Alternative medicine, also known as complementary or integrative medicine, is gaining popularity as people seek more holistic approaches to health and well-being. Unlike conventional medicine that often targets specific symptoms or diseases, alternative medicine focuses on treating the whole person, taking into consideration not only physical health but also mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects.
This approach focuses on the interconnectedness of all aspects of an individual’s life and aims to restore balance and harmony for overall health and vitality. From ancient healing practices to modern therapies, alternative medicine offers a diverse range of natural remedies and techniques. These therapies empower individuals to take an active role in their health journey. Let’s delve into the world of alternative medicine and explore the array of possibilities it offers for achieving great health and well-being.
Homeopathy, Chiropractic, Naturopathy, Herbology: Alternative Medicine Options
Of the 7.9 billion people on earth, 80% rely on food and herbs for at least a portion of their health care. For 99% of humanity’s 2 million years on earth, food and herbs were the only medicine available. Based on these numbers, drugs (allopathy) and surgery should be considered “alternative therapies”. In 1910 the Flexner report cited drugs and surgery as the only real medicine. All other forms of therapy were labeled unscientific quackery.
There was a concerted effort by government to ostracize or criminalize nutrition, herbology, homeopathy, chiropractic, massage, naturopathy, etc. Thus was born the $1 trillion/yr pharmaceutical industry. Drugs are often the best therapeutic choice, especially for pain management.
88% of Americans suffer from a metabolic disease, including heart disease, cancer, autoimmune, liver or kidney disease, etc. For many metabolic diseases, lifestyle medicine, including the once banned “alternative therapies” become the most rational and effective therapies.
Alternative Medicine Labels: Integrative, Rational, Holistic, Functional
Fortunately, mass appeal and common sense has allowed the survival of these “alternative therapies”, more appropriately labeled: integrative, rational, holistic, lifestyle, complementary, functional.
Today we generally consider alternative medicine as a practice that has evolved with indigenous people and later accepted by others, largely as a result of emigration. We consider methods utilized in the western world and developed over the past couple hundred years as western medicine.
What is Alternative Medicine?
Alternative medicine is also referred to as “integrative” or “complementary” medicine and are often used to describe medical practices used in the western world that are an alternative to western-based medical methods.
Alternative medicine therapies are based on the all-inclusive approach, covering the mind, body and emotional well-being of the individual. A number of healing techniques are incorporated into this type of medicine. Doctors are now more aware and more willing to advise patients of the benefits of alternative therapies and are now recommending therapies such as nutrition, acupuncture, homeopathy, energy healing and others.
According to a study in the International Journal of Health Sciences, complimentary medicine refers to therapies that complement traditional western (allopathic) medicine and alternative medicine refers to approaches taken in place of traditional medicine. Integrative medicine refers to combining complementary treatments with convention care. The basic philosophy of complementary and alternative medicine include holistic are, which focuses on treatment a human being as a whole person.
Complimentary and Alternative Medicine
We have an extensive network of protective factors that circulate throughout our bodies to kill any bacteria, virus, yeast or cancer cells and fall under the umbrella of alternative therapies. Think of these 20 trillion immune cells as both your Department of Defense and your waste disposal company. Cells in your body are duplicating all day every day at a blinding pace. This process of growth is fraught with peril. When cells are not copied exactly as they should be, then an emergency call goes out to the immune system to find and destroy this abnormal saboteur cell. This process occurs frequently in most people throughout their lives.
Nearly half, or 42% of Americans can expect to develop cancer in their lifetime, yet most experts agree that everyone gets cancer about 6 times per lifetime. Same with infections. We are constantly bombarded with pathogens from our air, food, and water; yet it is the surveillance of an alert and capable immune system that defends most of us from cancer, infections, and premature aging.
What are Some Examples of Alternative Medicine?
