The term “holistic” has increasingly gained attention in the health field. This is an approach to living that encompasses many dimensions of wellness. In doing so, the whole person is considered, so treatments and healing approaches take into account each individual’s mental, physical, emotional, spiritual, social, and intellectual being. People who take a holistic approach to their health are more involved in the decision making and choices of how they want to seek help and as such, tend to be more proactive and preventive towards illness and disease. The foundation of holistic treatments comes from ancient traditions.
The principles of holistic health include the following:
1. Treatment focuses on treating the cause not just the symptoms.
2. The patient is a person, not just classified as a disease.
3. All people have the ability to heal.
4. Healing takes time and involves a mix of approaches.
Sometimes the health plan created is a combination of different modalities that may include traditional medical practices as well as energy therapies, biological-based therapies, mind-body-spirit interventions, and/or body or manipulative approaches. The “medicine” used might include various supplements, acupuncture, biofeedback, message therapy, chiropractic therapy, meditation, guided imagery, seeing a naturopathic physician, reiki, and/or energy therapies. The activities of these methods might include drumming, essential oils, teas, mindfulness, dancing, food, and/or touch. The aim is to find the source of the issue and then work to heal whatever is causing it. Holistic practitioners help the person change their lifestyle and be conscious of their wellness.
According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), at this time, most insurances don’t cover holistic practices. Some insurance will cover some types of practice such as seeing a chiropractor or acupuncturist. This is because there is no scientific research that proves validation of the effectiveness or safety of these practices. Paying out of pocket to receive these services is most likely the option for someone who wishes to use them.
Advocates for holistic health point towards the individual being treated for their personal condition, not just focusing on the disease itself. It is about finding the root cause rather than just treating with medication. For example, if a person is suffering from migraines, a holistic practitioner will take the time to figure out why the headaches are happening. He or she would explore the person’s eating and sleep habits, personal life and stress, and spirituality. A treatment plan will be constructed and modified as needed.
We all can be proactive about our health, versus reactive and trying to figure out what or how to treat something. Practicing healthy behaviors and lifestyle choices is the key. This includes eating a healthy diet, performing exercise and physical activity in our days, making sure our mental health is well, and connecting with our spiritual or whatever mind-body connection we believe in.