Alternative and Complementary Medicine and Treatments
Traditionally, the first response for Americans to any type of medical issue is conventional medicine. There is, however, another option. Alternative medicine is sometimes considered the oldest medicine in the world.
Alternative medicine envelops the concept of seeking out non-traditional ways to deal with day-to-day health issues. This type of medicine looks beyond taking medication.
People look to use alternative and complementary medicine and treatment for two main reasons. The first is because of the idea that taking medications can potentially lead to unhealthy results such as dependencies and side effects. The second is because of the natural curiosity of man to find better methods to heal.
Alternative medicine encompasses many different therapies, such as hypnosis, color therapy, yoga, meditation, herbal remedies, vitamin therapy, and many more. The main focus of alternative medicine is that life is a combination of parts that includes more than the treatment of disease.
There is a definite focus on living life well, happily, and with purpose. It is believed that this is an essential part of healthy living. This guide will explore the many different components of alternative medicine, and how it can help you. Consider using the ideas captured here next time you feel ill to begin feeling better naturally.
Treatments Beyond Conventional
When most people get sick, they look to conventional methods of medical treatment for relief and healing. There are alternative methods to treatment that are becoming increasingly popular. What treatments are considered “conventional?” Prescription medication, traditional surgery, and computerized scientific testing are three examples of conventional medicine.
Most physicians support conventional medicine in their practices, so when seeing a doctor, it is highly likely you will be advised to follow orthodox medical advice. The decision to use conventional medicine should be made by the patient and doctor on a case by case basis. An alteration to the type of treatment is sometimes all that is needed to feel better.
Alternative Treatments Include:
Focus on the Whole Person
Alternative methods of treatment focus on the whole person; body and soul. Convention methods strictly focus on the physical problems alone. For alternative methods to be effective, the patient must be motivated and believe in the complementary treatment’s ability to work.
Of course, any serious, life-threatening health problem should blend conventional and alternative methods for a comprehensive approach. Be sure to consult with your doctor to avoid complications. If planned well, you can take advantage of best of both types of medicine for a life that is comfortable and enjoyable.
Alternative Medicine History & Theory
Thousands of years ago, all medicine was “alternative medicine.” Before modern science, healers would consider the full picture - emotional, physical, and spiritual – before healing a sick person. This is one of the main differences between modern conventional medicine and alternative medicine. Alternative medicine does not look for the instant cure for the physical problem, rather is looks more at a long-term solution that includes the whole self.
Just a few centuries ago in Europe there were two types of healers; folk healers that used old tried-and-true methods, and professional physicians. The lower classes did not have the money to pay for the professional physicians, but they used the folk healers and it worked.
In North America, philosophy and religion were often used to help folk healers provide holistic treatments.
The conventional medicine that we have today has evolved from the days of folk healers and alternative medicine. Many conventional physician support different types of holistic treatments in the overall wellness plan for their patients. The reason that alternative medicine has stood the test of time is because it works!
Alternative Treatment Options
Homeopathy is defined as an organic system of medicine that is based on three main ideas:
There are several reasons why homeopathy is the second most popular form of medicine (after conventional medicine). The most popular reasons are:
Nature provides many cures and treatments for ailments of all kinds. Each region has its own native plants that are used in alternative medicine.
When buying herbs for medicinal purposes, it is suggested that you use herbs from an herbal shop. Herb strength varies depending on the way in which they are grown, so until you are familiar with growing techniques for medicinal herbs, purchasing from a professional is recommended.
Alternative Herbal Cures to Common Ailments
Acne and Skin Blemishes
Wash your face and rub a clove of garlic that has been cut in half. Or, mix lavender with witch-hazel at a 1:10 ratio. Tea tree oil can be substituted in place of the lavender.
Anxiety and Stress
Lavender pure essential oil soaked onto a cotton cloth, heated, and folded into a compress. Apply to head or neck.
Bruises and Contusions
Boil hyssop flowers and leaves into a tincture. Filter liquid, and soak a cotton compress. Apply to bruised area by applying pressure. The hyssop, heat and pressure combination will reduce the bruise.
Minor burns can be treated with comfrey or aloe juice. Simply rub aloe juice into burned area. Comfrey can be crushed into a fine powder, mixed with equal parts of melted beeswax, and added to vegetable oil. Simmer over low heat for twenty minutes, and then strain mixture.
Either use a cut piece of garlic, placed directly on the wart or, for a less odorous cure, try dandelion juice applied repeatedly throughout the day.
An age old alternative remedy, herbal teas are used to soothe and relive pain and stress. Many teas are actually a tincture rather than a tea. A tincture is a thicker tea that is herb-dense and is infused instead of steeped.
The following list is a list of conditions and herbal tea remedies:
Alternative Health Treatments
Vitamins & Mineral Supplements
Taking a vitamin supplement is not a substitution for eating healthfully. However, it does serve as insurance to be certain that you are getting all of the vitamins and minerals that your body needs. Vitamins are essential to the optimized functioning of your body. Without sufficient vitamins, for example, your blood will not clot. You need vitamins to fight colds, and boost your immune system.
