Reductionism vs. Holism

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By: Alirio Zavarce

Reductionism vs Holism

Understanding the difference between the philosophy of reductionism and holism will help you understand the difference between allopathic and holistic medicine and why their treatments are so different.

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There are different types of medicine, not just one.

There is Ayurvedic medicine, traditional Chinese medicine, allopathic medicine, chiropractic medicine, osteopathic medicine, naturopathic medicine, homeopathic medicine, and others that have been around for many, many years.

Allopathic medicine is the medicine that your medical or osteopathic doctor practices and it’s rooted in the philosophy of reductionism.

All the other types of medicine I mentioned above are holistic.

However, both schools of thought are radically different from the other.

Let’s take a look at what each philosophy is about, but before that, let’s go over a quick background intro that I consider relevant.


Matter can simultaneously be defined as a solid or particle and, at the same time, as an immaterial force field or wave.

Atoms look and act like physical matter but also present the qualities and properties of energy.

It’s not either or, it’s both.

This is what Einstein showed us with E = mc2. Energy (E) equals matter/mass (m) multiplied by the speed of light squared (c2).

In other words, Einstein revealed that we do not live in a universe with discrete, physical objects separated by dead space.

The universe is one indivisible, dynamic whole in which energy and matter are so deeply entangled that it is impossible to consider them as independent elements.

Interesting, right?

Let’s break this down a little bit further.

The Philosophy of Reductionism

Reductionism Philosophy

Even after this discovery decades ago, medical schools continue to teach the body as a physical machine that operates under Newtonian principles.

Researchers still focus their attention on investigating physical signals such as hormones, cytokines, growth factors, tumor suppressors, messengers, and ions.

This is the Newtonian understanding of the body, a materialistic view, that doesn’t consider the role of energy vibrations in health and disease.

Mainstream biologists, in their reductionistic view of the human body, believe that the mechanisms of our physical bodies can be understood by taking the cells apart and studying their chemical building blocks.

Reductionists believe that biochemical reactions inside your body cause other chemical reactions, one after another in an assembly line fashion.

Something like the flow of information flows from A to B to C to D to E.


Reductionists’ perception of a linear flow of information is a typical characteristic of the Newtonian point of view.

This reductionist model presents that if there is a problem in the system, such as a disease or dysfunction, the source of the problem can be attributed to a malfunction in one of the steps along the chemical assembly line.

With regards to the human body, reductionism views the human body as a machine made of parts.

Medical and osteopathic doctors’ training is based on this reductionist philosophy.

For reductionists, again, like medical and osteopathic doctors, when they treat an illness, the body must be taken apart into small pieces in an desperate search to find the part that is broken.

This is why medical doctors order CT scans, MRIs, blood work, X-rays, laparoscopies, colonoscopies, etc., for almost everything as they allow to visualize the body at very tiny levels.

Now you can tell why medical doctors are so specialized in body systems. There are dermatologists, endocrinologists, gastroenterologists, OBYN, ophthalmologists, neurologists, cardiologists, podiatrists, etc.

This human body as a machine-made-of-parts viewpoint is another reason why reductionists attempt to provide a functional replacement part for the faulty element in your cells by prescribing drugs.

They believe that the defective single point can be theoretically repaired and health can be restored.

This reductionistic philosophy demands that a drug is given to each part that is broken.

Another problem is that the incidence of serious and fatal Adverse Drug Reactions (ADR) in US hospitals has been found to be extremely high.

Don’t get me wrong, drugs can save lives in the ER, but their use is out of control.

Let’s elaborate a little more on allopathic medicine.

What is Allopathy?

The term “allopathic” derives from two Greek words, “allos” meaning “opposite” and “pathos,” meaning “disease.”

This term was created by a German homeopathic physician in the 19th century to separate himself and the members of his profession from the MDs of his time as they practiced dangerous and harmful medical treatments such blood-letting and high doses of toxic substances, like mercury.

Medical schools still use this term today.

Penn State Master's in Science in Anatomy - Excerpt


As mentioned before, allopaths look at the body from the reductionist point of view.

For the allopaths, when the body is sick, it is sick because it lacks the ability to fix the problem on its own, and as a result, medicines are needed to alter the natural workings of the body and regain control of the situation.

Alternatively, the offending tissue must be surgically removed.

Remember that allopaths oppose the disease with drugs. This is why their medicines got their names as anti-biotic; anti-inflammatory; anti-depressant; anti-coagulant; anti-histamine; anti-acid; serotonin re-uptake inhibitor; MAO inhibitor; etc.


For allopaths, if you can’t measure something objectively, it doesn’t exit.

For instance, since nobody has ever dissected the soul out of the human body, nor measured it with a reliable instrument, it therefore doesn’t exist.

If it doesn’t exists, it can’t then impact the health of the body.

Interesting, right?

Now, let’s see what holism is about.

