The Rise of Mind-body Medicine & Holistic Therapy

Taking a holistic approach to health & wellness

The Rise of Mind-body Medicine & Holistic Therapy

Holistic approaches to care in treating illness and disease have been used around the world for hundreds of years. In fact, traditional Chinese medicine is one of the most well-documented forms of holistic healing and dates back as far as 2,200 years ago.

What is a holistic approach to wellness?

The father of medicine, Hippocrates, put great focus on treating illnesses and diseases through natural medicine. He strongly believed in the self-healing power that our bodies possess. He would encourage nutrition, exercise, massage, and hydrotherapy to his patients which would encourage the natural resistance of organisms to get stronger and overcome diseases. 

How is holistic medicine different than conventional ways of treating illness or disease? Having a holistic approach doesn’t emphasize the absence of illness or disease. Emphasis is placed on overall wellness — being in good physical and mental health.  

Is holistic the same as self-care? 

Self-care, a term that’s become increasingly popular among millennials, is by definition “the ability of individuals, families, and communities to promote health, prevent disease, maintain health, and to cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a healthcare provider.”

One common misconception is that self-care refers to activities that are self-indulgent. Self-care actually means taking care of yourself so that you can be healthy, you can be well, you can do your job, and you can help and care for others.

What’s the difference between holistic health care and Mind-body medicine? 

As Hippocrates once wrote, "The natural healing force within each one of us is the greatest force in getting well." Mind-body medicine uses the power of thoughts and emotions to influence physical health.

Three studies in the 1960s-1970s by psychiatrist George Solomon, physician Herbert Benson, and psychologist Robert Ader showed direct connections between the mind and the body. From studying the effects that emotion had on inflammation to how mental and emotional cues affected the immune system, these studies have led to an increase in mind-body practitioners that specialize directly in mind-body programs.  

Having a holistic approach to wellness doesn’t require an expert. For example, using aromatherapy and a warm bath to relieve stress might be a common part of your self-care routine. 

While conventional medicine addresses illness or ailments using pharmaceutical drugs, surgery, or medical treatments, professionals who practice mind-body medicine and holistic wellness focus on creating a state of internal balance — not just the absence of illness.

The Rise of Mind-body Medicine

Mind-body medicine uses the power of thoughts and emotions to influence physical health by focusing on the relationship between the brain, mind, body, and behavior — and the powerful ways in which emotional, mental, social, spiritual, and behavioral factors can directly affect health. A mind-body (holistic) approach enhances your self-awareness and emphasizes self-care.

A mind-body approach to health care can improve both physical and mental health and can reverse the negative health effects of chronic stress by decreasing levels of stress hormones in the body.

Mind-body medicine can help ease the effects of a wide variety of medical conditions, such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Atrial fibrillation and other arrhythmias
  • Cancer
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Chronic pain conditions (back and neck pain, fibromyalgia, headaches, osteoarthritis, and TMJ)
  • Depression
  • Gastrointestinal conditions (gastroesophageal reflux, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis)
  • Hypertension
  • Insomnia
  • Menopause symptoms
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Psoriasis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune conditions

The Rise of Holistic Therapy

In addition to mind-body medicine increasing in popularity as a holistic approach to wellness, holistic therapy has also become a staple for those wishing to live a happier, healthier life.

Holistic therapy sessions can vary widely. However, there are several common activities you might encounter in a holistic therapy session, such as:

  1. Exercises based on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy focuses on identifying and changing inaccurate or distorted thinking patterns, emotional responses, and behaviors.
  2. Meditation and other mindfulness practices. This may include a variety of activities such as visualization, journaling, and mindful eating.
  3. Breathwork. A common component of holistic therapy.
  4. Acupuncture or acupressure. Applying pressure to certain points that are thought to correspond to the body’s energetic fields. 
  5. Massage and other bodywork. Your holistic therapist might use massage or other hands-on bodywork as part of your treatment.
  6. Aromatherapy or sound therapy. Some holistic therapists may recommend these sensory elements of treatment.

Mind-body medicine emphasizes a holistic approach to health and wellness. The often-overlooked concept of holistic health can mean the difference between managing significant changes in life well or battling the feeling like the whole world is crashing down around you. Read our latest eBook, Living Your Best Life, to learn how a holistic approach to health and wellness can be life-changing.

Living Your Best Life