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What Is Holistic Medicine?

12.20.21

BY: DR. KYON HOOD, MD

Holistic medicine takes a unique approach to diagnosing, addressing, and treating illnesses. For a doctor who practices holistic medicine, a patient's entire self – their whole – is interconnected. That means mind and body affect each other, and that the health of one system contributes to the health of the other.

Holistic medicine takes a unique approach to diagnosing, addressing, and treating illnesses. For a doctor who practices holistic medicine, a patient's entire self – their whole – is interconnected. That means mind and body affect each other, and that the health of one system contributes to the health of the other.

In this post, we'll be exploring the primary forms of holistic medicine and how you may benefit from trying them out.

What Is the Mind-Body Connection?

The mind-body connection is a central idea in holistic and homeopathic medicine. The holistic approach to illnesses interprets symptoms as related to both a patient's mental wellness and their physical wellness, regardless of which part of the body or mind is affected.

This mindset is entirely different from the philosophy of conventional Western medicine, which is primarily concerned with finding ways to manage symptoms, not necessarily looking for a complex underlying cause of a health problem.

In the mind of a holistic doctor, every part of a patient is interlinked. Taking all of the different systems within each patient into account prompts a holistic physician to, for example, consider a patient's exercise levels and gut health when looking for a treatment for depression. Or, as another example, a holistic doctor might pay closer attention to a patient's sleep quality and eating habits while looking for effective migraine treatments.

Overall, the mind-body connection plays a key role in the approach taken by many holistic practitioners. Paying close attention to the way that the various components of both mental health and physical health are linked often prompts a holistic doctor to recommend lifestyle changes before turning to pharmaceuticals.

What Is Holistic Health?

Holistic health is an understanding of wellness that takes physical, mental, and emotional health into account. Sometimes referred to as integrative health, this philosophy is all about being healthy in every way possible. A holistic doctor makes it their goal to find a treatment strategy that helps a patient to thrive in the fullest sense of the word. That means a healthy mind and a healthy body.

How Does Holistic Medicine Work?

Holistic doctors often embrace alternative medicine as part of their treatment strategy for their patients. They may recommend the use of herbal medicine over traditional medicine, turning to herbs before prescriptions as a source of relief from symptoms.

However, most holistic doctors are not opposed to conventional healthcare, either. Instead, a balanced holistic doctor looks to conventional medicine as more of a final intervention when treatment isn't going as planned.

Before turning to Western medicine to ease symptoms, a holistic doctor will typically try to find the root causes of the disease and address them first, not just the symptoms. They're usually more likely than your typical MD to factor in emotions like stress as an underlying exacerbator of disease, and they may recommend that self-care plays a prominent role in treatment and recovery.

What Are Common Holistic Treatments?

Not all holistic doctors have the same perspectives about how it looks to achieve full-body healing. However, many doctors who practice holistic medicine agree that the treatments listed below can be used to effectively treat many health conditions.

Acupuncture

This treatment comes from Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). It involves inserting tiny needles into the skin at certain points in an effort to release tension, restore balance in the body, and achieve overall wellness.

Acupuncture is sometimes used as part of both massage therapy and chiropractic care. This is because the treatment is known to have a positive impact on both pain and stress.

Gut-Focused Medicine

A hallmark of holistic medicine is paying close attention to the role of the gut in overall health. It makes perfect sense why many holistic doctors emphasize gut health – an imbalanced gut microbiome can impact your immune system, your sleep, your digestion, and even your mental health.

Naturopathy

Naturopathic doctors typically rely on treatments like massage therapy, herbal remedies, and acupuncture to improve a patient's condition. There is also a major emphasis placed on diet in naturopathic medicine.

Homeopathy

Homeopathy is a medical practice that dates back several centuries. The philosophy of homeopathic medicine is based on the idea that "like cures like." This idea essentially means that, according to a homeopathic doctor, some of the best sources of relief for certain symptoms are other causes of those same symptoms.

In other words, an onion might provide a cure for watery eyes from allergies, for example.

While homeopathic medicine has risen in popularity in the last few decades, there is still limited research on the effectiveness of homeopathy. In addition, you're highly likely to run into some pseudoscientific claims and gimmicky products in some corners of the homeopathic medicine camp.

Eastern Medicine

Eastern medicine is an umbrella term for several different philosophies about medicine. Some of the key characteristics of Eastern medicine are an emphasis on balance between a person's body and mind and openness to alternative therapies for many illnesses.

Some of the treatment methods that are often used in Eastern medicine are acupuncture, herbal remedies, massage therapy, and yoga.

Is Holistic Medicine Safe?

This is a tricky question. Overall, the treatments that you'll encounter while exploring holistic medicine are generally perfectly safe. In addition, many holistic treatment methods can be very beneficial for your health.

However, not all holistic treatments are created equal. In fact, there are some that lack the research needed to be compatible with a conventional understanding of medicine. Thankfully, in the United States and other Western countries, more and more evidence-based research is being built around what methods are effective (such as ensuring the body is properly nourished with the right micronutrients and using herbs for wellness support) and what may not be so helpful.

Overall, holistic medicine is generally safe – but it’s important to be cautious and refer to your primary doctor if you’re unsure about whether an alternative treatment is right for you.

Conclusion

Holistic medicine is a unique approach to treating illnesses that takes the whole person into account. The philosophy behind holistic medical treatment factors in the connection between your body and mind, which is sometimes neglected when diagnosing and treating illnesses.

For emphasizing the body-mind connection and seeking to innovate the medical field, we give holistic doctors kudos.

That said, conventional medicine is also proven, safe, and evidence-based, and is extremely beneficial when treating illness, which is why we use it as the guiding principles behind our wellness IV therapies.

At ivee, we only offer treatments that are science-backed, safe, and beneficial. We factor in the connection between your body and mind, but rely heavily on the principles and research of conventional medicine to guide our services and patient experience. We use innovative yet convenient wellness technology to help you reach your personal health goals.

Visit our membership and wellness IV therapy page to learn more about how we can help you support your wellness journey.

Sources:

Holistic Medicine: Advances and Shortcomings | NCBI

Integrative medicine or infiltrative pseudoscience? | NCBI

Safe Use of Complementary Health Products and Practices | NCCIH

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