There are many reasons why nutrition should be considered front line therapy:
1) Basic Nutrition
You are what you eat. Your body is composed of nutrients consumed over your lifetime. Your body is built from, repaired by, regulated by, and fueled by the nutrients in your diet. There are basic macronutrients (protein, carbohydrate, fat, fiber, water) and micronutrients (vitamins, minerals) that are taught in all approved nutrition courses around the world. But there is more to nutrition than this basic need.
2) Survive or Thrive
While 10 mg/day of vitamin C will prevent scurvy in most adults, 90 mg/day will lower the risk for various cancers by 50%, and 1000 mg/day will help to reduce bleeding and bruising in older adults. Beyond deficiencies demonstrates that many nutrients take on meta-nutrient functions when provided at beyond survival dosages. Bruce Ames, PhD at the University of California Berkeley has shown that long term low intake of various nutrients creates fragile DNA, which eventually leads to cancer and/or premature aging. There is a huge difference between surviving and thriving financially, emotionally, physically, and nutritionally.
3) Conditionally Essential Nutrients are Essential
There are conditionally essential nutrients found throughout our food supply that are not considered essential for survival but have been shown to be incredibly useful at preventing or reversing common ailments. Coenzyme Q, lipoic acid, EPA and DHA from fish oil, sulforaphane and DIM from broccoli,
Bioflavonoids and carotenoids in abundance from fresh fruits and vegetables, ellagic acid in dark berries, lycopenes in tomatoes. And on it goes. In order to survive long enough to have two children and keep your DNA in the gene pool, you can eat almost anything that keeps you alive. If you want to thrive beyond those 20 years, then you need to be more cautious about your nutrient intake.
4) Herbal Nutrition as Alternative Medicine
Herbal remedies are considered gentle on the system, effective to a large extent and without the potentially damaging side effects caused by prescriptions. For example, herbs such as sarsaparilla are used to detoxify the blood and cleanse it. Herbs such as yarrow maybe used as an anti-inflammatory for muscle and joint pain. Natural ingredients such as turmeric are used to treat the symptoms of autoimmune disorders and is widely accepted in helping getting healthier after cancer treatment.
Scientists have proven beyond argument that medicinal spices could become front line therapies in the near future. Use these spices often liberally. For more details on the efficacy of these spices, see HEALING SPICES by Bharat B. Aggarwal, PhD.
5) Intermittent Fasting
There is abundant data showing the mental and physical benefits of intermittent fasting. For 2 million years of adaptation, humans faced chronic food scarcity. These cave dwellers were physically fit enough to catch and kill an animal or the human died. They consumed abundant plant food with naturally occurring pesticides that eventually became protective against aging and cancer. We now eat too much and too often. We are obese and unfit, and avoid any food that does not taste like ice cream or soda. And that lifestyle is killing advanced civilizations by the millions.
Intermittent fasting has been shown to lower the risk for Alzheimer’s disease, cognitive decline, and increase lifespan. Intermittent fasting gives the digestive tract a break, allowing for regeneration of cells. IF offers a wealth of benefits with zero cost.
Many ancient cultures assumed that the mind exerts powerful influences on bodily functions and vice versa. Attempts to reassert proper harmony between these bodily systems led to the development of mind-body medicine, an array of approaches that incorporate spiritual, meditative, and relaxation techniques.
Alternative systems of medicine often utilize multiple approaches. For example, traditional Chinese medicine incorporates acupuncture, herbal medicines, special diets, and meditative exercises such as tai chi. An eight week study conducted by Harvard researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) determined that meditation literally rebuilds the brains grey matter in just eight weeks. It’s the very first study to document that meditation produces changes over time in the brain’s grey matter. (1)
Picture your body the way you want it to be. Crowd out the disease with visions of health. Focus on that image for at least 30 minutes daily. Feel the feelings of being healthy, alive, alert, vibrant, and eager to address each new day. Since your mind is working all the time anyway, you might as well direct your mind toward thoughts of peace and healing as opposed to “awefulizing” about today and tomorrow.
