conventional, complementary, alternative, holistic, integrative, and functional healing (medicine)

Are you still confused about what the actual meaning of conventional, complementary, alternative, holistic, integrative, and functional healing (medicine) is?

Indeed, finding a healthier you and your family, your loved one will make you happy. Did you ask yourself recently how well are you, but really? Being healthy at every age is our goal. It should also be our primary goal. However, almost every day we are met with some terms which we do not understand such as complementary, conventional, alternative, holistic healing (medicine). Even recently we are finding terms such as integrative, and functional healing (medicine). Well, enough is enough; it is too much. It is imperative knowing all those terms because the part of the decision on your treatment is up to you as well, and not just your healthcare provider. Generally, you have probably realized some substantial differences between your healthcare providers, from one to the second one, some are maximalists, some minimalists, some are more technology oriented (forcing medications), some are naturalists, some are doubters and some are firm believers. Moreover, when they are all combined, they represent the six medical mindsets in our healthcare. All of these professionals can struggle from one “disease,” and that is because of a lack of decision-making skills. The art of medical decision-making is a set of complex skills, and it leads to one phenomenon, and that is medical specialists can disagree. Each professional has a different mindset.

Complementary treatments include fusion of conventional therapies with some additional natural products including body and mind practices.

If your healthcare provider recommends to you a combination of some conventional therapies with some supplemental (dietary), botanical products that mean he/she is conducting complementary treatment, complementary treatments include fusion of conventional therapies with some additional natural products including body and mind practices. The panel of natural products can be extremely wide as it contains, vitamins and minerals, botanical extracts, medicinal herbs, probiotics, special diets, homeopathy. Mind and body practices are broad-spectrum activities and treatments such as meditation, progressive relaxation, deep breathing, yoga, Tai Chi, Qi Gong, massage, and others. That would be a complementary treatment for your condition or disease, a fusion of conventional (Western medicine practice, including pharmacy) and alternative healing therapies. Many healthcare providers use this treatment. In Europe, with your antibiotic treatment, you will get advice to use probiotics immediately, or even some psychiatrists suggest that antidepressant therapy could be more effective if you for example practice meditation or any type of body and mind practice such as Tai Chi, Qi Gong, or yoga. Then your treatment is so-called complementary, and your healthcare provider is conducting complementary therapy or treatment for your condition or disease.

Alternative therapy does not use conventional (Western medicine) treatment.

In other words that means during your treatment you use only alternative therapies such as herbal-botanical (supplemental) remedies, aromatherapy, remedies of traditional Chinese medicine, Ayurveda therapy, homeopathy, special diets. However, alternative and therapies use many mind and body practices during the healing process such as yoga, meditation, Tai Chi, Qi Gong, massage, deep breathing treatments, progressive relaxation, guided imagery, and some chiropractic and osteopathic manipulations, acupuncture, hypnotherapy, Feldenkrais method, Alexander technique, Pilates, Rolfing Structural Integration, and Trager psychophysical integration and others.

Integrative healthcare brings conventional and alternative approaches to a much broader spectrum – it emphasizes a holistic, patient-centered and individualized approach to healthcare and wellness

This approach is different. It does not only treat your acute or chronic disease, but it tries to bring the balance and healing to your body, mind and soul/spirit. It includes a broad spectrum to treat the whole person and not only focus on one organ or organ system. This approach can be very demanding because it involves mental health, emotional, spiritual, social and community aspects. It is very complex and requires a well-coordinated team of conventional and alternative healing providers. These approach in the treatment brought good results in treatments of many conditions and diseases such as pain management, symptoms management in the cancer patients and cancer survivors, and I would add depression, major depressive disorder and treatment-resistant depression.

What is functional medicine? How can this approach help us?

You may also hear for the term functional medicine, but you are not sure what that means exactly, besides terms like complementary, conventional, alternative, holistic and integrative. This term “functional medicine” sometimes refers to a concept similar to integrative healthcare, but it may also apply to an approach that more closely resembles naturopathy. Naturopathic practitioners use many different treatment approaches such as stress reduction, herbalism, and dietary supplements, homeopathy, psychotherapy and counseling, dietary and lifestyle changes. Some practitioners of functional medicine use other methods as well. Often, functional medicine specialist may refer patients to conventional healthcare providers and specialties of conventional Western medicine treatment. It is important to state that, functional medicine focuses on the optimal functioning of the body, organ systems, and its organs, and it involves systems of holistic or alternative medicine.

And… finally holistic healing (medicine)! Why is this healing unique?

Holistic healing (medicine) seriously considers the whole person, not just body or mind. It is healing that brings to the person, properly functioning body, mind, spirit/soul in the quest for optimal, balanced wellness and health. Directly, it is bringing balance between body, mind, and soul to function appropriately and synchronized. Holistic practitioners can use the treatment of conventional medicine combined with an alternative with an emphasis on spiritual, mental, social factors as contributing factors for treating condition or disease. Why is holistic healing (medicine) different from all other forms? Holistic treatment involves fixing the cause of the state, not only alleviating the symptoms, the patient is a person and not disease; all people have inner healing power. Holistic healing (medicine) is teamwork, including holistic practitioner, a patient, and it considering explorations of all aspects of a patient’s life, mental status, spiritual, social and other factors.

We hope that we have helped you gain a better understanding of some of the terms and what they mean to us and how to find a healthier you in the 21st century.


Chiron – Wise Centaur Team