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Holistic health refers to a philosophy of medical care that views physical, mental, and spiritual aspects of life as closely interconnected and equally important approaches to treatment. While frequently associated with alternative medicine, it is also increasingly used in mainstream medical practice as part of a broad view of patient care.
History Holism as a health concept has existed for ages outside of academic circles, but only relatively recently has the modern medical establishment begun to integrate it into the mainstream health care system. In the United States, the first National Conference on Holistic Health was conducted by the Health Optimizing Institute with the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine in June 1975.
Philosophy Holism refers to the idea that an entity is greater than the sum of its parts. In the case of health, the entity in question is the human body. Holistic concepts of health and fitness view achieving and maintaining good health as involving more than just taking care of all the various components that make up the physical body—attention must be paid to aspects such as emotional and spiritual well-being as well. The goal is a wellness that encompasses the entire person, rather than just the lack of physical pain or disease.Holistic health is not itself a method of treatment, but instead an approach to how treatment should be applied. Traditional medical philosophy treats physical symptoms, using standardized methods such as the prescription of drugs or the undertaking of surgery, while the patient is only passively involved. Practices emphasizing holistic health, on the other hand believe that they are treating the whole person. Practitoners of holistic medicine believe that attitudes affect the present condition, and the patient may play an active role in the healing process.
Criticism Some holistic health advocates subscribe to alternative medical practices which conventional medicine does not support. Some common practices such as acupuncture and chiropractic have not received total acceptance by supporters of evidence-based medicine, who require rigorous scientific testing before incorporating them in to a course of treatment. As some treatments lack experimental evidence, they do not receive widespread acceptance in the public health care system.
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