Have you ever wondered what holistic really means? What makes a treatment holistic, and how does that differ from more targeted treatments?

This is part one of a three-part series on the holistic philosophy of health. We will explore what holistic healing is, how the body heals, and why the holistic approach is of benefit to you.

What Is Holistic Healing?

Holistic medicine is a term used to describe therapies that treat the patient as a whole person. That is, instead of simply treating your disease, a holistic practitioner looks at an individual’s overall physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional well-being before recommending treatment. Instead of focusing treatment on a single part of your body, say your digestive tract, the practitioner looks into everything about you—your emotional state, your mental state, and your physical state, such as your moods, your ability to focus, and maybe those pesky allergy symptoms.

The body’s systems are treated as interdependent parts of a person’s whole being. The bloating you’re experiencing is related to that headache you keep getting and even the tiredness that you have been feeling lately. This is another example of the mind/body connection. We are truly one organism, and when we are emotionally or mentally upset by trauma in our lives, our physical body can also develop symptoms in response to that disturbance. How many times have you had a really stressful week at work and then a 3-day weekend comes along and you are sick the whole time? It is the body’s way of restoring balance which forces you to slow down and recover from all that emotional turmoil.

Another aspect of the holistic approach involves looking for the underlying cause of the illness. In my consultations, I will often ask what was happening when a symptom first started? Often, we can go back to an event or an illness and say that is when the condition began. I sometimes hear mothers say, I have never felt well since my second pregnancy. Or in the corporate world, some professionals might say, I had to swallow all my anger to deal with my condescending boss so I started having digestive issues.

Holistic medicine attempts to prevent illness by placing a greater emphasis on optimizing health. This type of treatment is a partnership between the practitioner and the patient—it is crucial to the success of the treatment that you both remain dedicated. The practitioner’s job is to analyze the case and provide the best remedy they can. The client must do their best to choose healthy foods, reduce stress, get enough sleep, and stick with the prescribed regimen so the healing energy in the body is maximized. With all this in place, good health is just around the corner.

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