Is holistic medicine better for you?

Is holistic medicine better for you?

Last Reviewed : 12/25/2020
Is holistic medicine better for you?

World Health Organization (WHO) defined health as a state of complete physical, mental, social and psychological wellbeing, not merely absence of disease to lead a socially and economically productive life. The concept of holistic medicine revolves around the WHO’s definition of health. It heals the human body, taking into consideration all the factors that can affect the health of the person.

Understanding Holistic Medicine

This form of healing considers the whole person (body, mind, spirit, and emotions) in the quest for optimal health and wellness. According to the holistic medicine philosophy, one can achieve optimal health by gaining proper balance in life. It takes into account all the factors that have the potential to cause the disease like physical, mental, social, psychological, nutritional, environmental, and spiritual lifestyles.

For example: A patient has complaints of migraine headache. In the holistic approach, a doctor should look into other factors that are causing the headache, dietary practices, sleeping habits, their personal problem, spiritual life, etc. The treatment plan may involve drugs to relieve symptoms, but lifestyle modifications help to prevent the recurrence.

Holistic approaches to treatment include:

  1. Herbal medicine
  2. Homeopathy
  3. Acupuncture (Traditional Chinese Medicine).
  4. Manual medicine
  5. Bio molecular and nutritional therapies
  6. Physical therapy
  7. Stress reduction.

The Principles of Holistic Medical Practice

  • Holistic physicians embrace a variety of safe, effective options in the diagnosis and treatment, including
  •                 Education for lifestyle changes and self-care
  •                 Complementary alternatives
  •                 drugs and surgery
  • Searching for the underlying causes of disease is preferable to treating symptoms alone.
  • Holistic physicians expend as much effort in establishing what kind of patient has a disease as they do in establishing what kind of disease a patient has.
  • Prevention is preferable to treatment and is usually more cost-effective. The most cost-effective approach evokes the patient’s own innate healing capabilities.
  • Illness is viewed as a manifestation of a dysfunction of the whole person, not as an isolated event.
  • A major determinant of healing outcomes is the quality of the relationship established between physician and patient, in which patient autonomy is encouraged.
  • The ideal physician-patient relationship considers the needs, desires, awareness and insight of the patient as well as those of the physician.
  • Physicians significantly influence patients by their example.
  • Illness, pain, and the dying process can be learning opportunities for patients and physicians.
  • Holistic physicians encourage patients to evoke the healing power of love, hope, humor and enthusiasm, and to release the toxic consequences of hostility, shame, greed, depression, and prolonged fear, anger, and grief.
  • Unconditional love is life’s most powerful medicine. Physicians strive to adopt an attitude of unconditional love for patients, themselves, and other practitioners.
  • Optimal health is much more than the absence of sickness. It is the conscious pursuit of the highest qualities of the physical, environmental, mental, emotional, spiritual, and social aspects of the human experience.

Advantages of Holistic Health

  1. Providers offer safe, natural and effective medical treatment options that include recommendations for lifestyle changes and self-care, and alternatives to conventional medical drugs and procedures when possible.
  2. Treating the underlying causes of a disease or condition works better than simply trying to eliminate symptoms.
  3. Holistic physicians work in partnership with their patients, and try to get to know them and understand them as whole people.
  4. Prevention is the primary goal along with tapping into patients' innate healing abilities.
  5. They have few side effects when used correctly.

Disadvantages or risks

Just because something is natural does not mean that it is safe. There are many natural substances that are poisonous. Therapy may also put you at risk if it interferes with another treatment that you are receiving.

For example, people who have had organ transplants are required to take medicines that suppress their immune system for the rest of their life. If given as a part of holistic medicine, St. John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum), a herbal remedy for an alternative treatment for depression, may interfere with these immunosuppressive drugs, thus putting the person at risk for rejecting their transplanted organ.


  1. Academy of Integrative Health & Medicine.


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