We see the terms Holistic Medicine and Alternative Medicine a lot on the Internet today. They seem to be used interchangeably. But do you really understand the meaning of the terms? What is Holistic Medicine and how is it different from Traditional Medicine? It can be confusing.The terms “traditional” or “allopathic” or “conventional” basically refer to the type of medicine practiced in the Western world. This approach to health is relatively new in human history when compared to the Chinese healing arts of 5000 years ago. Traditional medicine is scientific-based medicine. You must have data, you must have proof, and you must be able to show your proof in a laboratory setting.Traditional Medicine believes something physical is present to cause disease, like a virus or a bacterium, and you must be treated for that disease by a prescription drug or, if necessary, surgery in order to get better.The Holistic Approach to Health Care is quite different. This philosophy states that you become sick when emotional, psychological, or spiritual stresses overwhelm and weaken the immune system. Holistic Medicine works by finding the cause of the stress in the patient’s life, helping the patient cope with that stress, and supporting the body’s natural healing process with things like proper nutrition, herbal supplementation, and other non-invasive techniques. The treatment always boosts the body’s natural ability to heal itself.Some refer to Holistic Medicine as “Alternative” Medicine, as in an alternative to traditional medicine. According to Carolyn Myss and Norman Shealy in their book “Creation of Health,” the term “alternative” should actually apply to the various techniques used in the Holistic Health field, such as Acupuncture, Massage Therapy, and Medical Herbalism.The term “Holistic” does not refer to a technique. It is an approach to health and healing that emphasizes the connection between mind, body, and spirit. The body is treated as a whole, with each state working in tandem with the others.The Holistic approach empowers the patient to accept responsibility for his/her own health and treatment. The healthcare provider forms a partnership with the patient so that together they can develop the best possible treatment plan for the patient.Holistic Health requires a commitment to the healing process. It is not a quick fix; pop a pill, and go home. You’re cured. It is a continuous striving toward optimal health, not just the absence of sickness.Traditional medical doctors often refer to the “alternative” techniques they use in their practice, like Physical Therapy or Massage Therapy, as “complementary” to the drug and surgical procedures they regularly use. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), a branch of the National Institutes of Health, has gathered compelling evidence of how well Holistic Health techniques work in treating disease and promoting health and well-being. You can keep up-to-date with the latest research at the NCCAM website: nccam.nih.gov/.As more and more people search for alternatives to prescription drugs and surgery, Holistic Medicine and its natural remedies will continue to offer safe and effective treatments. Traditional Medicine will always be the major player in emergency care and acute, life-threatening illnesses. Ultimately it is up to each individual to decide which treatment option is best for his or her needs.Recommended reading:”The Creation of Health: The Emotional, Psychological, and Spiritual Responses That Promote Health and Healing,” by Carolyn Myss, Ph.D., and C. Norman Shealy, M.D.”Body of Health: The New Science of Intuition Medicine for Energy & Balance,” by Francesca McCartney, Ph.D.