For some of you it can be a new term, but Holistic Medicine is in fact much older than the “official” medicine we know today. Its principles have their roots in the wisdom of ancient civilizations of India, China… have their origin in the human common sense, that doesn’t let us hurt or harm when we wish to heal a living being. “Primum non nocere!” (First do no harm!) was the first principle, the first Law of Medicine, laid down by Hippocrates as being the fundament of any healing method – the fundamental principle of Life Itself. Holistic Medicine respects this Law above everything.
And the great doctors, considered nowadays as Fathers of Medicine – Socrates, Hippocrates, Ibn Sinna (Avicenna), and others – practiced and taught Medicine the holistic way, their therapeutic methods addressing all the dimensions of the human being: body – mind/soul – spirit.
Therefore, Holistic Medicine is the medicine that treats the human being as a whole – on a physical, energetic, emotional, mental and spiritual level.
Nowadays it is also named Integral/Integrative Medicine, or some of the natural therapies are named together Naturopathy. The terms “alternative” or “complementary” are incorrect, and have been coined by representatives of the medicine considered nowadays as “official” or “orthodox“. However, in so many cases, where the methods of the “official” allopathic medicine fail in finding the cause and healing the patient completely, other “unconventional” methods yield uncontested results, being able to rapidly reestablish a durable state of health.
Holistic Medicine is the medicine that emphasizes and focuses on Health – on cultivating it, maintaining it through adjustments of the lifestyle, and on reestablishing Health when needed.
The term “holistic” comes from the Greek “holos”, meaning “whole”, “integral” – for, Holistic Medicine treats the human being as a whole, and not as the sum of its organs or component parts… a principle often neglected in modern medicine. Often chemical medicines are prescribed that, in an attempt to treat a certain organ, damage other organs, that need to metabolize it or eliminate it from the body.
The Principles of Holistic Medicine are:
- First Do No Harm! – Primum non nocere! Choosing the treatment methods that are non-invasive or minimally invasive, with zero or minimum side effects; one must understand that the symptoms are actions of the Vital Force that is trying to reestablish the balance (fever, cough, diarrhea, etc.), and should not necessarily be suppressed by any means or methods, but the cause should be understood and addressed/eliminated – otherwise the disease will return, sooner or later. The doctor’s actions should be synergic, in the same direction, with this process of natural healing.
- The Healing Power of Nature – Vis medicatrix naturae. Nature heals through the response of the Vital Force. The body has the ability to establish, to maintain and to restore the state of health – to heal through its own mechanisms. The doctor should remove the obstacles that prevent healing, facilitating the healing process and reestablishing a healthy internal and external environment (through detoxification, drainage, etc.).
- Finding and Removing the Cause – Tolle causam. Each disease has an underlying cause – often in the very way of life, of eating, emotions or habits. Symptoms are often nothing else than the body’s attempt to heal, and should not constitute the only target of the treatment. The causes should be found and removed – and they can be on multiple levels: physical, emotional, mental or spiritual (for instance, in our days: chronic stress, diet poor in (or lacking) good nutrients and full of preservatives or artificial colors, or factors of unhealthy lifestyle: smoking, alcohol and drugconsumption, etc.).
- Treat the Whole Person – Health and disease are conditions of the whole body, a whole that includes the complex interaction of several factors. The harmonious functioning of the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual aspects are essential for recovering from illness (for instance, the immune system – can be affected by the states of depression/sadness or stress, just as well as by diet or smoking, pollution; a gastritis can be triggered by stress, etc.). Patients are not “syndromes” that come to see a doctor – they are human beings who seek help in order to get healthy again.
- Preventive Medicine – The ultimate goal of any health system should be PREVENTING diseases; through education and promoting life habits that contribute to a better state of health. Building health is much better than fighting disease – and we all know that “an ounce of prevention is worth tons of cure”.
- Wellness – Medicine should not only treat diseases or delay death, but it should improve the patient’s quality of life – on a physical as well as on an emotional, mental and spiritual level. Health means more than the mere absence of disease symptoms – it is a state in which the patient feels positive, satisfied, happy, invigorated, and active to their maximum capacity.
- The Doctor as Teacher – Docere. The doctor has the obligation to share his knowledge regarding the PREVENTION of diseases and maintaining a state of health. The very word “doctor” (from the Latin “docere” = to teach) means “teacher”. Each visit to the doctor should be an experience that should enrich the patient and empower them to take care of their own health, every day. The doctor-patient relationship is fundamental for healing; the patient should also take responsibility for their own state of health, and for the healing process.
The natural methods of diagnosis and treatment are numerous, and they include:
- Herbal Medicine – plant-based medicine, that treats without side effects, heals gently, in accordance with the body’s own natural laws, and is more affordable and approachable for the patient.
- Acupuncture – an ancient method, born in China, that harmonizes the body’s energy system, unblocking and fluidifying the flow of Energy (Qi or Chi), having an extremely powerful therapeutic effect.
- Moxibustion – burning of moxa (artemisia vulgaris), in order to warm up the acupuncture points and meridians, relaxing the muscles, promoting blood circulation and having a Yang effect, tonifying locally and generally.
- Osteopathy and Chiropractics – two methods that treat the conditions of the spinal column by repositioning the vertebrae and joints, after relaxing the muscles profoundly through massage and acupressure.
- Iridology – the method of diagnosing and evaluating the state of health through iris analysis, which reveals information about predispositions to illnesses and current conditions.
- Homeopathy – according to the principle “Similia similibus curentur” (like cures like), homeopathic remedies, being substances of various origins (mineral, plant, animal, etc.), in decimal (D), centesimal (C) or milesimal (M) dilutions, stimulate the body`s Vital Force to initiate the process of natural healing. The remedies must be prescribed by a competent homeopathic doctor!
- Nutrition – food has an essential role in maintaining health, in preventing and treating mild or severe illnesses.
Holistic Medicine acknowledges the importance of all treatment methods in Medicine, and puts them to good use, according to necessity – surgery or strong chemical medicines (such as antibiotics) can be extremely useful and important when the situation is critical and they can save the patient’s life. However, each should be given their own place, and each should be applied when needed – as long as the first principle of Hippocrates is respected: “Primum Non Nocere!”
Dr. Adrian Petre, MD, DMD