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Holistic health practitioner examines patient

What Exactly is a Holistic Health Practitioner?

Holistic health practitioner examines patient

Think back to the last time you visited a medical doctor. Were you comfortable talking to her? Did she ask you about your overall wellness, or did she focus more specifically on your health numbers: cholesterol, weight, blood pressure, and the like? Did she stay long, or rush off to her next patient? How did you feel when you left?

If you're anything like me, you were probably tense the entire time, constantly eyeing the door. Since I was a kid—and even when I wasn't ill—a doctor visit always felt clinical, cold, and intimidating to me. Now I'm not saying every doctor's office is like this. What I am saying, though, is that we've become so dependent on Western medicine that we sometimes forget the power the human body possesses all on its own.

Of all the medical professionals working today, holistic health practitioners spend the most time tapping into this power, working to heal rather than medicate.

Holistic health practitioners: A natural approach

While traditional medical doctors primarily take a disease-based approach to patient health, a holistic health practitioner considers the entire patient: mind, body, and spirit. This approach aims to both get at the root cause of illness and to use preventive measures to stay healthy. Whereas medical doctors typically treat the symptoms, holistic health providers work to fix the primary issue.

In many cases, this work becomes a partnership between the holistic health practitioner and the patient. It involves educating the patient on nutrition, lifestyle habits, self-care, and other techniques as a way to fix the underlying cause of illness rather than temporarily improve the symptoms. It also involves deeper conversations with the patient, covering everything from diet and exercise to emotional health and relationships. In this partnership, the burden lies as much on the practitioner as on the patient.

Holistic health practitioners: Varied specialties

Holistic health practitioners have training in a range of areas, including nutrition, detoxification, digestion, hydration, anatomy and physiology, herbalism, botany, and even chemistry. Some are trained medical doctors who have chosen an alternative path, while others have gone through training at institutions like the American College of Healthcare Sciences.

There are various types of holistic health practitioners, including:

  • Ayurvedic doctors, who use the ancient Indian treatment path focused on herbal remedies and lifestyle changes
  • Chiropractors, who manipulate the spine to create whole-body alignment for overall wellness
  • Integrative physicians, medical doctors who combine traditional and alternative approaches to medicine
  • Naturopathic doctors, who combine Western science, natural therapies, and holistic approaches to treat health conditions 

Just like any other professional, not all holistic health practitioners are the same. Do some research to find one you like (here's a good place to start), and check each holistic health practitioner's qualifications, including education, licenses, experience, and board certifications as well. 

Medicines and western practices certainly have their place and we're living longer than ever due to advancements in science and technology. This article is meant to serve as an alternative suggestion if you've ever felt frustrated with traditional medical advice. Do your homework, and you'll find a holistic health practitioner who can partner with you, empowering you to take charge of your own health!


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