The History of Wellness

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The word “wellness” is a term that has been bandied about by health buffs and amateurs alike ever since Dr. Halbert Dunn first coined the phrase “high level wellness” in his lectures at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Arlington, Virginia in the 1950s. Even though the idea of wellness, defined as “an active process of becoming aware of and making choices toward a more successful existence” by the National Wellness Association in Singapore, has caught on since that fateful utterance by Dr. Dunn, the concept of wellness itself is not a new one. It seems that man has been interested in keeping himself healthy and in promoting his general well-being since time immemorial.

Every major civilization that existed since the hallowed days of antiquity has promulgated its own ideas of how health and wellness should be promoted among the populace. A recurrent theme among these early civilizations throughout different periods is that the body interacts with its environment, and whatever conditions that the body may be showing or may be experiencing is a result of this interaction between it and its environment. Some elements of the mystical and the spiritual may factor into the theme as well.

For instance, the Lascaux caves in France have prehistoric drawings of healers using plants to keep the members of their clans healthy and strong. It is not hard to imagine these shamans chanting invocations while they administer their plant-derived powders and brews to his kinsmen who need it.

The Egyptians way back in its ancient dynastic eras were famed throughout the known world for possessing physicians with tremendous abilities to heal and to keep their patients healthy. The Edwin Smith papyrus, an ancient manuscript dating to 1600 BC and documenting the Egyptian methods of treating battlefield injuries, showed the attention given by the Egyptians to diagnosing injuries and ailments using observation skills and knowledge of anatomy. The Egyptians, nonetheless, also approached wellness with considerable amount of superstition and magic, as accorded by the Ebers papyrus, another primary source on Egyptian medicine.

The Chinese may not have approached the idea of wellness with the same amount of fantastic mysticism that the Egyptians did, but they believe that each process that the human body goes through is closely related to its environment. To maintain health, the body and its environment must be in complete harmony. Based on this principle, the Chinese have developed acupuncture, their own brand of herbal medicine, as well as therapeutic massage.

Harmony is also a principle behind India’s Ayurveda, an Eastern medical practice that was developed some 2,000 years ago. Ayurveda literally means “the knowledge of long life,” and practitioners of this art are rigorously trained in the extensive details of how to keep patients healthy through the use of natural materials, massage and surgery.

The Hebrews and the Moslems both practice rigid rituals of wellness as part of their religious beliefs. Both the Bible and the Koran document methods of maintaining a healthy diet and a hygienic regimen in order to prevent illnesses from afflicting the body. The Moslems, however, have made tremendous advances in the field of medicine in the medieval age.

The Greeks and the Romans have their interesting four humors theory, wherein the health, temperament and disposition of a person depends on the humors in his body – yellow bile, black bile, blood and phlegm. An illness is interpreted as an imbalance in a person’s humors, and so ailments are treated through bloodletting, inducing vomiting and expulsion of phlegm, and such.

The European Christians of the medieval era have mixed whatever scientific knowledge they have gained from classical texts and Islamic advances with religious fervor. Illness in the body is interpreted as a product of destiny or sin, and a physician in medieval Europe is often an astrologer himself. Prayers and divination always include treatments and endeavors towards wellness.


Source by Thesa Sambas

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