The Philosophy of Holism

Holism Philosophy

The reality is that all cellular constituents are interrelated and woven into a complex network of crosstalk, feedback, and feedforward communication cycles.

In the case of a biological dysfunction, this complex web may break at any point causing a miscommunication along any route of information flow.

Therefore, adjusting the chemistry of this complicated interactive system requires a much deeper understanding than just adjusting one of the information pathway’s components with a drug.

In other words, if you change the concentration of D, for instance, the result doesn’t just influence E, but it also affects the behaviors and functions of A, B, C, and E. These pathways are HOLISTIC.

The flow of information in this quantum universe is holistic.


This is why drugs have multiple side effects!

Ayurvedic medicine, traditional Chinese medicine, chiropractic medicine, naturopathic medicine, homeopathic medicine, etc. are all based on the holistic philosophy.

Holistic medicine is “systems oriented.”

It stipulates that the body is a complex system of interrelated parts.

When a drug is introduced in your body to treat a malfunction in one protein, that drug inevitably interacts with at least one or multiple proteins.

Let me give you an example.

“Specificity” is an important characteristic of the human body’s signaling system.

If you touch poison ivy and get a rash on your leg, histamine is released and the itchiness begins.

A histamine is a signal molecule that activates an inflammatory response to the ivy’s allergen.

That histamine is released “specifically” at the site of the rash and not all over your body.

Likewise, when you experience a stressful situation, histamine is released in your brain to increase the blood flow to the nervous tissues and enhance the neurological processing required for survival.

Notice that the release of histamine is physically localized where needed and does not trigger an inflammatory response in other parts fo the body.

Now, when you have a synthetic antihistaminic (a drug) to deal with the itchiness of an allergic rash, that drug is distributed throughout your entire body.

That antihistamine affects the histamine receptors in the affected area and also in your brain affecting blood circulation, which in turns impacts nerve function.

You have experienced allergy relief and, at the same time, the side effect of feeling drowsy.

Now you have an idea why iatrogenic illnesses, the illnesses resulting from medical treatments, is the third leading cause of death in the US. More than 120,000 people die from medications’ adverse effects every year.

Even more dramatic, Gary Null, PhD, published in his book Death by Medicine that adverse reactions to prescription drugs are responsible for more than 300,000 deaths a year.

Drugs are a reductionist approach in a holistic system, your body.

Your body is holistic in nature and must be treated holistically to bring it back to balance and health.

Holistic medicine believes that the human body has a built-in, natural ability to regulate, maintain, and fix itself.

This is why holistic medicine’s treatments are designed to promote and stimulate your body’s innate processes to regulate, maintain, and fix itself.

Holistic medicine believes that the human body must be properly nutrified to be healthy and that detoxification mechanisms are necessary to optimize the health of the body.

Holistic medicine also believes that there is a spiritual “Vital Force” that animates the physical body and impacts its health.

The philosophical foundation of Holism are based on the scientific study and analysis of both objective (autopsy, blood work, microscopic tissue examination) and subjective (observation of the dynamic symptoms that you get and you’re sick) symptoms.

So, in addition to autopsy and tissue samples, for instance, holistic physicians also consider the subjective side of things such as how the patient feels and how the illness is manifesting itself by way of signs and symptoms.

Holistic doctors consider the WHOLE PERSON.

Allopathic MDs only look at the objective side of the patient.

Ultimately, all modalities of holistic medicine, in their own way, have the same goal and that is to make the patient HEALTHY.

This is why holistic medicine is curative as its treatments help patients recover their health.

Final Thoughts

Can you see why a reductionist solution to a holistic system, like your body, doesn’t work!

  • This is why medical doctors’ treatments fail at making you healthy and all they can offer is the management of the disease.
  • This is why the medical profession keeps trying to find the magic-bullet drug.
  • This is why while the medical profession controls the healthcare system, healthcare expenditure went up to $3.5 trillion in the US in 2017 and is projected to keep going up.

While all they’re doing is masking symptoms with drugs; controlling the physiology of the body; and not treating the root cause of the problem, our health state deteriorates, and then they call the disease a progressive, degenerative disease.

The drug that originally used to attempt to fix a problem causes other problems for which they give you more drugs.

It’s not that we’re dealing with an aging population and/or that the cost of healthcare services will continue to rise. At its core, the medical profession, because of their reductionist view of the human body, is applying the wrong solution to the problem.

In fact, if people were healthier over time, the need for healthcare services would be less. But because we’re sicker, the need for more healthcare goes up.

The body is designed to be healthy.

The body is always trying to be healthy.

The body has an innate ability to fix itself.

You just need to give it the right conditions, stop giving it what is hurting it, and the body will fix itself.

The body is an incredible machine that knows what to do.

Nourish it! Give it what is needs!


I hope this post was informative.

What do you think?

Do you agree?

Let me know in the comments bellow.

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