What is Holistic Medicine?

Tara Viswanathan
What is Holistic Medicine?

There’s so many terms out there. Holistic Medicine. Functional Medicine. Integrative Medicine. We get why this can be confusing.

Let’s start with holistic medicine. Here’s how we define it at Rupa Health:

What is holistic medicine?

Holistic medicine is a whole body approach to healing, rather than focusing on each individual issue by itself.

So say you have a migraine, non-holistic practitioners might simply prescribe you generic off-the-shelf painkillers and send you along your way. Holistic practitioners, however, will take the time to understand why you might be experiencing a migraine – what have you been eating? Have you been getting enough rest? Have you perhaps gone through an event that has caused your hormonal levels to change? They will understand the whole you – physically, mentally, emotionally – before recommending an appropriate course of action that is tailored to your needs.

Can western MDs be holistic medicine practitioners?

Yes, Western MDs can absolutely be holistic medicine practitioners too!

Holistic medicine is more of a mindset and an approach to treating a patient rather than an actual type of medicine, so holistic practitioners can come in all forms – in addition to Western MDs, they can be acupuncturists, physical therapists, nutritionists, and the list goes on.

However, by definition, some healthcare modalities are inherently “holistic” or “whole body” focused.

Some examples are: Acupuncture & Traditional Chinese Medicine, Integrative Medicine, Ayurveda, Functional Medicine, and more. All of the providers in these categories practice holistic medicine, though in different forms and with different tools.

Do holistic practitioners only use natural and eastern methods?

Holistic medicine includes the use of many different tools - from nutrition to meditation to supplements to sometimes even pharmaceuticals and beyond. This depends heavily on the type of practitioner and their specific license. Between all provider types, they do not just use natural and eastern methods - but generally will default to lifestyle and less invasive methods as a first line of defense unless other methods are needed.

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Should I see a holistic practitioner?

“I’ve paid so many visits to different doctors, but none of them have been able to help me figure out what’s going on!”

At Rupa Health, we believe that holistic medicine can be for everyone, but we think that it’s especially relevant if traditional medicine has not worked out for you. Why?

Holistic medicine practitioners don’t believe in just alleviating a particular symptom, but will work with you to identify the root cause of that symptom by conducting thorough physical analyses and also understanding your emotional and mental states.

Because holistic practitioners have been trained to consider each person’s unique situation, they are used to customizing treatments for patients and won’t be quick to dismiss ailments as insignificant or prescribe you an indiscriminate course of action.

Is there a certification all holistic practitioners have? How do I find one?

Since holistic medicine is more of a style of thinking and an approach to treating a patient, rather than an actual type of medicine, it is NOT a certification or special training that a practitioner can receive. Instead, holistic medicine is a blanket term that covers a wide variety of practitioner types.

We understand how confusing it can be with all the types of holistic practitioners and the various methods they use. And that’s why Rupa is here to help! Our team has built a network of the top holistic practitioners in the SF Bay Area and built a dataset around their specialties, pricing, insurance, and more. We can help you find the perfect practitioner for whatever you’re dealing with. We exist because we genuinely want to help you find solutions for your symptoms and be there with you every step along the way.

References & Further Reading

  1. What is Holistic Medicine, WebMD
  2. Holistic Medicine in Family Practice, NIH

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Tara Viswanathan
CEO & Co-Founder, Rupa Health.
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