Holistic medicine is defined as a system of health care which fosters a cooperative relationship among all those involved (patient, family, and healthcare professional), leading towards optimal attainment of the physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual aspects of health. According to the American Holistic Health Association, “Ancient healing traditions, as far back as 5,000 years ago in India and China, stressed living a healthy way of life in harmony with nature. Socrates (4th century B.C.) warned against treating only one part of the body ‘for the part can never be well unless the whole is well.’ Although the term holism was introduced by Jan Christiaan Smuts in 1926 as a way of viewing living things as ‘entities greater than and different from the sum of their parts,’ it wasn’t until the 1970s that holistic became a common adjective in our modern vocabulary.”
Holistic medicine seeks to address all systems of the individual to improve health, heal disease, and maximize well-being. The holistic belief is that health has more than just a physical component and is, in fact, also related to the mental, emotional, social, and spiritual state of the individual. To be healthy, all facets of a person must be addressed, and all must be treated for there to be true health. Healthcare professionals using the holistic approach work in partnership with their patients. They recommend treatments that support the body’s natural healing system and consider the whole person and the whole situation. Alternative methods of therapy included under the umbrella of holistic medicine include, but are not limited to, nutrition, herbal medicine, spinal manipulation, body work medicine, "energy medicine," spiritual attunement, relaxation training and stress management, biofeedback and acupuncture.
The maximizing of health is certainly in line with the Scriptures. The Bible is clear that we are to take good care of our bodies (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) as they are the temple of the Holy Spirit. There are many verses that speak of using “medical treatments” such as applying bandages (Isaiah 1:6), oil (James 5:14), oil and wine (Luke 10:34), leaves (Ezekiel 47:12), wine (1 Timothy 5:23), and salves, particularly the “balm of Gilead” (Jeremiah 8:22). Many of these treatments would be considered holistic today, as holistic medicine often shies away from drugs and surgery at least as first treatments. In addition, many Christians have benefitted from principles embodied in holistic medicine.
That being said, specific practices within the holistic health field should be evaluated on an individual basis. Some of what is practiced as holistic medicine is in conflict with Scripture and may even become open doors for demonic activity. "Energy medicine" and "spiritual attunement" are particularly concerning. One obvious example of a problematic practice is transcendental meditation, a technique for emptying the mind and becoming “one with the universe.” It encourages participants to seek the answers to life's difficult questions within their own conscience instead of in the Word of God. It also leaves one open to deception from God's enemy, who searches for victims that he can turn away from God (1 Peter 5:8). For the Christian, meditation should center on the Word of God, His attributes, and the beauty of Jesus Christ, the Great Physician.