The term ‘Holistic’ originates from the Greek word ‘holos’, which translates as ‘whole’. Holistic Therapy encompasses practices that treat the body as one entity. It attempts to address an individual as a whole person rather than someone who is sick. Holistic therapists view the human body as one, harmonious system and believe overall wellbeing can only be achieved if the mind, body, and spirit are balanced. This is achieved using natural, non-medical treatments. Due to this approach, holistic therapy should be used alongside conventional medicine, hence the term ‘complementary medicine’. Unlike mainstream medical care that cures illnesses as and when they occur, holistic therapy also works to prevent illness from occurring by promoting wellbeing as the key to health and wellness.
A holistic therapist may use many types of practices, to treat a patient, such as Aromatherapy, Reiki, Hot Stone Massage, to name just a few. As an example, for a person suffering from migraines, the holistic therapist will consider the potential factors that may be causing the person’s headaches. This includes factors such as other health problems, diet and sleep habits, stress and personal problems. The treatment plan will often be implemented alongside conventional medicine and lifestyle modifications to assist in preventing the headaches from recurring.
Holistic therapy is also established on the belief that unconditional love and support is the most powerful healer, and a person is ultimately responsible for his or her own health and wellbeing. Bodywork techniques such as yoga, meditation, and relaxation; including Reiki, promote a mind/body connection, which influences energy fields within the human body that affect physical and mental health. Some of these techniques have benefits supported by scientific research studies.
Reiki Therapy is a simple, natural, and safe method of healing and is a form of complementary therapy commonly referred to as energy healing. Practitioners explain that energy can stagnate in the body where there has been physical injury, or emotional pain, and over time these energy blocks can cause illness. Reiki is used to help the flow of energy and remove blocks in a similar way to acupuncture or acupressure. This can enable relaxation, reduce pain, speed healing, and reduce other symptoms of illness. A treatment is often described as a wonderful glowing radiance that flows through and around youReiki is suitable for everyone. It is a complementary therapy and should NOT replace prescribed medical treatments.
Indian Head Massage is a relaxing holistic therapy that uses acupressure massage to release stress that has accumulated in the tissues, muscles and joints of the head, face, neck and shoulders. It aims to nourish the body’s energy systems.
Ayurvedic practices have been around since circa. 2 B.C. In Ayurvedic massage, marma points are anatomical locations in your body where a concentration of life energy exists. Marma points are said to contain the three doshas:
~ vata (air and space)
~ kapha (earth and water)
~ pitta (fire and water)
These doshas are believed to be linked to physical and emotional wellbeing. Like traditional acupressure and Chinese acupuncture, Ayurvedic massage stimulates the marma points and is believed to improve physical and mental wellbeing.
Swedish Massage is considered to be the ‘classic’ massage and forms the basis for other massage types. Unlike sport massage or deep tissue massage, Swedish massage uses lighter application of techniques and pressure to promote relaxation. Benefits include:
- eases muscular tension and pain
- improves lymphatic drainage, eliminating toxins
- improves blow flow throughout the body
- reduces emotional and physical stress
Hot Stone Massage is a therapeutic treatment that uses hot stones with Swedish Massage techniques to ease areas of tension, assist injury recovery, aids elimination of toxins and promotes deep relaxation. It is particularly effective for sports injury recovery.
Contraindications – whilst many holistic therapy treatments are safe and effective complementary therapies, there are some instances where treatment may be contraindicated. Local contraindications mean the therapist can provide the treatment, however must avoid areas of concern, such as:
- Cuts or open wounds
- Varicose veins
- Broken bones
- Some skin conditions
Where the conditions are seen to be severe, massage may not be appropriate, in which case the therapist reserves the right to refuse treatment to ensure duty of care to the client.
Other contraindications are specific where there is a high risk of causing disease or illness to worsen or be potentially harmful. Such conditions include, but not limited to, the following:
Fever – anytime you have a fever, whether from a cold, influenza or infection, massage is not appropriate. This is due to massage increasing circulation and in turn could assist the infection to increase in severity.
Contagious Diseases – if you have a contagious disease you are putting your therapist and other clients at risk of transmission.
Blood Clots / Deep Vein Thrombosis – massage can cause blood clots to move through the blood stream. This can be potentially fatal due to the risk of migration to the brain, lungs or heart. If you are aware of any blood clots, it is important to consult your doctor before treatment to make sure that it will not be effected by massage therapy.
Pregnancy – unless the therapist has been specifically trained in prenatal massage, pregnant women should not receive massage treatments. It’s especially a high risk during the first 3 months of pregnancy.
Kidney Conditions or Liver Conditions – massage can put increased strain on both the liver and kidney if they are not functioning normally. This occurs because massage increases blood flow and the movement of waste and toxins through the body. If you are experiencing a health problem relating to the kidneys or liver it is likely that massage will not be appropriate. Please consult with your GP or health care professional to confirm if treatment is appropriate.
Cancer – although massage is good at relieving some discomfort caused by cancer, it should only be given by someone trained to work with cancer patients. It is a mandatory requirement for the client to obtain a release form from the GP or health care provider prior to massage treatments.
Uncontrolled Hypertension – massage increases blood flow. If you experience high blood pressure that is not under control, the increase in blood flow during massage treatments could cause the problem to worsen or become fatal.
If you are in any doubt whether a holistic therapy treatment is appropriate, always consult with your GP or health care provider prior to booking an appointment. Where a therapist believes a contraindication is present that has not been disclosed during the pre-treatment consultation, the therapist has a duty of care to the client and may refuse treatment, may suggest a suitable alternative or seek a referral from an appropriately qualified practitioner.