December 9, 2012

Complementary medicine: A holistic approach

A special feature of many complementary therapies is their holistic approach. Rather than focusing solely on your ailment, the practitioner is likely to be interested in your overall health and will spend time with you, asking about your diet and lifestyle, attempting to build up a picture of how one aspect of your health impacts on another.

This approach is in line with the World Health Organization’s definition of health as a ‘complete state of physical, mental, and social wellbeing’ and not simply the absence of disease. Because of this holistic focus, people with the same ailment may be treated quite differently according to their individual make-up or needs.

For example, two asthma sufferers may have similar symptoms and yet be given different types of herbs, homeopathic remedies, or acupuncture treatments by the same practitioner according to the diagnosis of their overall state of health and the perceived underlying cause of their condition. The aim of this holistic approach is often the restoration of homeostasis or body balance, which is believed to facilitate the body’s own self-healing mechanisms.

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