What Are the Benefits of Holistic Medicine?

Holistic medicine is an approach to health care that incorporates physical, mental and spiritual factors, and treats ailments as part of a complex system rather than isolated symptoms. Although holistic medicine is often referred to as "alternative" medicine, it is often used in conjunction with traditional--or "allopathic"--medicine rather than instead of it.


Holistic medicine is beneficial to the patient because it offers a wide range of treatment options, from preventative approaches, to herbs, homeopathy, acupuncture, massage and spiritual counseling. Each person is an individual and each person responds to treatment in a unique way. According to the American Holistic Medical Association, the holistic medical approach enables a caregiver to assess your personal needs and predilections rather than automatically opting for a conventional type of treatment. In addition, a holistic doctor will most likely integrate a variety of approaches into a healing regimen in order to effect a cure that is comprehensive rather than superficial.

Patient Involvement

Holistic practitioners encourage patients to take an active role in the healing process rather than simply acquiescing to a doctor's instructions. Your holistic provider will involve you in the decision-making process and guide you through lifestyle choices that can have a profound impact on your health, such as dietary changes and strategies for alleviating stress. These choices help you to not only heal whatever ailments spurred you to seek treatment, but to also adopt behaviors that will lessen the likelihood of stress and diet-related health troubles in the future.

Low-impact Emphasis

Holistic doctors will first try the approach that will do the least amount of harm, such as opting for lifestyle changes over prescription medication and massage over surgery. According to Dr. Andrew Weil, pharmaceutical medications are responsible for more than 100,000 deaths a year in the United States, while herbal remedies tend to cause few complications. Holistic options are not always successful and a conscientious holistic practitioner will be able to recognize when it is time to switch to mainstream methods, but he will do so only after trying a less invasive approach. In addition to having fewer side effects, simple, low impact treatments are also more cost-effective than pharmaceutical medication or surgery.