Are complementary and alternative therapies holistic?

Dr. Christopher Maloney, ND
Naturopathic Medicine

I think the issue is that both complementary and alternative therapies should be holistic. In the proper context, any primary care visit should be holistic in nature as well. But as time constraints have limited PCP visits to "one issue" we start to see the same sort of constraints edging in on both complementary and alternative practitioners. If your chiropractor sees you for three minutes, that is not a holistic visit. If you never speak to your acupuncturist, the fact that the care you receive is alternative does not make it encompassing.

As an alternative practitioner I constantly have to take a step back and ask if we are addressing the entire person rather than a shoulder or a symptom. And that is with an hour spent per patient, and an hour-and-a-half for new patients. Anything less, and I don't know how you would really even do a cursory overview of the entire person.

As insurance becomes more accepting, I see the double-edged sword of reimbursement making visits more available and less comprehensive. In fifteen minutes, it is hard to allow the emotions time to express and the spirit freedom to explore.

Lisa Oz
Health Education

Most complementary and alternative therapies are holistic. They view the patient as an entire being, in which all systems are related and interdependent. With this approach, specific diseases are seen not as isolated to a particular organ, but as symptomatic of a broader imbalance throughout the body. In many of these traditions, effective healing must take place on the emotional and spiritual levels as well as in the body for lasting health to be restored.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.