Holistic Medicine

Definition

Holistic Medicine: treatment of the whole person, taking into account mental and social factors, rather than just the symptoms of a disease.

Words often associated with holistic medicine: alternative medicine, complementary medicine, and integrative medicine.

Alternative Medicine: modalities of healing or treating a disease that is not included in the traditional medical curriculum of the U.S. and Britain.

Examples: chiropractic, acupuncture, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), herbal medicine, Ayurveda, homeopathy, naturopathy, massage therapy, yoga, meditation, holistic nutrition, nature therapy, animal therapy, color therapy, massage therapy, play therapy, music therapy, art therapy, dance therapy, biofeedback, Reiki, Qigong, and Tai Chi.

Complementary Medicine: when a patient under a western medicine treatment plan uses alternative medicine modalities for additional support.

Integrative Medicine: when a patient has both western and alternative medicine within their treatment plan.

Holistic medicine describes the approach holistic practitioners have regarding disease and infection.

Alternative medicine is the all-encompassing term for the healing modalities not taught or utilized within western medicine.

Common Questions

What is the difference between western (allopathic) medicine and holistic medicine?

The treatment model of western medicine is to identify the disease or infection by observing the symptoms. The goal is to eliminate the problem through medication or surgical procedures. The healthcare provider is focused on a specific illness, body part, or symptom. The role of the patient is passive.

The treatment model of holistic medicine is to identify what caused the disease or infection and to fix the root cause. Infection and illness occur when the body is out of homeostasis (balance, stable equilibrium) for too long. Depending on the patient, specific foods, herbal supplements, physical exercise, spiritual practices, and stress-management tools are prescribed. The healthcare provider is focused on the whole body. The patient is actively involved in their healing.

Western medicine does not address the root cause of disease and infection, which means that the same issue can occur again within the person.

What is the difference between complementary medicine and integrative medicine?

Complementary medicine is when a person is under the care of a Western doctor with a western treatment plan but may receive alternative medical treatments for added relief.

Integrative medicine is when a person is under the care of a provider who uses both western and alternative medicine to create their treatment plan.

History 

Hippocrates is known as the father of medicine and lived in the 4th century B.C.

  • First one to encourage self-healing of the body

The three oldest holistic medicine modalities recorded that are still in use today are herbal medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Ayurveda. 

Herbal medicine

  • Oldest holistic medicine
  • Uses plant’s medicinal powers to return the body to homeostasis
  • Western herbalism originated in Ancient Greece and Rome, then spread to Europe, then North and South America

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)

  • Views the human body as a small universe of interconnected systems, including physical elements as well as subtle energies, such as “qi,” or life force, and “shen,” or spirit

Ayurveda 

  • Stems from ancient Vedic culture in India
  • Emphasis on prevention and encourages the maintenance of health through close attention to balance in one’s life, right thinking, diet, lifestyle, and the use of herbs

Germ theory emerged in the late 1800s, which created an entirely new model of medicine.

    • Focus shifted to intervention only
    • Diseases were now seen as invaders to be destroyed with medications
    • Doctors began to pay less attention to healthy lifestyle choices, environmental factors, and emotional health
    • Emphasis on symptoms and syndromes
    • The role of the patient switched from active participant to passive receiver of medication to “fix” them

Today, more and more people are recognizing the flaws of germ theory-based healthcare and are starting to take responsibility for their health.

Resources

There are many aspects to holistic medicine because it addresses the body, mind, and soul. This website, Revive Report, is entirely focused on holistic medicine and how to apply it’s principles to your life. I recommend you explore this site to further your exploration and research.

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