An Overview of
Holistic Medicine

Holistic medicine is a system of health care that emphasizes the whole person, not just the disease. It's based on the belief that the physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and social aspects of health are of equal importance to a person’s well-being. Holistic medicine looks at all options for treatment of a condition, including natural, herbal, conventional, physical, mental and emotional to choose a treatment plan that treats the whole person, not just the symptoms of the disease.

Holistic medicine is more a philosophy of well-being and health than a method or collection of techniques. A practitioner of holistic health may recommend or use any of a wide variety of alternative and conventional methods in treatment. Those may include herbal and natural healing, massage therapy, counseling and support groups, aromatherapy, herbal medicine, diet and nutritional supplements and conventional drug therapy and surgery.

It's become more common for health care services to support a holistic approach to health, at least in so far as supporting wellness programs that emphasize all aspects of a person’s health. Many health care plans now include coverage for gym and health club memberships, support groups for weight loss and smoking cessation and for people dealing with particular conditions, educational outreach, nutritional counseling and referrals to some alternative practitioners.

Holistic medicine may refer to one of a number of different alternative therapies that share the belief that medical treatment must take the entire lifestyle and life of a person into account when prescribing treatment, not just the symptoms of a disease. These include homeopathy, naturopathy, Ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine.

The Evidence In Favor
Since holistic medicine refers to a philosophy of health that includes many different disciplines, it’s difficult to define specific research or studies that support the use of holistic medicine overall. In general, however, most conventional practitioners agree that disease is often a function of more than just the symptoms or the pathology, and that it's better to treat the person than to treat the illness. Consequently, they'll prescribe treatments that include meditation, yoga, martial arts practice for exercise, dietary and lifestyle changes and support groups to help a patient achieve a more balanced lifestyle.

Criticism of Holistic Medicine
Most criticisms of the holistic model of medicine are aimed at particular branches of holistic medicine or theories. There are criticisms, for example, that hypnotism has not been proven to aid in pain reduction, though many doctors and dentists routinely offer it as an option for patients with great success. There are also criticisms leveled at the various types of holistic medicine like homeopathy or naturopathy that focus on the dangers or risks associated with those particular branches. The strongest criticism of holistic methods of healing are that a great deal of the methods used are unproven, and may be a waste of time and money in treating illness.

Additional Holistic Medicine Topics


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