Holistic medicine has been used for centuries, and is finally gaining the attention of patients seeking alternative methods of care. Many people are uneducated on what holistic medicine consists of, the different methods that are involved, how it can complement traditional methods of care, and in some instances replace traditional methods of care. To fully understand what holistic medicine is, it is necessary to compare and contrast what we know as traditional medical practices and the holistic approach to healthcare. With so many people today asking the question “what is holistic medicine?” It is critical to understand the difference between holistic care and traditional care to help you choose which is right for you.
This article will explain the difference between holistic and traditional approaches to healthcare.
Holistic or alternative medicine is not a new concept, the idea and practice of alternative or holistic medicine dates back to the 1700’s. Holistic medicine is based on the idea that the body is a whole, not a series of systems that should be treated independently. Unlike the traditional medicine approach, holistic health care focuses on the whole person and how environmental and intrinsic issues create imbalances in overall health. Simply put, holistic providers take a patient’s emotional, physical and spiritual well being into account when trying to improve upon their well being. Holistic medicine encompasses the utilization of things such as chiropractic care, herbs and vitamins, acupuncture, diet and exercise education and cognitive therapy to treat a patient’s overall well being.
Traditional medicine (or Western medicine) treats the physical and mental well being separately and does not deal with the spiritual well being of an individual at all. Western medicine is based on viewing a person’s health from a more scientific standpoint. Traditional methods of healthcare typically utilize prescriptions, surgery and specialists. When a patient presents with a series of symptoms, the physician is trained to identify the disease associated with the symptoms and then treat those symptoms. As you can see, Western medicine has been built from a more reactive basis, meaning that a patient presents with symptoms, is treated and “cured” usually with prescription medication or surgery. It is not uncommon for a patient to present again at some point with the same symptoms, because the core of the issue was never treated, just the symptoms that the issue caused.
The Difference Between Holistic and Traditional Care
A holistic care provider will review all aspects of a patient’s life to try and determine the cause of their illness. Things such as relationships, personal and social stressors, diet and exercise and lifestyle choices are all included to determine a diagnosis and plan of care. Western medicine is trained to deal only with the symptoms themselves, not the patient as a whole. Holistic treatment also encourages patients to take an active role in improving their health, treating a patient like a partner rather than a number. This type of care promotes personal empowerment and personal responsibility for an individual’s health and well being. Western medicine does not usually encourage patients to voice their opinion regarding healthcare decisions. Western medicine is built on the premise that the physician knows what is best for the patient. Holistic medicine strives to not only treat the issues, but to prevent future issues through patient education, creating a positive balance in nutrition, emotional well being and spiritual balance. Western medicine is built on a reactive basis, patients see their physician only when they are already sick.
What Is Holistic Medicine? – Summarized
Both traditional and holistic healthcare are geared to reach the same goal; patient well being, they simply go about it in different ways. Holistic care focuses on the patient as a person, taking mind, body and spirituality imbalances into consideration when planning a method of care. Traditional or Western medicine focuses on a scientific model, gathering objectionable data that leads to a disease process. Some methods that holistic practitioners encourage are; acupuncture, all natural supplements, massage therapy and chiropractic care.
Choosing how your healthcare will be managed is an important decision. By knowing the differences between holistic healthcare and traditional healthcare, you will be well on your way to making the right choice for your body, your beliefs and your lifestyle.