Holistic health is an ancient practice with major modern applications. Since time immemorial holistic practitioners have helped people find a way toward a more comprehensive sense of wellbeing. Here we will discuss what holistic health is, the types of holistic treatments, and tips for holistic living.

What Is Holistic Health?

Holistic health is part of a recognized branch of philosophy called Holism. Holism comes from the Greek word "holos" which translates into "whole," "entire," or "complete."


Holism's premise is a complete system has a greater impact than the individually functioning parts contained within that system. Notable holist and ancient philosopher Aristotle famously summarized this concept in Metaphysics: "The whole is more than the sum of its parts."

The philosophy of holism extends to scientific systems in the spheres of anthropology, biology, chemistry, ecology, sociology, economics, psychology, linguistics, and medicine.

Treating the Whole

Holistic health is a healthcare model that views humans as a complete system or as a "whole" person. Therefore, body, mind, emotions, environment, and spirit are taken into consideration when practicing holistic therapies.

Instead of merely treating symptoms, the holistic healing approach seeks to uncover any underlying causes for symptoms. Holistic practitioners believe if symptoms are present, some cause is impacting the entire system.

More than providing antidotes for existing medical problems, the holistic approach aims to prevent illness and promote wellness through a variety of treatments. Holistic medicine is sometimes referred to as alternative medicine or complementary medicine.

Modern Perspective Shifts

Many people supplement conventional medicine with the help of holistic means. In 2017, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health reported that over 30 percent of Americans now use some type of holistic health medicine, treatment, or therapy.

Those who use holistic health treatments seek balance. In holism, every component of the whole is impacted when one part isn't working properly. In holistic health, a physical ailment detrimentally influences the emotions, spirit, mind, and social environment. Just as a spiritual ailment would have negatvie affects for the body, emotions, mind, and social environment. All elements work together.

Principles of Holistic Therapy

Besides providing medical treatments, holistic therapies share a unique worldview found in a set of beliefs. Some fundamental principles for holistic health are below.

Optimal Health

Optimal health is always the goal with holistic treatments. Optimal health is a sense of well-being beyond the absence of illness. By balancing a person's physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, and environmental aspects, a lingering sense of euphoria emanates from within.

Unconditional Love

Hands forming a heart

Holistic practitioners encourage a model of unconditional love in patients. They help patients release negative emotions and replace them with authentic and encouraging alternatives. Patients are rewarded with powerful benefits that come from the position of non-judgmental self-love.


Woman raising her hands

The holistic approach is about embracing inherent healing powers, and practitioners guide patients toward discovering how powerful they are.

Rapport Building

The relationship between a holistic practitioner and a patient goes beyond bedside manner. This rapport is allows patients to take an active role in the healthcare they receive. Individuals are viewed as individuals rather than categorized by their condition.

Types of Holistic Health Treatments

People turn to holistic health treatments for a variety of reasons. Sometimes conventional medicine isn't treating the full scope of symptoms or the medicine might even cause new symptoms to appear. Sometimes people prefer to take a natural approach to healing rather than a pharmaceutical approach. Sometimes people just want to do everything they can to feel good.

No matter where you are at in your healing journey, there are always options for embracing some type of holistic health treatment. Here we will discuss the main holistic treatment categories.

Nutritional Supplements

Tablets for supplement

You might not even realize it, but if you are taking any nutritional supplements than you are already engaging in a holistic health therapy. Vitamins, minerals, probiotics, fish oil, herbs, or antioxidants are all holistic treatments.

Some lesser known but still widely taken holistic supplements include ginseng for stress, St. John's wort for mild depression, grape seed extract for fighting free radicals, ashwagandha for reducing cortisol levels, ginkgo for improving memory, and milk thistle for liver support.

Be sure to consult a holistic practitioner or doctor before starting any new supplements. Some supplements can interact with medications or may not be suitable for all people.

Holistic Diet

Supplement salad

Adopting a holistic diet is one of the most straightforward approaches to holistic living. A holistic diet is tailored to your individual nutritional needs yet it always begins with natural foods.

