What is Holistic Medicine?
Like other systems of health care, Holistic Medicine is also a unique system of health care. Broadly, it is based on the co-operative, interconnected and complimentary relationship that fosters the physical, mental and social status of the patient. In one’s life, physical, mental, economical, social and spiritual aspects of life count a lot. Holistic Medicine believes in the optimal acquisition of all these aspects of life. This system of health care refutes the separation of mind and body as considered and advocated in the traditional medicine. Holistic Medicine looks at mind, body and spirit as sub-parts, which form the person; a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. In other words, a whole (person) made up of its parts (mind, body and spirit) is greater in value than the individual sum of these parts.
The Holistic Medicine intends to restore health and wellness to the person as a whole, rather than rectifying the diseased part alone. On the other hand, traditional allopathic medicine focuses on the diseased part of the human beings. So, a physician committed to Holistic Medicine is expected to understand physical, mental, social and spiritual aspects of the individual’s life. Holistic medical practitioner sees his patients multi-dimensionally and tries to fix the whole body. On the contrary, the doctor carrying out traditional allopathic medicine will consider the affected body parts.
The Holistic Health practices include several modalities such as diet and herbal remedies, nutritional supplements, exercise, relaxing techniques, psycho-spiritual counseling, acupuncture, homeopathy, and massive therapies. Additionally, chiropractic care based on non-invasive manual techniques is also advancing. The system of Holistic Medicine defines all the general medical terms in its own way. This system of health care defines person, environment, health and physician as follows:
Person: A human being has three essential and well organized elements namely, mind, body and spirit, composed in a dynamic balance.
Environment: A set of external forces such as family, community, culture, socioeconomic resources, access to health care, quality and type of health care providers as well as attitudes towards and beliefs about health that support or disrupt the dynamic balance of mind, body and spirit of a person.
Health: A dynamic state of mind, body and spirit balance that brings the best out of a person and helps him or her realize his or her full potential.
Physician: The person who supports health rather than one who merely treats disease. A practitioner of Holistic Medicine therefore believes that health is a dynamic, interactive and integrative phenomenon that can result from an equally dynamic relationship between the person, the environment and physician. The Holistic Medicine demands that a physician must be a person who has the following characteristics:
- He or she believes in the potential of healing process
- He or she has the capacity or stamina to listen and emphasize the different conditions
- He or she cherishes the respect and dignity of human beings
- He or she tolerates the difference of opinion
- He or she is of course a gentle spirit in himself or herself
- He or she carries the ability to mix creative thinking and intuition with scientific thought
- For sure, he or she has will to never up hope even against heavy odds
History of Holistic Medicine:
Holistic Medicine dates back to at least five thousand years and originated in Asian regions like China and India. Prehistory of this medicine (alternative medicine) dates back to different cultures such as Vedic and Buddhist cultures. Herbal medicines, protective amulets, religious prayers and productive cultures gave birth to the system of Holistic Medicine. Indian and Chinese holistic health care practitioners propagated the concept of healthy living integrated into organized and well established physical, mental and spiritual status of human life.
Four centuries prior to Christ, Socrates, the great philosopher, put forth the idea to take body as a whole and not just the parts of body. Jan Christiaan Smuts introduced the term “Holism” in 1926 and recognized that reality (including all living matter) is made up of unified wholes that are greater than the sum of their parts. It means each sub-part is interconnected with the other in a dynamic way. These connections are actually the base of this Holistic Medicine as multi-dimensional and combined management of the patients fills the bill. Holistic medicine won fame through 1970 to the present day. Now-a-days, Holistic Medicine has become a widely accepted method of health care provision.
In a nutshell, Holistic Medicine is inspired from the theory of Holism (Wholism) that prefers the individuals a whole and denies to deal with them part by part. It believes in treating the patients as wholes and includes all the aspects of their life such as physical, mental, social, economical, linguistic and spiritual aspects.
Why is Holistic Medicine important?
The system of Holistic Medicine is established on the principles of behavioral sciences. The beauty of this system is that it encourages the patients to improve their social and spiritual status along with their physical health. It is better to deal with the whole body than to mere treat the diseased or affected part of the body. The most beneficial advantage of this system is improvement in the mental, social and spiritual life of the individuals. When we talk about the body benefits, Holistic approach guides to prevent future health problems. Dietary modification and life style betterment play a key role in health and wellness of the body. Now-a-days, manual techniques and exercises offered by chiropractic health care providers are working wonders. When we consider Holistic Medicine for mental health, it improves the healing by modifying or managing the attitude and beliefs to which the patients are strongly stuck to.
If we discuss Holistic Medicine for spiritual health it helps the patients to get rid of wrong beliefs and concepts. Removal of these wrong concepts and superstitions aids and eases the management of different conditions. Additionally, Holistic Medicine makes the patients and their relatives satisfied through the principles of behavioral sciences.
Holistic Medicine at present:
Today, the system of Holistic Medicine is being appreciated and applied world-widely. Homeopathic practice, acupuncture, chiropractic care and methods of different exercises are accepted and registered ways of health provision. Behavioral sciences applications are recommended even in allopathic medicine. Bio-psycho-social (BPS) model and Non-pharmacological Interventions (NPIs) in clinical practice are the basic concepts of delivering modernized health care. In other words, principles of behavioral sciences are the pillars of modern practice. Mental satisfaction, confidentiality and reassurance play an important role in the patient’s healing processes.
However, some people criticize Holistic Medicine and some recommend applying it in modern practices. The critics argue that according to the Holistic Medicine no one is healthy as there is no one who is physically, mentally, socially and economically fit. Additionally, only Holistic Medicine can not treat the each and every case. On the other hand, supporters recommend this practice in the modern health care practices. They say that it offers mind-body connection, limited complications, cost-effectiveness, and patients’ satisfaction. In United States, about one-third adults prefer complimentary and alternative medicine.
How can Holistic Medicine help the today’s patients?
Suppose, if a patient is admitted to the medical ward. He is treated with medicines and drips. He is not counseled and assured at all. He is not told about the tests and their prices before-time. If a patient or his/her relatives ask to the doctor or nurse about their patient’s condition and they are taunted. They are not even told about the treatment and length of hospital stay. What will be the condition of such patient or his/her relatives?
Here comes the Holistic way of treatment and principles of behavioral sciences. It applies techniques of communication skills, counseling and informational care. Effective communication is a vital tool in clinical setting as it forms the basis of interaction between the doctor and the patient. Counseling is a technique that aims to help people help themselves by the development of a special relationship between the counselor and the patient, his or her family member, a colleague or any body who seeks counsel. Information care is provision of information to patients regarding the disease, the drugs, and the doctor that concern him or her. This helps fill the gap in the patient’s knowledge and understanding in these areas, using the language that the patient understands. Techniques of communication skills, counseling and informational care demand special setting and environment.
The time being, the patients demand non-invasive and side-effects-free treatment of their ailments. Experts recommend applying Holistic techniques in the traditional allopathic medicine. What is more, cost-effective and pain-free management of the patients is preferred. In few words, combination of traditional allopathic medicine and techniques offered by Holistic Medicine can establish an exemplary system of health care.