What is Holistic Nursing?

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  • Written By: Kate Monteith
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 03 November 2019
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Holistic nursing is a medical specialty that takes the entire being of the patient into consideration, rather than just diagnosing specific physical symptoms. Holistic nurses often recommend complementary medical treatments to assist patients in attaining better health. The nurse becomes a partner with patients by forging interpersonal and lasting relationships. Nurses who are trained in holistic healthcare practices often work in hospice settings and long-term care facilities.

Florence Nightingale (1820-1910) is said to be one of the first acknowledged holistic nurses. She was known as “The Lady of the Lamp” because she brought comforting light and a gentle smile to war-wounded soldiers. As a nurse, she was efficient and thorough, but she also treated each patient as an individual whose personal needs mattered -- the definition of a holistic nurse.

Holistic nursing should not be considered an alternative to modern medicine, but rather an adjunct for improved health care. The holistic nurse is a degreed professional registered nurse (RN) or licensed practical nurse (LPN), with an additional education in holistic nursing, usually a certificate or a degree. In addition to assessing the patient’s physical condition, holistic nurses will review the patient’s history and immediate environment. They may inquire about stress levels, family relationships, work history, upbringing, religious affiliation, and any other aspect that might affect the patient’s life.


When used as a complement to traditional medicine, holistic nursing can include several alternative healthcare treatments, depending on the specific malady. The patient is carefully evaluated and the nurse recommends a particular combination of treatments. Holistic healthcare practices include aromatherapy, shiatsu massage, yoga, neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), meditation, hypnotherapy, energy healing, and many other modalities.

Nutrition and body cleansing play an important part in holistic nursing. Macrobiotic diets and food combining may be prescribed, sometimes in combination with hydrotherapy (water therapy). The patient may be encouraged to partake in a nutritious diet to help flush harmful toxins from the body and increase energy levels. Additionally, holistic nurses will sometimes practice colonic hydrotherapy, also known as high colonics, where toxins are flushed from the bowels with injections of water.

Many hospitals and clinics employ holistic nurses. They provide patients with human caring and a respect for their personal dignity that is sometimes lacking elsewhere in the healthcare industry. Holistic nursing can be especially effective with terminally ill and long-term patients. The nurses form a personal bond that also extends to the patient’s family and friends to help ease the stress caused by illness. Holistic nursing offers a welcome alternative view of healthcare along with excellent, traditional nursing care.


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Post 3

My father was treated by a holistic nurse last year. He needed physical therapy after having surgery on his leg. I was amazed at the number of different treatment options the holistic nurse could use to help him with his treatment. There was aromatherapy, massage, exercise therapy, therapeutic touch methods, meditation, acupuncture and more.

My father did exercise therapy along with message and meditation methods to help him relax his mind and muscles. He was back up on his feet in about two months and so happy about his treatment.

Post 2

I'm a holistic nurse and for people who are looking into this career field, I want to say that it is an amazing job.

I was a registered nurse when I got my holistic nursing certification from the American Holistic Nurses Association. Holistic nursing has been more satisfying for me than my previous nursing experience. I feel closer to the people I help treat, I really feel that I am making a difference in their lives.

Seeing people heal physically, mentally and emotionally is a beautiful thing. It makes me want to wake up in the morning and I come home knowing that I've made a difference. All nursing, all health care work is important. Not just holistic

nurses, all nurses are hard working and caring individuals who just want to help others.

Holistic nursing though, puts more emphasis on the patient and their overall well-being which I think is the basis of nursing. It's the right kind of health care job for people who are looking for more emotional satisfaction from their work.

Post 1

I didn't even know that there is such a thing as holistic nursing. The combination of modern health care and holistic nursing sounds like the ideal combination.

I have always admired homeotherapy and other holistic approaches because they make the connection between body and psychology. When I go to the doctor, I feel insignificant. I think that the modern doctor tends to see only symptoms- an aching body part, a system that's not working correctly. The holistic approach on the other hand sees the person as a whole. I think this is great because I feel that a person's lifestyle, experiences and psychology have huge impact on bodily functions. And I feel that modern medicine treats the symptoms of

the problem and not the problem itself.

But if all nurses and doctors can be trained to use holistic approaches in addition to medicine, that would be a complete treatment. I think the success of treatments would increase largely and treatment time would probably decrease. I hope that the number of holistic nurses will increase and I hope that doctors will start getting trained in holistic treatments as well.

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