What is Holistic Medicine?
What is holistic medicine and why should we even care to know what it is? It’s a question that I often ask myself, and the answer is simple. Holistic medicine seeks to bring patients back to a state of balance by addressing the cause of ailments rather than the symptoms. By focusing on the underlying cause instead of what can be done to alleviate symptoms, holistic medicine provides a safe, gentle, non-invasive approach to treating illness and the environment.
While many of us have been trained to believe that drugs and traditional treatment are our only options for healing, research has demonstrated that the medical system is heavily influenced by the power of the human mind. Holistic medicine recognizes that diseases can be fought at several levels including prevention, the understanding that illness can be fought at the cellular level, and the use of complementary and alternative treatments. When you incorporate these four pillars into your treatment plans you can effectively fight any illness or disease. To this end, holistic medicine considers the “whole” body and its effect on our physical health. Treatments are based on the understanding that disease begins in the physical realm and works its way down through the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual realms until it reaches the emotional, mental, and spiritual realm.
Holistic medicine works with the mind as well as the body to affect lasting change in our lives. Holistic medicine works to maintain health and to improve health by working on the emotional, mental, and spiritual levels. There is no part of medicine that approaches illness from the physical perspective without getting the whole picture of the illness and the person’s body in the process. A good holistic practitioner will incorporate both the body and the mind when diagnosing and treating patients.
So what is holistic medicine and how does it differ from conventional medicine? Holistic medicine is an approach to medicine that views illness as a problem that starts within and not without, and that the whole person is impacted by illness and its affects. The resulting treatments use less drug selection and concentrate more on providing the optimum support to promote optimal health and wellness.
A good example of how holistic medicine treats the body is cardiac rehabilitation. The goal of cardiac rehabilitation is to return a heart to its full function. By improving the patient’s diet, exercise program, stress management techniques, and medication use, the patient can return their hearts to normal function. The approach utilizes many traditional medicine approaches including standard pharmaceutical therapy and complementary and alternative medicine, including acupuncture, acupressure, meditation, reflexology, and homeopathy. The goal is to restore the body back to a state of optimal function so that the patient can regain their life and the ability to lead a normal lifestyle.
Holistic medicine can also be applied to other areas. An example would be to improve the health of someone who has been diagnosed with cancer. Unlike conventional medicine, which focuses on treating the symptoms of a disease, holistic medicine believes that the entire body is sick, and that by treating the illness at its source, the entire body can heal. This allows holistic medicine practitioners to target specific diseases and treat them at their source, using various natural therapies.
Another application of holistic medicine is in the field of mental health. Holistic practitioners believe that a patient’s overall mental health is directly linked to their physical health. Therefore, they work closely with psychotherapists, who are trained in behavioral science and cognitive-behavioral therapy. Together, they focus on creating change in the patient’s thought and behavior patterns to create a healthier mental state.
There is no doubt that what is holistic medicine is an alternative medical practice that has been used for hundreds of years. However, some traditional doctors may put it in a different light. They may claim that holistic medicine is not really all that different from conventional medicine because it simply uses natural therapies and remedies that have been around for centuries. It is up to you to check with your doctor to determine if what is holistic medicine is right for you or whether the traditional approach is best.