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Holistic Medicine

Traditionally, medicine as practised by a doctor has largely been mechanistic, with doctors picturing the body as machine made of many parts, with the respective individual parts treated separately. The mechanistic approach stresses the role of doctors in the healing process as their intervention is active, and in general downplays the role of mental and emotional factors that may cause the disease or play a role in its natural evolution or treatment. While mechanistic medicine largely ignores the emotional or spiritual aspects of health and healing, holistic health treats the person as a whole. Holistic is derived from the Greek word holos, meaning whole; holism is a philosophy that entails treating the body as a whole body (one unit) rather than individual parts. In this, it attempts to bring emotional, social, physical, and spiritual dimensions of the person's being into harmony and emphasises the role of therapy or treatment which stimulates his or her own healing process. As can be seen, holistic medicine highlights the interaction between the living body and the spirit, which in holism is defined as giving the person direction in life and a sense of inner happiness. In addition, holistic medicine stresses the importance of the individual maintaining their own sense of well being and health. It extends also to the prevention of disease, with emphasis on the maintenance of good health and active healing of disease processes. Traditional medicine stresses the importance of pathological factors (bacteria, viruses, environmental agents) in the causation of disease (aetiology). Holistic medicine maintains that decreased resistance brought about by poor habits and physical and mental stress directly make the body susceptible to disease. Disease, therefore, is seen as an imbalance between social, personal, and economical stresses as well as biological influences. Paavo Airola, a leading proponent of holistic medicine, defines these stresses as fears, worries, emotional stresses, exogenous poisons from polluted air, food, water, toxic drugs, excess alcohol intake, overeating, overindulgence in fats, and lack of sufficient exercise, rest, and relaxation. In terms of prevention, holistic medicine attempts to establish and maintain a balance between the individual and the environment.

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