Is holistic a dirty word?

Does CAM=crazy?  Some think so.  Since I gave this blog a tagline about holistic health, I’ve discovered negative connotations connected to terms like holistic medicine or complementary and alternative medicine (CAM).  Some people equate them with the experimental, fringe, risky—even unscientific and absurd. Others act as if its all just code for rejection of modern medicine, belief in alien abductions or good old witchcraft.

So sad!  I use them as synonyms for integrative or patient-driven medicine, preventative health or wellness or comprehensive healthcare.  Maybe even ‘the best of both worlds.”  In fact, the NIH says integrative medicine “combines mainstream medical therapies and CAM therapies for which there is some high-quality scientific evidence of safety and effectiveness” but it’s still got a reputation for being, well, wacky.

The misconception is prevalent.  Even Dr Weil–who defines integrative medicine as “medicine that takes account of the whole person including all aspects of lifestyle. It emphasizes the therapeutic relationship and makes use of all appropriate therapies, both conventional and alternative”–has to deal with the mix up.  His renown website dedicates a few columns to explaining the difference between integrative or holistic medicine and alternative medicine:  Any therapy that is typically excluded by conventional medicine, and that patients use instead of conventional medicine, is known as “alternative medicine.” It’s a catch-all term…An alternative medicine practice that is used in conjunction with a conventional one is known as a “complementary” medicine. Example: using ginger syrup to prevent nausea during chemotherapy. Together, complementary and alternative medicines are often referred to by the acronym CAM…integrative medicine “cherry picks” the very best, scientifically validated therapies from both conventional and CAM systems.

So there you have it. I’ve tweaked my tagline to include patient empowerment, because this blog is about integrative medicine and the importance of understanding all the wellness strategies and treatment options “out there”.

No anal probes required.


About alternahealthgrrrl

I'm a writer, reporter and editor who has been on the health beat for over 15 years. I've worked on staff at Whole Living Magazine and More Magazine, where I conceived an investigative piece on unwarrented hysterectomies that earned a 2009 National Magazine Award nomination. Other publications I've worked at include Self, Vogue, and Lucky. View all posts by alternahealthgrrrl

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