Wellness (alternative medicine)


A series image of a woman walking, with visible anatomy (bones, muscles, cardiovascular system) :When it comes to health and wellness, we all start from a different place in terms of age, health and family background. But for each of us, recognizing the importance of an accurate baseline is the first step in that journey. Understanding wellness involves information, responsibility and decision-making, which, in turn, require people to set goals and make choices. Goals will vary widely according to all of the details and circumstances of your life; goals can be personal, as in "I want to do this for myself," but they can also involve others, as in, "I want to do this for my family or children."

Wellness is generally used to mean a healthy balance of the mind, body and spirit that results in an overall feeling of well-being. It has been used in the context of alternative medicine since Halbert L. Dunn, M.D., began using the phrase high level wellness in the 1950s. The modern concept of wellness did not, however, become popular until the 1970s.

Halbert L. Dunn, M.D., began using the phrase high level wellness in the 1950s, based on a series of lectures at a Unitarian Universalist Church in Arlington, Virginia, in the United States. Dunn (196, p. 4) defined wellness as "an integrated method of functioning which is oriented toward maximizing the potential of which the individual is capable. It requires that the individual maintain a continuum of balance and purposeful direction within the environment where he is functioning." He also stated that "wellness is a direction in progress toward an ever-higher potential of functioning" (p. 6).

Alternative approaches to wellness are often denoted by the use of two different phrases: health and wellness, and wellness programs. These kinds of wellness programs offer alternative medicine techniques to improve wellness. Whether these techniques actually improve physical health is controversial and a subject of much debate. James Randi and the James Randi Educational Foundation are outspoken critics of this alternative new age concept of wellness. The behaviors in the pursuit of wellness often include many health related practices, such as making healthy lifestyle changes and utilizing natural therapies.

Wellness, as a luxury pursuit, is found obviously in the more affluent societies because it involves managing the body state after the basic needs of food, shelter and basic medical care have already been met. Many of the practices applied in the pursuit of wellness, in fact, are aimed at controlling the side effects of affluence, such as obesity and inactivity. Wellness grew as a popular concept starting in the 19th century, just as the middle class began emerging in the industrialized world, and a time when a newly prosperous public had the time and the resources to pursue wellness and other forms of self-improvement.


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The material on this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any medical condition. Consult a licensed medical professional for the diagnosis and treatment of all medical conditions and before starting a new diet or exercise program. If you have a medical emergency, call 911 immediately.