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What Is Personal Medicine?

By Nicole Etolen
Updated May 17, 2024
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Personal medicine refers to the non-medical actions taken to enhance a person's health or improve a medical condition. While traditional medicine plays an important role in treating health conditions, those who practice personal medicine also believe that the small actions, such as meditating, exercising, or simply taking a moment to enjoy a beautiful garden, can help enhance overall health. The basic premise behind the practice is that the state of the mind has a powerful effect on the body, and balancing one may help balance the other. While it is most common in the mental health field, it is also popular among those with chronic diseases, including cancer or fibromyalgia.

For those suffering from depression and other mental health conditions, personal medicine can be used to supplement other types of treatment. In less severe cases of illness, it may represent the sole source of treatment when used in conjunction with talk therapy. One of the elements of the practice is finding joy in small things, and this can be especially beneficial to those with depression. While large life events, such as wedding and parties, can be difficult to enjoy when suffering from depression, smaller acts, such as reading a good book or taking a walk through the park, can be just as meaningful.

Patients suffering from chronic illnesses can also use personal medicine to supplement their regular care. Cancer patients, for example, may find meditation helpful during or after chemotherapy treatments. There is no single correct way to meditate. While some patients use a specific form of meditation, such as tai chi or transcendental meditation, others find it helpful to simply sit quietly or listen to peaceful music. Patients should keep in mind the meditation may not be for everyone. If it becomes a chore, it is not likely to be beneficial.

Pet therapy may play a role in personal medicine, as scientific research suggests that those who spend time around pets experience lower levels of stress, which in turn can result in lower blood pressure. Those who cannot keep a pet in their home can benefit by spending time with the pets of family or friends. Even a day in a local dog park can be beneficial.

Just about any act that increases a person’s overall wellness can be considered personal medicine. Some enjoy exercising their muscles while others prefer to exercise their creativity. Eating a healthy diet based on the recommendations of a nutritionist can also help ease many conditions. Personal medicine is most beneficial when used in conjunction with doctor recommended therapies, and patients should speak to their physician before making any changes to an existing treatment regimen.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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