On this blog we talk a lot (and will talk a lot) about “holistic health.” But what does that mean?
By definition, holistic means “relating to or concerned with wholes or with complete systems rather than with the analysis of, treatment of, or dissection into parts” (merriam-webster.com).
Whereas mainstream medicine treats individual health issues as they pop up (say a cold), holistic medicine is concerned with caring for the entire body as well as the mind.
This is why aromatherapy is considered holistic – when I am consulting with someone who’d like an essential oil blend, I don’t just dump in a bunch of oils that are good for the common cold. I probe deeper. I ask the person if they have any allergies, if they’ve been going through a stressful time, or how their mood has been. All these and other factors affect how I treat what seems to be the simplest of problems – a cold.
This might sound exhaustive or even a little unnecessary, but think about it. Our bodies are a collection of systems working together to keep us alive and well. The respiratory system is not independent of the cardiac system, nor is the muscular system independent of the nervous system. They all work together and rely on each other.
It follows, then, that a health issue affecting one will affect the other. If the immune system is struggling, the entire body will respond in order to fill in the deficiency. This is why I believe a holistic approach is so important: a cold does not just affect your nose or your throat. The rest of the body doesn’t just let your nose fall of and say “well the rest of us are fine!” Your entire immune system is weakened, your mood is affected, and it’s harder to carry out everyday tasks as usual. Cutting off your nose would not make this better!
So I hope this helps clear up any misconceptions you may have about holistic health, or at least clarifies for you what it even is. Holistic medicine is a bit of a fad right now, and as such it is easy to think that this or that is what holistic health means. But really the concept is simple. How you practice it and how it plays out in your individual life will look different to different people.
And honestly, that’s the spirit of holistic health: everyone’s different, with different bodies and health needs and reactions. Medicine should help each individual body and mind the way that they specifically need it. If you believe that, then congratulations! You’re thinking holistically.
What comes to mind when you think of holistic health?
Does this post clear up any misconceptions, answer any questions, or spark more?
Let me know in the comments below!