With chronic disease numbers from diabetes to coronary artery disease on the rise, it's no wonder that some patients are looking elsewhere for healthcare solutions.
Yet, searches for so called "alternative" treatment modalities can be confusing when there's a whole alphabet soup of terminology being thrown around.
For example, what is holistic medicine? How is it different from functional, naturopathic, or homeopathic medicine?
And most importantly, can patients seek treatment via telemedicine?
Don't worry, we have the answers to your questions below!
According to the Institute of Functional Medicine, Functional Medicine "determines how and why illness occurs and restores health by addressing the root causes of disease for each individual." That is to say, it seeks to treat etiology of disease instead of address the symptoms or end result of disease.
How does this differ from holistic medicine? Holistic medicine is more a philosophy of medicine that has a focus on the intersectionality of a patient's disease process with their whole well-being, both physical and mental. A holistic medical practitioner can be one that is traditionally trained, a functional medicine practitioner, a naturopath, or other. Anyone that focuses on treating the individual as a whole instead of treating a disease as a compartmentalized process is a practitioner of holistic medicine.
According to the American Association of Naturopathic Medicine Naturopathic medicine is "a distinct health care profession that combines the wisdom of nature with the rigors of modern science. Naturopathic doctors (NDs) are trained as primary care providers who diagnose, treat and manage patients with acute and chronic conditions, while addressing disease and dysfunction at the level of body, mind and spirit."
They focus on 6 core principles:
1.) Do No Harm
2.) The Healing Power of Nature
3.) Identify and Treat the Causes
4.) The Physician As Teacher
5.) Treat the Whole Person
Although naturopathic medicine has similarities to homeopathy, homeopathic medicine is generally considered a distinct treatment modality that focuses on plant or mineral derived treatments known as "remedies" for common ailments.
In this regard we have both good news and bad news. Although 2021 has seen an explosion of telemedicine platforms for both synchronous and asynchronous telemedicine jobs for providers, there has yet to be a mainstream, organized platform for practitioners of alternative medicine. There is no one-stop shop where people can seek homeopathic telemedicine providers, naturopathic telemedicine doctors, or functional telemedicine providers.
2021 has seen the rise of many groundbreaking, innovative telemedicine companies that provide transgendered digital health solutions and ketamine for refractory depression. Yet the overarching field of "holistic" care hasn't quite found a home yet.
That said, many practitioners, regardless of their field of medicine, are taking advantage of relaxed CMS rules to provide care to their patients on an individual basis.
If you're interested in any of these treatment modalities, we would encourage you to seek a reputable, local provider of the services you're seeking and inquire if they are participating in telemedicine visits.
We have no doubt that as more and more providers are turning to telemedicine, there may soon be a digital space for holistic providers to provide care online on a centralized platform. If one comes out, look out for it on our next list of most innovative telemedicine companies, we look forward to it as much as our patients and readers do!