What do we mean by holistic when we talk about acupuncture?
You’ll often hear acupuncture referred to as a holistic practice, but what does that really mean?
The definition of holism is “treating of the whole person, taking into account mental and social factors, rather than just the symptoms of a disease.” Mind, body and spirit — these aspects of each patient are considered to be intertwined and essential to achieving optimal health.
This differs from what we might consider “standard” medical practice, where disease is assessed according to the signs and symptoms that present. Treatment in this case is mostly focused on alleviating symptoms. Now, I‘m not saying that modern medicine is bad – indeed, modern medicine has accomplished amazing things, but I think it has lost sight of what health is and how we can best achieve it.
Perhaps the best way to describe these differences is with an example.
Let’s say you get indigestion and stomach aches occasionally. A western approach might diagnose gastritis, and prescribe antacids or other medication to decrease acid production in the stomach. This would a simple approach of identifying the disease and controlling the symptoms, more of an A to B course of treatment. However, less time is spent looking at other factors which may be contributing to the problem.
On the other hand, in an acupuncture treatment your practitioner will aim to build up a wide picture of your health. That means not just your digestion and symptoms, but also your sleep, your mood and stress, your diet, your perhaps other medical history that you may not think relevant, but feeds into this bigger picture.
An acupuncture diagnosis therefore could be due to an overall weakness in your Qi, or energy, especially in the respiratory and digestive systems, aggravated by stress and poor diet. Treatment in this case is more about strengthening your overall health, so that symptoms resolve themselves because the body is able to function more efficiently.
- If your Qi is strong and flowing properly, your body will be healthier.
- If you digestive system is more balanced, is will be more efficient and symptoms will be better.
- There might also be an immune component – if your immune system is stronger, it will help to support the digestive side of things.
- Stress causes stagnation or blockage in the body. Overthinking and repetitive thoughts also weaken the digestion. This in turn obstructs the smooth flow of Qi. By relieving stress and helping you to relax, your body is better able to cope and heal itself.
- There may be foods you will need to avoid and those which will nourish your digestion and overall health.
All this can be done with just needles, in order to improve the flow of your energy, release the blockages holding you back, and enhancing the body’s own ability to heal itself.
Because we are working more naturally with the body, it is also an opportunity for us to think about our own health in a different way and this greater understanding of how different aspects of our daily life affect our health can be empowering. It’s not about waiting for someone to fix you, but rather how you can take measures to enhance your own well being and take back control.
So if you’re ready to take your first steps on your holistic health journey, don’t hesitate to get in touch via our contact page!