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Holistic medicine can put you on the path to health

Holistic medicine is a form of healing that considers the whole person — body, mind, spirit and emotions — in the quest for optimal health and wellness. In this column, we’ll explore reflexology, aromatherapy, holistic nutrition and yoga and how these can possibly enhance your health and wellness.

Reflexology is an ancient science and art focusing on a system of massage used to relieve tension and treat illness, based on the theory that there are reflex points on the feet, hands and head linked to every body part. Asia, ancient Babylon, Europe and America (in particular the Inca Indian communities) are all possible birthplaces of this therapy. The most recent developments of reflexology, however, have been collectively made by Americans William Fitzgerald, MD, and Eunice Ingham (physiotherapist), who worked to chart the reflexes/zones of the body and create the map on the feet that many of us are familiar with as we’ve seen these maps used in the advertising of reflexology. Manual massage using finger and thumb pressure by the practitioner is the most common technique used to execute a reflexology treatment, but there are other forms available including the Vacuflex Reflexology System, which uses vacuum boots for the feet, silicone suction cups placed on receptive pressure points on the body. This is likened to acupuncture, as well as a lengthy manual massage for optimal results. Reflexologists do not claim to cure, do not diagnose and do not interfere with medications; they will simply assist. They enhance the natural healing mechanisms of your body by stimulating more than 72,000 nerve endings in one session. The duration of this holistic treatment is generally 50-60 minutes per consultation and is suitable for all ages from infants to the elderly.

Aside from relaxation and stress management, reflexology can have a number of health benefits such as:

  • Cancer treatment — Reflexology is regularly used on those suffering with cancer. It may help reduce the symptoms caused by chemotherapy including nausea, pain, constipation and diarrhea.
  • Arthritis — Reflexology has been used to treat rheumatoid and osteoarthritis, with participants in a recent study in the UK reportedly feeling up to 40% less pain.
  • Circulation — Receiving foot reflexology is thought to improve blood circulation to vital organs.
  • Hypertension — Many suffering from this common risk of heart disease seek reflexology treatments to assist in reducing their hypertension.
  • Pregnancy — Reflexology can be beneficial during pregnancy to help alleviate signs of postpartum depression.
  • Sore, aching and painful feet receive much needed TLC and relief.

Another holistic therapy gaining in popularity is aromatherapy. It is defined as the inhalation or bodily application (as by massage) of fragrant essential oils (from fruits and plants) for therapeutic purposes. These oils promote relaxation, a sense of well-being and healing. There are a number of essential oils that are finding their way into many households, schools and offices these days including lavender, peppermint, tea tree, geranium, neroli and eucalyptus to name but a few.

Hippocrates’ statement, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” is just as valid today as they were hundreds of years ago. The philosophy of holistic nutrition is that one’s health is an expression of the complex interplay between physical and chemical, mental and emotional aspects of one’s life and being. Nutritional professionals promote eating healthy, natural and fresh foods, and guide clients with regard to nutritional supplementation, placing great emphasis on the benefits of an active lifestyle.

Finally, we turn our attention to a growing trend. What is yoga and why all the buzz about this fascinating practice? Yoga is a holistic system of purifying techniques for the body and mind. Those who sincerely practice it regularly and with devotion, develop greater sensitivity. A yoga practice consists of physical postures, pranayama (breathing techniques) and meditation. An interesting study from 2018 has revealed that yoga participation of those aged 50+ has more than tripled in the last four years. Flexibility and stress relief are the most popular reasons for starting yoga.

If you are searching for improved stress-management, increased energy levels and the most optimal vitality possible, consider trying a holistic therapy to meet your needs, your decision may not “fix” your life, but it certainly can change it. Always remember, it is your birthright to be well!

This article was compiled by Claire Chatterton. She is an avid healthy living enthusiast and is passionate about serving others with more than 20 years of experience in the field of holistic healing. Claire has international certifications in reflexology (including Vacuflex Boot Reflexology system), aromatherapy, alternative nutrition and yoga. She is a proud team member of Vidant Wellness centers in Washington and Ahoskie, GAFC and Athletic Edge and works alongside local therapists Angie Shiflett and Maggie Ross Potter at Market Street Massage, 141N. Market St., Washington (Mondays through Sundays). For more information, contact her at 252-702-3896.

It is the reader’s responsibility to verify their own facts. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organization, employer or company.