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What is meant by “Whole Health?”

The word “Whole” in the phrase Whole Health is intended to emphasize that health is more than the absence of sickness, it is a state of well being. In order to achieve a state of well being the needs of the whole person, body, mind and spirit, must be served.

Whole Health practitioners include anyone who promotes health and well-being through practices which integrate body, mind, and spirit. The alternative healthcare model is one which embraces the holistic health philosophy. In recent years, there have been growing numbers of conventional practitioners who are embracing holistic medical practices.

What are “Complementary and Alternative Medicine” and “Integrative Medicine”?

The rising popularity and demand for alternative practitioners and therapies led the United States Congress to establish the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) in 1992. NCCAM defined Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) as:

“A group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices and products that are not presently considered to be part of conventional medicine”

Complementary medicine and alternative medicine are different from each other. Complementary medicine is used together with conventional medicine. An example would be using aromatherapy to help lessen a patient’s discomfort after surgery. Alternative medicine is used in place of conventional medicine. An example is using a special diet to treat cancer instead of undergoing conventional therapies such as surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy.

Integrative medicine involves the appropriate use of conventional, complementary and alternative methods to facilitate the body’s innate healing response. Integrative medicine addresses health promotion and prevention as well as treatment of disease.

NCCAM groups CAM practices into five different categories:

Alternative Medical Systems

Alternative medical systems are built upon complete systems of theory and practice. Often, these systems have evolved apart from and earlier than the conventional medical approach used in the United States. Examples of alternative medical systems that have developed in Western cultures include homeopathic medicine and naturopathic medicine. Examples of systems that have developed in non-Western cultures include traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurvedic medicine.

Mind-Body Interventions

Mind-body medicine uses a variety of techniques designed to enhance the mind’s capacity to affect bodily function and symptoms. Examples of mind-body interventions are meditation, prayer, mental healing, creative visualization and therapies that use creative outlets such as art, music, or dance. Some techniques that were considered CAM in the past have become mainstream (for example, patient support groups and cognitive-behavioral therapy).

Biologically Based Therapies

Biologically based therapies use substances found in nature, such as herbs, foods, and vitamins. Some examples include dietary supplements and herbal products.

Manipulative and Body-Based Methods

Manipulative and body-based methods in CAM are based on manipulation and/or movement of one or more parts of the body. Some examples include chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation, and massage.

Energy Therapies

Energy therapies involve the use of energy fields. They are of two types: Biofield therapies are intended to affect energy fields that surround and penetrate the human body. Some forms of energy therapy include qi gong, Reiki, and Therapeutic Touch. Bioelectromagnetic-based therapies involve the unconventional use of electromagnetic fields, such as pulsed fields, magnetic fields, or alternating-current or direct-current fields.

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