Can holistic medicines cure mental illnesses such as PTSD or schizophrenia?
Hello, all my resilient readers! I have had a long run-in with PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, and recently I’ve started to take medicine. I didn’t want to be on medication, so before that, I was researching herbal remedies and other holistic medicines that might help me.
I found that what benefits me is a mixture of everything. Now what I might find helpful may not be helpful to others. Always work with your healthcare provider and find the best match for yourself.
Holistic Medicine Defined
What is holistic medicine? In an article titled Holistic Medicine: Advances and Shortcomings, the author James Gordon writes that “holistic medicine is an attitudinal approach to health care rather than a particular set of techniques. It addresses the psychological, familial, social, ethical, and spiritual as well as biological dimensions of health and illness. The holistic approach emphasizes the uniqueness of each patient, the mutuality of the doctor-patient relationship, each person’s responsibility for his or her own healthcare, and society’s responsibility for the promotion of health” (1982).
Now I know what you’re thinking, cool definition, but what is it really? Some examples of holistic medicine might include Yoga, massages, herbal medicine, meditation, and even hypnosis.
A Good Combination
Sounds like hippies might have been onto something, right? Well, these kinds of activities, coupled with therapy or even medication, can impact a person’s health. I have been doing yoga on and off now, and when I don’t do it, I notice a difference. Not just in my body physically but in my mind and in my soul. My PTSD makes me irritable and quick to anger and also causes my disassociation to come more frequently. By taking time to meditate and stretch out my body, I feel more present in the world around me.
My brother has schizophrenia and recently told me about how someone on Facebook reached out to him with an herbal cure for schizophrenia. So many red flags in that you’d think we were at a carnival. I started digging into the idea of a cure through herbal or natural medicine for schizophrenia. I did find a study was done which states that when coupled with antipsychotic medicine glycine, sarcosine, NAC, several Chinese and ayurvedic herbs, ginkgo biloba, estradiol, and vitamin B6 may be effective (Hoenders, et. al., 2018)
I’m not saying to go consume a bottle of B6 because some of these findings also had adverse effects depending on which specific antipsychotic medication the patients took. What I am saying is that research does support that herbal or natural products can diminish symptoms, NOT CURE.
My thoughts on why meditation or yoga can aid in diminishing symptoms caused by mental health issues are that we are healing our minds and bodies. Think about how present you are during meditation and how at ease you feel. Releasing the stress you might feel helps your body get a break. Even during a panic attack, I start controlling my breathing to signify to my body that there’s nothing to panic over.
Holistic medicines may not be the cure to all our mental health issue, but it is a relief for some symptoms. I urge everyone to talk with their primary care providers to see if something might work for you. Relief may be just a forward fold away.
**This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your mental health professional or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding your condition. Never disregard professional advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on the Serotonin Soup website! **
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Gordon J. S. (1982). Holistic medicine: advances and shortcomings. The Western journal of medicine, 136(6), 546–551.
Hoenders, H., Bartels-Velthuis, A. A., Vollbehr, N. K., Bruggeman, R., Knegtering, H., & de Jong, J. (2018). Natural Medicines for Psychotic Disorders: A Systematic Review. The Journal of nervous and mental disease, 206(2), 81–101. https://doi.org/10.1097/NMD.0000000000000782