Whole Medical Systems
Two practices of note that place equal weight on the body, mind and spirit are ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Ayurveda, meaning "science of life," is a system of medicine that has been practiced in India for thousands of years. As one of the original holistic medical systems, it is practiced in a very individualized manner. Dr. Deepak Chopra played a key role in introducing this medical system to a Western audience. The system, like Traditional Chinese Medicine and Tibetan Medicine, is based on the view that everything is composed of five basic elements—space, air, fire, water and earth. In ayurvedic, it is believed that these elements combine to form three different metabolic and energetic body types, called doshas. Treatments are prescribed according to dosha type, and include a combination of diet, exercise (yoga), meditation, herbs, massage, exposure to sun and breathing exercises (pranayama).
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is one of the world's oldest medical systems and it is the true forefather of "holistic medicine." This system is based on the view that health is determined by proper flow and balance of a person's vital energy, or life force energy, called qi (pronounced CHEE). This life force energy is thought to flow throughout the body along channels called meridians, and it is along these meridians that the points used in acupuncture and acupressure are found. Within this system, there is also an underlying belief that the wellness of mind and emotion is critical to the balance of qi and to overall health. In TCM, herbal medicine, acupuncture, diet, massage and yoga are all combined to enhance the overall flow of qi.