The principle of holism was first accurately summarized by Aristotle when he said, "the whole is greater than the sum if its parts." Holistic healing, therefore, operates in part on the theory that treating the whole body is better than treating any single symptom.
In the 1970s, holism, or holistic healing was becoming known as one way to work with psychosomatic phenomena, and now holistic healers seek to adopt a holistic approach to healing medical issues that go beyond the psychological to the physical.
The approach calls for an in-depth and honest evaluation of the emotional, mental, spiritual and physical elements of a patient, and treats the "whole person" in that context, believing all factors to be related and in keeping with the basic premise of Aristotle's declaration.
Today, there are many different branches of the holistic medicine world. The approaches include chiropractic, homeopathy, traditional Chinese medicine, naturopathy, and reflexology, to name a few.
Most holistic approaches have little basis in traditionally accepted science, and therefore many practitioners feel the practice is poorly understood. Indeed, much miscommunication is attached as the holistic healers claim to act upon a central "vital force," "life force," or "qi" ("chi"). This claim alone puts the entire approach at odds with traditional science.
Taoism is a particular branch of holism that focuses on nature, species' interaction with each other, and spontaneity. Taoist writings first appear in ancient China around 600 BC. Those writings propose a philosophical detachment, allowing things to take their own natural course without interference. By remaining quiet and receptive, one lives in harmony with natural flow of life, with the Dao, the unnamable eternal Reality.
Any way you look at it, Taoism, and holism in general, in matters of health and healing, address more than the microscopic evaluation of a particular system, but rather how that system is reacting to its surroundings, and how it is affecting those surroundings in turn.
Holistic healing, then, approaches illness in a broader context than traditional medicine. Taoists feel that healing can occur when one comes into harmony with one's surroundings, or when one's surroundings are brought into harmony with the life force of the individual.
Nevertheless, many traditional physicians view it as nothing more than hocus-pocus.
Tao Holistic Healing (http://taoholistichealing.com/) is a holistic healing and learning center. Art Gib is a freelance writer.