Holistic Medicine

Aspects of Holistic Medicine

Holistic medicine focuses on the mental, physical, and spiritual aspects of the body and their relationship with general well-being. It emphasizes the body as a complete system, not separate parts.  There is no proof that holistic medicine, when used alone, is beneficial in treating cancer or other illnesses. However, the importance of exercise, diet, and stress management on health is well-known. Using holistic care as a complementary or preventative care is becoming more common. A holistic approach considers social and cultural issues in addition to prevention and rehabilitation.

Alternative therapies – when combined with exercise, diet, social support, and counseling – may be used to treat cancer and other illnesses. Botanical supplements may be used with complementary therapies such as hypnosisart therapy, imagery, psychotherapy, meditation, spirituality, yoga and prayer. They may also be used with conventional medical treatments. Medical research does not support any claims to “cure” cancer or other illnesses by holistic means.

The field is diverse. Some providers define “holistic oncology” as including emotional and spiritual care along with care of the body. Others focus on these while excluding the physical. All stress the use of treatments and lifestyle changes to encourage the body’s natural healing system. According to the American Holistic Association, healthy lifestyles promote energy and vitality. This may involve the following: exercise, diet, sleep, proper breathing, antioxidants and supplements, acupunctureacupressurehealing touch, craniosacral therapy, yoga, and qigong.

History of Holistic Medicine

The concept of holistic medicine originated from the ancient healing traditions that stress harmony with nature and healthy living. Socrates and Plato advised physicians to honor the relationship between body and mind, and Hippocrates emphasized the body’s ability to heal itself and the dangers of interfering with that process.

While more research is needed, studies usually do not investigate holistic medicine as a cure for cancer or other diseases, and there is no evidence that it is more beneficial or cost-effective than traditional medicine. However, some professionals feel pain and side effects can be eased by holistic alternatives.  More study is needed before the effects of holistic treatments, either alone or with traditional medicine, are known. This information should not be used to stop or delay conventional care.

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