The term holistic medicine refers to a method of health care that encourages the participation of everyone involved with the patients, including the patients, their family members and healthcare personnel. It also involves the treatment of the whole person, encompassing physical, social, emotional, mental and spiritual areas.
Holistic Medicine Has Ancient Origins
Different ancient societies emphasized living in harmony with nature, and Socrates discouraged the treatment of only a part of the body but instead stressed the importance of all-rounded health in the fourth century B.C. The American Holistic Health Association cites China and India as countries that encouraged holistic healing traditions in ancient times.
Jan Christiaan Smuts introduced the term "holism" in 1926, referring to the greatness of living things as whole entities rather than a sum of their respective parts. However, the term "holistic" only started gaining popularity in the 1970s.
What Does Holistic Medicine Involve?
Holistic medicine concerns the belief that health involves more than the physical aspect that mainstream medical professionals primarily focus on. Sound health includes the other aspects already mentioned above, and they must all be addressed for people to attain true health.
Healthcare experts who use the holistic approach closely involve their patients in the treatment process. They encourage treatment methods that allow the natural healing system in the body to function at its optimum level. They consider all possible angles in the treatment of the whole person.
Holistic medicine involves various alternative treatment methods, including:
- Herbal medicine
- Body work medicine
- Spinal manipulation
- Stress management
- Relaxation training
- Energy medicine
- Spiritual attunement
Holistic Medicine and the Bible
The Scriptures also encourage the well being of the whole person. According to 1 Corinthians 6:19,20, the Bible clearly states that we should care for our bodies well because they are temples of the Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ Himself restored people's health physically, mentally and spiritually among other ways.
Many Bible verses describe different medical treatments, such as the use of bandages (Isaiah 1:6), salves like the "balm of Gilead" (Jeremiah 8:22), oil and wine (Luke 10:34), wine (1 Timothy 5:23) and oil (James 5:14).
Since holistic medicine does not emphasize medical drugs and surgery as the primary methods of treatment, these Biblical treatments neatly fit the holistic pattern. Indeed, many Christians attribute their health to the same principles applied in holistic medicine.
The Need for Caution
However, this does not mean that everything recommended by advocates of holistic health is Biblical. Many of the advocates encourage spiritual wellness techniques that are in direct conflict with Biblical teachings, and some of them can even lead to demonic influence.
Many holistic medicine treatments originated from the ancient Eastern Cultures. These treatments often encourage a technique known as transcendental meditation, which basically involves emptying one's mind to be "one with the World." The technique teaches people to depend on their own consciences to solve difficult questions in life. On the other hand, Christians know that they should rely on God's Word instead of anything inherent in themselves.
This means that such kind of meditation leaves those practicing it vulnerable to the wiles of the enemy, who is prowling about seeking those he can lead astray (1 Peter 5:8).
Christians should meditate on God's Word and His attributes as well as Jesus Christ, the Great Physician.