Updated: Jun 4, 2021
You don’t see commercials for dandelion tea or lavender essential oils. Why is that?
Sadly, it’s because these things are found in nature. It’s hard to make money off natural elements. Modern medicine has its place, but many pharmaceutical companies only push out more pills, surgeries, and elixirs. It’s easy to forget there is another alternative.
The good news is natural paths to healing are becoming more widely recognized, More people are turning to plant extracts, herbs, essential oils, vitamins, supplements, and mind-work to treat their health concerns. And many are seeing great success.
According to a recent study by the CDC, 1 in every 5 Americans (that's 59 million people!) are using some type of treatment other than conventional methods (2).
In this article, we’ll talk about what holistic medicine is, core beliefs, whether these doctors are legit, different kinds of alternative medicine, and why it matters.
Let’s dig in.
What is Holistic Medicine?
The term “holistic” means “as a whole”. Professionals in this field believe the body is more than just the physical structures. The mind, soul, and spirit are all included in the whole. Practitioners can also be known as naturopathic, alternative, and integrative doctors. Integrative simply means combining the use of holistic and conventional medicine. There are 5 aspects of holistic health that practitioners address:
Whatever the issue, practitioners take all 5 aspects into consideration. This helps when formulating the best treatment plan for you.
Medicine is more than just curing diseases. There is a philosophy and belief system about the body, nature, how things work, and how things should be. Some of the core beliefs behind holistic medicine include:
Treating the root cause of the issue, not just the symptoms
Understanding the connections between the 5 aspects of holistic health
When one aspect isn’t balanced properly, it causes an imbalance in the others
Turns to natural healing elements instead of man-made pharmaceuticals
Prioritizing prevention of disease through nutrition, exercise and healthy mindsets.
It may surprise you, but naturopathic practitioners also use Western medicine. As mentioned earlier, this is referred to as integrative medicine. For example, in Germany, many of their practitioners prescribe 1 herb for every 3 drugs (1). It’s all about balance.
Are Holistic Doctors Real Doctors?
You’ve seen different news stories about “quack” doctors. You’re wondering if these “natural doctors” are legit.
While Western medicine doesn’t recognize holistic doctors as legitimate (yet), many beg to differ. Most practitioners attend college to get their undergraduate degrees, then go on to study natural medicine. Others take extensive courses that certify them in different modalities.
It takes time and resources to be able to know what you're talking about. And when this knowledge is exercised, people find healing and wholeness.
What Does Alternative Healthcare Look Like?
There are many different ways to heal naturally. Some examples of alternative or integrative healthcare are:
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)
Everyone is different. What works for some people may not work for others. Your practitioner will help you find out which methods work best for you and your body.
Does It Really Matter?
The older you get, the more you’ll begin to think about health care. Your knees begin to bother you, or you can’t eat the things you once loved due to acid reflux. Age spots, wrinkles, and back pain are all common signs of aging.
One study showed that people who choose alternative healthcare routes spend roughly $433 per person per year with practitioners and about $368 per person on supplements (2). Often these expenses come out-of-pocket, but the benefits far outweigh the cost.
According to an older study done by the World Health Organization, between 65-80% of the population prefers holistic medicine as their first choice when it comes to health care. Another statistic showed 74% of Americans preferred a natural approach to health care (1).
No matter what decision you're faced with, it's nice to know you have options. And clearly, people are looking for natural remedies and holistic solutions.
How Do I Find a Holistic Practitioner?
Thanks to the internet, it’s not hard to find a naturopathic doctor who can address your concerns and help you find a holistic solution. Simply googling “holistic doctors near me” can help get you started with different doctors in your area.
Word of mouth continues to be a great way to recommend good products or services. If you know someone who has benefitted from alternative or integrative medicine, ask them for help. I’m sure they’ll be happy to oblige.
Western medicine has its place. Unfortunately, harsh side effects are often underestimated or worse, overlooked.
Because of this, more people realize the benefits of natural medicine. This increase in demand could mean holistic medicine is taking health care by storm. Holistic means “as a whole”, and these doctors address 5 aspects of your health in order to give you the best success.
Treating the root cause and not just the symptoms, preventing diseases from developing in the first place, working towards achieving balance, and looking to natural healing elements are all incorporated into a holistic treatment plan.
There are many varieties of alternative medicine, from acupuncture to meditation. Working with a holistic practitioner can help you achieve a greater balance emotionally, physically, and mentally.
Could holistic medicine be the future of health care? Only time will tell. If your health is struggling and you can’t find relief, search for a naturopathic doctor near you. Together, you will create a plan that will kick start your healing journey.