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Holism: fraudulent schtick or panacea potential?

11 mins read
Credit: lbow.dk

You may already know that I like to experiment with things doctors tell us to do or not do, in order to see how medical trends apply to individual cases and to test whether medical generalisations do, in fact, apply to my own body. In the case of pain alleviation, for example, medical practitioners frequently seem to prescribe medicine that is either proving ineffective or, worryingly, can lead to substance abuse (such as the growing addiction to adderall or alprazolam), yet so little attention is paid to teaching us how to use the Earth’s natural resources to heal ourselves.

At the risk of being labelled a “hippie”, I would like to urge you to erase the connotations you have with that word. “Hippies” were onto something. In 2020, we are all hippies, or we need to learn to be, because we currently have almost no knowledge of the healing powers of the earth we are destroying. In the past, I have shown how neither gluten nor lactose are bad or great to eat unless you have applied it to yourself and tested it out. Now I’m moving on to working on the outside of the body. It is a far reach to claim that massages are the natural version of commercialised physical therapies, but let’s see.

For the past year or so, I have sought out therapies and treatments to try and see if any of it actually works or does anything. For someone with so many small things happening in their body, I figured I was as good a candidate as it gets – a real fixer-upper.

Do our eyes hide the soul or just our problems?

The first therapy I tried was by a friendly former colleague. She was a mystical, straightforward lady who spoke English and French, wore kohl eyeliner, and offered me Myofascial Therapy. She told me I had a lot of blockages in my muscles, as well as plenty of stress. She also examined my eyes for signs of stress, a practice called iridology, to check for abnormal things happening in my body. Now this may seem like some soul-searching, hocus pocus thing, but in medicine it is well-known that the eyes are the most exposed and immune-weak place in the body, so if anything is wrong you can usually see it in the eyes. Take liver problems: yellow eyes. The foundations of it are sound and I’m intrigued.

She then asked me to lay down, and began a series of gentle massaging movements. It was slow kneading, with few pressure points being touched, including lymph areas, and she only moved in one direction at a time. You would think that this is just a weak massage, but some spots were so sore I nearly squealed. Clearly, I needed this. After the treatment, I felt very warm and tired, although she barely touched me. She identified some problem areas which I already knew about from my chiropractor and physiotherapists, so that confirmed her level of expertise to me. 

Fascia is medically known to be important to our wellbeing, so I stand by the effects completely. I could feel things happening in my body, old wounds being reopened and ultimately places where I’d been hurt before were much better. She told me to work on my stress and my body: dry brush my skin for circulation and toxin expulsion, take breaks, and loosen up. I tried my best to do all this for a year before I went for Craniosacral Therapy.

Credit: lbow.dk

Craniosacral Therapy is a form of guided skeletal meditation. Online, it’s generally described as a form of skeletal correction and balancing therapy. For this treatment, I traveled to Edinburgh, where my therapist, Emily Gibb, was completing case studies for her certification in Craniosacral Therapy.

It started with a consultation, where I got asked some sensitive questions. She asked about injuries, trauma, mental illness, physical illness, stress, life history, family history, and more. It took a good 10-15 minutes, and she listened like an old friend would. I was allowed to keep my clothes on (hurrah!), and I lay on my back, simply relaxing and breathing.

She started the treatment at my feet, where she put both hands around my ankles very loosely, and kept them there for a good ten minutes. At that point the thoughts going through my head were “what’s happening now? What am I meant to do or feel now?” But I relaxed and focused my breathing and my energy on where her hands were. She then slowly moved to my hip, placing her hands underneath for another few minutes, while I took deep breaths. It was like my body leaned into this new position, where her hands were. Whether it is just coincidence thather placement of my hip was just how my chiropractor used to put my hip in place more violently, I don’t know. But it worked, and I already felt more balanced.

During the treatment, I let her know if I felt dizzy, and she reminded me that the table is supporting me. She suggested I focus my attention on a part of my body that was stable against the table, like my back and my heels. The dizziness went away. She had addressed my anxiety and given me a tool of reassurance that no psychotherapist ever did.

Emily’s treatment room in central Edinburgh. Credit: Emily Gibb

But did she do anything? All I know is how I felt afterwards: drained, used, but refreshed. The places she put her hands, the places she knew I had problems, felt sore. Walking to Tesco after this treatment, my ankle popped in a weirdly satisfying way. My bad hip socket started aching. I thought this was probably a result of where her hands were correcting my body to reposition itself.

A chiropractor could force my hip ball into its socket in a few seconds, but it would be minutes before it popped right out again. This time, I kept walking and walking, and not once did I feel the usual swaying or imbalance. The tendons around my hip began to hurt, but it went away. Where she held her hand under my hip for about five minutes while I was lying flat was exactly where my chiropractor would place a block, nudging and shoving my hip into place for £40 and a few minutes of relief. She did sort of the same thing, but gently lifting it for a long time to allow my hip to fall into that position more naturally.

After this, I am prone to think holistic therapy works better than chiropractics or physiotherapy. What shocked me most was, whereas modern medicine tells me I am sick and my body is not functioning, she told me my body was “vital, potent” and very much alive. She felt my body was responsive to the touch and the therapy itself – meaning it was healthy, or capable of getting there.

Are the effects just psychological? Is it the placebo effect or result of positive manifestations? Maybe – but if it works, why discredit it? The treatment works with you: your body and your mind, instead of violently changing your body chemistry or position for a few moments. I believe in it, but whether I believe that it can cure all ailments I do not know yet.

Welcome to my hectic, mixed world. I lack bias like it is a disease. Former Editor at Brig Newspaper, Psychology & English student, autoimmune.

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