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Different Philosophies of Wellness

Updated on February 23, 2017

Scholarly Discussion: Based on what you have learned in the course so far, discuss the similarities and differences between the philosophies of wellness presented this week. Discuss how they relate to the concept of wellness as defined in this course, how they relate to specific challenges or supports for wellness, and how learning about different philosophies may have influenced your own conceptualization of wellness.

During the course of history there have been many different philosophies of wellness that have been both proven and disproven over time. I will be focusing on the philosophies involving the relationship of the human body to the natural world and integration between the mind and body which are: the philosophies of the ancient Greeks, Ayurvedic medicine, Tibetan medicine, and traditional Chinese medicine.

The ancient Greek culture had a much different philosophy towards medicine than we do today. The Greeks based their medicine off of the idea that Mother Nature was a healing goddess and that with the right amount of time and conditions, nature can heal everything; however that does not mean that the Greeks did not come up with medical treatments, just that their treatments tended to be holistic or natural in nature (Greek Medicine, 2015). The Greeks believed that disease and dysfunction were caused by a person lacking harmony with the natural environment that surrounded them which caused healers to try to treat patients by restoring their harmony in order to help bring the patient back into balance with the world. The ancient Greek medicine system seems to have been based on the emotional, environmental, and spiritual dimensions of wellness with how they sought to bring a person back into balance.

According to National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (2016) Ayurvedic medicine originated in India and is one of the world’s oldest forms of medicine. Ayurvedic medicine involves treatment plans that encompass herbal compounds and special diets. Ayurvedic treatments are made from either herbs or a mixture of herbs, metals, and minerals; while these treatments can be effective many of the herbs have side effects and certain metals can be toxic and/or poisonous. Ayurvedic medicine seems to be based entirely on the physical dimension of wellness as it is built on diet through either special diets or herbal remedies and mixtures. This type of medicine does not take into account psychological and social factors at all; this could lead to difficulty in treating a person whose symptoms are psychologically based.

Tibetan medicine is based on Buddhist philosophy and psychology; their treatments take into account three major aspects which are: body, energy and mind (Tibetan Medicine Education Center, 2015). Tibetan medicine seems to be very similar to the biopsychosocial model which states that “biological, psychological, and social factors are all involved in any given state of health or illness” (Taylor, 2015, p. 316). However, where the biopsychosocial model considers all three aspects for treatment, the Tibetan medicine is based on the belief that “the three principles give positive health when they are in equilibrium and harmony, and bring ill health when the balance between them is lost” (Tibetan Medicine Education Center, 2015). The Tibetan medicine seems to involve the emotional, intellectual, physical, and spiritual dimensions of wellness in both diagnosing and treatment of patients.

Traditional Chinese medicine began in ancient China and has continued to evolve over the years to the point that it has a place in modern medicine. Traditional Chinese medicine is based off the use of herbal medicines as well as mind and body practices; some examples of these practices are acupuncture and tai chi which can be used both to treat and prevent health problems from occurring (NIH, 2016). Traditional Chinese medicine is considered to be safe as long as the patient is being treated by a knowledgeable practitioner and that all herbal remedies are checked for contaminants and drug reactions prior to use. Traditional Chinese medicine seems to be holistically based and involves the emotional, physical, and spiritual dimensions of wellness in its practices and treatments.

Prior to beginning my research into medicine practices whose philosophies involve the relationship of the human body to the natural world and integration between the mind and body, I had never considered the effect that ancient medicine had on modern medicine. I knew that modern medicine had evolved from ancient medicine, but I had not considered the different philosophies or the fact that they are still prevalent today. I found the traditional Chinese medicine to be the most interesting because I never truly thought about how acupuncture and tai chi were ancient Chinese medical practices or the amazing fact that they are still used today. I found it fascinating that none of the different philosophies involved all eight dimensions of wellness in their treatments, but that most of them comprise several of the dimensions.

References

Greek Medicine. (2015). Basic principles of natural healing in Greek medicine. Retrieved

http://www.greekmedicine.net/introduction.html

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. (2016). Ayurvedic Medicine: In Depth

Retrieved https://nccih.nih.gov/health/ayurveda/introduction.htm

NIH. (2016). Traditional Chinese Medicine: In Depth

Retrieved https://nccih.nih.gov/health/whatiscam/chinesemed.htm

Taylor, S. (2015). Health Psychology (9th ed.). McGraw-Hill Education.

Tibetan Medicine Education Center. (2015). Tibetan Medicine. Retrieved

http://www.tibetanmedicine-edu.org/index.php/the-tibetan-medicine

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