Holistic? Complementary? Alternative?

The term 'holistic' gets used a lot these days. There are hundreds of alternative, complementary and holistic approaches for your health issues now, but what do these words actually mean? One has to be careful that one term doesn't capture all. 

For example just because a modality is complimentary it doesn't mean it is holistic. And just because it is holistic, doesn't make it alternative.

The terms are pretty much what they say on the tin, but let's break them down:

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Nature's medicine

Nature's medicine

An alternative therapy will be a health modality chosen instead of traditional western medical treatment. For example, you might visit your GP with a health issue, they outline the prescription and course of action you should take, you listen and then decide this is the wrong option for you. You may not want to take pharmaceutical drugs, due to side effects or you just don't resonate with the treatment. You will then seek a different, or alternative approach. This may include Acupuncture, Herbalism, Homeopathy, Reiki, Bowen or Kinesiology, the modality of choice at my clinic. These are just a handful of hundreds of different alternative therapies you may consider.

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Acupuncturists are now referred patients by GPs. A great step forward in alternative and complementary medicine!

Acupuncturists are now referred patients by GPs. A great step forward in alternative and complementary medicine!

A complementary therapy may include all the same modalities in the alternative collection above but the patient will not be using it instead of but as well as. The therapy will be used to complement or support the course of action outlined by a doctor. A very simple version of this might be that if a doctor prescribes you antibiotics, a complementary practitioner will probably recommended you take a high quality pro-biotic supplement. This is essential as antibiotics kill good as well as bad bacteria in the gut and can cause serious digestion problems. An Acupuncturist may give you a treatment to support the stomach meridian and energy flow for digestion. One client I saw for a Kinesiology session had been suffering with IBS for years after just one short course of antibiotics. We sorted her out promptly with a few dietary changes, Kinesiology balancing and a course of excellent quality pro-biotics. A more serious case would be that a patient diagnosed with cancer may want to work alongside a complementary practitioner to help support and protect the immune system during chemotherapy or radiotherapy. Your doctor must always be consulted if you are thinking of working with a complementary therapist. 

Complementary therapies are used alongside conventional medical treatments prescribed by your doctor. They can help people with cancer to feel better and may improve your quality of life. They may also help you to cope better with symptoms caused by the cancer or side effects caused by cancer treatment.
— Cancer Research UK
Me at and 'my bits' at The Balanced Performer Clinic

Me at and 'my bits' at The Balanced Performer Clinic

The term holistic originates from 'whole-istic' implying that it is a treatment for the whole person rather than just one aspect of them or one symptom. I prefer the term whole-istic as it's more prescriptive and direct. A holistic therapy better describes how things are done rather than what is done. In Kinesiology we always aim to discover the root cause of a health issue and fix that rather than mask the symptoms that are making you feel bad. A great teacher of mine, Claire Muller, put it like this: "imagine you see the petrol, oil or water sign flashing on your car. Would it do you any good to stick a plaster over it so you can't see it?" This simple analogy describes the standard western approach to medicine, and is the antithesis to the holistic approach. In Systematic Kinesiology we communicate with the body, sometime on a sub-clinical level, to discover where imbalances lay in the system and fix them using nutrition and diet, lymphatic massage, neurovascular work, electrical and energetic balancing, intricate emotional stress release techniques and much more. We aim to balance the four main areas that may be causing you discomfort, illness or stress; (1) nutrition/chemical (2) emotional/psychological (3) structural/skeletal (4) electrical/energetic. These four areas of every human being are fundamentally connected and if we 'talk to' and address them nothing can escape detection and the possibility of healing.

I hope this clears up any misconceptions around these ever popular and wonderful terms. 

Feel free to share and comment. And please always contact me for a chat. 

Love Gary x

Check out some of the best practioners I have the pleasure of knowing:
Karen Willis, Applied Kinesiology, Osteopathy, Naturopathy, Western Acupuncture
Robert Ogilvie, Acupuncture & Chinese Herbal Medicine
Claire Muller, Head of The Academy of Systematic Kinesiology
Stephen Morallee, Deetell
Sarah Brown, Bowen & Systematic Kinesiology