11 Apr 2022


Complementary and Alternative Methods in Medicine

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Academic level: University

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Principles of Holistic Nursing Care 

There are five main principles in holistic nursing based on the standards of practice. The principles include holistic care of the nurse, holistic communication, cultural competence and therapeutic environment, holistic caring process, holistic theories, research and ethics, and holistic philosophy and education (Dossey, Keegan & Guzzetta, 2000). These values are the basis of holistic care and are all important when practicing holistic nursing. Education and philosophy in holistic nursing ensures that the practice is based on a framework that embraces knowledge, a commitment to education, reflection and holism. The second main principle is the practice of holistic nursing and is based on research, nursing theory and holistic ethics. Holistic nursing is part of professional nursing that base on informed research, grounded theory and ethical principles. The third principle is self-care of holistic nurses; it promotes personal awareness and health so that the nurses can be instruments of healing. The fourth principle is holistic communication, cultural competence and therapeutic environment which are essential for nurses to work with clients and set mutually-determined goals for healing and health. The fifth principle of holistic nursing should be a caring process, which emphasizes that the process of nursing should be evolved to embrace therapeutic care and assessment that addresses client problems, needs and patterns in a caring manner. 

Essentials of the Holistic Caring Process

Holistic nursing is a practice which tries to accomplish the healing of a person as a whole. A nurse in this field practices traditional nursing by ensuring a “spirit-mind-body-emotion-environment”. The practice of this nursing technique is grounded on the philosophy of being and living established through relationships, interconnectedness and caring. A nurse who practices this knows and encompasses the modalities and principles of holistic healing in clinical practice and daily life. Holistic nursing ensures that the nurses integrate self-responsibility, reflection, spirituality and self-care in their lives. The awareness of a holistic nurse enables them to understand individuals and how they relate to the global and human community (Weeks, 2001). This knowledge helps the nurses and individuals reach their healing potential. The practice of holistic nursing requires that nurses abide to the standards. The main goal in this nursing practice is to ensure that the nurse incorporates and recognizes the patient’s body during care. The nurse is expected to address the physical health needs of the patients as well as their spiritual and emotional needs. This approach is believed to enhance the process of healing using conventional medicine. 

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Differences in Patient Needs When Developing a Holistic Plan of Care

When preparing a holistic plan for patients, it is important to recognize that all patients have different needs. It is therefore important to have a care plan which can be used to meet the patient’s diverse needs. One of the needs, which vary in patients, is physical concerns (Dossey, Keegan &Guzzetta, 2000). Physical needs of patients may vary as some may be fatigued or tired from treatment, others may be in pain, some patients may require wound care after surgery, sexuality and memory or concentration of patients. Patient’s emotional needs may also vary. They may suffer from isolation, loneliness, depression, sadness or have spiritual or religious concerns during treatment. Another thing to consider is relationship or family concerns of patients. These vary as some patients have partners, children, relatives and friends and care may vary based on this. It is also important to have a plan that includes information and lifestyle needs that patients should adopt or change. This involves having support groups for the patients, advising patient on alcohol, drug use, smoking and hobbies. Practical concerns of a patient should also be addressed to ensure wellness in the healing process.

Similarities and Differences between Complementary and Alternative Medicine and Western Medicine

The debate on the effectiveness of complementary and alternative medicine as compared to western medicine has been there for a while with different people having different views on which is better. One of the main differences is, conventional medicine focuses on experimental sciences and clinical finding facts, while complementary alternative medicine such as the holistic approach focuses on treating the body and soul (Eisenberg, Davis, Ettner, Appel, Wilkey, Rompay& Kessler, 1998). In conventional philosophy, good health is absence of disease and an illness happens when there is a problem with biological norms. This is different from contemporary and alternative medicine, which postulates that diseases do not come from molecular interactions only but also from how these factors interact with an entire human being. Another difference is that complementary and alternative medicines require that the patient takes care of their entire being while conventional medicine mostly involves taking prescriptions. Another difference is that while conventional medicine uses high technology and proven medication, complementary and alternative therapies require equipment which is less technical except for functional medicine. Another difference is complementary and alternative medicine focus on the framework, which supports outcomes while conventional medicine focuses on the outcomes.

Role of Nutrition and Exercise in Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Nutrition and exercise is important for complementary and alternative medicine. This is because exercise and proper nutrition results to wellness. Lack of proper nutrition and exercise affects the mental and physical health. Therefore, for a person to be fully ‘well’, they need to make sure all aspects of their lives are okay. Exercise is good as it gives individuals more energy, helps reduce aches and pain and enables one to sleep better, making it an important aspect in promoting good health. Proper nutrition is important as it helps people get nutrients which can be used to fight diseases, thus, an important element of complementary and alternative medicine. 

Therapeutic Effects of Humor and Music Therapy

Humor and music therapy are an important component of complementary and alternative medicine. This is because they have various therapeutic effects on the human body. First, laughter and music have been proven to relieve physical and emotional stress, making it an important component of therapy. This kind of therapy aids in blood circulation and studies have shown that blood flow is better when patients watch comedies as compared to drama movies. Laughter and good music have also been seen to aid in weight loss (Barnum, 1994). This is because major causes of overeating are boredom, depression and stress; laughter and good music can prevent such. Good music and humor is also important in increasing alertness and memory of patients. Performance and control of mental functions can also be improved through good music. This kind of therapy can also lower the levels of blood sugar for diabetic patients. 

Main Barriers to Changing Our Current Healthcare System to a More Integrative System of Care

The healthcare system needs to reform into a more integrative care system. However, there are barriers to this change. One of the barriers of changing the healthcare system to a more integrative one is regulatory and legal barriers. This is because this collaboration could result to legal issues as physicians may be forced to compete in their practices. Operational barriers are another issue which affects integration. This is because forming groups that are multidisciplinary may be hard because there are disparities in income for different specialties. Another barrier is that conventional medicine requires years of study for the students to specialize while some of the contemporary and alternative medicine do not require this. Therefore, incorporating this in a hospital may seem demining for the doctors as the practices are not available in educational institutions. 


Barnum, B. J. (1994). Nursing theory: Analysis, application and evaluation (4th ed.). New York: Lippincott.

Dossey, B., Keegan, L., &Guzzetta, C. (2000). Holistic nursing: Handbook for practice (3rd ed.). Gaithersburg, MD: Aspen.

Eisenberg, D. M., Davis, R.B., Ettner, S. L., Appel, S., Wilkey, S. Von Rompay, M., & Kessler, R.C. (1998). Trends in alternative medicine use in the United States, 1990-1997: Results of a follow national survey. Journal of the American Medical Association, 280, 1569-1575

Weeks, J. (2001). Findings released from the integrated medicine industry leadership summit. Alternative Therapies, 7, (1), 30-31.

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