Science has advanced greatly in the last few decades while natural healing methodologies have been around for centuries. Yet, in many instances science has proved the efficacy of herbal medicine, reflexology, bodywork, acupuncture and other holistic modalities. However, before modern scientific research existed, many people got better anyway using non-medical interventions. No one had to come up with a study to prove the positive results people have experienced for centuries (holistic medicine has its roots in several ancient healing traditions that stress healthy living and being in harmony with nature). Still, it’s nice to have scientific confirmation to prove what you have known and experienced.

Over the last 50 years or so, natural healing and related medicines and techniques have grown exponentially. Proponents of holistic medicine (including myself) believe that true wellness is defined by how the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual elements of a person are interconnected to maintain health. When one part is not working well, it is thought to affect the whole person. Holistic approaches focus on the whole person rather than just on the illness or part of the body that is not healthy.

For example, practitioners may treat cancer by changing diet and behavior and adding social support groups and psychological counseling. Others may suggest taking herbal supplements and using other complementary therapies, such as art therapy, hypnosis, imagery, meditation, psychotherapy, spirituality and prayer, and yoga. These approaches can be used along with conventional medical treatments such as chemotherapy, surgery, radiation therapy, and hormone therapy. Combining these different methods can help people take control of their situations and attain a feeling of total wellness — spiritually, physically, and mentally.

But here is the glitch – because billions are being spent every year by consumers on natural healing, the holistic scene has attracted scores of hucksters looking to cash in on the rising tide of the wellness industry. I am not referring here to the Big Pharma/Medical complex that views anyone who is not a medical doctor prescribing orthodox therapies as a quack, but rather to the people who promote the next big cure – ‘the shiny and new.’ These new ‘cures’ come in the form of ‘ancient healing secrets never before revealed’ or Gurus who can heal any illness by just being in their presence. That being said, some of their promoters have a good heart and just want to help people too.

I have been involved with the wellness community for 35 years as a student, practitioner and teacher. I have been with a few ‘famous’ healers and have observed their work up close. I have watched literally hundreds of miracle cures being introduced into the market, and the latest healing techniques from certain practitioners unfolding with their books and seminars.

But most of the time, the pills and potions that made so many promises disappeared, the latest techniques faded and the Gurus passed on. However, they are all replaced by the next wave of ‘shiny and new’ because there is a demand for it. And this cycle goes on and on as people lose more money and eventually become discouraged.

Sure, there are anecdotal reports of people leaving behind their crutches and walking or having a spontaneous cure, but deeper investigation often reveals a lesser story. And there are some people who do get wonderful results. The power of belief is something not to be glossed over and certainly has its place in healing, whether involved in standard medical procedures or using wellness therapies. The placebo effect can be worth more than the remedy itself.

My advice to people is simple. Do the basics first. Follow a balanced lifestyle program that includes a healthy nutritional regime, move your body, try to remain positive and attempt to find personal meaning in this crazy world. Then if necessary, look for a holistically minded practitioner (whether medically trained or otherwise depending on your preference) who uses tried and true methods. Do you know someone who got the results you want? Check around. Do your research – don’t be lazy.

Adopting healthy habits related to diet, exercise, emotional, and spiritual well-being is important to maintaining good health. In fact, studies have shown that certain dietary changes and regular exercise can reduce the risk of some kinds of cancer, and even treat conditions like diabetes, inflammatory processes like arthritis and migraine headaches, etc. This advice may sound boring and not as exciting as traveling thousands of miles to remote locations and spending just as many dollars, but you may find that your personal answers for health issues were right there in front of you all along.

It’s very tempting to buy into all the promises of a ‘cure’, especially if you are desperate and no one else offers you much hope. However, the greatest miracles I have witnessed happened when the body healed itself when everything in body, mind and spirit came together by just doing the basic fundamentals.

Keep an open mind, but stick with good lifestyle habits that work from both a holistic and scientific perspective.

Just do the work and get the results!

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