What is Holistic Medicine?

What is Holistic Medicine?

  • Arna Van Ravestein

When it comes to maintaining and achieving good health, a method of treatment that’s becoming more popular is the use of holistic medicine.

Holistic medicine is defined as a form of healing that encompasses all areas of health, which includes the mind, body, and spirit. While traditional medication focuses on treating the symptoms, holistic medicine digs a little deeper.  The goal of holistic medicine is to improve health in all areas of a person’s life. It wants to know what’s causing the symptoms, how it affects you, and the best ways to treat it so it doesn’t return.  

Principles of Holistic Medicine

When practicing the holistic approach, the following five principles are utilized:

Physical Health

  • Get adequate exercise daily. This can be low intensity exercises such as walking or something more challenging such as running or taking a CrossFit class.  
  • Eat a nutritious diet. This means limiting your intake of processed and junk foods while eating more nutrient dense foods such as fruits, veggies, lean meats, spices and herbs.
  • Get adequate rest. The body heals itself while sleeping. Aim for 6-8 hours per sleep nightly.

Spiritual Health

  • Find your inner calm and inner peace. Instead of seeking tranquility from external sources (friends, alcohol, medication, etc.), seek the solace you require from within. This will help you cope with the never-ending challenges and rigors of life more efficiently.
  • Discover the meaning of your life. What is your life’s purpose? Instead of going through life aimlessly, find a reason to live. Are you a leader? Is your mission in life to help others?  Be a mentor to children?
  • Meditate. Meditation is the practice of being “in the moment.” It is a form of concentration where thoughts and focus are redirected away from negative thoughts and situations towards more positive feelings and emotions. Meditation is often used to help treat anxiety, depression, chronic pain, high blood pressure and other ailments.
  • Resist temptation. The ability to refrain from things that can be harmful is essential to spiritual fitness and overall health. For example, resisting the urge to overindulge in fast food or alcohol decreases the risk of having  health issues such as obesity, high blood pressure, liver disease and other ailments.

Emotional Health

  • Keep a positive attitude. Negative thoughts can cloud your judgement and lead to a myriad of health issues and actions that can cause them.
  • Find effective stress relievers. Long term (chronic) stress can make you sick. Insomnia, headaches, cancer, high blood pressure, heart disease and others have been linked to stress. Physical exercise, reading, playing a musical instrument and other fun hobbies are great ways to manage stress in a healthy manner. 
  • Smile. Smiling releases endorphins, which can help you feel better instantly.
  • Talk about it. Keeping things inside allows it to fester, which could make a bad situation worse. Sometimes, just talking about what’s bothering you can help you feel better. Find a friend you can talk to, or seek professional help.

Intellectual Fitness

  • Never stop learning. One way to keep the brain active and invigorated is by always seeking knowledge. People who stop learning become stagnant. Maintain your childhood curiosity and discover new and exciting things to keep you active and engaged.
  • Stay up to date of current affairs. Stay abreast of what’s going on in the world. Doing so will help you understand what’s going on around you, as well as foresee future trends and how they could affect you. 

Social Fitness

  • Find your work and social life balances. Finding a healthy balance between work and home life is key. The old saying “all work and no play makes Johnny a dull boy” is true. Your rate of burnout increases if all your time and energy is spent on work. Stress levels can increase as well, which could lead to a variety of health problems. Giving yourself time to relax and spend quality time with family and friends can be rejuvenating and help boost productivity.
  • Find a mentor. No one knows everything about every subject. We all can use a little help from time to time. Make acquaintances with those who know more than you about business, relationships, education, and other topics that interest you. Ask them to teach you what they know, then become a mentor to someone else in return. This will help you become a better person, as well as society as a whole. Each one teach one.

Find the Source

Instead of blindly taking medicine for a headache or upset stomach, ask yourself why you aren’t feeling well:

  • Does your head hurt because you’re not getting enough sleep?  Why are you not sleeping? Are you stressed about your job performance, personal issues or need a vacation?
  • Is your stomach upset because you’re eating too much fast food?  Why are you eating so much fast food? Is it stress related and you’re eating comfort foods?  Why are you stressed? Is it due to lack of time to prepare healthy meals? Why are you so pressed for time?

Asking yourself why will take you one step closer to the root cause of your health issues and getting well.


When we focus our energies on the symptoms, we do ourselves a disservice. A person can take pain relievers and other useless medications for years to feel better, but never find out why they needed the medicine in the first place. Holistic treatments encourage us to look at all aspects of our lives, which help us to become better all-around individuals. Give holistic medicine a try. Your body will thank you. 

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