Updated: Aug 10
What is Holistic Medicine?
Holistic Medicine — an increasingly popular term, is a comprehensive form of healing. Holistic practices consider the person as a whole in the quest for optimal well-being, in other words: body, mind, spirit, and emotion.
In other words, holistic medicine is not solely focused on eradicating disease and acute symptoms. Instead, the philosophy of this approach is to develop a sustainable state of vitality and wellness, allowing us to live our lives to the fullest each day.
The holistic approach encourages us to recognize health as the sum of many factors and to consider far more than just the physical realm. Rather than simply the absence of disease, optimal health requires consideration of each interconnected aspect of being.
An Ancient Practice - the History of Interconnected Healing
Holistic medicine can be traced back centuries. Numerous accounts have attributed holistic healing practices to ancient civilizations such as Greece, India, and China. Before modern science could validate these ideas, these three cultures recognized the interconnectedness of the body, mind and spirit.
The roots of holistic medicine can be identified clearly in ancient times. It has been the foundational approach of medical practice in many world cultures for thousands of years. Hippocrates, the Greek physician often labelled as the father of Western medicine, promoted the idea of ‘vis medicatrix naturae,’ or the healing power of nature, one of the fundamentals of holistic medicine.
Similarly, ancient Indian Ayurvedic practices and traditional Chinese medicine have documented the importance of maintaining the balance between body and mind for optimal health.
In the modern world, where we often value speed and convenience, we tend to look for the ‘quick fix’ for solutions. This can lead to ‘magic pills’ and hasty prescriptions, whereas the holistic approach offers a refreshing view of the traditional perspective.
While modern medicine excels in providing immediate relief to diseases and illnesses, holistic medicine focuses on prevention. Instead of relieving the issues as they arise, the holistic approach promotes beneficial lifestyle modifications and complements conventional therapies with restorative self-care practices. Nurturing and maintaining a state of vitality and vibrancy allows us to live life to the fullest — thriving instead of simply surviving.
The Fundamentals of Holistic Healing: Understanding Holistic Medicine
Core Philosophies of Holistic Medicine
The primary principle of holistic medicine is that it views the individual as an integrated whole. Each component of our being — physical, mental, spiritual and emotional, influences one another.
Have you ever been stressed or anxious, then found yourself ill or achy? A problem in one area (stress, anxiety, etc.) can manifest as physical symptoms, such as a compromised immune system or a migraine.
Conversely, improving areas of our health, such as enhancing our diet, can positively affect other areas, such as lowering stress levels, increasing energy, and uplifting our mood.
Holistic medicine believes that health is more than the absence of physical disease. Holistic viewpoints see health as optimal well-being, enabling us to thrive. Therefore, a holistic treatment plan will shift focus from disease treatment to health promotion and disease prevention. Holistic medicine hands you the reins to control your health. By learning to manage stress effectively, nurture emotional & spiritual well-being, and maintain a healthy physical lifestyle, we can learn to thrive in optimal health.
The holistic perspective recognizes the crucial role of the therapist-patient relationship, encouraging patients to participate in their health actively and effectively communicate with their practitioners. Empowering patients with the power and information to make beneficial lifestyle changes can significantly improve their well-being. The Patient-Practioner partnership is one of the most crucial aspects of holistic medicine. Patients often identify it as one of the most beneficial aspects of this method.
Through safe, natural, and minimally invasive (where possible) interventions, holistic practices value the body’s inherent healing ability, supporting and enhancing this process rather than suppressing symptoms. This may involve using natural herbs and supplements, incorporating nutrient-rich diets, or implementing specific physical therapies, such as targeted massage.
Conventional Medicine vs. Holistic Medicine: What’s the Difference? Can they Co-Exist?
Conventional medicine excels in resolving acute diseases and conditions. However, in treating chronic diseases, the worlds leading cause of death and disability, there is much to be desired. Holistic medicine serves to fill the gap left by conventional medicine.
Conventional medicine can take a disease-centric approach and view the body as a machine with separate parts treated independently. This approach works well to alleviate symptoms as they arise; however, it leaves gaps in addressing the root cause of a disease.
Holistic medicine views the body as an interconnected system, seeking to identify the underlying cause of illness. A holistic approach also considers mental health, diet, lifestyle, and other factors before developing a treatment plan.
For example, imagine a patient presenting with high blood pressure. Conventional medicine would likely lead to a prescription of medication to lower blood pressure.
Alternatively, the holistic approach would additionally consider factors such as one’s current/recent mental & emotional state, stress, physical activity, and diet. Before prescribing medication, a treatment plan might include lifestyle changes, diet modifications, or stress-management techniques.
It is essential to realize that holistic medicine does NOT reject conventional medicine. Returning to our example of the high blood pressure patient, a holistic approach may still involve blood-pressure medication, but in doing so, the practitioner is considering the entire picture.
Holistic practices support conventional methods by integrating the best parts of traditional medicine with proven holistic treatments. Doing so can provide a comprehensive approach to health and healing.
How can Holistic Medicine Impact your Life?
Promoting Optimal Health & Well-Being
We will explore the expansive topic of holistic health in the upcoming weeks. Subscribe to learn more about the various practices and modalities and how to implement them into your life, and attend our free workshops to learn more.
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