A new integrative theory of brain-body-ecosystem medicine: From the hippocratic holistic view of medicine to our modern society

Diego Guidolin, Deanna Anderlini, Guido Maura, Manuela Marcoli, Pietro Cortelli, Giovanna Calandra-Buonaura, Amina S. Woods, Luigi F. Agnati

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Humans are increasingly aware that their fate will depend on the wisdom they apply in interacting with the ecosystem. Its health is defined as the condition in which the ecosystem can deliver and continuously renew its fundamental services. A healthy ecosystem allows optimal interactions between humans and the other biotic/abiotic components, and only in a healthy ecosystem can humans survive and efficiently reproduce. Thus, both the human and ecosystem health should be considered together in view of their interdependence. The present article suggests that this relationship could be considered starting from the Hippocrates (460 BC–370 BC) work “On Airs, Waters, and Places” to derive useful medical and philosophical implications for medicine which is indeed a topic that involves scientific as well as philosophical concepts that implicate a background broader than the human body. The brain-body-ecosystem medicine is proposed as a new more complete approach to safeguarding human health. Epidemiological data demonstrate that exploitation of the environment resulting in ecosystem damage affects human health and in several instances these diseases can be detected by modifications in the heart-brain interactions that can be diagnosed through the analysis of changes in heart rate variability.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3136
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number17
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1 2019



  • Depression
  • Ecosystem
  • Heart rate variability
  • Heart-brain interaction
  • Inner speech
  • Integrative medicine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

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