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Holistic Medicine

The article below is from Holistic Medicine website, a fine effort, with too many words. Let me tell you the short version first: Holistic healer will treat the person, not an illness. He or she will focus on cellular function, not symptoms and on causes, not symptom relief. Strategic decisions, not tactical changes. System-wide perspective, not silver bullets. Holistic Medicine is the art and science of healing that addresses care of the whole person - body, mind, and spirit. The practice of holistic medicine integrates conventional and complementary therapies to promote optimal health and to prevent and treat disease by addressing contributing factors.

holistic medicine

In practice this means that every person is seen as a unique individual, rather than an example of a particular disease. Disease is understood to be the result of physical, emotional, spiritual, social and environmental imbalance. Healing therefore takes place naturally when these aspects of life are brought into proper balance. The role of the practitioner is as guide, mentor and role model, the patient must do the work - changing lifestyle, beliefs and old habits in order to facilitate healing. All appropriate methods may be used from medication to meditation.

What Makes a Holistic Physician?

A holistic practitioner:

  1. views the patient as being ultimately responsible for his/her well being;
  2. fosters and maintains a partnership with the patient, using therapies which both feel comfortable;
  3. evaluates and recommends treatment options that address the cause of an illness, as well as the symptoms.

The holistic practitioner may choose or recommend from a variety of both conventional and "alternative" treatments and therapies. Together, the practitioner and patient/client work to develop an optimal course of treatment. This partnership is a powerful approach to healing and is the cornerstone of the holistic philosophy.

What are the main benefits of Holistic Medicine?

The main benefits of Holistic medicine are:

A. The central role of the patient's lifestyle, beliefs, observations and habits is honored. Holistic Medicine recognizes the person who has the illness to be more important that the type of illness that person is manifesting.

B. Treatment methods which are least likely to do harm are used first in Holistic Medicine. These are often also more cost effective than conventional drugs or surgery.

C. Holistic Medicine is part of a worldview which promises to achieve societal change through respect for the individual and for the contribution of diversity to an integrative model of healing. Healing must take place on all levels - individual, social, cultural and planetary - for the survival as well as the happiness of life on earth.

Holistic physicians believe that unconditional love is life's most powerful medicine. What does this mean?

Unconditional Love is a way of being that is always supporting the health, well being, and growth of a person or system for the highest good of all concerned. This loving support may be gentle or stern, whatever is required in the moment. The love is not contingent on any attitude or behavior of those being supported. The most important person for one to love unconditionally is oneself. The rest flows from there.

Will a holistic practitioner fix my problem?

A holistic practitioner will work with you to develop a treatment program designed to assist you in healing. The idea that anyone else can "fix" your problem is not a part of the holistic model. Most illnesses and disabilities are the result of a complex interaction of events, habits, and choices and are not amenable to bandaids or "sweeping it under the drug" therapies which do not address the underlying causes.

What is informed consent?

Informed Consent is the process by which a physician helps a patient arrive at an informed decision regarding treatment options. Sometimes this is very simple and straightforward, such as the decision to apply a cast for a broken bone. Other times it can be extraordinarily difficult, like choosing among various ways of treating cancer. The physician must help the patient understand the disease he/she faces and the risks and benefits of the various modalities.

The patient's hopes and fears must be addressed as well as psychological factors and family expectations. The patient must be aided in coming to an understanding of what this disease means in his/her life at this time. The physician should not hesitate to call on other sources of support and expertise and the patient should be encouraged to seek other opinions and points of view. The physician should help the patient realize that there is often no "right" answer, but only multiple trade-offs as they negotiate these complex decisions together.

What is meant by "alternative therapies"?

Alternative therapies are those not normally offered by conventional medical personnel. They include but are not limited to, nutrition, herbal medicine, spinal manipulation and body work medicine, "energy medicine," spiritual attunement, relaxation training and stress management, biofeedback and acupuncture.

How is Holistic Medicine different or similar to integrative medicine, complementary or alternative medicine?

Holistic Medicine is a term which is inclusive of the connection between the mind, body and spirit in healing. The belief system, lifestyle, social, cultural and environmental milieu, as well as the relationship between patient and practitioner are considered to be important components in the genesis and in the healing of illness. Correction of imbalances in any of these areas will bring relief of symptoms. (Illness in this model is viewed as an opportunity for personal spiritual growth.)

Integrative medicine starts with the conventional Western model of disease, and encompasses other healing methods, such as use of herbal preparations, biofeedback, acupuncture and other systems of treatment. Complementary medicine is those other systems of treatment, in relationship to the central model of conventional medicine of drugs and surgery. Alternative medicine is those other systems as stand-alone options unrelated to Western medicine.

What is the Holistic approach?

Most Holistic practitioners begin with a thorough evaluation of your diet, exercise habits, health history, occupation, family and life history. Since each person is unique, the development of a treatment program is individualized by working with that doctor. Many books are available that can give you an idea of how your problem might be treated.

What is my role in a Holistic treatment approach?

Accepting responsibility for your lifestyle choices is important in working with a Holistic practitioner. Illness can be seen as a messenger - an indication that one or more aspects of your life may be out of harmony. The holistic practitioner can serve as a guide to assist you in this process of self-evaluation.

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