Dr. Philip Holder
Copyright by Philip Holder 1999


Alternative health and wellness modalities. A new way to a healthy lifestyle. Not so… they have been with us for centuries. The fact is that the general public is just now rediscovering them.

In recent years Holistic approaches to health and fitness have enjoyed increased popularity. Holistic and homeopathic health concepts, however, are nothing new. Much of what is publicized as being “new concepts” in holistic health are simply ancient modalities that have been relabeled or slightly modified to fit modern cultural bias. More often than not, when someone mentions a new modality (method or approach) to me, I recognize it to be something already contained in Shaolin Kung-fu and classical Chinese medicine. Modern culture is simply rediscovering these wonderful tools for wellness and peace of mind.

Simply put, holistic health refers to modalities addressing the wellness of an individual by considering all areas that make up that individual person. Mind, body, and spirit, are all accepted as being interacting parts of the entire being. Holistic practitioners seek to promote health by cultivating jointly the wellness of body, mind, and spirit. Also, holistic philosophy places greater the emphasis on prevention and on maintaining wellness than does western medicine (western medicine tends to focus on curing, after the fact).

Ultimately, that which works will be accepted, no matter how much resistance it encounters. Most resistance to holistic modalities comes from those who fear that they will not benefit financially from the change. A good example, seen a short time ago was when the AMA and the pharmaceutical companies attempted to make vitamins and natural supplements available by prescription only. Because such natural substances cannot be patented, they simply sough another way to “corner the market” on these ever more popular health supplements. Many from mainstream western medicine would like to see all holistic modalities be subjugated to their (western medicine’s) authority. This should come as no surprise. They see a cash cow and want it I their barn. If you want to find out where the greatest resistance to the expansion of holistic health methods comes from, follow the cash.

Fortunately this is not representative of all of the western medical community. There are those physicians and educators that do appreciate the holistic health fields and the benefits that they hold. They recognize that these fields are unique and separate professions (from western medicine) that can be of immense benefit to those who utilize them. These are the medical professionals that have overcome greed and ego and who truly aspire to see that all people have access to what works best for them.

In the last decade, it is evident that western medicine has begun to adopt more and more of the holistic approaches to health. This is because the public is becoming better educated and informed as to the benefits of preventative care and wellness. Most western physicians, however, still adhere primarily to the practice of curative, after the fact, medicine.

Insurance too companies are beginning to appreciate the holistic approach to wellness. Many are beginning to accept and pay for certain holistic modalities. This is not necessarily out of the good of their hearts. They are coming to realize that keeping people well is cheaper than curing a person who has become seriously ill.

Chiropractic was one of the first modalities outside of conventional western medicine to be covered by insurance. Now, some insurance companies are beginning to cover other modalities as well (e.g. massage therapy, acupuncture, hypnotherapy etc.)

The most important changes that must take place must be made within the general public. It is important that each and every person take responsibility for his or her own health. Most people were brought up with the attitude that it was only important to think about getting well after becoming ill (You go to the doctor when you are sick). It is important to change that mindset. The idea of getting regular exams/physicals, eating a healthy diet, exercising, getting proper rest, and taking natural supplements that help to facilitate muscle and bone development and that will bolster our immune system, makes more sense than curing the individual after illness strikes. Also, since what affects the body affects the mind and vice versa, meditation, positive behavior modification through such modalities as hypnotherapy and stress management classes are also important in gaining an overall sense of health and wellness. I’m sure that you know…when you’re showered, all dressed up for a night out, and you look good, and that causes you to feel good. If you have the flu, your mind doesn’t work as sharply and your motivation and enthusiasm (spirit) is weakened. This is a simple example of the interaction of mind, body, and spirit.

Homeopathy is the science of working within nature to promote primarily wellness and when necessary, to facilitate recovery. This may be accomplished by use of homeopathic/natural remedies and by use of many modalities of therapy such as herbology, massage, shiatzu, acupuncture, hypnotherapy and so forth.

Each individual should have a wellness plan that suits his or her age, lifestyle, and personal attributes. I personally, use a number of supplements, I meditate, and I spar (aerobic exercise). I also do progressive resistance training (anaerobic exercise). I take a soy protein supplement on heavy training days. Some of the other supplements that I take include, a multiple vitamin and mineral supplement, Ginko Biloba, S.O.D. (super oxide dismutase), D.H.E.A., Calcium, vitamin C, Yohimbe, Ginseng, Creatin Monohydrate, and Melatonin (at night). I spar about 3 hours per week and I do progressive resistance training 3 times a week for about an hour each time. As well, I meditate many times during the week. At 48 years old, this plan works well for me. My students jokingly call me the old man. I say jokingly because I normally wear out two or three of these guys in their twenties and thirties during sparring sessions. This is not by chance. It is because I accept responsibility for, and take care of myself. Anyone can do it if they are willing to put in the effort. You can be active and full of vitality right through your senior years if you are willing to do what it takes.


Holistic health concepts are not new. The connection between Shaolin Kung-fu and holistic health has long been evident to me. Many of the holistic health concepts were developed in ancient China and were nurtured refined within the walls of the Shaolin Temples. When a master had an injured or sick student, he could not send him to the nearest clinic. He was the health provider. These healing arts, therefore, developed out of necessity and we are all aware that “necessity is the mother of invention”.

The study of meditation (through my Kung Fu) is what led me to become a hypnotherapist. Through the years my studies have led me to understand that virtually nothing is new. Individuals may refine and improve existing therapies (and that is both commendable and necessary), but nothing is really new. What we often hear are new revelations in natural health have their roots in ancient healing arts.

