Holistic Medicine

What is Holistic Medicine?

Most medical doctors focus on treating specific illnesses with holistic medicine. When a patient goes to see a practitioner with a ailment, the doctor makes a diagnosis then gives the patient a medication, advice and instructions based on their medical condition. Holistic medicine however goes a step beyond, stressing the belief that one is viewed as a whole person, rather than a patient with a specific ailment.

Understanding Holistic Medicine


Holistic medicine refers to a treatment strategy that promotes co-operation among everyone involved in medical care, with the aim of achieving optimal mental, physical, emotional, spiritual and social health. It tries to help an individual achieve optimal functioning as well as a sense of well-being, no matter the health status of the individual, leading to a more harmonious and balanced life that is lived to the fullest.  Often the terms of a complimentary medicine an alternative medicine, preventative medicine or natural medicine are the same as holistic medicine because each of these treatment methods focuses on treating the individual as a whole human being, rather than treating an isolated part of the body or condition.

Holistic medicine covers a wide variety of treatment methods, which include surgical procedures and pharmaceutical drugs, but only after other methods have been exhausted. It emphasizes on making lifestyle changes that improve health, empowers the individual through education and encourages one to take responsibility for their health. The health care professional and the patient will work together to create the best possible treatment plan. This relationship between the practitioner and patient is the foundation of holistic medicine.

 Categories of Holistic Medicine

Holistic medicine falls into five main categories:

  1. Alternative medical systems – these systems draw their inspiration
    from Eastern medicine, such as Ayurvedic medicine and Chinese medicine and can
    include procedures like acupressure and acupuncture.
  2. Biologically – based therapies – these therapies involve the use
    of things found in nature, like vitamins and herbs to restore balance and
  3. Mind-body therapies – these therapies use techniques like
    meditation, cognitive behavioral therapy or hypnotherapy to improve the
    capacity of the mind to affect functions of the body.
  4. Energy therapies – energy therapies, such as Yoga, Tai Chi or Reiki
    may be used to redirect ones life force or chia and restore the body’s
  5. Body-based and manipulative therapies – manipulative
    therapies, like chiropractics and osteopathy also form the core of certain holistic
    medicine treatments.

What are the Benefits of Holistic Medicine?

In recent years, a growing number of families have started to capitalize on holistic treatment options. There are many reasons for these benefits and increasing popularity, usually it is out of concern about the effects and overuse of conventional medications, especially antibiotics and the affects they might have on someone.  Holistic treatments should be considered as a better alternative to conventional Western medicine; it should be viewed as an essential healthcare option. The following are some of the advantages of holistic medical care.

Total Focus

As the title would suggest, holistic treatment looks at the bigger picture. While Western medical care is certainly important and effective, it usually doesn’t look at the bigger picture. Doctors usually focus on one symptom or root cause and often dont pause to think about the problem. Holistic therapy doesn’t rule out any possible cause and looks at the entire well-being of an individual, rather than a single problem.

More Personalized Care

One of the biggest complaints people have with conventional medical care is that they think it has become more and more impersonal. Doctors will often spend a few minutes on each patient and will proceed to make a generalized treatment plan without spending time to understand the patient, what could have caused their current condition, and what treatment program would be best for them. However, holistic medical professionals often focus on their patients more to help  achieve their goal of providing total body care. They all generally  help their patients create a treatment plan to help them reach their healthiest state possible.

Deeper Understanding of the Issue

Rather than the doctor telling a patient to call him in the morning, one of the key principles of holistic treatments is to involve the individual in his recovery. There are many benefits associated with this, including reduces stress and fear in the person, which can weaken their immune system and worsen the illness. More one on one communication often helps the patient volunteer vital information he or she may have thought was irrelevant, which a conventional  doctor may have missed during standard treatment.

Total Healing

This holistic approach means that total healing is possible. Beyond physical healing, the body needs mental, emotional and spiritual healing to feel totally well.

More Focus on Prevention

Holistic care tries to address the causes of disease to prevent further or future outbreaks. Even while dealing with an outbreak, a medical professional who identifies and treats the root of the problem gives patients a one on one punch to existing illnesses. Prevention also allows the patient to identify warning signs of diseases he wants to prevent.

Patient Education

Since holistic treatments involve total-body awareness, routine changes, and an appreciation of the importance of well-balanced lifestyle, the patient is more likely to be in a position to prevent issues in the future. The patient will be better informed on how the body works as well as functions, requiring less treatment and medication.

Natural Treatment

Usually naturally-occurring treatments like whole foods and herbs, holistic treatment minimizes the effects of toxins and side effects of conventional treatments, synthetic medications and surgeries. For example, the body absorbs vitamin C from an orange better than it does from a synthetic supplement. It also costs less to do so.

Mind Power

Your thoughts, such as happiness, sadness and anger, cause your brain to release both harmful and helpful brain hormones, including estrogen, testosterone and catecholamines like dopamine, epinephrine and norepinephrine, which are a fight or flight of  hormones released during stress. These hormones affect the central nervous system and may increase your blood pressure and heart rate, affect your muscles or cut your saliva production. Stress that happens early in life is harder to overcome and can have lasting effects. Using the connection of the body and mind in which positively can help alleviate stress and promote the release of helpful chemicals to avoid suppression of the immune system. While conventional medicine can have its benefits, holistic treatments help patients reach their best possible health. By working one on one with patients, and offering personalized care, holistic therapies help patients stay healthy naturally.

Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Perhaps you have seen a bottle of an herbal medicine in the drugstore and wondered if it might help get rid of your cold. Or you have thought about going to a chiropractor (KEYE ruh-PRAK-tur) to treat your back pain. If so, you are not alone. Every year, millions of Americans try some form of complementary and alternative medicine—practices and products that are different from those normally used by your family doctor.

What is complementary and alternative medicine?

The treatments used by most doctors are considered conventional medicine. Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) consists of a group of health care practices and products that are considered out of the mainstream. An “out-of-the-mainstream” treatment is considered complementary if you use it along with conventional medicine. An example would be using acupuncture along with painkilling drugs to reduce labor pains. A treatment is considered alternative if you use it instead of conventional medicine. An example would be using acupuncture as your only treatment for headache. This chapter will help you learn about the major CAM treatments and how hey might benefit you. Also, just as important, it will tell you about the risks of certain CAM treatments and what to watch out for.


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