For years, complementary medicine has taken heat from the allopathic medicine world. Cutting terms like “quack” and “witch doctor” have been thrown around brutally, but the stigma is finally beginning to shake off. With more data showing the benefits of holistic healthcare, more patients are turning to alternative treatments. I recently read an interesting article in the Huffington Post, "Courting Wellness: Why Medicine is Getting Healthier," where Josef Woodman lists six reasons why he believes the medical community is becoming more accepting of complementary healthcare. He explains that alternative therapies "now account for 11 percent of out-of-pocket consumer healthcare" expenses and that more clinical studies are showing that alternative treatments are achieving increased success rates. He points out that many major medical facilities, such as Duke Medical Center, are beginning to embrace complementary treatments once viewed as taboo.
After reading his list, the biggest take-away for me was this: people want to be healthier, and the healthcare industry is adjusting accordingly. People are smoking less, working out more, and paying attention to their diets (can we say Whole Foods boom?). They are no longer looking to simply cover up symptoms, but they'd rather choose methods of treatment tailored toward total wellness. Bottom line: more people are turning to holistic lifestyles because they care about their health.
Here at the American College of Healthcare Sciences, we’re keeping our finger on the pulse of the most effective and popular holistic lifestyle practices and their benefits. Here are three practices that are on the rise.
Why it’s awesome: This ancient Indian practice targets both your body and mind. Yoga incorporates physical poses that build muscle, flexibility, and stamina while also focusing on physical relaxation and meditation. Yoga has been shown to reduce lower back pain and lower blood pressure. And as with most exercise, it can release endorphins that can naturally boost your mood.
It’s on the rise: According to the 2007 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), “yoga is the sixth most commonly used complementary health practice among adults." Yoga Journal conducted a more recent study, and they found that between 2008 and 2012, the amount of people practicing yoga increased from 15.8 million to 20.4 million. That’s a 29% increase! Maybe it’s yoga’s low-impact workouts or the two-fold approach to wellness (body + mind), but more and more people are choosing yoga to maintain an active and holistically balanced lifestyle. While some may be wary of “bandwagons,” this is one wagon that is leading our culture toward better physical, emotional, and mental health.
Why it’s awesome: An ancient Chinese healing practice, acupuncture has been used for pain relief for more than five millennia. Practitioners use small needles to stimulate certain points on the body. This allows for “chi”—AKA vital energy—to flow through the body on pathways called meridians. The technique has been used for a wide range of pain issues, such as migraines, carpal-tunnel syndrome, back pain, menstrual cramps, and fibromyalgia. With heightened awareness of the potential negative effects of prescription pain pills, it’s no wonder Americans are turning to the safer and more relaxing alternative of acupuncture.
It’s on the rise: According to the 2007 National Health Interview Survey, approximately 3.1 million Americans responded that they had used acupuncture within the last year—that’s a million more people than in 2007! Through further analysis, the NHIS discovered that pain (and more specifically, back pain) was the number one reason for using acupuncture. With 3,500 doctors and 11,000 to 12,000 non-doctor acupuncturists practicing in the U.S., it’s clear that this Chinese tradition is no longer taboo.
Why it’s awesome: The human sense of smell is one of the strongest senses tied to emotion, and balanced emotions contribute to overall holistic health. Aromatherapy is the art of using essential oils to balance and support the body, mind, and spirit through inhalation, compresses, topical application, baths, and full-body massage.
It’s on the rise: More major hospitals and health clinics are choosing to incorporate aromatherapy into their programs than ever before. The Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago recently started utilizing aromatherapy to alleviate pain in children, specifically cancer patients. Sharp Coronado Hospital in San Diego also has an extensive CAM program with a strong focus in aromatherapy. Here at American College of Healthcare Sciences, we have wonderful programs in aromatherapy, including a Master of Science, Diploma, and Certificate.
It’s obvious the holistic lifestyle is becoming more widespread. People are looking for fuller, healthier lives, and hospitals and medical practitioners are starting to heed the call. It’s a very exciting time to be immersed in the complementary health field! Leave a comment and let us know what holistic trends you’ve been noticing lately!
This article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent disease. This article has not been reviewed by the FDA. Always consult with your primary care physician or naturopathic doctor before making any significant changes to your health and wellness routine.
 Woodman, Josef. (2013, October 2). Courting wellness: Why medicine is getting healthier. The Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/josef-woodman/courting-wellness-why-med_b_4030081.html
 National Center for Complementary Alternative Medicine. (2013, July 25). Yoga for Health. nccam.nih.gov. Retrieved from http://nccam.nih.gov/health/yoga/introduction.htm#hed4
 Yoga Journal. (2013). Yoga in America Study 2012. yogajournal.com. Retrieved from http://www.yogajournal.com/press/yoga_in_america
 National Center for Complementary Alternative Medicine. (2013, May 31). Acupuncture for Pain. nccam.nih.gov. Retrieved from http://nccam.nih.gov/health/acupuncture/acupuncture-for-pain.htm#use
 Johns Hopkins Medicine. (n.d.). Acupuncture: What is acupuncture? hopkinsmedicine.org. Retrieved from http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/healthlibrary/conditions/complementary_and_alternative_medicine/acupuncture_85,P00171/
 Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago. (2013). Treatments. luriechildrens.org. Retrieved from https://www.luriechildrens.org/en-us/care-services/specialties-services/hematology-oncology-stem-cell-transplantation/diagnosis-treatments/Pages/treatment.aspx
 Sharp. About Sharp Coronado Hospital. Retrieved from http://www.sharp.com/coronado/about-us.cfm