Written by Maritza Manresa | Photography by Chris Redd
Holistic health has been around for thousands of years, proving time and time again its effectiveness – and all in a very natural way. Holistic medicine, also known as Eastern medicine, has been in existence for approximately 5,000 years and it is used world-wide, including in Ocala. Rather than continuing to spend hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in medication that often simply puts a “band aid” on the ailment, people are looking for ways to find the actual cause of the problem and solve it at the root, rather than simply treating the symptoms. Additionally, there seems to be a trend of people realizing the harm in living such fast-paced and stress-filled lives along with unhealthy lifestyles, and who want to feel good again – in touch with nature and the natural way of healing that seemed to have worked so well for people long ago. People are looking to have a better quality of life and it seems like going back to basics may hold the answer for many.
Unlike Western medicine in which each ailment and body part is treated separately and individually, holistic health takes the whole person into consideration. “It sees the body as one complex communicating unit and treats health disorders as though they are interrelated,” said Erica Olstein, Doctor of Oriental Medicine and Primary Care Physician at A Better U Healthcare in Ocala. Further, holistic health emphasizes the connection between body, mind, and spirit for overall spiritual, mental, and physical health, thus achieving maximum well-being. In fact, according to Dr. Olstein while seeking acupuncture or any other Eastern medical service from an accredited Eastern medical professional, the average success rate for the vast majority of health conditions is approximately 85-90%. “In most cases, people will see great benefit or full resolution of their health concern within the first four treatments,” said Dr. Olstein. Adding, “By treating the source of the problem rather than the symptoms, I am better able to ensure a more complete and long-lasting outcome.” Dr. Olstein’s practice includes acupuncture, herbal medicine, homeopathy, cupping, gua sha, tui na, moxibustion (moxa), auriculotherapy, ear seeds, laser acupuncture, acupressure, Eastern medical nutritional coaching, and electro-acupuncture.
Still, according to Dr. Olstein, there seems to be a place for both in today’s society. Both holistic medicine and Western medicine can be safely used in conjunction with each other by patients who wish to have the best of both worlds. In particular, Western medicine stands out for its ability to treat acute trauma quickly and effectively as well as urgent health issues that have a very sudden onset. On the other hand, holistic medicine stands out for its ability to effectively treat common illnesses, prevent future illness, and provide personalized treatment plans through its many modalities.
Holistic health encompasses a wide range of non-invasive, non-pharmaceutical modalities such as the use of acupuncture, essential oils, traditional Chinese herbal medicine, Reiki, meditation, and many others. Fortunately, for the citizens of Ocala there is no need to travel far to take advantage of holistic health practices because you can find holistic health service providers and products locally.
Acupuncture originated in China over 4,000 years ago. It is based on the premise that life force (qi) circulates and travels within the body through tiny channels called meridians and when this life force is unbalanced, interrupted, or insufficient, an illness may occur. In the practice of acupuncture, very fine needles are inserted at specific acupuncture points which are normally located on the meridians. The needles are so thin the patient cannot feel them. Dr. Olstein has been practicing acupuncture as part of her Eastern medicine practice for over six years and said that while in the past people only knew acupuncture and Eastern medicine to treat obesity, infertility, and pain, people are now becoming more aware of the range of health conditions that can be addressed. They span everything from the common cold, high blood pressure, migraines, allergies, and even menopausal hot-flashes. In fact, her youngest patient is three years old and her oldest patient is 98. According to Dr. Olstein, acupuncture does not necessarily treat the symptom, but the organ in the body that is causing the problem.
April Colton of Ocala swears by the effectiveness of acupuncture. Dealing with anti-depressants as well as having problems with her skin, hormones, and weight without any results, she decided it was time to look for an alternative and acupuncture was her choice. “I had nothing to lose, so I thought I’d try it,” said Colton. According to Colton the diagnosis process was quite interesting, stating the acupuncturist looked at her tongue, the whites of her eyes and felt her pulse, along with other visual tests. According the acupuncturist Colton had chronic inflammation, hormonal imbalance, and nutritional deficiencies, among other issues which were the cause of her problems. Interestingly enough, these are the same conditions she had been previously diagnosed through blood work. “The acupuncturist then put needles in different locations throughout my body – needles on my face, hands, and feet – needles everywhere,” said Colton. Yet, she did not feel a thing.
Essential oils have been used for so long, you can actually find references made about these oils in the Bible. Essential oils are concentrated hydrophobic liquids that are extracted – using steam – from plant leaves, stems, flowers, roots, or bark. These oils are so concentrated that one drop represents multiple teaspoons of the dried herb. Oils can be used topically, as aroma therapy, and some of them can even be taken orally. There is such a wide spectrum of essential oils available, it will be safe to say there is an oil for just about everything. There are soothing oils, such as lavender, which not only can be used topically for external problems such as burns, but it can also be used as aroma therapy for a calming and peaceful effect, or for relieving congestion and allergy symptoms. Other oils are very therapeutic, such as Valor which is nicknamed “chiropractor in a bottle.”
