What Is Holistic Medicine?
Holistic Medicine is defined by the Canadian Holistic Medical
Association as follows.
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
Suzan Walter, President of the American Holistic Health Association (AHHA),
put together an excellent summary of the principals of Holistic Health.
The summary can be found on the
AHHA Web Page.
For those unfamiliar with Holistic Medicine, I strongly encourage reading this
Other Terms Associated with Holistic Medicine
- Alternative Medicine is often used by the general public and
some healthcare practitioners to refer to medical techniques which are not
known or accepted by the majority "conventional" or "allopathic" medical
practitioners (usually M.D.'s). Such techniques could include non-invasive,
non-pharmaceutical techniques such as Medical Herbalism, Acupunture, Homeopathy,
Reiki, and many others. However, the term Alternative Medicine
can also refer to any experimental drug or non-drug technique that is not
currently accepted by "conventional" medical practitioners. As non-invasive,
non-pharmaceutical techniques become popular and accepted by large number of
"conventional" practitioners, these techniques will no longer be considered
Alternative Medicine refers to techniques that are not currently accepted by
"conventional" practitioners, but what is currently accepted is quickly
changing. Even the definition of "conventional practitioners" is quickly
changing. Therefore, techniques that are now considered part of Alternative Medicine will
soon be considered part of "conventional" medicine. The terms Holistic Healing and
Holistic Medicine are slightly more stable than Alternative Medicine and are
- Complementary Medicine is often used by "conventional"
medical practitioners to refer to non-invasive, non-pharmaceutical techniques
used as a complement to "conventional" medical treatments such as drugs and
surgery. The term implies that "conventional" medicine is used as a primary
tool and the non-invasive, non-pharmaceutical techniques are used as a
supplement when needed.
In many cases, properly chosen non-invasive and non-pharmaceutical healing
techniques plus properly chosen lifestyle changes can completely and safely
heal both acute and chronic illnesses. In other cases, "conventional" medicine
is only needed in emergencies or when the safer non-invasive, non-pharmaceutical
methods fail. In some cases "conventional" medicine will be a major part of a
Holistic Healing Plan, but in some cases it is not needed at all.
- Natural Healing usually refers to the use of non-invasive and
non-pharmaceuticals techniques to help heal the patient. When most people use the term
Natural Healing, they are usually referring to physical healing techniques only.