Alternative Medicine and Therapies
What Is the Definition of Alternative
Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Traditional Chinese Medicine
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‘Alternative medicine’ is a perspective, looking
from the viewpoint of what is considered traditional western medical practice.
For many cultures, there is nothing alternative
about them at all, and many of the so-called ‘alternative’ disciplines form the basis of their therapies. Many
of them also have time on their side – they have been supporting health for thousands of years longer than
‘traditional’ medicine has existed.
It is not too longer ago that anything outside
the twin pillars of pharmacy and surgery was dismissed as alternative. Now, many doctors acknowledge the healing
powers of some of these alternatives, such as massage, chiropractic and others.
There are still plenty who rigidly reject
anything that qualifies as alternative medicine, but ongoing studies often prove the benefits of many of them.
Plus, there is a huge weight of anecdotal evidence from those who have been cured, or had their symptoms better
managed by these therapies when western medicine failed them.
An added, huge, benefit is that almost always,
the alternative option will be less invasive and result in fewer undesired side effects.
This eBook gives some insight into some of the
options available beyond traditional medicine, there are plenty more for your
The medical definition of alternative medicine
various systems of healing or treating disease (as homeopathy, chiropractic, naturopathy, Ayurveda, or faith
healing) that are not included in the traditional curricula taught in medical
MedicineNet.com defines alternative medicine as
term for medical products and practices that are not part of standard care. Standard care is what medical
doctors, doctors of osteopathy, and allied health professionals, such as nurses and physical therapists,
This website goes on to mention that examples of
alternative medicinal practices include chiropractic, acupuncture, homeopathic and others. They make a point to
note that complementary medicine is not the same as alternative medicinal practices.
Complementary medicine is used in conjunction
with conventional, modern medical techniques. Whereas, alternative medicine truly embraces the definition of alternative, as it provides a substitute or
replacement for modern medicine.
In many cases, modern medicine recognizes these
complementary but alternative approaches as being worthwhile. For example, if you have a soft tissue tear, like
a torn ligament, a doctor may recommend acupressure in addition to whatever traditional medicines and care
approaches are recommended.
There are literally hundreds of alternative
treatment disciplines. Here is a list of some of the popular treatments:
· Aromatherapy and essential oils
· Bodywork Therapies
· Electromagnetic Therapy
· Herbal Medicines
· Massage Therapy
· and many more!
Here is some additional detail on ten
Acupressure, like many of the alternative
healing methods on this list, has been around for more than 2,000 years. It is a common healing protocol used in
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), which we will take a look at later.
It involves "turning on" your body’s natural
healing mechanisms through the massage and manipulation of energy pathways called
This stimulation relaxes your muscles, and
clears up any blocked channels so your Qi (known in TCM as vital energy) can flow freely. Acupressure works to
balance your Yin and Yang, relieving illness and pain.
Frequent acupressure practices can return a
person to a healthy energy state that prevents mental and physical health problems.
This alternative medicine includes the use of
hot water with natural minerals which promote health. This can take place in natural springs, but is more often
found as an indoor spa treatment. Balneotherapy is used to treat a wide variety of illnesses.
Aside from relaxing your muscles and relieving
stress, benefits which are most commonly associated with a hot water bath, this ancient medicine has been used
effectively to treat dermatitis and psoriasis, depression and anxiety, insomnia and cardiovascular disease, as
well as acne and osteoarthritis.
Biofeedback therapy is relatively new as an
alternative medicine. This is because it requires the use of electricity. Electronic monitoring and manipulation
of your bodily functions is used to train your brain so you can control a specific function. There are usually
no drugs included in this alternative approach to healing.
The tension of your muscles, your heart rate and
blood pressure, your body temperature, brainwave activity and other health metrics are measured through
electrodes placed on your skin.
Through simple trial and error, biofeedback
therapy can identify physiological processes which are causing health problems. Also, this process reveals
techniques the patient can use to regulate certain bodily functions. With training, this effectively allows the
patient to heal themselves.
Have you seen the clothing and jewelry on the
market that incorporates copper and metal in its construction? This type of wearable health care is based on the
idea that magnets and metals can be used to alleviate illness.
Also referred to as magneto therapy,
electromagnetic therapy uses stationary magnets to manipulate the natural electromagnetic field in the human
This idea of using magnets for healing is based
on the premise that imbalances in your electromagnetic field often cause health problems. Electrical devices
combine with magnets to treat a variety of symptoms. This field of alternative medicine is also called magnetic
field therapy and bioelectricity.
The modern medical community considers this a
pseudoscientific form of medicine that uses electromagnetic radiation to eradicate disease and
People have been using herbs to prevent and heal
disease and illness for thousands of years. Herbalism is sometimes referred to as herbal therapy or herbology.
As the name implies, this is the use of plants and herbs for medicinal purposes.
