Holistic Medicine Must Mean Whole: How to Deal with Spirituality

Adv Mind Body Med. 2021;35(1):9-15.


Holistic medicine is the art and science of healing that addresses the whole person-body, mind and spirit. It is a broad discipline comprising a wide range of practices aimed at the overall health of the patient. More often than not, holistic medicine takes spirituality into account and incorporates practices like group therapy led by trained therapists. One problem, however, is that the words 'holistic' and 'medicine' are not specific, adding to the general confusion on what holistic medicine is. The aim of this review is to describe holistic medicine as a form of integrative medicine, combining both conventional and alternative medical practices. Furthermore, in light of the heterogeneous definitions and practices found in existing literature, we present arguments on the need for a proper terminology in order to create a system for fully evaluating the patient as a whole, which we call 'holology'.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Holistic Health*
  • Humans
  • Integrative Medicine*
  • Spiritual Therapies*
  • Spirituality*