What are alternative medicines? The term Alternative Medicine means any form of medicine that is outside the mainstream of western medicine or conventional medicine as practiced a majority of doctors today. This term is loosely used to over all forms of medicine except allopathy. Alternative medicine exists in all cultures to some degree and terms such as traditional medicine, indigenous medicine or folk medicine etc. are used to describe such practices. These medicines date back hundred or even thousands of years depending on the country and culture concerned. There are more than 100 systems of alternative medicines still in practice all over the world. Every country, region or area has its own traditional system of health and medical cares such as for the Chinese it is acupuncture, for the French, magnetic healing; for the Germans, Heilpraxis; for the English, Herbalism; for India, Ayurveda with Siddha being widely practice in the southern part of the country; for Japan, Shiatsu etc.
The following is a guide to some alternative therapies
Using “essential oils” distilled from plants, aromatherapy treats emotional disorders such as stress and anxiety as well as a wide range of other ailments. Oils are massaged into the skin in diluted form, inhaled, or placed in baths. Aromatherapy is often used in conjunction with massage therapy, acupuncture, reflexology, herbology, chiropractic, and other holistic treatments.
Fine needles are inserted at specific points to stimulate, disperse, and regulate the flow of vital energy, and restore a healthy energy balance. In addition to pain relief, acupuncture is also used to improve well being and treat acute, chronic, and degenerative conditions in children and adults.
Astrology is a humanistic attempt at trying to understand the cycles that we share with the forces in the Universe. The planets have corresponding rulership to certain vitamins, minerals, cell salts, herbs, metals, colors and parts of the body. Through the chart, one can look to see what natal health conditions exist. Through these precepts, we can then look at the present and into the future to see what areas of our lives are being affected and potentially how we can head off ill health and promote wellness.
Practiced in India for more than 5,000 years, ayurvedic tradition holds that illness is a state of imbalance among the body’s systems that can be detected through such diagnostic procedures as reading the pulse and observing the tongue. Nutrition counseling, massage, natural medications, meditation, and other modalities are used to address a broad spectrum of ailments.
Ancient Egyptian writings state that pain can be relieved by stimulating certain points on the ear. In the 1800’s, several publications indicated that there were several techniques of cauterization and manipulation of the ears to aid certain disorders. Many benefits can be achieved by massaging and palpating specific points on the ear.
This practice comes from Yoga and is the use of one’s own urine as food, medicine, restorative, transforming agent and immune system booster. It is sometimes called ‘Your Own Doctor’.
Holotropic BreathworkIt is a simple yet powerful technique for self-exploration and healing, based on combined insights from modern consciousness research, depth psychology and perennial spiritual practices. The method activates non-ordinary states of consciousness which mobilize the spontaneous healing potential of the psyche. Sustained effective breathing, evocative music, focussed energy work and mandala drawing are components of this subjective journey. ‘Holotropic’ literally means ‘moving towards wholeness’.
Chelation therapy is a series of intravenous injections of the synthetic amino acid EDTA, designed to detoxify the body. It is also often used to treat arteriosclerosis. Most frequently, this is administered in an osteopathic or medical doctor’s office.
Chinese (Oriental) Medicine
Oriental medical practitioners are trained to use a variety of ancient and modern therapeutic methods – including acupuncture, herbal medicine, massage, heat therapy, and nutritional and lifestyle counseling – to treat a
broad range of both chronic and acute illnesses.
Chiropractic The chiropractic views the spine as the backbone of human health: misalignments of the vertebrae caused by poor posture or trauma cause pressure on the spinal nerve roots, leading to diminished function and illness. Through manipulation or adjustment of the spine, treatment seeks to analyze and correct these misalignments.
This is a manual therapeutic procedure for remedying distortions in the structure and function of the craniosacral mechanism – the brain and spinal cord, the bones of the skull, the sacrum, and interconnected membranes. It is used to treat chronic pain, migraine headaches, TMJ, and a range of other conditions.
Dance and/or movement therapy uses expressive movement as a therapeutic tool for both personal expression and psychological or emotional healing. Practitioners work with people with physical disabilities, addition issues, sexual abuse histories, eating disorders, and other concerns.
Dowsing is an ancient art of searching for hidden things (water, precious metals, etc) using one of the senses that many of us are not even aware of possessing; reportedly 80% of people have this special gift – an ability to sense things not perceptible to others. Some of these people do not need any extra tools to do that – they just KNOW where is the best place to dig a well or where the gold treasure is hidden.
Electropathy is a specialised system of therapeutics which involves the use of various forms of electric currents for medicinal purposes.
Therapeutic fasting or fasting for health is a purifying and rejuvenating process by which toxic waste matters of the body are eliminated and regeneration of diseased tissues occurs.
Ancient Chinese practice of arranging the home or work environment to promote health, happiness, and prosperity. Consultants may recommend changes in the surroundings – from color selection to furniture placement – in order to promote a health flow of chi, or vital energy.
