Remember the last time you accidently cut yourself? Maybe it was just a paper cut in the office, or your knife slipped when you were chopping up some vegies at home. Most likely you put on a band-aid and thought nothing further of it. Meanwhile, your body expertly carried out a skilful repair process.

We tend to take for grated our body’s profound capacity for healing and regeneration. Actually, at a cellular level, your body is in a perpetual of state renewal, whereby damaged cells are recycled, and new cells are constantly being created.

Holistic approaches to healing have long had a fascination with harnessing and optimising our inherent healing capacity. Described in various ways such as ‘vital force’ or ‘élan vital’ in the west and Chi or Prana in eastern traditions, the focus is on optimising the body’s ability to heal itself. It’s easy to take this for granted when you are well; it’s only when something overwhelms your ability to heal yourself that you usually take notice.

In acupuncture, the form of holistic medicine I practise, we use needles to rebalance the vital force. Rebalancing the vital force might sound impossibly simplistic or even naive when we’re used to thinking of medicine requiring the latest technology or medicines that have been tested in double placebo trials. Yet, remarkably, these ancient modalities have not just shown longevity but also clinical relevance and efficacy when tested against the most stringent modern research standards.

Modern medicine is less interested in how the body heals itself, instead its focus is on what happens when the body’s healing capacity is overwhelmed, and we fall into disease. Necessarily, it’s much more interventionist. Damaged or unhealthy tissue is chopped out, medications are used to suppress or shut down a disease process.

Both modern and holistic medicine are vitally important. For example, an aggressive cancer or shattered bone needs surgery. However, whilst the surgeon can remove the cancerous growth or screw a plate into your bone and suture your flesh back together, for many it’s only the start of the healing process. If you’re left with chronic pain or emotional trauma, then you’re more likely to be nurtured back to whole health by the rebalancing approach of holistic medicine.

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