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Holistic Alternative Medicine

Holism appears in psychosomatic medicine. In the 1970s the holistic approach was considered one possible way to conceptualize psychosomatic phenomena. Instead of charting one-way causal links from psyche to soma, or vice-versa, it aimed at a systemic model, where multiple biological, psychological and social factors were seen as interlinked. Other, alternative approaches at that time were psychosomatic and somatopsychic approaches, which concentrated on causal links only from psyche to soma, or from soma to psyche, respectively. At present it is commonplace in psychosomatic medicine to state that psyche and soma cannot really be separated for practical or theoretical purposes. A disturbance on any level - somatic, psychic, or social - will radiate to all the other levels, too. In this sense, psychosomatic thinking is similar to the biopsychosocial model of medicine.

In alternative medicine, a holistic approach to healing recognizes that the emotional, mental, spiritual and physical elements of each person comprise a system, and attempts to treat the whole person in its context, concentrating on the cause of the illness as well as symptoms. Examples of such holistic therapies include Acupuncture, Ayurveda, Chinese medicine, Osteopathic manipulation, Naturopathic medicine, Qi Gong, Reiki, and Reflexology. Some of these schools do not originate from the western medical-scientific tradition, and lack scientific evidence to verify their claims. Others, such as osteopathic medicine, make an attempt to blend allopathic medicine with other modalities.

Alternative medicine is defined as "any of various systems of healing or treating disease (as chiropractic, homeopathy, or faith healing) not included in the traditional medical curricula taught in the United States and Britain". Complementary medicine is defined as "any of the practices (as acupuncture) of alternative medicine accepted and utilized by mainstream medical practitioners". The term complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is an umbrella term for both branches. CAM includes practices that incorporate spiritual, metaphysical, or religious underpinnings; non-evidence based practices, non-European medical traditions, or newly developed approaches to healing.

The list of therapies included under CAM changes gradually. If and when an approach regarded as "unproven therapy" is proven to be safe and effective, it may be adopted into conventional health care and over time may cease to be considered "alternative".


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