The term holistic comes from Greek ὅλος holos “all, whole, entire”.
In philosophy, we can consider holistic as referring to the belief that all the parts of something are intimately interconnected and can be explicable only by referring to the whole.
In medicine, holistic designates a way of treating the patient regarding their whole person, taking into account besides the symptoms of disease also the mental and social factors.
In nature, we can observe the tendency to produce wholes. Two cells come together and cooperate, sustain each other and rely on each other. After such a system is formed, its components can not survive independently anymore. What happens to a cell will influence the other one as well.
Of course, the human body contains not only two cells but billions of them. This system developed over hundreds of millions of years, allowing the cells growing such a specificity that they formed systems (organs) within the system. When an organ in this system becomes ill, it is not sufficient to therapy just that organ. We have to look at the ensemble and at the conditions that caused that organ to become sick.
To have a successful therapy, we have to put all the pieces together; the way of life, nutrition, sleep, exercise, environment. We have to determine the connection with other organs that could negatively influence the regarded organ’s health.
Any living being is much more than the sum of its organs. As an old saying says: “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts”.
So, when we speak of treating a health disorder, we have to consider all aspects of a patient. We have to inquire about their family, job, social and natural environment, and the psyche, on top of the physical symptoms.
Allopathy and modern-day western medicine brought amazing and life-saving advancements. However, usually, they use the atomistic (separate) view of the human being, treating mainly the symptoms and disregarding the environmental influences and the contribution of other organs to generating the symptoms.
Consequently, to realise optimal wellbeing in the physical, mental, and spiritual sense, we have to view and support the body as a whole.
In holistic health, the therapist is doing just that; they look at the patient as a whole being; interconnected body, mind and spirit. Alternative and complementary medicine such as herbalism, massage, acupuncture, Ayurveda, traditional western medicine, nutrition, yoga, or meditation are holistic medicine methods.
By applying these therapies as a part of holistic healing, a person is much more likely to experience wellness on a deeper level, allowing for a more joyful and genuinely healthy living.
There are two pillars of holistic health: physical health and mental health with its cognitive abilities and emotional, social and spiritual aspects.
For it is vital to consider all of these aspects of holistic health when establishing a therapy. Otherwise, the patient will be not able to experience the wholeness of a healthy and happy life.
Mental health, of course, cannot be considered outside of this context, outside this wholeness. Every activity or process of our body, like digestion, physical exercises, sleeping patterns, and the social context, emotions, and environment, influences our mental health.