Holistic health is the art and science of healing focused on the care of all aspects of an individual: body, mind, and spirit. It is characterized by its concentration on non-invasive modalities and by believing in a strong relationship between practitioner and patient and the natural strength of the body to bring about optimal healing.
As a system of health care, it has been steadily gaining popularity in the United States for the past two decades. It has also been slowly integrating with Western medicine to ensure that patients receive the medications and “Western” medical attention they need if necessary, while giving them the choice to look for more natural, complementary, and non-invasive alternatives for dealing with their ailments.
What Are the Principles of Holistic Medicine?
1.) Optimal Health: First and foremost, holistic medicine is centered on achieving optimal health for all aspects of an individual, including mental, physical, emotional and spiritual (this is not in a religious sense but in the sense of helping someone re-balance their inner peace and regain those personal traits that make them unique).
2.) Whole-Body Approach to Health Care: Holistic health professionals believe in treating the whole person, meaning that all systems in the body are connected and that to achieve optimal health, it is necessary to look at the body as a unified entity and not just a bunch of separated parts and systems.
3.) Prevention and Healthful Living: The focus of holistic care is about prevention and promoting health. Holistic medicine favors paying closer attention to early warning signs and modifying contributing factors to illness instead of just managing symptoms once there already is a problem.
4.) Relationship-Centered Care: In practicing holistic medicine, integrative health care professionals also try to practice medicine from a position of love and mutual respect. Developing a good relationship with patients is essential, since much holistic medicine depends upon a partnership of trust between practitioner and patient.
5.) Individuality: Holistic medicine is about seeing each person as an individual, a person with an illness instead of an illness in a person. Each person is naturally capable of healing themselves to a certain degree. A good holistic health professional will know which therapies to integrate in order to unlock this ability in their patients.
6.) Integrative Healing Systems: Holistic medicine is very integrative; holistic health professionals will often combine a variety of holistic modalities in order to achieve optimal treatment plans for their patients. This means that there may be lifestyle modifications put in place or even Western mainstream medicine or surgeries integrated with holistic medicine modalities if necessary.
7.) Personal Commitment to Lifelong Learning: Holistic health care practitioners are firmly committed to living by the standards that they recommend to their patients. As they practice what they preach, they must also be committed to continually increasing their knowledge and their patients’ awareness about health, whether it be through structured learning environments or through life experiences.
What Are the Types of Holistic Treatments?
There are many types of holistic medicine for whatever ailments or concerns you may have. A good holistic physician will be able to suggest any number of them after your initial consultation. According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, there are four main categories of holistic health care: Manipulative and Body-Based Practices, Mind-Body Medicine, Biologically Based Practices, and Energy Medicine. There is also a fifth category called Whole Medical Systems, which are larger holistic medical systems that integrate aspects of each of the four categories mentioned above. Here are some examples of each:
Whole Medical Systems:
- Osteopathic Medicine
Manipulative and Body-Based Practices:
- Chiropractic Medicine
- Jin Shin Jyutsu
- Art/Music/Color Therapies
- Yoga Therapy
- Nutritional Counseling
- Herbal Therapy
- Magnetic Therapy
- Therapeutic Touch
- Energy Work
- Descriptions of Holistic Modalities
- Types of Alternative Medicine
- What is Osteopathic Medicine?
- Welcome to Jin Shin Jyutsu
- What is Art Therapy? (PDF)
- What is Music Therapy?
- About Color Therapy
- KnowYourBack: Hydrotherapy
- What is Herbal Medicine?
- What is Biofeedback? (PDF)
- What is Hypnotherapy?
- What is Yoga, Really?
- Meditation Therapy
- What is Reiki?
- Magnetic Therapy
- What is TT (Therapeutic Touch)?
- Energy Medicine: What Is It and How Does It Work?
Holistic Guides and Resources
- AANP: Find a Naturopathic Doctor: Want to find a naturopathic doctor in your area? The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians provides a search engine for you to locate one in your area.
- AHMA:Find Holistic Provider Directory: Looking for a holistic healer? The American Holistic Medical Association has a directory to help you find a holistic health care practitioner.
- AAAOM: Find a Practitioner: If you’re seeking an oriental medicine provider or acupuncturist, the American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine has a directory to aid you in your search.
- ACA: Find a Chiropractor: Want to see a chiropractor? The American Chiropractic Association has a directory to assist you in finding one in your area.
- AAPB: Find a Biofeedback Practitioner: If you’re looking for a biofeedback therapist, The Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback has a great resource to help you find one close to you.
- AND: Find a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist: Looking for some nutritional counseling? The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics provides a comprehensive directory to help people find a nutritionist in their area.
- IARP: Find a Registered Reiki Practitioner or Teacher: Seeking some Reiki healing or want to learn how to practice it for yourself? The International Association of Reiki Professionals has an extensive directory to help you find practitioners and teachers in your area.
- AHG: Find an Herbalist: If you wish to consult with an herbalist, the American Herbalists Guild has an up-to-date resource to help you find one in your neighborhood.
- AHA: Hypnotherapists Directory: If you’re looking for a hypnotherapist, the American Hypnosis Association has a large directory to assist you in your search.
- Alternative Medicine News: This site provides regular current news about holistic medicine from a scientific standpoint.
- About Aromatherapy: Here is a site that has some basic information about aromatherapy, another holistic medicine tool, and how it works.
- Foot Reflexology Chart: An informative chart that shows you how the nerves in different parts of your feet affect different areas of your body. Reflexology manipulates those areas to correct body dysfunctions.
- Chakra Centers Chart: In energy healing, like Reiki, chakras are centers of energy in your body that affect your health. Here’s a chart to help you become better acquainted with these areas and what they do.
- Common Herbal Medications: Here is a chart that lists common herbal remedies, their uses, and any cautions about taking them. Please consult your doctor, naturopath, or herbalist prior to ingesting any herbal remedies.