complementary healing

The Global Faces of Complementary Healing | Guest Post by Lydia-Joi Marshall

Expert guest blogger Lydia-Joi Marshall is back! In today’s post, she goes in-depth about the rich history of complementary healing techniques found throughout the world- all of which who possess their own unique ancient regenerative benefits. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is just one of the many international medical practices, but how many have you heard about? 

These days the term “Western Medicine” has become synonymous with chemical or more invasive medical interventions. Conversely, alternative or traditional medicine is thought of as a more natural approach to health care.

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines traditional medicine as;

The sum total of the knowledge, skills, and practices based on the theories, beliefs, and experiences indigenous to different cultures, whether explicable or not, used in the maintenance of health as well as in the prevention, diagnosis, improvement or treatment of physical and mental illness.


Many from the halls of academia to the posts of exuberant internet scholars have debated the merits of modern technology vs. ancient techniques. While there is truth to both sides of the argument, “Western Medicine” can incorporate a wide range of practices, and has eradicated many common causes of disease and has improved the quality of life for many.

Naturopathic remedies while rich with a plethora of curative properties also have the potential to cause harm and should be approached with caution.  If you don’t believe me take a walk in your local forest and just randomly graze on any berry, you see. You either will discover a new detoxifying remedy or run into some issues. 

The new trend when finding alternative medical lifestyles seems to be to look towards Chinese medicine.  Although this has a rich history of healing techniques, many other regions in the world also have ancient natural healing practices that can equally complement our modern medicine.

Here are a few to consider;

Khemetic Medicine 

This is the ancient African or more specifically Egyptian practice of medicine which predates most written accounts of treatment. Some of the main principles centre around our physical health being affected by our spiritual and mental condition. To have a well and focused mind was thought to have a well-functioning body. Also, there was a systemic practice made between the foods we eat and the manifestation of disease. Solving indigestion was at the root of much healing, and we see the influence of these practices in much of modern medicine. For example, the Acacia tree was used in Khemetic practice to treat stomach inflammation and better digestion; it is still used in modern pharmaceuticals for the same reason.

Aryuvedic Medicine 

This traditional Indian form of medicine focuses on maintaining balance to maintain good health.  This balance must be in the body, mind, and spirit, but also what is believed as the universal elements of Vata (air, cold, dry), Pitta (fire, hot) and Kapha (earth, water). The idea is to find out what your individual constitution of these elements are, and then use a variety of techniques including meditation, diet modifications, herbal supplements and adjusting pressure points in the body to realign them.

North American Indigenous Medicine

This term includes multiple various groups of ancient practices and beliefs. There seems to be a common thread in many of them, in that they focus first on the spirit to address physical healing. A combination of both ritual and herbal remedies is often used to lay the foundation for long-term care. One example of a traditional practice used by multiple indigenous groups is the creation of a sacred hoop, or more commonly known as a medicine wheel. This addresses various elements in life that help to align overall well-being. It is divided into the four quadrants and can contain various elements including but not limited to the cardinal points, sacred animals, the seasons, stages of life (spiritual, intellectual, physical) sacred healing herbs (sage, sweet grass, cedar, and tobacco.)

Whether you like to choose conventional methods or chose to meditate out all of your illnesses, be aware of what is out there. Educate yourself on the root of both “Western” and international complementary healing methods of health care, and how your own body works at its optimal! There is sure to be a practice in our global medicine cabinet that best suits you. 

Lydia-Joi Marshall 

Lydia Joi Marshall
Lydia-Joi is a genetic researcher, community advocate and new urban mother of one healthy little boy. All roles allow her to explore her creative and problem solving sides, while maintaining a healthy sense of humour about her limitations. As a citizen of the world who resides in the Toronto area, she draws on her academic and personal experiences to spark conversation about everyday total wellness.
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