The contents of this article are only my opinion, based on my many years of study and hands on experience within my teaching and within my private practice. I am certain that holistic modalities will play an ever growing roll in health care in the years to come. It is a rapidly growing career field. This is not to imply that western medicine does not have a place… Far from it. The best results are achieved when the two (conventional and alternative) work together. Many ailments can be prevented, reduced in severity, or eliminated through various holistic modalities. If, however, my appendix was about to burst… Please find me a good surgeon… Quickly !

The concept of seeing a practitioner regularly to keep well, is standard procedure in classical Chinese medicine. Western Doctors are now beginning to recognize the benefits in this. This being said, staying well by addressing all of the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of a person will not only improve health, but the persons quality of life as well.


The main motivating factor for any health care or wellness provider should be an honest desire to help people to a better quality of life. There is no greater reward than knowing what you do has a positive impact on those that you encounter. I find this motivation especially strong among those in the alternative health community. The vast majority of holistic practitioners have an earnest desire to give of their talents and knowledge and to be of benefit to those they service. Even between practitioners who might be viewed as competitors in conventional circles, there is minimal competition. For the most part they work together and share there knowledge openly. When your motivation is to give, you get so much in return.


I recently had a client with severe neck pain. We’ll call her Betty (not her real name) in this article. Betty’s pain was the result of a motorcycle injury incurred over 25 years prior to her coming to my office. The range of motion in her neck was drastically impaired and the pain was, for all intents and purposes, constant. Often she would have to leave work early, the pain in her neck too much to bare. When driving, the pain would become so distracting that she would frequently have to pull off of the road as a result of that pain. She had tried many medical solutions with no success. After confirmation from her physician that pain management was an acceptable treatment, I agreed to take her case.

[NOTE: Before implementing any pain management techniques, it is important to confirm that such treatment will not mask any symptoms that a physician may need for diagnosis of other medical conditions (e.g.: removing symptoms of pain in the arm that could be an early warning signal of a heart attack etc.). Pain is a signal from your body that something is wrong and therefore often serves a useful propose.]

In Betty’s particular case, the pain was a result of scar tissue and not from an ongoing medical condition. She was, therefore, a prime candidate for pain management by hypnotherapy.

After Betty completed her first session, she had virtually no pain in her neck. Because of this I was able to offer suggestions for some limbering exercises to facilitate an increase in the range of motion of her neck. I invited her to join our meditation group (which she did) as a means of gaining greater ability to relax and to prevent muscle spasms.

When Betty came to her second session, she had an ear to ear smile. The pain in her neck had not returned. Further more, her range of motion had nearly doubled. Soon after, she sent me a touching letter. Here are some excerpts from that letter:

“Dear Sir (Dr. Holder),

I am writing to express my heart felt gratitude and sincere thanks for helping me reclaim and enjoy my life again. For the first time in years, I am finally realizing relief from the agony I had been suffering.”… “According to many doctors (my accident), left me with pinched nerves in my upper spine, headaches, numbness in the left side of my face and left arm, bulging discs, weakness in my left arm and unbearable pain. Earlier this year, I was told that I had developed arthritis in my neck and upper spine. You can imagine how upsetting these reports were. I was very discouraged and depressed. I was close to giving up but did not want to accept what the medical professionals had told me. I am sharing this with you so that you can understand why I feel I have been blessed by meeting you. The result are spectacular. Even now I could fill with tears of joy as I write to you.” [The letter goes on in much the same fashion.]

To me, a letter like the one above, is truly the best reward that anyone could receive. What greater reward in life than to know that you have helped others to enjoy a higher quality of life… To know that you are serving a far greater purpose than simply working to pay the bills. This gives true meaning to life.

I am not implying that hypnosis repaired the damage to Betty’s neck. Hypnosis cannot remove scar tissue. The pain management techniques that I used simply made it possible for her to block out the pain… To self anesthetize. Prior to her visiting my office, the damage within her neck was sending constant messages to her brain saying, “there’s something wrong”. The hypnotherapy simply gave her a way by which to stop that message. After her therapy, her mind essentially responded to the message that something was wrong by saying, “okay… I know that something is wrong, now stop reminding me of it 24 and 7”. The end result was that the pain no longer registered. Effectively, she was pain free. It is such a wonderful feeling to help return someone’s life to them.


I teach Wing Chun Kung Fu classes regularly. Before each physical class, we have a brief meditation where I announce the “thought for the evening”. After the physical class, we have a meditation period and then discuss that thought. This is to create an equilibrium… a balance. It is to allow the Yin and Yang within each person to develop in harmony.

In my hypnotherapy practice, I encourage my clients to realize the importance of overall wellness. Although the techniques of hypnotherapy are very powerful in helping people to make positive lifestyle changes and to overcome fears and break bad habits, I encourage them to realize that health and wellness are best served when all areas of wellness are cultivated together. When your body is healthy, your mind feels more alert and centered. When your mind is at peace, factors like stress are unable to reek havoc on the physical body.

By addressing health from a holistic viewpoint, we increase our wellness and our quality of life. Mind, body, and spirit are not separate issues… They are interdependent.


We all bare the responsibility for maintaining our bodies and minds in a healthy state. No one can do it for you, and it won’t happen by reading about it or thinking about it. Each of us must take the action step to assure the best possible physical and emotional health. When you have a health body and a sound mind, everything is better. Recreation, work, sex, interaction with others… everything is better. When you are healthy and fit, you look better, you feel better, and therefore your self esteem grows. When you feel good about yourself, you can accomplish wonderful things.

As in all areas of life, there are no free rides. What you put in, you will get out. With proper guidance and the desire and commitment to improve the quality of your life, you will find the price small in comparison to the results.

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