A holistic doctor looks at you as a whole person. They believe optimal health comes when you balance your body, mind and soul. Holistic medicine typically doesn’t replace traditional medical care. Rather, holistic doctors provide treatment in conjunction with your primary healthcare provider.
A holistic doctor treats people using a whole-body approach. That means they focus on your body, mind, spirit and emotions when diagnosing and treating you. Holistic doctors use traditional medicine and also consider factors such as your lifestyle, diet, sleep habits and stress level.
Holistic doctors believe there’s a connection between your body systems. They believe optimal health and wellness include a balance of your mind, body and spirit. Holistic medicine doesn’t replace traditional medicine. However, it’s key to the practice of integrative medicine.
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Holistic doctors have various core values they use to practice medicine. Holistic doctors:
Some holistic doctors have traditional medical degrees. They pair their conventional medical training with holistic approaches. Other providers may not have a traditional medical degree. However, they have degrees in various forms of complementary or alternative medicine. These doctors include:
Integrative medical doctors attend four years of conventional medical school. After medical school, they go on to complete a three- to seven-year residency in their chosen specialty. Residency includes extra training in their specialty. After residency, they can go on to pursue a fellowship in integrative medicine. Integrative medicine fellows receive more than 1,000 hours of coursework in integrative medicine.
Osteopathic doctors attend four years of osteopathic medical school. In medical school, they receive approximately 200 hours of training in manipulative treatment. After they’ve graduated from medical school and chosen a specialty, they go on to complete a residency.
Chiropractors attend four years of chiropractic medical school. Chiropractors study conventional medical topics such as anatomy and physiology. They also learn about rehabilitation, nutrition and public health. Chiropractors receive at least 4,200 hours of classroom, lab and clinical experience.
Naturopathic doctors attend four years of naturopathic medical school. Naturopathic doctors complete thousands of hours of training in clinical nutrition, herbal medicine, behavioral medicine, physical medicine, homeopathy and more. Not all states license naturopathic doctors to practice.
Acupuncturists and Chinese herbalists typically graduate with master’s degrees or doctoral degrees in acupuncture and/or Chinese Medicine. They must be board certified and licensed to practice acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine.
Physicians who practice holistic medicine are sometimes primary care doctors or family doctors. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary of a family practice physician was $207,380 in 2020. However, the average salary of a holistic doctor varies widely depending on the type of healthcare provider. The median annual salary of an acupuncturist was $82,420 in 2020. The median annual salary of a chiropractor was $70,720 in 2020.
If you’re interested in finding a holistic doctor, you can ask your friends or family members for recommendations. They know you and what you’re looking for in a doctor. You may want to check for recommendations on social media, but always do your own research. In addition, your current healthcare provider may be able to suggest options for you.
After you’ve compiled a list of options, contact the offices to inquire more about each holistic doctor. Some questions you may want to ask include:
A note from Cleveland Clinic
A holistic doctor looks at you as a whole person. They consider your body, mind and soul. Holistic doctors focus on the underlying cause of your condition. They’re all licensed doctors and can help you address your individual health needs and support you in achieving your health goals. They communicate and collaborate with your existing care providers and always practice evidence-based medicine.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 09/04/2022.
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