What is Holistic Health? The Many Terms Defined

Our dictionary defines the many holistic health terms to help us navigate the (oftentimes) confusing world of wellness


The understanding that the 100 choices you make throughout your day to nourish, improve, and protect your body are healthcare.

The practice of making natural (toxin-free and nutrient-rich) choices in every part of your life, but also realizing that there are occasions when you need pharmaceuticals, radiation, surgery, junk food, too much wine, and a day on the couch.

The belief that you deserve a system and a culture that supports you in this practice, and the will to keep fighting for it until you get it.

The dedication to continuous self-improvement; understanding that you will make bad choices, but forgiving yourself, and starting over the next day.




This term has commonly been used to reference treatments that fall outside of conventional medicine norms, but the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) specifically uses it to refer to a “non-mainstream practice used in place of conventional medicine.”


Autoimmune disease, a subset of chronic disease, occurs when the body’s immune system mistakenly identifies healthy cells as dangerous and attacks them. These difficult-to-diagnose types of diseases can affect almost any part of the body and the causes are unknown, but may be related to genetics and/or environmental factors.

There are more than 80 such diseases, including thyroid disorders, type 1 diabetes, celiac disease, lupus, multiple sclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis. Conventional treatments are focused on reducing inflammation— a classic sign of the disease— and suppressing the immune system. Integrative medicine and non-conventional care focuses on figuring out the underlying cause and optimizing the immune system. Autoimmune diseases are relatively common and more women are affected than men.


Originating in India, Ayurvedic medicine is an ancient mind-body healing system. Ayurveda means “the science of life” in Sanskrit. Practitioners believe that the elements of space, air, fire, water, and earth are present in each person’s body. The combinations of the elements form three energy types (doshas): vata, pitta, and kapha. Practitioners use treatments to bring the body’s doshas into balance. Ayurvedic practices include use of herbs, meditation, diet, lifestyle, and exercise recommendations. Also referenced to as: Ayurvedic medicine.



A non-communicable condition with specific signs and symptoms that is persistent or long-lasting. Chronic diseases can’t be prevented by vaccines. However, these types of diseases can be caused by health risk behaviors, including lack of exercise, poor nutrition, tobacco use, and too much alcohol, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

According to the World He