, not soley the part that hurts.
We only have the one body, surely it makes sense to give it the chance to be as strong and balanced as it can be, and Holistic Therapies facilitate an essential role to that end, naturally.