You might wonder which is the better choice for you: allopathic (traditional) medicine, with its vast library of science and research and proven track record regarding many troubling diseases, or holistic health, which often includes alternative remedies and focuses on a more wide-ranging approach to health care. The good news is, you don’t have to choose just one. Many traditional health care providers incorporate holistic principles into their treatment plans.
The term “allopathic” originated in the 19th century. It arose out of a debate between homeopaths, who treated illnesses with dilutions of substances that caused the same symptoms in a healthy person, and traditional physicians, who treated with drugs that had effects opposite to the symptoms. Originally homeopaths used the term negatively, but now even the American Medical Association uses “allopathic” to describe its physicians.
The American Holistic Health Association (AHHA) was formed in 1989 to promote the inclusion of holistic care in treatment plans and to educate with regard to holistic care.
“Allopathy” or “allopathic” are now used to refer to what most people think of as traditional medicine. When you go to an allopathic doctor, she does a physical and assesses your symptoms, gives you a prescription or recommends tests or possibly surgery. An allopathic physician does not necessarily focus on the root cause of an illness. For example, your doctor may not know what, exactly, causes your blood pressure to be high. But she does know that exercise, certain changes in diet and certain medications can lower it, so those are the ways she will treat you.
Holistic health is based on considering the whole person. It incorporates traditional medicine and also attempts to go beyond it by focusing on the “mind/body connection.” This means that you focus on physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of yourself as you work together with your health-care provider to get at the root causes of your illness and find solutions through allopathic and/or alternative medicine.
Many insurance companies are expanding their coverage to allow for such treatments as biofeedback and acupuncture, alternative therapies that can be used in conjunction with allopathic medicine to form a holistic treatment approach. If holistic health appeals to you, you should discuss the possibility with your health care provider.
Some people define holistic to mean alternative or complementary medicine to the exclusion of allopathic treatment. If you are speaking with a health care professional who recommends holistic treatment, you should clarify if that treatment will include allopathic medicine as well as alternative, or if the health care professional only practices alternative medicine.