A relatively recent discovery in the field of alternative medicines, it involves the use of specific gems to treat specific ailments.
An ancient form of healing still widely used in much of the world, herbalism uses natural plants or plant-based substances to treat a range of illnesses and to enhance the functioning of the body’s systems. Though herbalism is not a licensed professional modality in the United States, herbs are “prescribed” by a range of practitioners.
Heliotherapy is the science conducted on the positive effects of the sun and is an effective tool in boosting the body’s immune system.
A descriptive term for a healing philosophy that views a patient as a whole person, not as just a disease or a collection of symptoms. In the course of treatment, holistic medical practitioners may address a client’s emotional and spiritual dimensions as well as the nutritional, environmental, and lifestyle factors that may contribute to an illness. Many holistic medical practitioners combine conventional forms of treatment with natural or alternative treatments.
A medical system that uses infinitesimal doses of natural substances – called remedies – to stimulate a person’s immune and defense system. A remedy is individually chosen for a sick person based on its capacity to cause, if given in overdose, physical and psychological symptoms similar to those a patient is experiencing. Common conditions hoeopathy addresses are infant and childhood diseases, infections, fatigue, allergies, and chronic illnesses such as arthritis.
A means of bypassing the conscious mind and accessing the subconscious, where suppressed memories, repressed emotions, and forgotten events may remain recorded. Hypnosis may facilitate behavioral, emotional, or attitudinal change such as weight loss, or smoking cessation.It is also used to treat phobias, stress, and as an adjunct in the treatment of illness.
It is defined as the scientific application of water for therapeutic purposes. Water may be used at various temperatures, in different modes and in different forms.
The diagnostic system based on the premise that every organ has a corresponding location within the iris of the eye, which can serve as an indicator of the individual organ’s health or disease. Iridology is used by naturopaths and other practitioners, particularly when diagnosis achieved through standard methods is unclear.
Lymph Drainage Therapy
Therapy to drain and improve the lymphatic vessels, a system of tubes or canals through which lymph is carried from different parts of the body.
A general term for a range of therapeutic approaches with roots in both Eastern and Western cultures. It involves the practice of manipulating a person’s muscles and other soft tissue with the intent of improving a person’s well-being or health, and may include, but not be limited to, effleurage, deep tissue, percussion, vibration, and joint movement.
The art of healing by the application of natural and artificial magnets to the diseased parts of the human body. It is a clinical system by which human ailments are treated and cured through the application of magnets to the body of the patients.
A system of physical techniques, exercise and meditation used to relieve tension and fatigue and induce a state of harmony and peace. The practitioner first assesses a person’s state by feeling the hara, the area below the navel. Then, using continuous and flowing movements, the practitioner presses and stretches the body’s energy channels, working in unison with the person’s breathing.
It is a dignostic procedure by which the patient’s pulse is examined to detect disease according to traditional Chinese medicine.
Osteopathic physicians provide comprehensive medical care, including preventive medicine, diagnosis, surgery, prescription medications, and hospital referrals. In diagnosis and treatment, they pay particular attention to the joints, bones, muscles, and nerves and are specially trained in osteopathic manipulative treatment – using their hands to diagnose, treat, and prevent illness.
It is a wonderful manipulative technique by which the deformities of an individual are modified in order to notify the body and the vital organs in accordance with the principles of naturopathy.
This modality is based on the idea that specific points on the feet and hands correspond with organs and tissues throughout the body. With fingers and thumbs, the practitioner applies pressure to these points to treat a
wide range of stress-related illnesses.
Practitioners of this ancient Tibetan healing system use light hand placements to channel healing energies to the recipient. While practitioners may vary widely in technique and philosophy, Reiki is commonly used to treat
emotional and mental distress as well as chronic and acute physical problems, and to assist the recipient in achieving spiritual focus and clarity.
The most widely known form of accupressure, shiatsu has been used in Japan for more than 1,000 years to treat pain and illness and for general health maintenance. Using a series of techniques, practitioners apply rhythmic finger pressure at specific points on the body in order to stimulate chi, or the vital energy.
The use of sound waves to heal.
Evolved as a systhesis of Tibetan, Chinese and Persian Medicine, and even Ayurveda. These remedies include indigenous herbs, fruits, flowers, metallic powders and minerals given in tablets, and are especially effected in
treating rheumatism, asthma, gastritis, diabetes and many neurological disorders.
- Ernst E. (1995). “Complementary medicine: common misconceptions”. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine 88 (5): 244–247. PMC 1295191. PMID 7636814.”Complementary medicine, defined as health care which lies for the most part outside the mainstream of conventional medicine”
- “What is Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM)?”. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Archived from the original on 2005-12-08. Retrieved 2006-07-11.
- Unknown. “Alternative Therapies. “Indian Board of Alternative Medicines. 2010. The Indian Board of Alternative Medicines. 20/05/2013 http://www.altmedwo