Meditation – Part 1

Holistic therapies in integrative healthcare are the inevitable and necessary direction for the future development of healthcare – Meditation as treatment of complementary, integrative and holistic medicine

Holistic healing (medicine) seriously considers the whole person, not just body or mind. It is healing that brings to the person, properly functioning body, mind, spirit/soul in the quest for optimal, balanced wellness and health. Directly, it is bringing balance between body, mind, and soul to function appropriately and synchronized. Holistic practitioners can use the treatment of conventional medicine combined with an alternative with an emphasis on spiritual, mental, social and environmental factors as contributing factors for treating condition or disease. Why is holistic healing (medicine) different from all other forms? Holistic treatment includes fixing the cause of the state/condition, not only alleviating the symptoms; a patient is a person and not just disease; all people have inner healing power. No doubt, holistic healing (medicine) is teamwork, including holistic practitioner, a patient, and it considering explorations of all aspects of a patient’s life, mental status, spiritual, social and other factors.

No doubt, the human mind-body-soul possesses an outstanding innate ability to heal. It is grounded mainly in the conserved systems of the brain and body through human evolution; it looks like nature appears to function as the fundamental source of wellness along the two vectors of attention and relaxation (Kaufman J.A., 2018). Generally, our species is moving away from nature at a time when humanity is just beginning to rediscover its benefits. Exposure to environments may provide a resource of healing that can be extended through a continuum of intervention through the use of many holistic interventions and treatments. The result might be an improved ability to promote greater functioning. The time has come for a more holistic medicine guided by the hand of nature (Kaufman J.A., 2018).

As Fan D. and colleagues stated 2017, Western (conventional) medicine had encountered unprecedented problems associated with substantial changes and movements in nature, society, and environment, as well as with new human quests for survival, longevity, and health (Fan D., 2017). In the meantime, the development of conventional medicine (Western medicine) is facing tremendous challenges that resulted from the over-division, narrow sub-specialization and as a consequence the fragmentation and separation of medical knowledge. Indeed, one of the strategies to construct a new medical system that is more suitable for human health and disease treatment in the 21st century would be the incorporation of holistic and alternative medicine as a part of integrative and functional medicine which represents more broad approach. It takes into consideration the human body as a holistic entity including body-mind-soul/spirit, spiritual section and environmental and social factors, and integrates the most advanced knowledge in every medical field of conventional medicine and the most effective practices in various clinical specialties to revise and adjust on the basis of social, environmental, psychological and spiritual conditions (Fan D., 2017).

According to Burke A. and colleagues, meditation appears to provide an easily accessible, self-care resource that has potential value for mental health, behavioral self-regulation, and integrative medical care (Burke A. et al., 2017). According to their data 74%, people use meditation for purposes of wellness and prevention, and it was a more common reason than use to treat a specific health condition (30%). Common reasons for use meditation included stress management (92%) and emotional well-being (91%), and to support other health behaviors. Meditation was viewed positively because it was self-care oriented (81%) and focused on the whole person (79%) (Burke A. et al., 2017).

The occurrence of disease is closely related to one’s mental, physical and spiritual health, society, social and economic factors, culture, and environment. It is not enough to approach medicine in a manner that merely eradicates symptoms; the psychosocial aspects of disease and its mind-based possible causes must be a primary consideration. Holistic care involves harmonization of all these elements mentioned above, and the Buddhist philosophy offers excellent insight for the physician (Kalra S. et al., 2018).

Simkin E.R. and colleagues exhibited that meditation and mindfulness techniques produce neurobiological changes in the brain and physiologic improvements in body function that are enduring for patients who continue to practice these techniques. Authors have stated that no significant adverse effects have been identified. However, the authors reported that providers who offer these techniques should be well trained to ensure the best results (Simkin E.R. et al., 2014).

There is substantial evidence demonstrating positive benefits from meditation in some clinical populations especially for stress reduction, anxiety, depression, and pain improvement, although future research would benefit by addressing the remaining methodological and conceptual issues. Meditation research continues to grow to allow us to understand greater nuances of how meditation works and its effects (Brandmeyer T. et al., 2019).

How can meditation help with some certain diseases and medical conditions?

Scientific medical, complementary, integrative and functional medicine provided substantial research data related to meditation as a part of holistic treatment in many pathological conditions. Recent scientific medical research data showed that meditation could be an excellent addition to conventional medicine as a complementary, integrative treatment for many medical conditions and diseases. Recent scientific data exhibited that meditation can be useful supplemental treatment for diseases and conditions such as pre-surgical and post-surgical treatment, major depressive disorder, severe depression and treatment-resistant depression, hypertension (particularly systolic), obesity, multiple sclerosis, in geriatric depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, migraine, as a supportive treatment for patients on dialysis, and bodily distress syndrome. In the next blog, we will discuss all these new scientific data. Meditation is a common type of therapy as a supplemental therapy in complementary, integrative medicine, or as a separate, individual therapy in the alternative, and holistic medicine. It is encouraging, the evidence for its usefulness for health promotion is growing. According to the recent study of Upchurch D.M. and colleagues, women are more open for this type of treatment, (Upchurch D.M. et al., 2019).

References:

Kaufman JA. Nature, Mind, and Medicine: A Model for Mind-Body Healing. Explore (NY). 2018 Jul – Aug;14(4):268-276. doi: 10.1016/j.explore.2018.01.001. Epub 2018 Apr 27.

Fan D. Holistic integrative medicine: toward a new era of medical advancement. Front Med. 2017 Mar;11(1):152-159. doi: 10.1007/s11684-017-0499-6. Epub 2017 Mar 2.

Burke A, Lam CN, Stussman B, Yang H. Prevalence and patterns of use of mantra, mindfulness and spiritual meditation among adults in the United States. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2017 Jun 15;17(1):316. doi: 10.1186/s12906-017-1827-8.

Kalra S, Priya G, Grewal E, Aye TT, Waraich BK, SweLatt T, Khun T, Phanvarine M, Sutta S, Kaush U, Manilka, Ruder S1, Kalra B. Lessons for the Health-care Practitioner from Buddhism. Indian J Endocrinol Metab. 2018 Nov-Dec;22(6):812-817. doi: 10.4103/ijem.IJEM_286_17.

Simkin DR, Black NB. Meditation and mindfulness in clinical practice. Child Adolesc Psychiatr Clin N Am. 2014 Jul;23(3):487-534. doi: 10.1016/j.chc.2014.03.002.

Brandmeyer T, Delorme A, Wahbeh H. The neuroscience of meditation: classification, phenomenology, correlates, and mechanisms. Prog Brain Res. 2019;244:1-29. doi: 10.1016/bs.pbr.2018.10.020. Epub 2019 Jan 16.

Upchurch DM, Johnson PJ. Gender Differences in Prevalence, Patterns, Purposes, and Perceived Benefits of Meditation Practices in the United States. J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2019 Feb;28(2):135-142. doi: 10.1089/jwh.2018.7178. Epub 2018 Dec 13.