Holistic vs. Reductionist Paradigm

Western medicine as well as Western science as a whole are based on the reductionistic paradigm. The basic premise of this paradigm is that in order to to understand and create health, we need to understand all the parts of the human physiology, e.g., how nerve cells work and what minerals, vitamins and other nutrients are needed. By contrast, the holistic paradigm asserts that we will never grasp the whole by analyzing the parts and putting them together.

All ancient healing systems, whether it be Traditional Chinese Medicine or Ayurveda, or healing systems developed in recent centuries such as homeopathy, naturopathy and aromatherapy, are based on principles stemming from the holistic paradigm. Below are listed some major principles of each paradigm. In addition to the healing arts, they apply to any scientific or philosophic discipline.


                                              Reductionist Paradigm

Holistic Paradigm

A system can be completely understood by studying its parts.Even though the whole is more than the collection of the parts, the system can be recreated by putting the parts together.
With increased complexity, qualities come into play above and beyond the quality of the parts. The holistic quality of a system cannot be recreated by putting the parts together.
Minute quantities don’t matter.
Minute quantities can influence the system in an unpredictable way.
The history of a system is irrelevant as long as its current state is known.
Each holistic system retains a complete memory of its past. The memory is part of its holistic state.
Subjective influences need to be eliminated.
The subject is part of the observation and creation process.
Remedies: effect based on active ingredients.
Remedies: effect based on the whole preparation. There are no “inactive” parts.
Examples of tools: chemical analysis and synthesis, GC, etc.
Examples of tools: sense of smell, awareness, intuition.
Medical research: controlled study.
Medical research: therapist, remedy and patient interact within one holistic system within which observations and effects take place.
Opposite effects are considered undesired or inimical.
Opposite effects are considered complementary.
Reconstituted essential oils.
Authentic botanical essential oils.
Pure means free of additives, “impurities,” germs, etc.
Pure means whole, as nature created it.
The Universe is seen as being chaotic. Dissection and control are the means to make it bearable.
The Universe is seen as whole, organic and meaningful.