Holistic vs. Conventional Healthcare

Standard, conventional, or orthodox medicine, also called allopathy, defines health as the absence of disease. In contrast, holistic medicine a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being.


Conventional medicine usually focus on sick people who do not seek treatment until they become ill; there is little emphasis on preventive treatment. The main causes of illness are considered to be pathogens-bacteria or viruses-or biochemical imbalances. Scientific tests are often used in diagnosis. Drugs, surgery, and radiation are among the key tools for dealing with the problems.


 Natural medicine, which follows a holistic approach, views illness and disease as an imbalance of the mind and body that is expressed on the physical, emotional, and mental levels of a person. Although allopathy does recognize that many physical symptoms have mental components (for example, emotional stress might promote an ulcer or chronic headaches), its approach is generally to suppress the symptoms, both physical and psychological. Natural medicine assesses the symptoms as a sign or reflection of a deeper instability within the person, and it tries to restore the physical and mental harmony that will then alleviate the symptoms.

Holistic medicine recognizes that the human body is superbly equipped to resist disease and heal injuries. But when disease does take hold, or an injury occurs, the first instinct in holistic healing is to see what might be done to strengthen those natural resistance and healing agents so they can act against the disease more effectively. Results are not expected to occur overnight. But neither are they expected to occur at the expense of dangerous side effects.

Holistic medicine focuses on preventing illness and maintaining health. It views health as a balance of body systems - mental, emotional, and spiritual, as well as physical. All aspects of a person are seen as interrelated - a holistic way to look at the illness. Any disharmony is thought to stress the body and perhaps lead to sickness. To fight disease, alternative medicine uses a wide range of therapies to bolster the body's own defenses and restore balance. The best illustration of this approach is the fact that ancient Chinese doctors were paid only when their patients were healthy, not if they became ill.

Why Don't Doctors Get It

By Dr. Joseph Mercola with Laina Krisik


If you live in the United States and need medical care or treatment for a disease you can follow one of two paths to better health--conventional or alternative. In making this decision it is important to know the differences between the two practices.


A Comparison of Conventional to Alternative Medicine



(Disease-based Model)

  • Offers the best medicine in surgeries or trauma care

  • Treatment of immune health-related conditions routinely consists of prescribing drugs or recommending medical procedures, which are often invasive

  • Targets treating symptoms, not the underlying causes

  • Treats the human body in parts, not as a whole

  • Medical schools are set up by organ specific departments that don't share any kind of relationship with one another

  • The shaping of conventional medical doctors is based upon using "rescue medicine," not finding treatment and prevention alternatives for illnesses

Alternative Medicine (Prevention-based Model)

  • Approaches medical treatment by placing its focus primarily on proactive measures

  • Treats the condition, not the symptoms

  • More cost effective

  • Treatment targets the whole person – body, mind, spirit.