To get started you need to omit unhealthy foods from your diet. This means nixing all the junk foods, processed foods, sugar, and bad fats from your diet. Replace them with vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-mercury fish, and herbal teas. With a holistic diet, the fresher your foods are, the better. You get bonus points if you prepare the food yourself.


person massaging the back of a woman

Massage is a wonderful holistic treatment for the body, mind, spirit, and emotions. The benefits of massage are scientifically proven and well-documented. Massage is effective for relieving aches, pain, anxiety, depression, and stress.It's not uncommon for people to have emotional releases when receiving a massage. It's as though this treatment melts all the pain and stress away.

There are various types of massage. All of them are suitable for holistic therapy. Some popular massage techniques include Swedish massage, shiatsu massage, deep tissue massage, and hot stone massages.For those of you who don't feel comfortable stripping naked for a massage, Thai massage is a good option. This technique is like a form of forced yoga that occurs with loose clothing on.

Mind-Body Treatments

Woman meditating on the seashore

Yoga, meditation, and Tai Chi are activities that establish a mind-body link. Establishing this link may reduce unpleasant symptoms associated with stress, anxiety, depression, and physical pain.

Meditation in particular is taught to people who are struggling with terminal illnesses and those recovering from substance abuse to better cope with reality as it is. Meditation is a scientifically substantiated wellness tool.


Woman doing ayurveda exercise

Ayurveda is one of the oldest surviving forms of holistic medicine in the world. Modern Ayurvedic sources state the ancient Indian holistic practice of Ayurveda began in 6,000 BCE. Like all modern holistic applications, Ayurveda is a process of finding the balance for optimal health.

Ayurveda is a well-developed holistic practice that remains the primary medical technique in India. Everything in Ayurveda is built around the mixture of three influences or doshas that each person has in varying amounts. The doshas are vata, pitta, and kapha.If any dosha in the body is out of balance, according to Ayurvedic principles there will be physical, mental, or emotional manifestations. By following the Ayurvedic diet and practice guidelines, balance and health are restored.



Acupuncture is an ancient traditional Chinese medicinal practice that involves puncturing the skin with tiny needles. The needles are placed into specific points of the body. Acupuncture practitioners place the needles onto points according to an energy map where invisible meridians dictate the flow of energy.

Those who practice acupuncture state it can treat a variety of conditions including chronic pain, fatigue, digestive disorders, respiratory problems, skin issues, and headaches.


Aromatherapy perfume

Aromatherapy is the process of inhaling the scents of natural essential oils for wellness. Aromatherapy advocates claim it can help calm nerves, cure insomnia, and mute the pain of menstrual cramps.

Tips for Holistic Health

Holistic health is a lifestyle choice rather than a quick trip to an office when you aren't feeling well. By embracing holistic living you set yourself up to live a happier and healthier life. Here are some not-to-miss tips for living well in proper holistic fashion.

Keep it Clean

Everything put into the body counts. When you eat foods that are natural and healthy, you are showing yourself kindness. Choose fresh foods that come from the earth. Avoid toxins like alcohol, drugs, and tobacco.

Be Present

Instead of thinking so much about the past or the future, learn to appreciate the present moment. Look around you and take in all the beauty life has to offer. Find reasons to smile. Remember that you can't see opportunities when you are looking away from them. All opportunity exists in the present moment.

Give Thanks

Holistic living is a process of having Thanksgiving Day every day. No matter your current lot in life, you still have something to be thankful for. Bring your conscious awareness to all the things you already have and thank them. Thank your hands and feet; thank the sky; thank the birds that sing. Giving thanks is one of the fastest ways to ease stress and change your mood for the better.


Respect yourself. Honor your feelings. Forgive yourself because you are doing the best you can. If you see things you want to change, change them. Respecting yourself first will help you respect others more.

Learn to speak from the heart and show compassion to others. We show the greatest form of love and respect through our willingness to acknowledge another person from the heart.


Disagreements are inevitable in life, but forgiveness is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself. Forgiving yourself and others liberates you from that moment in the past when you weren't seeing eye-to-eye with someone else.

Forgiveness doesn't mean allowing anyone to cross your boundaries, in fact, forgiveness from a distance is just as freeing as a face-to-face encounter. Let go of the past and focus on everything you want in life rather than those things that have upset you.


Holistic health isn't about treating specific conditions; it is about treating the entire human system to create a joyful living experience--even in the presence of bodily disease. By adopting a holistic lifestyle you can beneficially transform your body, emotions, mind, environment, and spirit.


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