According to the Canadian Holistic Medical Association, holistic medicine is defined as the following.
“Holistic medicine is a system of health care which fosters a cooperative relationship among all those involved, leading towards optimal attainment of the physical, mental emotional, social and spiritual aspects of health.
It emphasizes the need to look at the whole person, including analysis of physical, nutritional, environmental, emotional, social, spiritual and lifestyle values. It encompasses all stated modalities of diagnosis and treatment including drugs and surgery if no safe alternative exists. Holistic medicine focuses on education and responsibility for personal efforts to achieve balance and well being.”
In other words, holistic medicine is a way of life. Instead of focusing on one particular part of the body, or on an illness, holistic healing focuses on the person as a whole. Every aspect of a person is tied together. Their body, their mind, and their spirit are all connected. In order to heal one part, you need to focus on healing all three aspects. The goal of holistic medicine is to ultimately reach a stage of maximum well being, a stage when everything is working as best as it can all together. When a person is using holistic medicine, they are responsible for their own well being. The choices the person makes allows them to take charge of their health. They don’t rely on conventional medication.
How Did Holistic Medicine Develop?
Five thousand years ago, the ancient people of China and India put an emphasis on living healthily in harmony with nature. Socrates believed in treating the body, mind, and spirit all together, rather than putting emphasis on one at a time. He claimed the one part could not be well unless all parts were well. The actual term “holism” was introduced in 1926 by Jan Christian Smuts. The term was stated as being a way of looking at living beings as “entities greater than and different from the sum of their parts”. The term “holistic” didn’t make it into common vocabulary until 1970.
Holistic Medicine’s Basic Principles
The holistic way of life is an on-going process. There are two extremes in holistic medicine, maximum well-being, and premature death. The preferable place to be on this scale is in the middle. It’s difficult to maintain maximum well-being all the time, and premature death is easily avoided by taking control and taking responsibility for your health. To maintain a balance, a holistic physician can teach the principles to you. There are several principles in holistic medicine. Including the following.
- Holistic physicians provide safe and effective options when giving a diagnosis. They educate the patient on lifestyle changes and how to take care of themselves.
- It’s necessary to search for an underlying cause of a disease rather than to treat the symptoms by themselves.
- Holistic physicians go out of their way to get to know a patient thoroughly. They take the time to understand exactly what the patient is feeling, rather than simply give a prescription. By doing this, the chances of determining the root of the problem are increased.
- Prevention is key in holistic medicine. Rather than waiting for an illness to strike, preventing illness is preferable. It’s also more cost effective. It’s more expensive to treat an illness than it is to prevent it.
- In holistic medicine, an illness is looked at as being a manifestation of a problem in the whole person, not just an isolated occurrence (the mind, body, and spirit are all connected).
- The relationship between a holistic physician and their patient is important in the healing process. The needs and desires of a patient are discussed thoroughly and can give the physician more insight.
- Holistic practices have the patient focus on positive emotions such as hope, love, humor, and enthusiasm. The patient is urged to let go of negative emotions including shame, greed, hostility, fear, grief, depression, and anger.