Alternative Medicine Focused on Body-Based Approaches
Methods such as massage which have long been recognized in certain cultures. In the 19th century, additional formal manipulative disciplines emerged in the United States: this includes chiropractic and osteopathic medicine which are widely accepted in the alternative medicine world. Both these approaches attempt to relieve structural forces on vertebrae and spinal nerve roots. This relief can help release stresses that are possibly evoking a panoply of illnesses beyond mere musculoskeletal pain.
Acupuncture has been used in Asian cultures for centuries as they believed that good health depends on the balance and flow of energy throughout the body. The ancient Greeks believed that health requires a balance of vital humors. Acupuncture, replaces vital energy flow by placing needles at critical body points.
Studies suggest that acupuncture helps ease types of pain that are often chronic such as low-back pain, neck pain, and osteoarthritis/knee pain. It also helps reduce the frequency of tension headaches and prevent migraine headaches. (3)
The Reiki is an energy healing approach that originated in Japan and Tibet. Reiki involves the use of energy—either biofield- or bioelectromagnetic-based interventions. Reiki aims to realign and strengthen healthful energies through the intervention of energies radiating from the hands of a master healer. The practitioner does not use their own energy but serves as a channel and directs the energy towards the receiver. Reiki can bring overall balance to the body.
Light energy therapists use light to heal. There are over 50,000 peer reviewed articles on the therapeutic application of laser therapy, as encapsulated in the academically affiliated textbook by Harvard professor Michael Hamblin in PHOTOBIOMODULATION. Since sunlight is the beginning of life on earth
via photosynthesis, it seems obvious that there is healing potential in selective use of the light spectrum. Babies born with jaundice are exposed to a particular light therapy that induces oxidation of the bilirubin, thus curing the jaundice.
Allopathic medicine is based on concentration of active ingredients. Homeopathy takes the exact opposite approach, the more you dilute the substance, the more potent it becomes. These two sciences cannot peacefully co-exist, until you bring in the science of energy medicine. Homeopathic preparations have nothing more than the “fingerprint” of the original atom or molecule, which is why they work. Energy medicine with no toxicity.
Lifestyle Factors for Improved Wellness
Lifestyle factors effecting health vary in strength and direction. For instance, a small plane flying at 100 miles per hour north into a head wind at 120 mph has a ground speed of -20 mph. Progress is seriously impaired by the opposing force of the wind.
All lifestyle factors are vectors which either move you toward illness or wellness. Consider the person who is smoking (-80 mph), eats a low fat diet (+60 mph), takes vitamin supplements (+40 mph), has a stressful attitude (-100 mph), and eats a high sugar diet (-80). The overwhelming direction for this person is toward illness, even though he or she is doing some things right. Health is a sum total of vectors. For optimal health, take a look at alternative medicine and get all lifestyle factors heading in a favorable direction.
Alternative Medicine to Fight Disease
Disease and illnesses arise when the body’s immune system revolts against body tissues or results in changes to an organ’s regular functions, causing a range of terrible symptoms and in extreme cases resulting in death. Over 80 autoimmune illnesses have been found that commonly affect the blood cells, blood vessels, thyroid, pancreas, joints, muscles, connective tissues and skin. Many illnesses exhibit similar symptoms such as inflammation, sleep disorders, digestion problems, headaches, depression, fatigue, joint and muscle pain and fevers.
There are not many known cures for various diseases, natural remedies have proven to be effective in helping to soothe and in some cases restore the natural balance of an over-active immune system. Natural anti-inflammatories can work to repair and restore a body’s self-healing mechanism.
Why Alternative Medicine is Better?
What if meditation could reverse mild to moderate depression, anxiety, and insomnia without medication? What if intermittent fasting could reverse most cases of type 2 diabetes and obesity? What if a couple thousand dollars invested in lifestyle reprogramming could prevent the need for patients institutionalized with stroke or heart disease? What if improved nutrition could prevent and reverse many common ailments? What if a healthy lifestyle could prevent and reverse most degenerative diseases. These are not hypothetical dreams for the future. These are therapies awaiting you right now. They work. They have little or no side effects. They are dramatically cheaper than drugs and surgeries. Let the future of health care begin.