You’ve probably heard health experts advocate for a holistic approach to medicine. It’s often presented as an appealing alternative to standard medical care, but many people don’t quite understand what taking a holistic approach actually involves. Is the idea of a holistic approach to health care new? What are its defining characteristics? Most importantly, is a holistic approach to medicine effective?
Treating the Whole Person With a Holistic Approach to Medicine
With its promise to do no harm, the Hippocratic Oath is widely recognized as a guiding light in medical ethics. In fact, a version of this famous oath often features in medical school graduation ceremonies. Although it serves as a guide for contemporary doctors, the oath has ancient roots. In fact, the essence of this vow is credited to Hippocrates, an ancient Greek physician who many regard as the father of modern medicine. What does this have to do with holistic health care? In his teachings, Hippocrates advocated the use of a holistic approach in health care. Since he lived around 400 B.C., the concept of holistic medicine is obviously not a new-fangled idea.
Defining a Holistic Approach
What is a holistic approach to medicine? It is one that considers the whole person while working toward the goal of optimal health. Holistic medicine recognizes that the body, mind, and spirit are all interconnected. Simply put, if any one of the interdependent parts that makes up an individual is not functioning at its peak, the other parts will be impacted. Holistic doctors often use the following ideas:
- Conventional, complementary, and alternative therapies are utilized alone or in combination to prevent disease, treat pain or illness, and promote general wellness.
- Doctors look beyond the obvious to examine the entire person. Their evaluation may include physical, nutritional, environmental, emotional, spiritual, and lifestyle elements.
- An effort is made to identify and treat the underlying cause of the disease instead of just its symptoms.
- Doctors recognize that the body has innate healing capabilities and do their best to support and work with them.
- The value of preventative care is acknowledged.
- Patient participation and education are recognized as valuable components of the patient’s ongoing journey to optimal wellness.
- The physician-patient relationship is cooperative. Doctors consider the patient’s needs and desires and their own insights when establishing this rapport.
The Benefits of a Holistic Approach
A holistic approach to medicine is highly effective and can offer patients significant benefits. Rather than delivering cookie-cutter solutions to a series of individual problems, a holistic approach looks at your overall health and strives to address the underlying issues that are keeping you from feeling your best. It encourages you to be an active participant in your own health care and allows you to explore the possibility of various treatments instead of restricting you to a narrow, singular approach.
How a Holistic Approach Works
In theory, a holistic approach sounds appealing, but how does it work? Imagine that you have long suffered from migraines. When you visit a provider who takes a holistic approach, you won’t simply be handed a prescription. Instead, the doctor will likely ask about your sleeping habits, your stress levels, your fitness routine, and your diet. They will complete a physical exam and may request lab work to identify deficiencies or other issues. They might also ask you to keep a migraine log to look for patterns that could help identify potential triggers for your headaches.
Because doctors who use a holistic approach when treating their patients embrace the use of both traditional and complementary therapies, your doctor may suggest a variety of safe, effective options to treat your migraines and any underlying factors that are contributing to the problem.
Medications might be prescribed, but other avenues will be explored to help reduce your dependence on medications. Chiropractic care might be suggested since spinal misalignments can result in headaches. Acupressure is known to reduce stress and engage the immune system, so it’s another possibility that might be offered. Massage therapy might be deemed beneficial because tight muscles in the neck and shoulders are often connected with headache issues. Nutritional counseling could be suggested to address any potential deficiencies, allergies, or sensitivities. Finally, education about avoiding migraine triggers and relevant lifestyle modifications are other options that might be mentioned.
With so many possibilities to explore, holistic medicine gives patients an opportunity to find the treatment or combination of treatments that best meets their unique needs.
At Loehr Chiropractic & Acupuncture, we take a holistic, patient-friendly approach to health care. We put people first. That’s why we work hard to empower our patients, our team, and our community by providing top-quality services, wellness education, and ongoing support. To discover more about our approach or our services, schedule a consultation today.