holistic medicine

What is Holistic Medicine?

Holistic medicine is a lifestyle, prevention, and treatment. As the name implies, this branch of medicine is based on strength of body, mind, and spirit. It does not, as so many forms of alternative medicine tend to do, disparage conventional medicine. Rather, holistic medicine employs the best and safest of remedies or procedures from all branches of medicine. This is a means of achieving “the unlimited and unimpeded free flow of life force energy through body, mind, and spirit;” the goal of the holistics, according to the American Holistic Health Association (AHHA). 

Defining Holistics

The term “holistic” is often used to describe alternative forms of medicine that attempt to treat the person as a whole (body and mind), as opposed to prescribing a pill and carrying on. However, holistic medicine is itself an integrative branch of medicine that has room for any means of treatment that is safe and capable of healing. Furthermore, the AHHA states that holistic medicine looks at both “what kind of patient has a disease …[and] what kind of disease a patient has.” This provides a means of looking for similarities across patients, making a more effective means of prevention -- which is considered highly preferable compared to attempting to treating diseases after the fact. Also among the AHHA’s Principles of Holistic Medicine is an attempt to find the reason for the symptoms, rather than treating the symptoms but giving up on figuring out why they’re appearing. 

The Whole Being

Perhaps one of the most important and explanatory of holistic medicine’s principles is the concept that illness, rather than being an isolated incident, is largely due to some sort of abnormality or maladjustment of the individual as a whole. Holistic medicine seeks to help individuals achieve “optimal health,” which the AHHA defines as “the conscious pursuit of the highest qualities of the physical, environmental, mental, emotional, spiritual, and social aspects of the human experience.” In this way, holistics encompasses every aspect of what it means to be human, and hopes to help achieve the highest degree of well-being in each aspect of an individual’s life. 

The Role of the Holistic Physician

This concept of entirety does not end at the entirety of the individual, however. Holistic medicine emphasizes the relationship between patient and physician. Although holistics encourages the individual to be independent, it also embraces the potential for change and healing that the physician can encourage in the patient through more than treatment. In fact, this relationship is deemed one of the key indicators of the end result of medical care and treatment. Rather than focus remaining strictly on the needs of the patient, it is important for the patient to consider the physician as well.

From the physician, the patient learns how to take care of his or her body through nutrition, exercise, and preventative health; the impact a single systemic dysfunction can have on the whole being; and the importance the relationship between two people -- or many people -- has on well-being. Holistic physicians are encouraged to practice unconditional love, as holistics designates this to be the most effective of all healing powers. This love, however, is not only directed at the patient, but at the self and at other health care workers. The holistic physician should be an example to the patient of all that holistics embodies. Beyond unconditional love, holistics teaches that the patient must learn to reach for positive emotions to impact and encourage healing, while dispensing with the negativity considered toxic to the body, mind, and spirit. 

Last Updated: December 07, 2016