Meta-analysis of positive effects, side effects and adverse events of holistic mind-body medicine (clinical holistic medicine): experience from Denmark, Sweden, United Kingdom and Germany

Int J Adolesc Med Health. Oct-Dec 2009;21(4):441-56. doi: 10.1515/ijamh.2009.21.4.441.


About 50% of the general population has a chronic disease not cured by biomedicine.

Objectives: Meta-analysis of holistic clinical medicine for which chronic patients were treated and outcomes were, 1) global quality of life, 2) self-rated physical/mental health, quality of life or ability of functioning, or 3) patients felt cured for a specific disease of dysfunction.

Method: MEDLINE and PsycLNFO and specific journals were searched in January 2009.

Results: Eleven clinical studies (18,500 participants) were identified. Positive effects: Quality of life Number Needed to Treat (NNT) = 2, physical health problems NNT = 3, mental health problems NNT = 2, sexual dysfunctions NNT = 2, self esteem NNT = 2, working/studying ability NNT = 2, anorgasmia NNT = 1, other specific sexual dysfunctions NNT = 2. Of 791 patients treated was 617, or 78.0% cured (NNT = 1). Side effects and adverse events: re-traumatization Number Needed to Harm (NNH) > 18,500; brief reactive psychosis (if mentally ill) NNH = 4,625; brief reactive psychosis (if not mentally ill) NNH > 9,250; brief reactive psychosis, all patients NNH = 9,250; depression NNH > 18,500; depersonalization and derealization NNH > 18,500; iatrogenic disturbances NNH > 18,500; minor bone fractures (ribs, hand) NNH = 4,625; serious bone fractures (spine, scull, pelvis) NNH > 18,500; suicides during or less than three month after therapy NNH > 18,500; suicide attempts during or less than three month after therapy NNH > 18,500. Suicide was prevented NNT = 1. Therapeutic value TV = NNH/NNT = 9,250.

Conclusions: Holistic clinical medicine is an efficient complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) treatment for chronic illnesses and health related problems. Every second patient with physical and mental disorders, sexual dysfunctions, and existential problems were healed. Holistic clinical medicine had no significant side effects or adverse events.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Chronic Disease / psychology
  • Chronic Disease / therapy*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Europe
  • Health Status
  • Holistic Health*
  • Humans
  • Mental Health
  • Mind-Body Therapies / adverse effects*
  • Mind-Body Therapies / methods*
  • Mind-Body Therapies / psychology
  • Quality of Life
  • Self Concept