Terminology

Terminology

(Holistic Medicine & Alternative Healing )

Index

Overview
Holistic Medicine
Alternative Medicine
Complementary Medicine
Integrative Medicine
Energy Medicine
Mental Health Practice
Preventive Medicine

 

Overview

 

There are many terms we often use to define the health approaches that are not falling in the category of conventional medicine (prescription medicine and surgery medicine), such as holistic medicine, alternative medicine, complementary medicine, integrative medicine, naturopathic medicine, natural medicine, mind-body medicine, energy medicine, homeopathic medicine, preventive medicine, etc. These terms sometime interchangeable, while sometime they have hierarchical relationship – one inclusive to another, or sometime they are interrelated but different from each other as an standalone practice – each of them has its own definition and meaning, or sometime they have similar or almost same meaning, and sometime they are defined from different perspectives to emphasize its nature of the approach or benefits, while sometime they are defined based on the purpose and focused aspect. To help you better understand these terms and clarify some confusion between them, here we provide some basic conceptual knowledge and informative writings for your reference. Please note that although we named this section as “Terminology”, but we cannot state that all these information reflects official, complete, and prefect definition of terms in the field of holistic medicine and mind-body health practice.

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Holistic Medicine

Holistic Medicine is a profound principle, ideology, philosophy, health practice and medical treatment, and as well as a mind-body cultivation involving varies practices, with a respect of, and aiming to restoring back of the original God-created life mechanism, to heal and gain true health through understanding and taking care of the whole person – mind, body, spirit, emotion, energy, personal and social elements and their interrelationships with the universe (defined as mind-body-spirit or MBS for short) – as one unified system. By treating the whole being with a deep and comprehensive insight and practice of all life components, holistic medicine can heal the root cause and help you gain the optimal health, wellness, and higher quality of life.

Holistic Medicine is a health practice based on the holism – concerned with the whole person (the complete system) rather than with only part of, analysis of, treatment of, or dissection of it into parts. Holistic Medicine believes the mind, body and spirit are related with each other and are one undividable living system, thereby it attempts to treat the mind, body and spirit at all levels and at the same time. The practice is completely different from the mainstream medicine nowadays, which dissects the whole person into many small parts and only focuses on a part of it. Therefore holistic medicine is fundamental different practice than conventional medicine. It is the original traditional medicine and healing art. As the matter of fact, except conventional medicine, all other health practices are holistic medicine, although they may have so many different names.

Hence, holistic medicine is a general or collective term that can be any kind of health practices that deal with the whole being and heal the cause, but not the conventional medicine (prescription medicine and surgical medicine), which deal with the symptoms and treats parts of the physical body.

Other terms such as alternative medicine, complementary medicine, integrative medicine, mind-body medicine, energy medicine, and so on, can also be classified into the category of holistic medicine, because they treat health issues in a holistic way – treating the whole person; mind, body and spirit. These terms have no clear difference, but each of them may have certain focused or emphasized aspects.

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Alternative Medicine

In relat ive to mainstream conventional medicine, all other kinds of health approaches can be defined as alternative medicine, meaning alternatives of conventional medicine. Alternative medicine is a term that describes those medical treatments that are used alternative approaches instead of mainstream therapies. Alternative medicine can also refer to holistic medicine, complementary medicine, or integrative medicine. Practitioners in these fields may use different terminology to describe their practice, but the principle and approaches have some common natures such as described above in the section of Holistic Medicine.

Compared to holistic medicine or other terms, the term of alternative medicine more emphasizes the practice as an alternative of mainstream medicine, covering all heath practices except mainstream medicine (drug-based prescription medicine and surgical medicine). It is widely covering all areas of non-conventional medicine as wide as the term of holistic medicine does. Holistic medicine as a medical term more emphasizes its principle – holistically consider and treat the person as a whole being, a unified life system of mind, body and spirit, while the word of alternative medicine is more clearly indicating the practice can be an alternative way of, and different way from the mainstream approaches.

