What is Holistic Medicine?
Holistic medicine is a whole-body approach to healthcare. It intends to improve health and wellness through the body, mind, and soul. Usually, holistic medicine combines conventional medicine with 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 might base their treatments on holistic principles, which makes them a holistic doctor.
Other holistic practitioners are not "genuine" medical doctors. They may be called "doctor" in their field, but they aren't licensed to practice medicine.
In general, holistic medicine isn't meant to be used in place of conventional medical care. It's usually suggested as a complement to regular treatments.
Principles of Holistic Medicine
Holistic medicine is based on several core values:
- Good health is a mixture of physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, and social wellness
- Prevention first, treatment second
- Disease is caused by a problem with the whole body, rather than a single event or body part
- The objective of treatment is to fix the underlying cause of disease, instead of simply improving the symptoms
- Treatment involves a wide range of options, including education, self-care, CAM, and conventional medicine
- A person is not defined by their condition
- The relationship between a doctor and also the individual being treated determines the treatment outcome
What is a Holistic Doctor?
A holistic doctor is a health professional who practices holistic medicine. Common types of holistic doctors include:
An osteopath, or doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO), is a licensed doctor who treats health problems with osteopathic manipulative medicine. This form of medicine involves physically manipulating the musculoskeletal system. The idea is that the musculoskeletal system, which includes your muscles, bones, and nerves, impacts 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, pick a specialty, and complete a residency. They take the same exam to become a licensed doctor.
When treating a disorder, MDs and DOs use conventional treatments. However some DOs might incorporate musculoskeletal manipulation, unlike traditional MDs.
Integrative physicians are licensed medical doctors who have an integrative approach to healthcare. This includes combining traditional treatments with CAM.
Integrative medicine is meant to be used with traditional medical care. It can also involve a variety of therapies.
There isn't a formal degree for becoming an integrative doctor. Rather, 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, and 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 United States, 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 treatments, and holistic approaches to treat medical conditions. Natural therapies might be used as both primary and complementary therapies.
Naturopathic physicians go to a naturopathic medical college, where they study 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, each person has a life force, or qi. Good health depends on a balanced or flowing qi. However if the qi becomes imbalanced or obstructed, the result is illness. The objective of TCM is to balance qi with acupuncture, herbal medicine, and lifestyle therapies.
In the United States, TCM practitioners are people who practice acupuncture or Chinese herbal medicine.
Training involves 3 to 4 years of education and a certification exam. Some institutions offer degrees like doctor of Oriental medicine. However, these degrees aren't recognized as medical doctor degrees.
What Does a Holistic Doctor Do That a Traditional Physician Doesn't?
Generally, conventional doctors treat symptoms. They provide medical solutions to alleviate an illness.
A holistic doctor treats the body as one. They try to find the source behind the disease, instead of simply relieving the symptoms. This can involve several treatments.
Kinds of Holistic Medicine Treatments
There are many kinds of holistic therapies. Depending on your practitioner's specialty, your treatment plan may include:
Educational treatment shows 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 could also perform or recommend particular therapies. Examples include:
- Herbal remedies
- Music therapy
Several holistic practitioners incorporate conventional Western medicine with the therapies above. They may recommend traditional options like:
- Prescription medication
- Radiation therapy