Miracle fruits. Herbal teas. In recent decades, these have been the images of holistic medicine. That’s no longer the case.
With more patients facing limited solutions to their health problems, many nurses, whether certified in holistic care or not, are exploring alternative methods to complement modern solutions to relieve pain or rid a patient’s body of disease.
While modern medicine focuses on the causes of illness and disease and treating symptoms, the root of holistic healing is considering the whole patient. Any patient can benefit from holistic nursing. For example, a car accident victim may be experiencing trauma that impairs their psychosocial health and even leads to spiritual distress. Holistic nurses will evaluate the whole person and direct care individually for the patient that will facilitate the patient’s innate healing abilities.
Holistic nursing is on the rise and helping patients across the globe. Here are three popular methods holistic nurses are now using to improve modern care.
With the essential oil market expected to reach $11.67 billion by 2022, the use of herbs like lavender, peppermint and eucalyptus is expanding throughout the nation and beyond. It’s clear more and more people are embracing the power of essential oils and aromatherapy.
Different types of oils can treat a variety of ailments such as sore throats, earaches and bladder infections, or alleviate ongoing symptoms of illnesses such as asthma, insomnia, anxiety and depression. Lavender, for example, has been proven to aid in relieving stress and promote sleep. When combined with peppermint, lavender can also reduce migraine pain. Eucalyptus is known to reduce coughing or sinusitis, especially when infused in a hot, steamy shower.
“The field of aromatherapy is expansive and ranges from using essential oils to aid in wound healing to using them as a behavior modifier in dementia care,” Linda Weihbrecht, BSN, RN, LMT, CCAP, said. She added that aromatherapy goals could include reducing stress, stimulating the immune system, promoting healing, and reducing disease symptoms.
Instances of aquatic therapy can be traced back to 1700 B.C. “It’s based on the idea that water benefits the skin and might treat a range of conditions from acne to pain, swelling and anxiety,” said Laura Newcomer. Hydrotherapists believe water therapy can also boost a patient’s immune system. Hydrotherapy has been successfully proven to control pain relief, particularly in burn treatments.
Watsu, a form of hydrotherapy developed in the 1980s, combines massage, Shiatsu, muscle stretching and joint mobilization, all performed in warm, chest-deep water, to treat patients suffering from arthritis, chronic pain and improve soft tissue mobility.
As a practice that was once limited to more aesthetic treatments, aquatic therapies are now embraced by senior living communities for its effective treatment of joint pain, severe physical impairments, and edema.
“The number one reason senior living communities should consider using aquatic therapy is how the principles of water benefit the patient,” Kathleen Kristoff, occupational therapist, said. “Buoyancy, the warmth of the water and hydrostatic pressure are three components that allow physical and occupational therapists to make progress with people who otherwise could not progress on land.” From a benefits perspective, Kristoff believes aquatic therapy can impact everything from a patient’s mobility to their activities of daily living.
The sense of touch is a powerful healing tool and often used in many holistic therapies. Similar to the centuries-old practice of acupuncture only without the needles, acupressure is a therapy that uses hands, fingers and even elbows to activate acupoints throughout the body.
In a study conducted by a group of physicians from Taipei Medical University, researchers faced the dilemma of successfully treating postoperative pain resulting from surgical trauma. Although opioids are typically used to treat pain, doctors recognize that there are some undesirable side effects, such as the possible risk of addiction. In this study, doctors evaluated the effectiveness of acupressure and acupuncture in treating postoperative pain. Their findings indicated that certain modes of acupuncture improved postoperative pain on the first day after surgery and reduced opioid use.
Whether nurses rely on modern medicine or incorporate the combination of essential oils, massage or hydrotherapy to treat the whole patient, the melding of holistic and modern medicine brings promise to an ailing public and a transformative treatment for those in need of long-term and post-acute care.
Because holistic healing methods can be incorporated in every aspect of the healthcare industry, nursing schools throughout the nation have incorporated holistic medicine into their curriculum. There are currently 13 nursing schools in the nation that have been endorsed by the American Holistic Nurses Credentialing Corporation, specializing in training holistic nurses. A nurse becomes Holistic Nurse Board Certified after working full time as a Nurse for one year, 48 CNE hours in Holistic Nursing Theory, Research, Practice, or related topics, and passing an exam administered by the AHNCC. For more information on holistic nursing, visit www.ahncc.org.
CE249-60: Making a Spiritual Assessment (1 contact hr)