The trend toward alternative, natural, holistic and complementary alternative medicine (CAM) is growing. Perhaps it is because the western world and modern society has seen such a drastic paradigm shift in what health and wellness is and described today. Perhaps the practice of treating symptoms of chronic diseases in a loophole filled healthcare system is one of top reasons why alternative medicine is becoming many people’s “last resort.” Bambi Turner, a writer for Discovery.com shared his opinion regarding the most popular alternative medicine therapies. He reports that 4 out of 10 individuals in the progressive worlds are opting to use complementary and alternative medicines as a supplement to their regular healthcare options. One of the reasons why this trend is growing is the small risk factors and almost zero side effects, when compared to the pharmaceutical laden modern and western approach to illness and wellness (even when most alternative medicine treatments is paid out of pocket by the patient).
Let’s look at the most popular types of complementary alternative and holistic medicine.
The Mayo Clinic Book of Alternative Medicine says that 2 percent of the U.S. population relies on homeopathy to restore balance back into the lives of patients.
Individualized treatment of small doses of herbal and lifestyle remedies are suggested. “Homeopathic practitioners analyze patients as individuals, and then prescribe a variety of pills to bring the body into balance and get rid of disease. Doses are infinitively small, and include many herbal and plant-based remedies as well as yoga, meditation and other traditional practices.”
Hypnotists guide a patient to an altered state of consciousness, and then make subtle suggestions to help the patient improve his health and well-being. “Hypnosis has long been used to help patients stop smoking, lose weight and treat insomnia.” (The University of Minnesota) *Photo Credit: psychology.about.com
The Mayo Clinic Book of Alternative Medicine says that, “regular yoga practice reduces stress, eases depression and helps control high blood pressure and diabetes symptoms. Ohio State says that yoga can also help to reduce inflammation, which can improve asthma symptoms, ease back pain and even keep your heart healthier over time.”
“More than 7 percent of people in the U.S. practice yoga, and people around the world have enjoyed this traditional treatment for thousands of years, says Harvard Medical School. Yoga classes combine physical postures and gentle stretching with relaxed breathing and meditation, helping to unite the mind, body and spirit for maximum health. It’s one of my favorite healing techniques.”
With little to no risk at all, visualization, or guided imagery, is a practice most popular with patients living with cancer, stroke victims and those who suffer from anxiety, worry, insomnia and stress. Doctors direct patients to focus on a specific image or concept to improve the connection between the mind and body. In medical studies, brain scans of patients who follow this practice show that visualizing an activity promotes the same brain activity as actually performing the activity.
For thousands of years, rooted in India but spreading across the world, Ayurveda is the study and practice of herbs, diet, breathing, massage and meditation to treat the “whole” self and restore balance in the body. There is the focus on the person as a whole and the environment, the body constitution and the changing of the seasons. Ayurveda focuses on maintaining a healthy prana, (life energy), which shares many characteristics with the qi of Chinese medicine. A poorly managed prana is believed to cause illness, and this illness can only be treated by realigning the mind, body and spirit to re-balance the prana.
Not just for relaxation, massage is a critical part of health and wellness for people with muscle, tension and pain. Therapists manipulate muscles to ease pain and rid stress, yes, but the University of Miami conducted a study showing improved immune function in HIV patients after massage therapy (National Institutes of Health). Certain types of massage also ease cancer treatment symptoms and help reduce the severe pain of fibromyalgia (Mayo Clinic Book of Alternative Medicine). For professional athletes deep tissue and sports massage eases muscle soreness, by squeezing lactic acid out of muscle fibers, which in turn speeds recovery and may even improve performance.
7. Meditation & Spiritual Practice
More than 10 percent of the U.S. population has meditated or is meditating regularly. Though there are dozens of different types of meditation techniques, very few have actually proven to have clinical successes in boosting immune function, decreasing chronic illness conditions and raise feel good hormone levels like transcendental meditation or vedic meditation does (although all forms of stress relieving and breathing, mindfulness and taking a break to ground yourself is good).
According to the National Institutes of Health, meditation may improve focus and relieve the effects of attention-deficit disorder. Studies also show an improvement in asthma, pain and high blood pressure symptoms among those who meditate regularly. Because of its ability to reduce stress levels, meditation may also relieve depression, insomnia and anxiety while lowering long-term risk for disease.
Bambi Turner places emphasis on spiritual health in the meditation subject because it is important to nurture the spiritual side of each person, as well. In fact, most people who live longest and have most fulfilled lives have this in common. They had a rich ongoing spiritual faith. Practicing on one’s own can be meditative and allows for reflection, stress relieving and sense of community.
8. Spinal Manipulation
“Chiropractors align bones, joints, muscles and the spine to improve health and relieve pain. Well-established scientific studies support the use of spinal manipulation to treat back and neck pain, but no evidence exists to show that this practice can effectively treat headaches, asthma or other conditions.
For a more holistic approach, consider osteopathic spinal manipulation. Doctors in this field combine traditional chiropractic techniques with homeopathic techniques to treat the whole body.”
9. Herbal Medicine & Essential Oils
These are perhaps the most popular uses of natural healing. An example of herbal medicine is taking ginger for an upset stomach or for nausea. Garlic to lower high cholesterol and fish oil to reduce risk of heart disease. Eastern Asian Medicine and Ayurveda practitioners use herbal medicines as their main source of healing.
Essential oils and aromatherapy uses 100% essential oils from plants to be either diffused into the air, ingested internally and/or topically onto the skin to treat many ailments from pain to stress. I do want to caution users to know the source of your herbs and understand that there is a great lack in government oversight into the safety of these “natural” remedies. Many that are produced here in America (as well as in foreign countries) can contain fillers, and worse, high levels of toxic metals. Research where your herbs are coming from and buy from trusted brands. For more information on the only certified pure therapeutic grade essential oils, please visit: http://www.mydoterra.com/truthnhealth/
“Acupuncture dates back thousands of years in China and other Asian nations, but it’s only more recently gained ground as an established medical practice in other parts of the world. Trained practitioners use small, thin needles to manipulate the body’s natural energy flow, or qi (also chi, pronounced “chee”). By inserting these needles into more than 400 specific points on the body, the acupuncturist can redirect qi to cure or prevent certain medical conditions. If you’d prefer your qi balanced without the needles, try acupressure, which relies on massage or pressure instead of penetration [Mayo Clinic Book of Alternative Medicine].
Today, more than 3 million people in the U.S. use acupuncture, and many well-known medical organizations recognize this practice to treat some conditions. The World Health Organization supports the use of acupuncture for treating more than 28 medical conditions, including pain, respiratory and digestive disorders. Mayo Clinic also recommends acupuncture for patients suffering from fibromyalgia, nausea, back pain or headaches [Mayo Clinic Book of Alternative Medicine].”
11. Emotional Freedom Technique
Also known as (EFT) and tapping, it is being used by many holistic practitioners and medical doctors practicing both, as well. Tapping has a very powerful effect when used regularly. It uses the same acupuncture points but without needles, instead all that is needed is gentle ‘tapping’ on the points with your fingers, this will stimulate the points and clean up the energy system.
EFT has been around for a long time and there are many videos on youtube demonstrating tapping.