Today I was asked to write about what holistic is, or what is the definition of holistic. When I think about the definition of holistic as it relates to holistic medicine, I find it can be very confusing. There is no license, certification or minimum requirement to use the term holistic, so being holistic is left up to the interpretation of the person using the term.
The large numbers of people looking for treatments that will cure their symptoms and create a sense of well-being have made the term holistic a buzz word for being healthy. Practitioners from all different backgrounds have integrated the term holistic into marketing.
I have met holistic MDs, NDs, DO’s, nutritionists, nurses, pain management specialist, hospitals, outpatient center workers, pediatricians and podiatrists. Each person or group has a holistic approach to treatment and all of their approaches are different.
Holistic has become a term that people or organizations use to set themselves apart from the mainstream conventional practices. It usually indicates that the organization is looking at several components of your illness or treatment, and the overall approach is more comprehensive and natural in nature than other mainstream competitors. To get to the bottom of the term holistic I thought I would define it using a few different sources.
I have learned from many of my mentors who are wordsmiths to always start with definition of words to better understand what they really mean. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the definition of holistic relates to or is concerned with wholes or with complete systems, rather than with the analysis of, treatment of, or dissection into parts.
The Free-Dictionary defines holistic health care as a system of comprehensive or total patient care that considers the physical, emotional, social, economic, and spiritual needs of the person, his or her response to illnesss, and the effect of the illness on the ability to meet self-care needs.
The American Holistic Medical Association defines holistic medicine as the art and science of healing that addresses care of the whole person -- body, mind, and spirit.