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. Alternative and complementary medicines are often used to describe medical practices used in the western world that are an alternative to western-based medical methods.
The U.S. National Institutes of Health has identified five groups of practices:
Biologically based practices
This includes vitamins and mineral supplements. These are natural and include products such as chondroitin sulfate, which is derived from bovine or shark cartilage; popular herbal supplements, such as ginger and cinnamon; and unconventional diets such as low-carbohydrate or high-protein approaches to weight loss.
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.
Manipulative and body-based approaches
This includes 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 helping you in getting healthier. 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.
This approach uses therapies that involve the use of energy—either biofield- or bioelectromagnetic-based interventions. An example of the former is Reiki therapy, which aims to realign and strengthen healthful energies through the intervention of energies radiating from the hands of a master healer.
Alternative edical systems
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.
Alternative 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 herbal therapy, acupuncture, homeopathy, energy healing and others.
Those seeking alternatives therapies need to be aware there is no miracle, and many of these options require changes in diet and lifestyle, and the reversal in illness does not happen overnight. But following a more natural and holistic approach will often produce long term health benefits.
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)
Results from a number of studies suggest that acupuncture may help ease types of pain that are often chronic such as low-back pain, neck pain, and osteoarthritis/knee pain. It also may help reduce the frequency of tension headaches and prevent migraine headaches. (3)
The goal is to repair the underlying cause to get healthier. Heat therapy is worth mentioning as an alternative therapy that successfully raises the core body temperature of patients to help treat the symptoms of Lyme’s disease.
Autoimmune Disease and Alternative Treatments
Autoimmune 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.
While there are not many known cures for various autoimmune diseases, various 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.
Herbal Remedies and Alternative Treatments
Herbal remedies are considered gentle on the system, effective to a large extent and without the potentially damaging side effects that many prescription medicines come with. 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.
Complementary 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.
Lifestyle Factors in Alternative Medicine
Vectors are forces, which 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 health care and get all vectors heading in a favorable direction.
Replace Illness with Wellness
Just like darkness is the absence of light, disease is the absence of wellness. Wellness is a state of optimal functioning of body, mind and spirit. A well person may have 90% wellness and 10% illness. A sick person may have 10% wellness and 90% illness. A body region cannot be well and ill at the same time. Therefore, curing illness is a matter of replacing it with wellness. The same unhealthy lifestyle may create heart disease in 30% of the people, cancer in 25%, arthritis in 10%, and mental illness in 5%. In a very important step toward removing illness, simply allow wellness to infiltrate the body and mind.
|Vitamins: A,C,E,B-6||Toxic Metals: Cd,Pb,Hg|
|Minerals: Zn, Cr, Se||VOC: PCB, benzene|
|Quasi-vitamins: CoQ, EPA, GLA||Sugar: glycemix index|
|Herbals: astragalus, Cat’s Claw, Pau D’arco||Omega 3:6 ratio, 1:1, 1:16|
|Foods: yogurt, cartilage, garlic, enzymes, |
green leafy, fish oil, colostrum
|Positive emotions: love|
There is now more widespread acceptance of alternative medicine and alternative therapies. But, we still need to exercise caution when choosing the right therapy for a specific ailment. Always visit your medical practitioner before undertaking medical treatment.