Health Guide

Holistic medicine

What is it?

Holistic medicine is a health care philosophy that tries to evaluate you in the context of your lifestyle. Health and disease result from a complex interaction of physical, mental, emotional, genetic, environmental, and social factors. Holistic doctors consider all these factors to create a treatment plan for your needs.

Holistic medicine recognizes that our bodies have the power of self-healing. It is your doctor's role to support self-healing by identifying and removing the roadblocks to health. Once the roadblock has been removed, you will respond to the treatment.

A major goal of holistic medicine is education and to encourage you to take responsibility for your health. Holistic doctors guide and teach you how you can improve your health by making healthier diet, exercise, and lifestyle choices. Do not expect your doctor to fix your illness. You and your doctor are partners in health and together will make health care decisions.

Holistic medicine emphasizes the study of health as well as disease. Preventing disease and restoring your health are important holistic goals. Holistic doctors assess risk factors and make suggestions to help prevent future illnesses. Holistic medicine believes that you cannot be healthy in an unhealthy environment. The holistic movement promotes the health of the community and earth.

Holistic doctors can be medical doctors, osteopaths, chiropractors, naturopaths, or traditional Chinese doctors. It is generally best to use holistic medicine to treat short or long term diseases that do not respond well to conventional Western medicine treatments. Emergency, trauma, and surgical conditions should be first treated with Western medicine and then with holistic medicine, if needed.

You may want to combine holistic and Western medicine and use the best that both fields can offer. Holistic medicine has been very effective as an alternative therapy when dealing with the side effects of conventional cancer therapies, such as chemotherapy and radiation.

For more information:

  • American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (206) 298-0126.
  • American Holistic Medical Association (919) 787-5181.


1. Burton Goldberg Group: Alternative Medicine: The Definitive Guide. Future Medicine Publishing, Puyallup, WA; 1994.

2. Inglis B & West R: The Alternative Health Guide. Alfred A. Knopf, NY, NY; 1983.

3. Kastner MA: Alternative Healing: The Complete A to Z Guide to Over 160 Different Alternative Therapies. Halcyon Publishing, La Mesa, CA; 1993.

4. Sifton DW: The PDR Family Guide to Natural Medicines and Healing Therapies. Three Rivers Press, NY, NY; 1999.

5. Woodham A & Peters D: Encyclopedia of Healing Therapies, 1st ed. Dorling Kindersley, NY, NY; 1997.

Last Updated: 4/4/2018
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