Holistic Healing Part II

By: Lisa Dorfman, MS, RD, LMHC


Holistic Healing begins after stabilizing a nutritious diet. Holistic Healing Part I explored the nutritional priorities of burn recovery. Once nutritional deficiencies are reversed, the physical recovery can begin. Movement exercises, meditation, prayer, aromatherapy and the arts all play a role in complete cure of the body, mind and soul. Alternative approaches and complimentary therapy can enhance the nutritional rehabilitation for burns and can accelerate the recovery process. This article explores complementary treatment approaches for healing and recovery and has been adapted from my upcoming book, The Anti Stress Diet: Food and Fitness Strategies for Conquering Stress and Recovering from Trauma.

Alternative treatments, complementary healing therapies adapted from Eastern traditions and ancient customs, such as spiritual healing, aromatherapy, massage, and herbal supplementation, are currently being funded by large grants provided by the U.S. government, other country's governments, and groups, such as the National Institute of Health (NIH), research based hospitals, and university programs like The University of Miami as potentially beneficial treatments for a number of diseases and CLICK TO DONATE A CAR TO BSTTW disorders such as arthritis and related pain disorders, cancer, migraine headaches, psychiatric illness, and stress-These therapies have been especially useful in low income communities where health insurance is unavailable yet the demand for services is great.

Alternative treatments like prayer, touch and massage therapies, aromatherapy and the arts can assist you in healing by connecting your unspoken thoughts to meditative passages, fragrant potions, and physical feelings, which stimulate the senses to recall pleasant, and peaceful feelings associated with happier times. The aroma of fresh flowers may remind you of spring, a time for renewal, sunny weather and thoughts while the scent of the ocean breezes may remind you of a playful day at the beach.

The advantages of using alternative therapy is that they connect you to thoughts, people and moments in time, in an unobtrusive manner, associating the mysteries of uncovered feelings with tender care-whether it is by a spiritual force, the soft touch of massage, the caring clerk at an aromatherapy boutique. Nutritional strategies for conquering stress and recovering from trauma also works more effectively when you are at peace, if even a short moment in time to eat and assimilate your nutrients, exercise and examine your physical strength and help you to access better health and recovery. Vitamin and mineral supplements are particularly especially useful when dietary deficiencies are manifesting themselves as mood disorders, physical symptoms such as headaches, muscle cramping and poor recovery from wounds and strenuous exercise. Herbal therapy may also be indicated for additional symptoms such as poor sleep, but are regulated poorly in the United States. Popular herbs recommended for stress, emotional distress, sleep and mood disorders are reviewed in this section.


The Power of Prayer

Every crisis is a spiritual crisis. Carl Jung, psychologist. Although stress is technically defined as an actual or perceived threat, the implications of stress go well beyond physical and emotional well-being. Holistic healing integrates and balances the harmony of the mind, body, spirit, and emotions where the whole is greater than the sum of parts.

Prayer is an ancient and widely used intervention for alleviating illness, and promoting good health. While prayer cannot be interpreted as proof, or disproof of God's response to those praying, prayer can help you to recover from trauma and stress in a way that's not dependent on divine intervention. For the past 30 years, a Harvard researcher has been studying prayer to understand how the praying mind affects the body. He has found that regardless of religion, all forms of prayer evoke the relaxation response that reduces stress, quiets the body, and promotes healing. Funding from congress has enabled agencies such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to explore the value of prayer and spiritual interventions, and measure its health benefits.

How Prayer Works

Every religion has their own way of doing it. Prayer itself involves the repetition of sounds or words, which may contribute to the healing effects. For Buddhists, prayer is meditation, for Catholics, it's the blessing on the rosary, for Jews it's called dovening, and for Protestants, it's centering prayer. However, prayer is more than repetition and sounds.

Recent research has demonstrated that our brains actually change when we pray. The part of the brain responsible for controlling a person's orientation in space, and establishes distinctions between the world, and self are affected with prayer. Other brain parts that track time, and create self-awareness, disappear while the parts responsible for tagging emotions to events or things become activated.

Here's How You Can Use Prayer In Your Own Life

  • Forgiveness-the turn your cheek philosophy. A problem-solving strategy, where your negative thoughts and ideas towards the stressor and yourself are reduced, and your views turns to benevolence and compassion. You forgive others and yourself which is sometimes more difficult.
  • Willingness to let go-surrendering control to all events, feelings, and stressors, positive or negative in ones' life. This means we don't control our partners, spouses, children, bosses or friends.
  • Rituals-which shape, express, and maintain relationships, facilitate change by making and marking transitions, facilitate healing from betrayal, trauma, or loss, and give meaning to events and celebrate life with joy and festivity. Some experts feel that this is a critical recovery step, the ability to celebrate special occasions like birthdays and holidays, mark the graduation of an event such as a diploma from school or a token from alcoholic's anonymous for sobriety; or even mark the ending of a mourning period by discarding the clothes, photos or memories of an individual or event.

So take prayer and spirituality and integrate into your life by attending a religious service, saying nightly prayers for need or of thankfulness, and forgive. Forgive yourself, forgive others and live in peace.

Aromatherapy and Your Emotions

There are few scientific studies on the use of aromatherapy although it is known that in the limbic system of the brain, a gland called amygdala plays a major role in storing and releasing trauma. The only way to stimulate this gland is with fragrance or smell, which can release emotional trauma.

Frenchman, Henri Maurice Gattefosse coined the term aromatherapy in 1928 after discovering the healing properties of lavender therapy for calming the nerves. Around the same time period, two Italian doctors discovered the impact of aromatherapy on the central nervous system (CNS), and recognized that aromatherapy goes directly into the part of the brain where feelings and instincts are located, bypassing the logical rational area of the brain. So what can aromatherapy do for you?

The benefits of aromatherapy include:

  • Regenerating, oxygenating, and immune defense properties.
  • Stimulating immune mechanism.
  • Detoxifying cells.
  • Promoting emotional, physical and spiritual healing.
  • Restoring and balancing mood.