by Irmina Ulysse, Independent Holistic Health Practitioner, Artist, and Minister 

  Biospiritreality Wellness Arts Center

FAQ

HOLISTIC THERAPIES

What is Holistic Health?

W/Holistic* health according to the free dictionary is a system of preventive care that takes into account the whole individual, one's own responsibility for one's well-being, and the total influences—social, psychological, environmental—that affect health, including nutrition, exercise, and mental relaxation. Holistic medicine encompasses a wide range of approaches, including integrated treatments, self-help, communication, environmental, spiritual and education. Holistic (and sometimes wholistic*) approaches are general terms used to describe whole care systems including the modalities provided by a Complimentary and Integrative Medicine Practitioner or Holistic Health Practitioner. (See difference between Holistic and Wholistic below)


Where is the intersection between holistic health and spiritual health?

According to the American Holistic Health Association, spiritual health is often the most overlooked aspect of healing. It is the ultimate goal of holistic medicine which leads to a heightened awareness of the Divine Spirit referred to by all religions. For metaphysical practitioners, we see spiritual health as the most foundational aspect within a complimentary and integrative healing practice. 


What is Complimentary and Integrative Medicine?


There are countless practices in the US which are categorized as Complimentary and Integrative Medicine (CAM). These include a wide variety of systems and products that are not currently considered within the scope of conventional Western medicine. They include Reiki, massage therapy, chiropractic care, sound therapy, movement, color and a host of other modalities both ancient and new.


How common is Complimentary and Integrative Medicine (CAM)?


The World Health Organization states that roughly 65-80% of people worldwide use some form of Complimentary and Integrative Medicine or CAM. The use of CAM is much higher in parts of the world where these systems have thrived more freely for centuries such as the far East, Africa, and part of Europe. Keep in mind, these therapies are not new to the US. They have always been part of the medicine toolkit of some households. In others they may have been suppressed, overlooked, or under-utilized. Today, because of skyrocketing healthcare costs, workforce shortage, and the growing acceptance of evidenced-based research, CAM is increasingly becoming more accessible and mainstream. 


In addition, some view CAM and holistic practices are naturally more integrated healing practice that treats the whole person instead of individual parts. Regardless of the reasons, CAM can be part of your toolkit as well. Because, I've always practiced some form of CAM since birth. Both as a necessity and by choice. I've also worked with parts of CAM as a fitness trainer, spiritualist, and mentor.  It was a natural fit for me to establish a professional practice to help others do the same.


What are the types of CAM available in the US?  


To make sense of the various practices available, The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH)  break CAM down into the following categories.  

  • Mind-Body Therapy – According to Dr. Mary Koithan in Introducing Complementary and Alternative Therapies, this form of therapy honors the inner connections between thoughts and physiological functioning. It is the behavioral, psychological, social, and spiritual aspect of a CAM practice. An example would be metaphysical mind treatment, relaxation courses, yoga, movement and intuitive nutrition. With over two decades of personal and professional practice of using and teaching this method, it's my pleasure to offer a selection of Mind-Body therapy in my practice. These include deep breathing, intuitive nutrition, affirmative prayer, and meditation. This is the domain where some aspects of an integrated spiritual counseling service most naturally fits. 

  • Biologically-Based Therapy - These therapies are nature or biologically based and would include aromatherapy, whole food diets, supplements, herbal medicine and much more. This is by far, the most popular category in the US. I have several decades of experience using biological based therapies such as aromatherapy and herbals. As a certified aromatherapist, I use this tool support other modalities in my practice. 

  • Manipulative and Body-Based Therapy - this category refers to any system which involves the manipulation, touch, or movement of any one or more parts of the physical body. Examples includes reflexology, massage, chiropractic care, movement-based options, and any system which involves movement and the physical touching of the body. The body-based therapy that I offer is dance and walking meditation.

  • Energy Therapy – This modality is the broadest. It uses some form of subtle energy to support and promote health and self-healing. Any form of subtle energy may be used. Reiki is the most common which has gained popularity in recent times. Prayer, Qi Qong, magnetic, color, and some of the others available. This list is very long. This category is so broad it can include most indigenous remedies as well. I received my first Reiki certification several years ago. I re-certified recently so I can offer this tools in my practice. This is the second domain where some aspects of integrated spiritual counseling service most naturally fits in.

  • Whole Medical Systems/Alternative Medical Systems – Last but definitely not least, these are whole systems originally created outside of the Western biomedical approach. Many are centuries older than Western traditions. Its important to note these systems are not simply "medical" but are whole approaches which includes other aspects of the culture and traditions which created them. They include the healing aspects of IFA from Yoruba traditions, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ayurvedic Medicine in India.  These are just a sample of systems which have developed worldwide independent of Western medicine. Some of these systems are sometimes integrated with the spiritual counseling system of the culture which created them. 

What’s the difference between complementary and alternative medicine?

According to the National Center of Complimentary and Integrative Health, it depends on HOW you use each one.

“If a non-mainstream practice is used together with conventional medicine, it’s considered “complementary.”

“If a non-mainstream practice is used in place of conventional medicine, it’s considered “alternative.”  

Is CAM 100% safe & effective? Safe meaning it will not harm you. Effective meaning it will do what it says. 

Here’s the facts. No medicine can make this claim. Not even conventional Western medicine can claim to be 100% safe and 100% effective. This is why we are asked to sign release forms and a list of recorded side effects are listed. The answer is no CAM is not 100% safe or effective. Nothing that we know of can be said to be 100% safe and 100% effective at all times.  What we are advised to do is to make decisions based on (1) risk, (2) desired benefit, (3) evidence from unbiased sources, and (4) recommendations from trusted sources. In the end, choosing to use a CAM modality including spiritual counseling is a deeply personal choice. 

What about those practices with anecdotal or word of mouth evidence? or those with conflicting research or better yet, those with no modern research at all?

In those situations, I like what Mary Jo Kreitzer, RN, PhD of the University of Minnesota has to say about those systems. “...if there is anecdotal evidence accumulated because a treatment has been used for more than 5,000 years. Stories or anecdotes are generally not given the same weight as scientifically conducted studies, but experience and accumulated wisdom should not be ignored.”

What if I need a CAM “specialist” such as an herbalist or holistic doctor?

I can provide a list of referrals to several CAM practitioners including herbalist, naturopathic physician, holistic dentistry, chiropractors, holistic psychotherapist, acupuncturist, massage therapist and many others. These recommendations are provided for research purposes only. 

WHOLISTC or holistic – which is correct?

According to English Language & Usage Stack Exchange, "Holistic" is the formal academic spelling of the word, while "wholistic" is an Anglican version of the spelling. Both spellings are informally recognized, and both have the same effectual meaning.


Please note: *It's generally agreed that holistic is the correct spelling. However, as someone who practices mind healing and know that words and the spelling of a word has power, I have chosen to use the spelling which denotes WHOLENESS instead of HOLENESS. You can use whichever is most appropriate for you. 


Copyright 2018 by Irmina Ulysse 


References:

Introducing Complementary and Alternative Therapies by Mary Koithan, PhD, RN-C, CNS-BC

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2754854/

Complementary, Alternative, or Integrative Health: What’s In a Name?

https://nccih.nih.gov/health/integrative-health

Wholistic or holistic

https://writingexplained.org/wholistic-vs-holistic

https://english.stackexchange.com/questions/139505/wholistic-vs-holistic

What are holistic practices by Mary Jo Kreitzer, RN, PhD
https://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/what-are-holistic-practices