The Roots of Wellness: A Journey Through the History of Holistic Practices

Published on 25 Nov, 2023

In the tapestry of time, the roots of wellness stretch across centuries, weaving a narrative of ancient traditions and timeless practices. As we embark on this journey through history, we uncover a rich tapestry that has shaped the holistic approach to well-being.


Ancient Wisdom: The Foundation of Holistic Practices

The roots of wellness find their deepest grounding in ancient civilisation that recognised the intricate connection between the mind, body and spirit. From the Ayurvedic practices of Ancient India to the traditional Chinese medicine systems, holistic well-being was woven into the fabric of daily life.


Ayurveda – The Science of Life:

Originating over 5,000 years ago, in the Indian subcontinent, Ayurveda remains one of the world’s oldest holistic healing systems. The Sanskrit words “Ayur” (life) and “Veda” (knowledge) converge to form a philosophy that views health as a delicate balance between the body, mind and spirit. Ayurvedic practices incorporate herbal medicine, diet, meditation, and yoga, providing a comprehensive guide to holistic living.


Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) – The Harmony of Qi:

In the ancient realms of China, Traditional Chinese Medicine emerged as a holistic approach to health that seeks to balance the vital energy, or Qi, flowing through the body. Acupuncture, herbal medicine and practices like Tai Chi and Qigong aim to harmonise the opposing forces of Yin and Yang, fostering equilibrium with the individual.


The Greek Influence: Mind, Body and Soul

In the cradle of Western civilisation, the Greeks laid the foundation for holistic philosophy with a profound understanding of the interconnectedness of mind, body, and soul.


Hippocratic Medicine – Treating the Whole Person:

Hippocrates, often hailed as the father of Western medicine, emphasised the importance of treating the whole person rather than just the symptoms. His teachings advocated for a holistic approach that considered the individual’s lifestyle, diet, and environmental factors in the pursuit of well-being.


Philosophy and the Mind-Body Connection:

Greek philosophers, such as Plato and Aristotle, delved into the intricacies of the mind-body connection, recognising that mental and emotional states could significantly impact physical health. Their philosophical inquiries laid the groundwork for understanding the holistic nature of well-being that extends beyond the realm of the physical body.


The Middle Ages: Alchemy and Herbalism

As the Middle Ages unfolded, the roots of wellness delved into the realms of alchemy and herbalism, where mystical practices intertwined with the medicinal.


Alchemy – The Quest for Transformation:

In the pursuit of spiritual and physical transformation, alchemists sought the philosopher’s stone – a substance believed to grant immortality and healing. While the literal transmutation of base metals eluded them, the symbolic journey of alchemy emphasised the transformative nature of holistic well-being,


Herbalism – Nature’s Remedies:

Herbalism, a practice rooted in the use of plant-based remedies, flourished during the Middle Ages. Monks cultivated medicinal gardens, compiling knowledge of herbs and their healing properties. These herbal traditions, passed down through the generations, formed the basis for holistic approaches to health that continue to thrive today.


The Renaissance: Revival of Knowledge

The Renaissance marked a period of revival in art, culture, and knowledge, including a renewed interest in the holistic understanding of human health.


Paracelsus and the Doctrine of Signatures :

Paracelsus, a Renaissance physician and alchemist, introduced the Doctrine of Signatures, asserting that plants resembling certain body parts could be used to heal ailments in those specific areas. This concept emphasised the interconnectedness of nature and the human body, contributing to the holistic perspective of well-being.


Eastern Influence in the West: Yoga and Mindfulness

As the world became more interconnected, the Eastern philosophies of wellness found their way to the Western hemisphere, bringing with them practices that resonated with the holistic approach.


Yoga – The Union of Mind, Body and Spirit:

Yoga, originating in Ancient India, gained widespread popularity in the West as a holistic practice that unites physical postures, breath control, and meditation. Beyond the physical benefits, yoga emphasises the connection between the mind, body and spirit, fostering a sense of balance and well-being.


Mindfulness and Meditation:

Eastern practices of mindfulness and meditation found their place in Western societies as tools for stress reduction, mental clarity and overall well-being. Rooted in traditions like Buddhism, these practices offer a holistic approach to mental and emotional health, encouraging individuals to cultivate present-moment awareness.


Modern Holistic Practices: Integrative Medicine

In the contemporary landscape, the roots of wellness have evolved into this field of integrative medicine, where traditional and contemporary approaches converge for a comprehensive approach to health.


Holistic Health in the 21st Century:

Modern holistic practice embrace a diverse range of approaches, including integrative medicine, functional medicine, and alternative therapies. These practices acknowledge the unique aspects of each individual, considering not only the physical symptoms but also lifestyle, nutrition, and emotional well-being.


Integrative and Functional Medicine:

Integrative medicine combines conventional medical practices with complementary therapies, recognising the importance of addressing the whole person. Functional medicine, a subset of integrative medicine, seeks to identify and address the root causes of illness, emphasising personalised and preventative care.


The Future of Holistic Well-Being: A Continuum of Wisdom

As we reflect on the roots of wellness, it becomes evident that the journey is a continuum of wisdom passed down through cultures and generations. The future holds the promise of continued integration, innovation, and a deeper understanding of the interconnected nature of our well-being.


Technology and Holistic Health:

Advancements in technology are reshaping the landscape of holistic health, with wearable devices, virtual reality, and digital platforms offering new avenues for personalised well-being. The integration of technology with ancient wisdom opens doors to innovative approaches that cater to individual needs.


Global Collaborations for Well-Being:

In an era of global connectivity, diverse cultures and traditions contribute to the evolving tapestry of holistic well-being. Collaborations between Eastern and Western practices, indigenous wisdom, and modern science create a mosaic that reflects the richness of human understanding and the pursuit of optimal health.



In conclusion, the roots of wellness run deep, connecting us to the wisdom of ancient civilisations, guiding us through the transformative ages, and inspiring the holistic practices of today. As we navigate the intricate web of well-being, may we continue to honour the roots that ground us and embrace the ever-unfolding journey towards holistic health.


There has been a lot of information in this month’s blog and we’ve only just scratched the surface. Over the next few months, I’ll be exploring these concepts further and taking a detailed look at the possibilities for holistic health in the future.



Get in Touch

If you would like to discuss your own personal journey to true wellness and balance, I’m just an email or a call away. As we take this journey through the history of wellness and discover where it all began and where it may be heading, let’s take this journey together.


Love, Light and Blessings to you all


Eva Staniforth

Wellness and Balance Coach


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