Holistic Medicine as Alternative Medicine: History and Deifnition

Holistic comes from the Greek holos, meaning whole or complete.

The word holism was used for the first time by Jean Christian Smuts, a South African philosopher, in his book “Holism and Evolution”; in 1926, he used it to describe the philosophical schools that consider the system as a whole instead of a set of parts.

It makes more sense to talk about the forms of necessary treatment or holistic medicine of “integral health” because when we talk about health, this already implies totality. Generally, when talking about good health, most people think it means the absence of disease. Good health means the absence of disease and something much more than that.

Health is defined by the (WHO) World Health Organization as physical, mental, and social. Recently, the hypothesis has been conceived, which is also of the nature of spiritual well-being. This holistic concept implies a healthy mind and body in a healthy social environment. This is a prerequisite for the spiritual health of an individual who seeks to know himself or herself.

In other words, health is a balance between man and his environment with the aim of “Realization of Being,” “self-knowledge,” or “process of individuation”, as Carl Jung quotes psychiatrist. “This state is not static, so it must be continually maintained as man interacts with his environment.” Therefore, this approach is intimately related to the quality of life; that is, what we have today must be close to the ideal we desire for ourselves, including our desired spiritual well-being.

Modern medicine is excellent biological aspects, but there is an urgent need to link these aspects with the psychological conditions of human beings and their social environment. We must consider the complex interdependence between the body and the mind in health and disease, as well as the interconnection between man and the environment surrounding him. One of the new foundations was the recognition of the complex interdependence between the body and the mind in health and disease, which suggests a “psychosomatic” approach in all forms of Therapy.

Modern medicine

Currently, the field of mind-body medicine is expanding rapidly. In recent years, many articles have been written on the state of health as both the Western medicine model and alternative sources of medicine available in different parts of the world. Therefore, we can consider health as a continuous process. They consider that it is a multidimensional phenomenon. A person can be physically well, but social or emotional problems can make you sick. Being healthy means being in harmony with yourself, physically, mentally, emotionally, and with the environment.


Umesh Rai, an Indian medical neurophysiologist member of the International Academy of Medical Sciences, cites in his book “The Enlightened Medical Science” the following, in 1993 The fundamental principles that intervene in holistic medicine:

1. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts. This means that when examining a part, for example, the heart, we have to be aware of how emotions, thoughts, culture, and the environment influence the body’s functions. Therefore holistic medicine challenges the notion of cause and effect and uses the theory of linear systems to explain the facts.

2. The use of alternative systems of medicine, such as biocatalytic oligotherapy, classical Chinese medicine, homeopathy, Ayurvedic medicine, the method of bio-feedback, yoga, visualization of images, analytical psychology, etc. All used but always considered the effectiveness, services provided, costs, and benefits. In this case, we must also be attentive to the so-called “fantastic solutions” since the effect is fleeting and transient.

3. The participation of the patient in his healing process. The holistic approach is emphasized in encouraging and facilitating the taking of responsibility in recovery. Based on the principle that the power to heal is within each individual.

4. The health of the same (therapist) doctor: the holistic approach also suggests that the physical, mental, social, and spiritual health of the therapist where the balance should also be necessary. It is a fundamental component in the interaction between the doctor and the patient. Negative emotional states, blockages of energy in the meridians, lack of knowledge of the body, and lack of food, among others, make life a misery without any doubt.

Although people in these situations are not sick, in the technical sense of the term, they are not using their bodies in their fullness either. On the other hand, for too many of them, the blockages prevent them from developing their daily activities in the way they would like.

Holistic Therapy was born in this gap. It is not a medical practice where the search is predominantly bodily, psychic, and social equilibrium through natural stimuli, self-help, or awakening the individual’s awareness of their body and their role in their midst.

Professional Holistic Therapy must necessarily contain attention actions, promote self-knowledge and the search for energy balance, always within the holistic paradigm, promoting the optimization of the quality of life through the different techniques of holistic or natural therapies, avoiding any term or duplication of understanding that they are health care or other care activities.