A holistic alternative
According to experts, a holistic approach to health has become increasingly popular among post-secondary students.
While the price tag may be daunting, industry professionals say even the starving student can incorporate holistic health practices into their lifestyle with relative ease.
SAIT’s Health and Wellness Fair held on Jan. 18 in the Heart Atrium, showed clear support for the movement toward homeopathy. Most practitioners’ booths highlighted complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) practices and products, while only one was reserved to promote conventional preventative medicine.
CAM consists of numerous health care products, systems and practices that are not currently considered a part of conventional medicine, because it’s usually based on traditional and cultural medicinal practices rather than scientific evidence.
The National Centre for Complementary and Alternative Medicine categorizes CAM into the following three groups: natural products, mind and body medicine, and manipulative body-based practices.
A recent survey of university students administered by McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont., showed that the majority of respondents (72 per cent) used CAM. McMaster found that the leading practices implemented were use of vitamins and minerals, herbal remedies, massage, yoga and chiropractic services.
“Many people find there’s an immediate improvement in how they feel physically,” said registered massage therapist (RMT) Jennifer Godsman, who works at Urban Revival Therapeutic Services.
Therapeutic massage uses soft tissue manipulation to relieve numerous ailments from physical injury, head and backaches, to workload and day-to-day stress. Godsman said that massage releases endorphins into the body, and the associated good feeling can last seven to 10 days.
“I try and make the massage as enjoyable as possible,” Godsman said. “I like everyone feeling like they’ve kind of had a break.”
Since massage increases circulation and literally “works out” the muscles, she said clients should still be prepared to feel some discomfort.
She said backpack-toting students can benefit from massage therapy, and the SAIT benefit plan means that qualifying students only pay $15 out of pocket for a 30-minute massage. Best of all, maintenance is only required every four to six weeks.
Another lesser-known practice is Reiki (pronounced “ray-key”). The technique requires a healer to place his or her hands on another person. What is referred to as “life force energy” then flows through the healer’s hands to mend blockages in the other person’s body. Spiritual in nature, the technique is not a religion in itself, so anyone can receive or administer it.
Shaman and Reiki Master Doug Horne has practiced this traditionally eastern form of mind-body medicine for 17 years. He says Reiki helps to clear the mind and body from emotional, mental, physical and spiritual trauma.
“We get fixated on one side of the story—a lot of us get in a monkey mind, where there’s a lot of chattering,” said Horne, “It’s about changing peoples’ perspectives about what’s going on in their lives.”
A one-hour session will set students back about $60 (that’s with a $10 student discount), but only needs to be administered once every four to eight weeks. Money-conscientious students can try before they buy by attending a healing session offered the second and fourth Wednesday of each month at Unity Church at 7:30 p.m. Donations are accepted.