skip to content

What is the BHMA?

The BHMA was formed in 1983 by a group of medical doctors and students.  It is now a network of mainstream healthcare professionals, CAM practitioners and members of the public.

Over the years the BHMA has organsied conferences, run educational activities and promoted local groups.  It has always had a journal and a members newsletter.  It continues to publish three issues of the Journal of holistic healthcare annually and a monthly e-mail newsletter.

The vision is to continue to have a strong enthusiastic network of like minded people promoting holism in healthcare.  The focus has always been on care that honours the connection between mind, body and spirit and  offering patients a wide range of therapies that can benefit them. 

Our motto of 'physician heal thyself ' is as relevant today as has been over the last 30 years to encourage self care ffor practitioners.

We believe that the biggest threat to health globally is of climate change and we are engaged in encouraging a sustainable healthcare system.


Find out about membership of the BHMA


What does holistic mean?

It is generally conceded that the South African Jan Smuts coined the term ‘holism’ in 1926.

The dictionary definition of holism (from the Greek holos) states that nothing can be fully understood unless one sees the whole system of which it is part; that is the whole is always more than the sum of its parts. It has the same linguistic roots as whole, holy and health.

Beyond that information, the word holistic is impossible to define, because a definition imposes a boundary, and therefore excludes. It is a way of seeing and knowing the world. The holistic approach in medicine considers the whole person, both he or she seeking help and the practitioner who aims to provide help, whatever form that may take. It is caring for yourself, caring for others, and caring for the planet. It is being part of the living organism that is our Earth and every creature and organism that lives in this wondrous place.

The holistic view of course includes the objective scientific explanations of physiology and accepts that that people have inner experiences that are subjective, mystical, spiritual or religious, which affects their well being and their beliefs.

Our new website feature provides the 'dimensions' of being holistic. This describes this challenging word in terms of the qualities of the human - especially applicable to those who are unwell and those who care. See front page to access this exploration of the human relationship in sickness and in health.


What Patients say

"I think holistic care is humane care where it is about individuals not their illness."


I want a holistic doctor to look after me, someone to really listen and try to understand me. 

Someone who is caring as well as being good at his or her job is being holistic.


"I have a holistic nurse. She went to so much trouble to help me sort my life out, you know, that bit extra effort to find something that might help, even phoned me at home to see how I was getting on."

"Instead of just printing out a prescription we talked about how I could do things for myself, no one’s done that before."


What we say

"Holism is more about relatedness rather than separation, taking a broader view rather than reducing individuals to disease labels. A holistic approach recognises that our relationships, our culture, our immediate and global environment all profoundly affect our health and well-being."
Prof David Peters, Editor of the Journal of holistic healthcare 

"A willingness to use a wide range of interventions ... an emphasis on a more participatory relationship between doctor and patient; and an awareness of the impact of the ‘health’ of the practitioner on the patient.”
Patrick Pietroni, founding Chairman of the BHMA writing in Practitioner in 1997

"It's time to replace over-reliance on pharmaceutical 'magic bullets' with diverse approaches for creating health. We need to support well-being, self-care in chronic disease and the well-being of health-workers. Above all we have to embrace effective and sustainable solutions for the millions who need more than biomedicine alone can offer."
Simon Mills, BHMA trustee

" ‘Holistic’ is a good and useful word. For a start it does not mean a particular religion, faith or belief. What it means is a general approach — an approach that is open-hearted, open-minded, recognises the connections between all aspects of life and respects the essence of all the world’s various spiritual traditions. It is also a word that recognises the links between spirituality, health and wellbeing; and supports our care and love for the natural world."
William Bloom  Author and educator

Website by