A growing number of people are turning to holistic medicine to address their health needs. This type of medicine is a form of healing that considers the whole person, which includes the body, mind, spirit, and emotions.
In contrast, conventional medicine is based on a reductionist approach and works by suppressing the symptoms with strong synthetic drugs. Conventional medicine has its limitations, and focuses on dividing the body into sections rather than looking at it holistically (as a whole).
In short, holistic medicine treats the whole person, not just the symptoms.
Health and well-being of the individual is the result of their interaction between physical, environmental, emotional, and psychological aspects of of their life.
A holistic practitioner sees Illness as a manifestation of the dysfunction of the whole person, and not as an isolated event.
The Integrative Approach
What makes holistic medicine different is its integrative approach to health. It uses alternative as well as conventional medicine and studies all aspects of a person's life.
Jerry Perez de Tagle in 1986 at Syracuse University coined the term integrative learning. Since its inception, integrative learning has been shown in several studies to improve understanding.
This term integrative learning is often used in psychotherapy to describe the way some therapists perform their work.
It is it also be used in medicine, especially as it relates to combining the best theories from traditional Western medicine and alternative practices.
The former term is more common, though the latter is gaining ground as people grow interested in alternative medical treatment.
Therefore, an integrative approach is the idea of integrating or combining aspects of several different learned schools of thought to promote wellness.
Achieving Holistic Health
The practitioner of holistic medicines goal is to help the individual achieve holistic health.
Often a holistic health practitioner will work on chronic health problems for which conventional medicine has no answer.
Holistic healing experts are well-qualified like conventional doctors and they rely on herbs and diet changes rather than synthetic drugs for managing chronic health issues.
Following are the four key principles of achieving holistic health.
The Patient's Innate Healing Powers
The body has an innate capacity to heal itself. A holistic practitioner knows this, and therefore nurtures the body's capacity to heal itself instead of just treating a set of symptoms.
The holistic practitioner teaches the patient to recognize that their behaviors have a significant impact on their wellness. The patient is encouraged to adopt healthy habits while avoiding destructive ones habits so as to achieve optimal physical wellness.
There Is More To The Patient Than A Disease
For holistic medicine, illness is the result of an imbalance of homeostasis of the body.
One way to treat this imbalance is to change the effects of negative emotions, experiences, habits, and memories.
In other words, a holistic physician encourages patients to explore the effects of emotions and experiences on their health and to unburden themselves of these harmful emotions and thoughts.
Positive emotions and feelings like love, enthusiasm, and hope can have an impact to restoring the balance of the body and bring the patient closer to well-being.
Holistic physicians view each patient as a new opportunity to practice unconditional love and guide a person in their unique path towards wellness.
Healing Takes A Team Approach
An important part of the physician's job is to educate and empower each patient so that they can make informed decisions about their health and treatments.
Education is an important task for the physician. To promote wellness, the patient needs to incorporate healthful habits under the guidance and encouragement from the doctor. For example, the physician may guide the patient towards adopting a healthier diet, incorporating exercise, or seeking counseling.
Patient and physician work as a team to restore well-being. So evidently, the relationship between patient and doctor is supportive and collaborative.
In this ideal relationship, the physician listens and respects the patients' needs, opinions, and insights. And the patient is not a passive agent in their own health. Instead, the patient is encouraged to make their own decisions.
This happens as a two-way dialogue. In other words it's a two-way street. Where both speak and are listened to without interruption, both ask questions, express opinions and exchange information and both are able to fully understand what the other is trying to say.
A cooperative relationship between the doctor and patient is important because it leads directly to better health outcomes.
Fixing The Causes Of Disease and Not Just The Symptoms
The integral approach of holistic medicine to well-being allows it to go deeper into the health problems of the patient, well beyond the physical symptoms of ones illness.
Symptoms like depression, fatigue, indigestion, cravings, headaches, elevated blood sugar and cholesterol are nothing more than symptoms.
These symptoms are letting the patient and holistic doctor know that something isn’t functioning right in the body. Unlike traditional western medicine, holistic medicine addresses what is causing those problems.
Most prescribed medications by traditional physicians only treat the symptom. They do not help to strengthen the patients immune system, heart, joints, intestines, liver, kidneys, etc.
Consider these questions...
Are cholesterol lowering drugs and blood pressure medications helping your heart, or are they just lowering the markers that are measured, and that tell the doctor that our cardiovascular system is in jeopardy?
Do the acid blockers and antiacids fix your digestive problems, or are they just reducing the pain?
Are medications for chronic pain like for arthritis, joint pain, fibromyalgia, plaque psoriasis, among many others fixing the problem, or just disrupting the pain signals your body is sending?
Are hormone replacement drugs balancing out the imbalance of your body's hormones, or are they addressing what’s causing the imbalance?
If the causes of the symptoms are not addressed, those annoying problems can grow and be at the root of a future major health complaint.
Getting to the root of the issue ensures that the patient may find good health in the long-term and it also prevents more episodes of the illness in the future.
Where to Find a Holistic Provider
Holistic providers may include medical doctors, doctors of osteopathy, naturopathic doctors, chiropractors, and homeopathic doctors. To find a holistic practitioner in your area, visit the American Holistic Medical Association web site. There you can use an online provider search to find a practitioner near you.