Leimkuhler: Decoding difference between holistic and homeopathic

In my last column, I wrote about the effects of turning back the clocks and how, in some people, fewer hours of daylight can trigger Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a type of depression related to the changes in the season.

To combat SAD, practices that develop a strong mind-body connection, such as yoga, tai chi, meditation, guided imagery and music or art therapy, were suggested and referred to as natural, homeopathic methods.


Following the publication of that column, a reader wrote to clarify that such practices would be considered holistic, not homeopathic. It occurred to me, then, that many people may not realize there is a difference between homeopathy and holistic healing, and that the topic warranted further consideration and clarification.

Holism encompasses the idea that various systems should be viewed as wholes and not merely as a collection of parts. According to, a holistic approach means thinking about the big picture and, in a medical setting, “holistic refers to addressing the whole person, including their physical, mental, and emotional health, while taking social factors into consideration.”


In short, holistic healthcare focuses on the health of the entire body and mind, not just parts of the body.

The Integrative Cardiology Center of Long Island explains that holistic medical treatments, through the use of antioxidant rich foods and vitamins to enhance healing and prevent future illnesses, are designed to improve the body overall.

“Holistic medicine is beneficial for long-term health because it will not only help an existing problem but will help prevent other problems down the line,” notes.

Yoga — given its physical, emotional and spiritual dimensions — along with other natural practices that develop a strong mind-body connection is, therefore, according to, considered to be a holistic approach to well-being.

Homeopathy, on the other hand, is a system of alternative medicine based on the belief that the body can cure itself. The overlap, or confusion between the two, is often derived from the fact that homeopathy itself is considered to be holistic because, according to, “it treats the person as a whole, rather than focusing on a diseased part or a labeled sickness.” defines homeopathy as “an alternative medical practice in which extremely dilute amounts of certain natural substances are used to treat various ailments.”

Red onion, for example, makes your eyes water which, according to, is why it's used in homeopathic remedies for allergies. “Treatments for other ailments are made from poison ivy, white arsenic, crushed whole bees, and an herb called arnica,” the site adds.

The active ingredients used in homeopathy are traditionally plant, animal or mineral-based. lists fresh or dried herbs, activated charcoal, vinegar, garlic, caffeine, and stinging nettle plants as commonly used homeopathic ingredients, the active ingredients of which are extracted and processed into tablets, ointments, gels, and drops.


So whether you are exploring homeopathic medicines to treat a variety of ailments including allergies, migraines, depression, chronic fatigue syndrome, arthritis and premenstrual syndrome, or you are considering adopting a healthier, more holistic lifestyle that promotes healing through natural remedies — including homeopathic medicine — note that you are embarking on a unique way of living that encourages you to view your body as a whole.

To get started, has outlined eleven ways to live a holistic lifestyle without sacrificing your daily routine: practice mindfulness, recognize and respect the powers of your body, eat clean foods, focus on positive relationships, recycle energy, let yourself grow, enjoy life and be respectful, connect with others, be aware, meditate, and be active.