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What are the Different Types of Holistic Remedies?

Karyn Maier
Updated May 17, 2024
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Holistic remedies include a variety of natural treatments and therapies that are considered outside the range of conventional Western medicine. As such, they are generally grouped together under the category of complementary and alternative medicine, or CAM. The true distinction between holistic health and conventional medicine lies within the approach to the patient. Western medicine maintains an allopathic view of disease, which means that its primary objective is to subdue unwanted symptoms. Holistic health, on the other hand, considers the whole person in terms of medical history, lifestyle, and even spiritual well-being in order to determine which different types of holistic remedies would best address the underlying cause of the disease in question.

One of the oldest known systems of natural healing is herbal medicine, which probably dates back to the time when mankind first learned to gather plants as food. Centuries of experimentation, observation, and careful record keeping eventually paved the way for the development of modern drugs. While herbal medicine is a science in its own right, it is often combined with different types of holistic remedies in a complementary fashion. For instance, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) includes the use of holistic herbs that correspond to certain attributes as they relate to the principles of Yin-Yang, the Five Elements, and the meridian system of the body. These therapeutic models have led to the development of additional different types of holistic remedies and therapies that endeavor to achieve balance in the body, such as acupuncture, Shiatsu massage, and chiropractic therapy.

Homeopathy is another system of natural healing that uses herbs and plants and is based on the Law of Similars, which essentially means “like cures like.” The premise behind this theory is that a substance which produces symptoms characteristic of a certain disorder in a healthy person will cure the same symptoms in a person afflicted with that disease. A secondary principle of homeopathy is that the healing properties of a substance must be diluted hundreds or thousands of times in order to harness the life essence of the material. Of all the different types of holistic remedies available, homeopathy often comes under scrutiny more often than others since there have been very few clinical studies supporting its effectiveness. There is an abundance of anecdotal testimony in many books and other writings.

Since holistic medicine seeks to treat the whole person rather than target specific conditions or parts of the body, it incorporates nutrition and exercise as a vital part of treatment and not just a conjunctive measure. Movement through yoga, for instance, is thought to be beneficial by promoting self-discipline and clarify of mind, as well as encourage natural detoxification of environmental toxins. Likewise, certain foods are associated with improving mood by influencing the production and release of brain chemicals. While these practices have largely been in contrast to the narrowed focus of Western conventional medicine, there is an increasing interest on the part of many Western physicians to learn more about holistic remedies and how to use them.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Karyn Maier
By Karyn Maier , Writer
Contributing articles to WiseGEEK is just one of Karyn Maier's many professional pursuits. Based in New York's Catskill Mountain region, Karyn is also a magazine writer, columnist, and author of four books. She specializes in topics related to green living and botanical medicine, drawing from her extensive knowledge to create informative and engaging content for readers.

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Karyn Maier

Karyn Maier


Contributing articles to WiseGEEK is just one of Karyn Maier's many professional pursuits. Based in New York's Catskill...
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