• Medical

What Is a Holistic Health Practitioner?

9.15.20

BY: DR. KYON HOOD, MD

Learn about the basics of holistic medicine and the doctors who practice it, as well as how a person becomes a certified holistic health practitioner in the first place.

Holistic medicine is a unique approach to diagnosing and treating illnesses. When you visit a holistic health practitioner, you'll have the opportunity to receive different types of treatment that you might not get from a conventional doctor, including nutrition counseling, homeopathic remedies, and even components of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Want to learn more about holistic medicine and what a holistic health professional can offer you? Keep reading!

What Is Holistic Health?

Holistic health is a medical philosophy that emphasizes the connection between all parts of a person. In the eyes of a holistic health practitioner, the goal is to get each patient to a point where they are entirely healthy in both body and mind.

In addition, holistic doctors tend to focus more on the connection between a patient's body and mind. One example of this philosophy in action is holistic nutrition, which is the idea that you can eat in a way that allows you to achieve optimal physical and mental health.

Most holistic health practitioners see wellness as being made up of five key elements: physical health, emotional health, mental health, social health, and spiritual health.

When you visit a holistic doctor, it’s likely that they will ask you questions about each of these aspects of your life, such as:

  • How are you sleeping?
  • Are your relationships healthy right now?
  • Do you, in your opinion, eat well?
  • Do you meditate, journal, or practice other habits for spiritual wellness?
  • Do you exercise?

These questions give your holistic doctor a clearer sense of your overall health. Your answers to these questions are far from arbitrary – they’re likely to play a key role in how your doctor assesses your health and what they recommend for treatment.

What Does a Holistic Health Practitioner Do?

A holistic health practitioner may specialize in a wide array of alternative treatments for different illnesses and conditions. However, there are a few practices that are most commonly offered at a holistic wellness center. Let's explore those practices below.

Acupuncture

Acupuncture is an ancient Eastern medical practice used to relieve pain and stress. This treatment is sometimes offered at a spa, but it can also be administered by a certified holistic health practitioner.

In order for an acupuncturist to meet the requirements to treat patients, they need to pass an exam and receive a certification from the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.

Massage Therapy

Massage therapy is another holistic treatment that is often used to relieve pain and stress. Like an acupuncturist, a massage therapist needs to receive certification and licensure to treat patients.

Some of the best uses for massage therapy are:

  • Managing anxiety and stress. Chronic, high-level stress can tense up your muscles and leave you feeling achy and exhausted. Many massage therapists believe, based on the mind-body connection, that relieving built-up tension in your body can help to relieve stress and anxiety.
  • Helping with recovery from soft tissue injuries
  • Managing pain from a chronic illness
  • Improving circulation and increasing flexibility

As is the case with acupuncture, there is a large body of evidence to support the health benefits of getting frequent massages.

Nutrition

Holistic health practitioners are often licensed health coaches who specialize in nutrition. In the eyes of a holistic physician, good nutrition is one of the most important aspects of a person's health. A holistic nutritionist may recommend that you make changes to your diet in order to treat and manage a chronic illness, and they may refer to whole, nourishing foods as a type of medicine.

Some holistic health practitioners are also more open to more non-traditional philosophies about food. Some, for example, may recommend experimenting with removing certain food groups from your diet – grains and dairy, for example – based on the fact that these foods can increase inflammation in the body for people with a sensitivity or allergy.

Holistic medicine and its emphasis on nutrition can be especially beneficial for sufferers of chronic health conditions with symptoms that haven’t responded to conventional treatment.

In many cases, holistic doctors will target chronic conditions with a unique combination of nutrition, herbal remedies, and lifestyle changes, working to make a patient as healthy as possible without the use of pharmaceutical drugs.

Herbology

Some holistic health practitioners make herbal remedies key parts of their approach to health care. A homeopathic or naturopathic doctor, for example, is more likely to prescribe natural treatments and supplements than pharmaceutical drugs.

The American Association of Drugless Practitioners (AADP) is one of the largest groups of homeopathic and naturopathic doctors in the United States. Over 21,000 doctors are affiliated with the AADP, and they primarily focus on treating illnesses with non-conventional remedies and therapies.

Some of the most common herbal remedies recommended by holistic health practitioners are:

  • L-Theanine, Vitamin D, and Omega-3 Fatty Acids for stress and anxiety
  • Valerian Root and Chamomile for sleep
  • CBD and other cannabis-derived remedies for pain relief and overall wellness support
  • Mushroom and other plant extracts for relief from allergies, asthma, and more

Herbology is the aspect of holistic medicine that is often the quickest to get dismissed. However, many of the claims made by holistic practitioners about herbal remedies are actually backed by research. Nevertheless, it’s important to do your homework and see what science says before embracing an herb’s alleged benefits.

Why You May Want To See a Holistic Health Practitioner

If all of this information has piqued your interest about holistic medicine, what we're about to tell you might convince you to give this alternative method of treatment a try. Pursuing a holistic medicine certification is a complex process, meaning that a holistic health practitioner is an expert with years of academic achievements and training that will allow them to help you more efficiently and accurately.

What Kind of Education Does a Holistic Health Practitioner Need To Complete?

In order to become a holistic health practitioner, a doctor needs to receive a certain degree of education. Most holistic doctors graduate from a homeopathy or holistic health practices certificate program.

With a diploma from one of these programs, holistic health professionals have the necessary credentials to practice holistic healthcare and treat patients using homeopathy, alternative medicine, and nutrition counseling.

If you are looking for a method of treatment to add on top of the conventional medicine you already use everyday, a holistic health practitioner may be able to add some benefit to your daily routine.

What Certification Does a Holistic Health Practitioner Have?

Some holistic health practitioners have a board certification from the National Association of Nutrition Professionals (NANP) or similar organizations. These organizations certify nutrition coaches, naturopathic doctors, and other holistic health practitioners with the required licenses to practice holistic medicine.

A board certified holistic health practitioner is one of the highest prestige, and you can rest assured that you will be getting the kind of treatment and attention you deserve.

At What Point Can a Holistic Health Practitioner Open Their Own Practice?

One of the major goals a holistic healthcare professional can strive for is opening their own practice. Once a practitioner has received the education and certification that they need, they have every credential necessary to start seeing clients privately.

With a holistic medicine certification, a doctor can work as a health coach, acupuncturist, massage therapist, and more.

A holistic health practitioner who has opened their own practice has the utmost experience and proficiency, making them a reliable provider.

Conclusion

Whether you are seeking alternative treatments to help you live a healthier life or want to become a holistic health practitioner yourself, there are plenty of benefits to holistic medicine.

Naturopathic physicians and other holistic health practitioners take a unique approach to diagnosing and treating illnesses, and their perspectives can help you get a clearer sense of what's holding you back from being as healthy as possible.

That said, it’s still important that conventional medicine is always leveraged. There are many reasons why conventional medicine is what’s used in the modern world — evidence-based research, technological development, and much more are what give us access to the advanced healthcare that helps us thrive.

At ivee, we use the principles of modern medicine to guide our health and wellness services, so you get the gold standard of care every time.

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Sources:

Holistic Medicine: Advances and Shortcomings | NCBI

National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine | NCCAOM

National Association of Nutrition Professionals | NANP

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