Holistic healing techniques have been used for thousands of years and run the gamut from the common (think chiropractic and yoga), to the more obscure. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), in the United States alone, more than one in three adults utilize some form of alternative or complementary approach to health and healing, so these practices aren’t going away. But, the sheer number of therapeutic options can seem overwhelming! Fortunately, I’ve done some of the legwork for you. Listed below are five healing modalities garnering lots of positive attention this year.
Natural salt is one of the most healing foods on the planet. Its 84 trace minerals have a neutralizing effect on the acids in our body. In addition to the benefits of ingesting it, salt baths have long been used to reduce joint pain and arthritis, clean the pores, kill bacteria, and detoxify the skin. What you may not be as familiar with is halotherapy – the inhalation of tiny micro particles of pharmaceutical grade salt as a way to strengthen the immune system, reduce inflammation, and relieve respiratory conditions, such as asthma, allergies, bronchitis, and sinus congestion. Carrie Bossinger, founder of Salt Oasis Spa and Wellness Center in Summerville, SC, adds that salt therapy also provides a boost to our mental and emotional health. According to Carrie, this is because Himalayan salt generates negative ions, which serve to counteract the abundance of positive ions we are exposed to each and every day, primarily through our electronic devices. Dry salt therapy is safe for children and adults and is an ideal alternative to over-the-counter cold medicine.
The concept of grounding (also called Earthing) assumes the position we are bioelectrical beings living on a giant “battery” called Earth. Our planet contains a natural, subtle electric charge – an energy that is present in the ground. All living things rely on this energy, not only for survival but for health and well-being. In our industrialized society, however, we have all but lost this connection; we rarely go barefoot, we live and work above the ground, and we often wear rubber or plastic-soled shoes that act as a barrier to the Earth’s energy. Proponents of grounding believe that by reestablishing our relationship with Mother Earth, we will feel more balanced, strong, and centered. Studies have shown that grounding contributes to reduced inflammation, decreased pain, a normalization of the stress hormone cortisol, improved circulation, better sleep, and increased energy. Getting grounded is easy! We simply need to touch the earth with our bare skin – sit, stand, or walk on soil, grass, sand, or concrete (which is a conductive surface). For those who don’t have the time or a place to ground outside, many companies sell grounding products, like chairs, bed pads, body bands, and mats that create the same effect.
Originally developed in Japan for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, Whole Body Cryotherapy (WBC) has become particularly popular with sports professionals for the treatment of muscle and injury recovery. WBC is defined as a controlled exposure to subzero temperatures. According to US Cryotherapy, a full-service Cryotherapy treatment center, exposure to extreme cold sends a “distress” signal to the brain, activating our Central Nervous System and triggering two dramatic responses. First, and perhaps most surprisingly, this “cold shock” causes a flood of endorphins – the body’s natural pain inhibitors and mood elevators. Next, the body releases norepinephrine, which provides a powerful anti-inflammatory effect. Increased blood circulation serves to quickly clear toxins and metabolic waste, leading many clients to experience improved range of motion with pain reduction almost immediately.
Reiki is a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that stimulates the body’s own healing response. Practitioners transfer life-force energy to the client through their hands, either placed gently on the client’s body or held slightly above the body. Research on efficacy is limited; however, a great deal of anecdotal evidence suggests that, when paired with traditional medical treatment, Reiki can help reduce pain and speed healing, leading to a quicker recovery with fewer complications. Although it has been around since the early 1900’s, Reiki is starting to gain more traction in mainstream medical communities, particularly with regard to alleviating the side effects of cancer treatment. Reiki is currently practiced at prestigious facilities like Johns Hopkins and M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, in the United States, and the MacArthur Cancer Therapy Centre in Australia. Because it works in harmony with all other medical or therapeutic techniques, Reiki is an ideal modality for those seeking an integrative treatment approach.
Imagine yourself buoyantly suspended in a large, enclosed bathtub, devoid of all external distractions – sights, sounds, tactile sensations and gravity. Often called isolation tanks, these “float chambers” typically hold over 1100 pounds of Epsom salt, dissolved into about 10 inches of body-temperature water, providing clients with a sense of peace and relaxation that proponents claim help combat conditions like anxiety, depression, and pain. According to the folks at Glowspa, the first and only float tank facility in Charleston, SC, floating works by gradually shifting the brain from its usual alpha state into the theta or meditative state, releasing the hold that our analytical mind has over our creative mind. Float therapy has come a long way since the first tank was created back in the 1950’s by Dr. Lilly, an American neurophysiologist studying sensory deprivation at the National Institute of Mental Health. Today’s float tanks can be an effective way to unwind from the stress of our busy lives.
Tips for Implementation
- Take it slowly. Introduce only one modality at a time. Otherwise, it is difficult to determine which technique is working.
- Remember to support any healing technique with common sense lifestyle practices, like a proper diet, appropriate exercise, stress reduction, and hydration.
- Keep a journal. Make notes of your thoughts, feelings, and symptoms before and after each treatment, so that you can easily track changes. This information will also be valuable when speaking to your health care provider.