Essential oils can be purchased at natural health food stores, such as Earth Origins, vitamin shops, holistic locales such as Soul Essentials, distributors, and other specialty stores. Although easily accessible, to be effective they should be used as directed. Ingesting an essential oil that can only be used topically can be disastrous. Barbara Runion of Ocala not only uses essential oils in her everyday life, she is also a distributor for Young Living Essential Oils. One of the best things about using essential oils is you can learn how to effectively use these oils without having to have a professional apply the oils for you, unless you are having something like the Raindrop Technique done which requires someone else to do it for you. This technique, which rids the body of toxins, requires the use of eight to nine different essential oils, layered on your back in certain order and on very specific areas of your back in order to work.
In its most basic form, herbal medicine uses certain plants for medicinal purposes without the harm of side effects. Many health conditions can be treated with herbs, both everyday illnesses such as the common cold, or even chronic conditions such as autoimmune disorders or allergies. However, it is not as simple as taking herbs and making teas out of them which you may think could work on something. According to Dr. Olstein, it is important to understand how herbs interact with each other as well as with other medications and supplements you may be taking. Thus you must have a licensed physician who is also an herbalist prescribe a herbal formula appropriate for your needs. Herbal formulas can be used in a variety of ways such as applied in the form of patches, mouthwash, shampoos, capsules, sprays, and more. For instance, places such as Herbal Advantage in Ocala carries a wide variety of herbal remedies already in pill form. Depending on what your concerns may be, the right combination of herbal supplements will bring you back to health in a natural way. Also, if you are looking for something that will meet a more specific need, Health and Healing Center of Ocala will develop individual herbal prescriptions, mixed and prepared in their herbal dispensary, made specifically for you.
Reiki is a healing modality whereby healing energy is passed through the hands of the Reiki practitioner to the receiving individual. Traditional Reiki, as it is known today, dates back to the mid-1800’s in Japan with Mikao Usui who developed the method used today. However, at the time Usui standardized the teaching methods of Reiki, it was already considered an ancient healing art. Lucy Webb of Ocala is a Reiki student who decided to learn this healing modality after having received Reiki herself. “I had major surgery and was feeling pretty depressed, then I had a friend take me for a Reiki session and it was amazing. I felt like I had awaken from a dream – come back alive,” said Webb. Adding that after the treatment she was full of energy and no longer depressed. Reiki does not only send healing energy to whatever part of your body may be unhealthy, but also to your mind, spirit, and entire body. The healing energy of Reiki is pure love energy that promotes spiritual growth.
Sabrina Brogdale, owner of Timeless Art of Touch Therapeutic Massage and Holistic Healing in Ocala is a licensed massage therapist and has been a Reiki practitioner for nine years. In her practice, Brogdale incorporates Reiki, Qigong, and Quantum Touch, all forms of holistic healing modalities for an all-encompassing healing session. According to Brogdale she has definitely seen a shift in dynamics since she started her practice. “People are starting to recognize these Eastern healing practices as therapy to improve their overall well-being.”
Although mostly associated with Buddha, a major meditation icon dating back to 500 B.C., meditation has been traced back in one form or another to even more ancient times. As it spread to the West in the mid-twentieth century, it continued to gain popularity through the 1960s and 1970s when meditation was openly practiced and researchers began studying its multitude of benefits. There are numerous meditation techniques that can be learned, but anybody can meditate without any formal instruction. It is all about taking time to be still, quieting your mind, and reaching into your higher-self. Meditation is a practice that provides you with physical, emotional, and mental balance. Today, meditation is being used to treat anxiety, stress, depression, and can even lower your blood pressure.
Jennifer Burke, owner of Soul Essentials in Ocala attributes meditation to saving her life. “I was suffering from severe anxiety, I didn’t have the tools to handle stress,” said Burke, adding that once she started to meditate on a regular basis, she was able to handle just about anything. Burk adds that people today are always stressed and in a hurry, failing to take time for themselves and relaxing. “If people only knew how much more they could accomplish after taking time to meditate, more people would actually mediate daily, and it’s not just about getting things done but about how your attitude changes about life all together.” Burke added people need to stop being ‘human-doings’ and become more ‘human-beings.’ Meditation brings peace and calm and puts you back in touch with nature, and who you really are. In fact, the Dalai Lama once said, “If every eight year old in the world is taught meditation, we will eliminate violence from the world within one generation.” Soul Essentials has meditation groups twice a week, Wednesdays at 6pm and Fridays at 8pm.
Holistic health works by removing blockages so energy can flow throughout the body. It is an overall package that incorporates mind, body and spirit, as it is all connected. Holistic medicine is a safe and natural way to feeling well long term and it actually uses your own body to do the healing. In essence, holistic medicine simply reminds the body to do what it has always had the ability to do on its own.