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The holistic concept in medical practice, which is distinct from the concept in the alternative medicine, upholds that all aspects of people's needs including psychological, physical and social should be taken into account and seen as a whole. A 2007 study said the concept was alive and well in general medicine in Sweden.
Some practitioners of holistic medicine use alternative medicine exclusively, though sometimes holistic treatment can mean simply that a physician takes account of all a person's circumstances in giving treatment. Sometimes when alternative medicine is mixed with mainstream medicine the result is called "holistic" medicine, though this is more commonly termed integrative medicine.
Holistic health is a diverse field in which many techniques and therapies are used. Practitioners of alternative approaches may include many ineffective methods including colon therapy, metabolic therapy and orthomolecular medicine.
There have been several published scientific studies that dispute the efficacy, beyond the placebo effect, of (alternative) holistic medicine in treating any known disease. The American Cancer Society recommends that if holistic medicine is to be used at all, it should be used only in conjunction with conventional medicine and not as a replacement.
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