The concept of holistic medicine is distinct from the concepts of alternative, integrative or complementary medicine. Holistic medicine denotes that all aspects of people’s needs including physical, psychological, social, environmental and spiritual should be taken into account and seen as a whole. In light of this, perhaps in truth a better designation is the old, discarded term “wholistic medicine.”
While it’s true that holistic medicine physicians often use alternative medicine treatments, holistic treatment uniquely means that a physician considers a person’s entire circumstances in giving treatment, whatever the nature of that treatment. When alternative medicine is mixed with conventional medicine this is often erroneously referred to as “holistic” medicine or, more accurately, integrative medicine.
One feature that sets holistic medicine apart from alternative or integrative medicine is its requirement for two distinct kinds of diagnostic knowledge.Explicit knowledge is factual knowledge acquired through special training and extensive professional experience. Examples of this are: using the stethoscope to listen to heart and lung sounds, ability to interpret blood test results, knowledge of various skin rashes, etc. Implicit knowledge is understood without being openly expressed. It arises from personal interaction and includes a physician’s knowledge regarding a patient’s emotional state, intellect,social competence and spiritual framework.