Holistic is a term used to describe therapies that attempt to treat the patient as a whole person. That is, instead of just treating symptoms of an illness, as in orthodox allopathy, holistic approaches look at an individual’s over-all physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional well-being before recommending treatment.

A practitioner with a holistic approach treats the symptoms of illness as well as looking for the underlying cause. Holistic therapy also attempts to prevent illness by placing a greater emphasis on optimizing health. The body’s systems are seen as interdependent parts of the person’s whole being. Its natural state is one of health, and an illness or disease is an imbalance in the body’s systems. Holistic therapies tend to emphasize proper nutrition and avoidance of substances-such as chemicals-that pollute the body. The techniques used to reach optimum health are non-invasive.

What conditions are often treated with holistic therapies?

While holistic therapy is very effective in healing disease and sickness, its highest purpose is the prevention of illness rather than the treatment of symptoms. The practice analyzes all aspects of a patient’s health and encourages patient participation in the healing process. And because our goal is lifelong wellness, patient education provides information about self-care and lifestyle changes, while promoting self-awareness to ensure each patient’s experience the highest quality of life.

What treatment practices are considered holistic therapies?

There are a number of therapies that come under the umbrella of “holistic.” They all use basically the same principles, promoting not only physical health, but also mental, emotional, and spiritual health. Most emphasize quality nutrition.

For example, the highly refined foods eaten in modern America contain chemical additives and preservatives, are high in fat, cholesterol, and sugars, and promote disease. Alternative nutritionists counter that by recommending whole foods whenever possible and minimizing the amount of meat-especially red meat-that is consumed. Many alternative therapies promote vegetarianism as a method of detoxification.

Can I participate in traditional (allopathic) and holistic treatments at the same time?

Yes. The practice of holistic therapies does not rule out the practice of allopathic medicine; the two can complement each other. Remember, the aim of holistic therapy is to bring all areas of an individual’s life, and most particularly the energy flowing through the body, back into harmony.

A properly balanced holistic health regimen, which takes into consideration all aspects of human health and includes noninvasive and non-pharmaceutical healing methods, can often completely eradicate even acute health conditions safely. If a patient is being treated with allopathic medicine, holistic therapies may support the body during treatment and alleviate the symptoms that often come with drug treatments and surgery. In addition, holistic therapies aim at the underlying source of the illness, to prevent recurrence.

Ultimately, of course, only the patient can be responsible for this. No practitioner can make the necessary adjustments to diet and lifestyle that the patient needs in order to achieve good health.