A third of American adults use complementary healthcare approaches to recover from illness or pain, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH).
These complementary treatments include practices that would be considered nontraditional in Western health care, such as acupuncture, massage therapy, aromatherapy, reiki, music therapy and dog therapy. When these integrative treatments are combined with more traditional treatments using the expertise of health care providers, they allow providers to look at a person’s needs overall, combining awareness of the needs of mind and body, as well as the impacts of social, spiritual and community aspects, into holistic care, the NCCIH says.
This approach is usually called integrative health care and “brings conventional and complementary approaches together in a coordinated way. (It) aims for well-coordinated care between different providers and institutions.”
Here are just three ways integrative therapy can help people achieve better health.
Many people are eager to find ways to reduce stress, to just get some relief from that heavy load pressing down. It’s bad enough psychologically to experience stress, but it’s even worse that stress can cause serious issues throughout the body.
“Chronic stress can lead to high blood pressure and heart disease,” according to Harvard Health. “It can dampen the immune system, increasing susceptibility to colds and other common infections. It can contribute to asthma, digestive disorders, cancer and other health problems. New research even supports the notion that high levels of stress somehow speed up the aging process.”
Integrative therapies can stop or slow down the physiological havoc stress can wreak on the body, with treatments such as massage therapy, aromatherapy, music therapy or reiki.
Reiki “is a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing,” the International Center for Reiki Training says. The idea is that one’s “life force energy” can be low or not moving through the body as it should, and restoring the proper flow will provide beneficial effects such as “relaxation and feelings of peace, security and well-being.” According to Banner Health, “It involves no touch, but takes place in the space about 6 inches above your body.”
Music therapy is often consulted for patients to assist in reducing stress and anxiety and decreasing pain and the perception of pain. The music therapy program at Banner Health employs music therapists who assess the patient and develop a plan based on those assessments. The therapy can include, song writing, lyric discussion, music improvisation and even performance.