Please note that although alternative medicine as a term means an alternative practice of conventional medicine, but alternative medicine doctors or practitioners always make clear statement that their practice does not substitute or replace other mainstream medical professionals’ treatment. This means that it is important for you as a patient or client to understand that you always have your right to choose what you need for your health care service needs among any kinds of practices, and alternative medicine (or similar terms used in this field as described in this website) is one of options for you to improve your health, but you always can consult with your family doctors or other mainstream medical professionals for your need.

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Complementary Medicine

Complementary Medicine refers to the non-conventional health practices that are used together with conventional medicine to provide complementary benefits. Complementary medicine can be falling in the category of alternative medicine, holistic medicine, energy medicine, mind-body medicine or likes, but it more emphasizes that those approaches are employed together with mainstream medicine. The practice itself can have no any difference compared to other kinds of non-conventional medicine, but the term itself simply implies that the practice provide a complementary benefit along with the mainstream health care service.

Over 30 percent of American adults and about 12 percent of children use health care approaches that are non-mainstream Western medicine (conventional, medicine), and people often use the terms of alternative medicine and complementary medicine interchangeably. Most people use both types of health care practices, for example, they may use acupuncture for pain management as complementary medicine, and at the same time they also take pain pills prescribed from their conventional doctor. Some people, however, use acupuncture and other non-conventional health practice to heal their pain, in such case we can call these healthcare approaches as alternative medicine. No matter what term we use, the practice either complementary medicine or alternative medicine or other holistic medicine actually has no substantial difference with each other, but only depending whether or not it is used in combination with conventional medicine. Therefore, sometime complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is often used as a conjoined term.

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Integrative Medicine

Integrative Medicine is a relatively new field and become popular through the recent years. As defined by the American Board of Integrative Medicine® (ABOIM) and the Consortium of Academic Health Centers for Integrative Medicine, Integrative Medicine is the practice of medicine that reaffirms the importance of the relationship between practitioner and patient focuses on the whole person, and is informed by evidence, and makes use of all appropriate therapeutic approaches, healthcare professionals, and disciplines to achieve optimal health and healing.

Integrative medicine physicians are certified by The American Board of Physician Specialties (ABPS) through the ABOIM, and provide healthcare services with ideas about the treatment and care of the whole person that integrate scientifically-validated therapies of conventional medicine with select practices derived from complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). The principles of integrative medicine include:

  • A partnership between the patient and the practitioner
  • Consideration of all factors that influence health, wellness, disease, including mind, body and spirit
  • Use of conventional and alternative methods to facilitate the body’s innate healing response
  • Appropriate consideration given to use of less-invasive and less-harmful interventions, when possible, while addressing the whole person in addition to the disease
  • The concept that medicine is based on good science, is inquiry-driven and open to critical consideration of new paradigms

Very much as the same as the principle of holistic medicine, in addition to scientifically sound treatment concepts, the practitioner of integrative medicine espouses the broad ideas of health promotion, illness prevention, mind-body-spirit wellness, healthy living, and quality life. Integrative medicine practitioners put efforts to pursue a whole person health through these discipline practices and as well as remaining an open mind to self-exploration and self-development.

Integrative medicine has a lot of joined parts and shared principles, methods and techniques with as that of holistic medicine, alternative medicine or complementary medicine, or likes.

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Energy Medicine & Traditional Oriental Medicine

Energy Medicine is an important branch of holistic medicine, alternative medicine, complementary medicine or preventive medicine. It includes a broad range of therapeutic modalities that use the concept of energy, such as traditional orient medicine, sound and music healing, distance healing, energy channeling, psychic channeling, Reiki, Qigong, Taichi, etc. In fact there are much more other types of healing that can be classified in the category of Energy Medicine or Energy Healing.

Our human beings are a form of energy at many different levels, consisting of a physical body, which is not just a biological form, but with this physical body we are capable of thoughts, consciousness, emotions, and spiritual existence – all these components (commonly we called them as mind, body and spirit) are energetic systems, working together as a unified living being to support and nourish our physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual activities through an integrative and coordinative connection within and between these elements.