Medical treatments include external, topical
applications of tinctures, salves, poultices and ground herbs, as well as internal consumption. In China,
Africa, Indonesia and India, traditional herbal medicine techniques have been used for
They are still alive today, and often prescribed
by modern doctors and healing professionals. In the United States and other westernized countries, herbalism is
not recognized by the traditional medical community.
Some forward-thinking doctors understand your
diet highly dictates whether you will or will not develop disease and infection. They may recommend a
plant-based diet which includes a lot of healing herbs.
However, for the most part, a modern-day doctor
will not officially endorse the external or internal use of herbs for healing.
Some of the more common herbs used in this
alternative healing practice include turmeric, cinnamon, rosemary and ginger.
You have probably seen, or heard about, a
Hollywood hypnotist/entertainer that makes people do funny things once those people have been hypnotized.
Hypnosis is the practice of placing someone under a state of consciousness in which they voluntary give up
control of their actions and willpower.
In hypnotherapy, it is believed that putting
someone in a hypnotic state allows you to create positive health results.
Hypnosis therapy is frequently used to help
someone break a bad habit, such as smoking, drinking or engaging in unhealthy eating behaviors. Hypnotherapy has
also proven successful for stress and anxiety relief, and for treating depression.
Pronounced 'chee kung', Qigong is a combination
of two Chinese words. Qi (chee) is your life force energy. It is believed in Traditional Chinese Medicine that
it runs through all things on the planet, as well as throughout the universe.
Sometimes your energy gets blocked. Unblocking
clogged energy channels, your literal life force, allows negative energy to flow out of your body, and creates
positive health and wellness from head to toe.
Gong (kung) is the Chinese word that refers to
accomplishment. It can also mean "skill that is cultivated through steady practice." Put the two words together,
and you get a system of healing that works to cultivate energy through a consistent and regular practice.
That definition comes to us from the National
Qigong Association, an organization who knows a thing or two about this ancient Chinese healing art.
They tell us that when Qigong is practiced
regularly, it can help prevent illness, sickness and disease. It is a holistic approach to health maintenance
which can also be used for healing, if some physical or mental health problem arises. Qigong combines breathing
techniques, specific physical poses and focused intent to deliver health rewards.
This alternative medicine includes styles which
can be classified as either medical, spiritual or martial, and all Qigong practices will combine breathing,
mental focus and physical positions.
Reiki is based on the principle that a Reiki
healer or therapist can use his or her own personal energy field to heal someone else. This happens via a means
of touch, or hovering hands just above the patient's body, to channel healing energy into that person's body. It
is thought this natural, holistic, drug-free healing process awakens a stifled healing ability in the body of
This ancient Japanese healing system is often
used for stress-reduction, and operates on the same life force energy premise as acupressure, acupuncture, and
many Traditional Chinese Medical approaches.
You may think of tai chi as a martial art. It is
definitely that. What you may not know is that many of the martial arts were created as a way to improve
physical and mental health, not only as a way to protect yourself against physical attack, which is the common
There are tai chi competitions which set
competitors against each other, but the type of tai chi referred to here is more therapeutic and
The graceful, slow-moving tai chi is excellent
for senior citizens and others who cannot undergo the pounding, stressful, and physically jarring movements of
traditional exercise. Through deep breathing and focused, slow movements, tai chi helps to deliver the following
health benefits ...
· Relaxation and relief from anxiety, stress and depression
· Mood enhancement
· Stronger and more defined muscles
· Increased, natural energy
· Boosted stamina levels and aerobic capacity
· Better agility, balance, flexibility and mobility
There are 4 key principles to Traditional
Chinese Medicine. They are ...
· Prevention of disease is better than treatment.
· You have the ability to heal yourself.
· You are connected to nature, so the time of day, your age, natural makeup and even
annual seasons can influence your well-being.
· Your mental, spiritual and physical beings are intimately connected and
Traditional Chinese Medicine is not just one
healing protocol. It is a wide range of medical healing and prevention practices which include herbalism,
massage, dietary conditions, acupuncture and other ideas.
Using a holistic approach, TCM works to improve
your body, mind and spirit balance, which TCM practitioners say leads to wellness and harmony in all areas of
Alternative medicine focuses on not only
healing, but also creating a state in the human body and mind which prevents disease and
Many alternative medicines not only keep you
from developing a certain health condition, but they also treat that condition and help your body heal
This is large part of the conceptual difference
between traditional western medicine and alternative medicine. Western medicine focuses on trying to fix the
specific symptoms of ill-health and disease, often by surgical or pharmaceutical means.
‘Alternative’ therapies all have a goal of
maintaining and supporting health, so that problems are less likely to occur. When problems do arise, they tend
more to approach the problem holistically.
They recognize that all parts are connected,
affecting and affected by one another, so they are more likely to seek out the imbalances that have caused the
problem, instead of only seeking to defeat the symptoms.
The ongoing success and increased awareness mean
that they are becoming less and less ‘alternative’ every day.