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There are three basic aspects of the wholistic approach to medicine.
First, disease prevention is emphasized by placing responsibility with the individual as
self-healer to use his own resources to promote health, prevent illness, and encourage
healing. Secondly, wholistic medicine considers the patient as an individual and unique
person, not only as a symptom-bearing organism. Finally, wholistic practitioners choose
from the many available diagnosis, treatment, and health methods, including both
alternative and standard medical methods.
Contrary to common belief, wholistic medicine does not disregard
conventional medical practices. In fact, most wholistic practitioners view the use of
standard medical practices as only one of many ways in which to achieve well-being.
Wholistic diagnosis can include standard laboratory tests, as well
as other diagnostic methods, since the interrelated physical, mental, and spiritual
capabilities in the whole person are major health determinants. A practitioner may, for
example, watch the way patients stand, sit, and walk, as well as look for the physical
expression of an emotional state. Health-care treatments are usually provided in the
context of the patients culture, family, and community.
Wholistic medicine addresses not only the whole person, but also the
persons environment and involves various healing and health-promoting practices.
Wholistic medicine does not have one widely used diagnostic procedure or treatment because
it is primarily an attitude about health and healing. Thus, traditional physicians,
nurses, specialists, and other health-care professionals may be wholistic practitioners
depending on their practices but often times hard to find by patients seeking a wholistic
approach. Many times these practitioners embrace the approach but not the label for fear
of criticism from their peers. This will change more and more as the public demands to be
treated wholistically, rather than partially or symptom by symptom.
In recent years a variety of traditionally trained medical
professionals have examined the ideals and documented benefits of wholistic medicine. Some
still criticize the fragmentation of the wholistic medical movement and blame it for
promoting medical quackery and in some cases this may be true. However, one can not
disregard the existence of quackery in the conventional medical establishment
as well. Unfortunately there are some persons willing to prey upon the lack of knowledge
of others or simply misdiagnose due to tradition. Others, calling for physicians as
consolers and healers, as well as technologically trained practitioners, embrace the
humanistic approach offered by wholistic medicine.
Although many wholistic practitioners make use of available
technical equipment and statistical analysis, the emphasis is on each patients
genetic, biological, and psychosocial strength and uniqueness. Wholistic practice is
designed to use all known health related knowledge to mobilize the individuals
self-healing capacity. Surgical or medical intervention is not disputed in wholistic
medical practice, but is de-emphasized as the cure all and end all. Rather, the emphasis
is on preventive self-care and self-education.
Wholistic medicines common principle is that patients should
be active participants in their own health care since all individuals are believed to have
the mental, emotional, social, spiritual, and physical capacity to heal themselves. After
years of over specialization and use of dehumanizing pure scientific practices by the
conventional medical establishment, a more common sense approach was of course necessary
In recent times, the Family Practitioner or
General Practice doctor almost disappeared from the conventional medical
establishments. Patients were sprinted off to specialist after specialist with no one
really supervising the overall health of the patient.
In recent years, concern has risen over the settings in which health
care takes place. In wholistic care, emphasis is placed on out-patient care as opposed to
hospital stay except in most warranted cases. Since hospital settings often overwhelm and
intimidate, many wholistic health-care facilities have been located outside but near
conventional hospitals. With this arrangement, specialized hospital personnel and
technology are readily available when necessary and the patient can avoid stressful
The use of touching is another major element of wholistic medicine.
Many body therapies, including massage, chiropractic manipulation, and rolfing, or
systematic massage, use physical contact. These touch-oriented therapies are based on a
wholistic approach to human functioning. Touch is used to promote greater relaxation, to
improve body alignment and functioning, or to enhance sensory awareness.
Other methods used in wholistic medicine may include acupuncture,
biofeedback, meditation, modern fluid replacement, ancient energy balance, psychic
healing, hypnosis, and spiritual and physical disciplines and surgery. But again emphasis
must be placed on the whole rather than just one aspect.
Wholistic medicine views health as a positive state, not as the
absence of disease. Such a positive approach to treating existing diseases is currently
being used by many researchers and physicians. This positive-attitude approach to medical
care has been used in cancer therapy by having patients think differently and positively
about chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
Another wholistic health therapy called psychotherapeutic body work
was first developed by Wilhelm Reich. It has greatly influenced the field of
bioenergetics. Once an illness has been identified, it is viewed both as a misfortune and
as an opportunity for discovery. Wholistic medicine emphasizes the idea that psychosocial
stresses, such as unemployment, divorce, or death of a close relative or friend, may
contribute to ill health.
Using a common sense approach, one sees that a patient should be
treated using whatever method achieves good results. The conventional medical
establishment argues that the existence of alternative methods many times
prevents the patient from seeking standard treatments, and in some cases this may be true.
However, medical history has firmly documented many cases of misdiagnosis and mistreatment
even by conventional methods. This is not to say that perfection is approachable. Only
that the goal of modern medicine should use the methods that treats the person rather than
books on holistic health
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