During daily living, our energy systems sometime can encounter issues such as mind-body connection problem, energy flow blockage, energy running low, energy contaminated, energy imbalance, emotional trauma, family and social environmental interferences and conflicts, and so on. All these can lead to a sickness physically, emotionally and spiritually. From the point of view of energy medicine, these energy problems are the cause of most health problems in the body, mind or both. It’s why you need Energy Medicine to get healed and maintain a great health energetically.

There are many ways to improve your energy of mind, body and spirit. For example, meditation and visualization can help you refresh your mind and emotion, boost your immune system, restore your functional organs and nervous systems, and as a result actually impact on your physical body, leading to its ability to auto-heal (placebo effect). Our mind, emotions and physical body can be directly affected through energetic intervention. Many healing miracles approved that energy healing is a powerful gift from the spiritual divine that beyond science knows.

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Mental Health Practice

Mental Health Practice includes many categories, such as psychological therapies. In addition to conventional psychotherapies, there are many other types of psychotherapies such as holistic psychology, energy psychology, etc. There are other types of therapies for family and social relationships such as Family and Marriage Therapy, etc.

Beside conventional psychological practice, there are many other types of practices for mind-body connect and emotional healing, such as mind-body medicine, spiritual healing, energy healing, and so on.

All these Mental Health Practices are an extremely important area of healthcare practice nowadays. As we are facing the fact that modern lifestyle is overwhelmingly stressful, fast moving, complicated, and materialistic to the extern that leads to so much mental and emotional disturbances and problems, even cause many mental diseases such as anxiety disorders, for example, generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD for short), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD for short), social phobia (social anxiety disorder). There are more mental and emotional issues at modern time such as fear, anger, grief, relationship problems, and communication problems. Other common mental health problems include addictions (alcoholic, smoking, drugs, etc.), insomnia, and phobias about a specific thing (e.g., spider) or situations (e.g., being embarrassed in front of people). The most common and biggest issue is stress and stress-related problems. Stress can cause not only mental and emotional problems as anxiety, depression, relationship problems as mentioned above, but also contribute to other bodily health issues such as high blood pressure and blood sugar, cardiovascular disorder, heart diseases, stroke, chronic pain, digestion problem, metabolism disorder, decreased immunity, brain functional problem, memory loss, and even cancers.

Mental health practitioners are professionally trained and experienced as their specialty in this field to help heal all kinds of mental and emotional problems. If you need help, we recommend that you should find a professional practitioner to help you relieve and live a healthy and happy life.

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Preventive Medicine

Preventive Medicine is an important branch of healthcare practice since ancient time. Over 2500 years ago, the most famous Chinese medicine book “Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine” taught that the Upper Level of Medicine heals the person while he/she is healthy (before illnesses occur), which is called Health Practice, while the Middle Level of Medicine treats the causes that are about to cause disease, which is called Healthcare practice, and the Lower Level of Medicine deals with the illness that already occurred, that is called Medical Care practice. This means that the best medicine is the practice that prevents a person from sick – Preventive Medicine. Nowadays at modern time, however, our mainstream medicine is actually the lowest level of medicine, neither health practice or healthcare, it should be called Medical Care. We should at least practice the first two levels of medicine – health practice and healthcare practice.

The doctor with the highest skill is not a person who is good at treating diseases, but a person who can prevent diseases. The ideal healthcare practice is to help maintain health but not treatment of disease.

The ultimate aim of preventive medicine is the absence of illness, through many preventive ways such as cultivating a healthy lifestyle, remaining a healthy mind-body connection, having daily healthy diet, balancing nutrition, practicing exercise, using natural, non-side effect, non-invasive healthcare approaches to eliminate the sickness causes and prevent the occurrence of diseases, or naturally heal the causes at early state to avert resulting complications of the condition.

In fact, preventive medicine is exactly the healthcare practices we have talked about above and through out this website, such as holistic medicine, alternative medicine, complementary medicine, mind-body medicine, energy medicine, traditional oriental medicine, mental health practice, etc.

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