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What Is Holistic Health?

Reviewed May 24, 2013


  • There are many methods used in holistic health.
  • Holistic health treats the whole person.
  • You should balance holistic treatments with better-known treatments.

You’ve most likely heard the term “holistic health.” But you may not be sure exactly what it means. You might think it involves taking a lot of herbs or yoga classes. You may have heard your chiropractor talk about it. You may know someone who is using holistic methods to treat an illness. In reality, holistic health involves all of these things, plus a whole lot more.


Some of the more well-known methods used for holistic health include:

  • all-natural diets and supplements
  • acupuncture
  • chiropractic treatment
  • massage and aromatherapy
  • meditation and prayer
  • psychotherapy
  • yoga


The goal of all holistic methods is to take care of the whole person. This is why it is sometimes spelled “wholistic” health. Doctors often treat only the part of the body that is sick. If you have a headache, they tell you to take aspirin. Holistic health treats a person’s body, mind and spirit. The aim is to help the body’s own healing. A holistic way to help headaches might include methods such as chiropractic or massage. Or it could even be helped with hypnosis.


The basis of holistic health traces back to the past times of Plato, Socrates and Hippocrates. The term “holism,” meaning “whole,” was first introduced in 1926 by South African Jan Smuts in his writing, “Holism and Evolution.” Holistic health is still under debate today, but it is gaining more and more notice.

Some holistic health practices may seem more helpful to you than others may. You might see how eating mostly fruits and vegetables is better than processed foods. But you might not as easily accept treatments like acupuncture or meditation. You may not believe they work at all. Or you may not think there is the right amount of proof. There are many reasons for the way you feel.

Some of these reasons include:

  • social and financial background
  • religious background
  • part of the world in which you live
  • studies and information
  • what you have lived through


The overall value of a holistic way to treat may seem clear to you. You may have heard about cures that seem too good to be true. But be sure you don’t rule out the use of more well-known methods either. This is mainly true if you are dealing with a serious illness. Holistic ways may not be able to fight off a fast-moving disease alone. There are many claims, but not studies to back them up, in order to use holistic methods alone. Just as holistic health is a balance of many forms of treatment, you should also balance holistic treatments with better-known treatments.


American Holistic Health Association (AHHA)

By Kevin Rizzo
Source: ComplementaryandAlternativeMedicine/MindBodyandSpirit/holistic-medicine

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