Dr. Mark LaBeau - What is Holistic Medicine?
Holistic medicine is a whole-body approach to healthcare. It strives to improve health and wellness through the body, mind, and soul. Usually, holistic medicine integrates conventional medicine and complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). Your specific treatment plan will depend on the kind of holistic specialty. There are several kinds of holistic practitioners. Some are doctors with a medical degree. They may base their treatments on holistic concepts, which makes them a holistic doctor.
Other holistic practitioners are not "real" medical doctors. They might be called "doctor" in their field, however they aren't licensed to practice medicine. Generally, holistic medicine isn't meant to be used instead of traditional medical care. It's usually recommended as a complement to regular treatments.
Principles of Holistic Medicine
Holistic medicine is based on several core values:
- Good health is a blend of physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, and social wellness
- Prevention first, treatment second
- Disease is caused by a problem with the entire body, instead of a single event or body part
- The goal of treatment is to fix the underlying cause of disease, instead of simply improving the symptoms
- Treatment includes a variety of options, including education, self-care, CAM, and conventional medicine
- An individual is not defined by their condition
- The relationship between a medical professional and the patient being treated determines the treatment result
What is a Holistic Doctor?
A holistic doctor is a health professional who practices holistic medicine. Common types of holistic practitioners include:
An osteopath, or doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO), is a licensed doctor who treats health problems with osteopathic manipulative medicine. This kind of medicine involves physically manipulating the musculoskeletal system.
The idea is that the musculoskeletal system, which includes your muscles, bones, and nerves, affects the entire body.
Like a doctor of medicine (MD), an osteopath is a medical doctor. They are licensed to practice medicine.
Both MDs and DOs go to medical school, choose a specialty, and complete a residency. They take the same exam to become a licensed physician.
When treating a condition, MDs and DOs use conventional treatments. But some DOs might include musculoskeletal manipulation, unlike traditional MDs.
Integrative physicians are licensed medical physicians that have an integrative approach to healthcare. This involves combining conventional treatments with CAM.
Integrative medicine is meant to be used with conventional medical care. It can also include a variety of therapies.
There isn't a formal degree for becoming an integrative doctor. Instead, an individual goes to medical school, becomes a licensed doctor, and then receives training or experience in CAM. They can also become board certified in integrative medicine.
An Ayurvedic doctor utilizes Ayurveda to treat health conditions. Ayurveda is an ancient system of Indian medicine. In Sanskrit, Ayurveda means "knowledge of life."
Practitioners believe health problems are caused by imbalanced doshas, or life energies. Ayurveda aims to balance these doshas with alternative therapies, diet, herbal remedies, as well as lifestyle changes.
In India, Ayurvedic medicine is a primary system of medical care. Practitioners complete professional, standardized training at an Ayurvedic school to become Ayurvedic doctors.
However, in the U.S., there isn't a nationwide license or certification for Ayurvedic practitioners. Ayurvedic doctors aren't recognized as medical doctors.
A naturopathic doctor, or doctor of naturopathic medicine (ND), is trained in naturopathic medicine.
This system of medicine combines Western science, natural therapies, and holistic approaches to treat health conditions. Natural therapies can be used as both primary and complementary therapies.
Naturopathic doctors go to a naturopathic medical college, where they learn the same coursework as conventional medical doctors. They also take a professional board exam to become licensed, but they aren't recognized as medical doctors.
Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner
Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is an ancient kind of Chinese medicine.
According to TCM, everyone has a life force, or qi. Good health depends on a balanced or flowing qi. But if the qi becomes imbalanced or blocked, the outcome is disease. The goal of TCM is to balance qi with acupuncture, herbal medicine, and lifestyle therapies.
In the United States, TCM practitioners are individuals that practice acupuncture or Chinese herbal medicine.
Training includes 3 to 4 years of schooling and a certification exam. Some institutions provide degrees like doctor of Oriental medicine. However, these degrees aren't recognized as medical doctor degrees.
What Does a Holistic Physician Do That a Traditional Physician Does Not?
Typically, traditional doctors treat symptoms. They offer medical solutions to alleviate a disease.
A holistic doctor treats the body as one. They try to identify the cause behind the illness, as opposed to simply fixing the symptoms. This can involve several therapies.
Types of Holistic Medicine Treatments
There are several types of holistic treatments. Depending on your practitioner's specialty, your treatment plan may include:
Educational treatment teaches you how to make lifestyle changes. This includes habits and self-care techniques that can help your condition.
Treatments may include:
- Nutrition counseling
- Dietary supplements
- Tai Chi
- Support groups
Complementary and Alternative Therapies
Your holistic doctor might also conduct or recommend certain therapies. Examples include:
- Herbal remedies
- Music therapy
A lot of holistic practitioners combine conventional Western medicine with the therapies above. They might recommend conventional options like:
- Prescription medication
- Radiation therapy