It is best to take a homeopathic test to determine the vitamins that you need. This will avoid a dangerous overdose. Then you can take the vitamins you need individually, as needed, and avoid a multi-vitamin, which is chockfull of fillers. This method will save you money, too.
Bee Therapy (aka Apitherapy)
The practice of Apitherapy is the use of bee stings, bee pollen, propolis, royal jelly, and honey to treat a variety of ailments. While there has not been extensive testing in the scientific world to validate the claims of apitherapists, history proves that these alternative treatments provide relief.
There are five honeybee products that are used in apitherapy:
An alternative medicine practitioner will aid the patient in injecting or being stung by bees in the affected area. The venom is used to provide relief for conditions such as tendonitis, Multiple Sclerosis, and degenerative bone disease. It works because the venom is a natural anti-inflammatory which is more potent than others available to conventional medicine such as hydrocortisone. You must get tested to be certain that you are not allergic to beestings prior to exposing yourself to bee venom.
A natural energy supplement that is also used as a seasonal allergy aid. It is also believed to slow down the development of wrinkles.
A source of quick energy, raw honey is used for many cures. It can even be used as a salve on top of an open wound to avoid the spread of bacteria.
Is the milky white substance that the worker bees produce to feed the queen. While unsubstantiated, this substance is used as a beauty aid and is believed to help lower cholesterol.
Is the glue used to keep the hives together and make repairs. Propolis is made from the sap of poplar and conifer trees. It is used to make lip balm and salves, and is considered to be an antioxidant.
Iridology is name for the practice of determining a person’s toxicity based on the color of their iris. This concept goes back to Sweden and Hungary where physicians used it to gauge disease in their patients. For centuries, famous physicians and scientists, all the way back to the Greek physician Hippocrates, have found the people with injuries get black marks across the iris of their eye. These marks later disappear as the person’s ailments heal.
In today’s alternative medicine world, iridology is used as a preventative measure to gauge if there is a change in a person’s health. It is unfortunate that iridology cannot be used to identify a specific disease. The way in which iridology is practiced today is that the colored part of the eye (the iris) is carefully photographed using a strong camera lens. It is painless, and it takes about an hour to complete. The photos are then enlarged, and a trained professional iridologist studies it for signs of possible illness.
Even conventional doctors use the eyes as an early warning sign of bad things going on inside of the body. This study is just the more focused analysis of the iris when looking for signs of degenerative health issues.
Meditation in Healing
Meditation is an alternative treatment skill that is learned. Once you know how to do it properly, it can be used to greatly improve your quality of life and health. The benefits of meditation are an increased level of energy, a more positive attitude, a better immune health, better sleep quality, and the slowing of the aging process.
To take advantage of the maximum benefit, meditate for at least twenty minutes per day prior to bedtime. Follow these steps for meditating. First, sit down and get comfortable in a quiet room. Keep your back and neck straight, and clear your mind so that you are focusing on the present moment.
Then become aware of your breathing. Breathe in and out of your mouth, and pay attention to your stomach rising and falling. If thoughts come into your head, acknowledge them and let the pass through your mind. Remain conscious of your breathing and relax. If your thoughts carry you away, don’t get frustrated. Simply return back to focusing on your breathing.
When your time meditating is finished, become aware of your surroundings and stand up slowly. Meditation is a wonderful way to instantly relax yourself and re-enter your being. It is the perfect supplement to any treatment, both alternative and contemporary. This deep relaxation technique will help remove stress and anxiety from life. Reduced stress can only help healing.
Tai Chi is a very gentle form of exercise that anyone can do. Since most people spend most of their time sitting, it is imperative that regular exercise become a part of their daily routine. Tai Chi can become that daily movement. Exercise helps by improving circulatory function, reducing headache tension, lowering blood pressure, and eliminating chronic back and neck pain.
The alternative treatment known as Tai Chi is a series of movements and stretches that anyone can do from any position, even sitting. The exercise will improve posture, stamina, and flexibility. Movements in Tai Chi are slow and deliberate, and easy to learn. Attending a class is the best way to learn Tai Chi. Do not worry about not being in shape; Tai Chi is known to be an exercise that is done by all types of people, of all ages.
Yoga used as an alternative medical treatment is a great exercise activity for all types of people. It is not difficult, but you do have to want to learn about it. The main goal of yoga is to create a balanced relationship between you physical and mental health. Yoga is a way of life that is carried throughout the day, not just while in yoga class. Yoga creates an awareness of yourself and your day to day life. This is a drastic change to many people who often live on autopilot.
You can decide how you want to use yoga, for its basic purpose of bringing together mind and body, or as more of a strenuous activity for exercise purposes. In yoga, it is best to start out at the lowest level possible and work your way up as you develop strength and understanding. Just like most other things, it is important to know the foundational concepts before branching out into more difficult territory. You can take instructor-led classes, or learn at home through the wide variety of DVDs.
In acupuncture, thin needles are inserted into the skin to draw nerve stimulation at pinpointed locations around the body. Acupuncture is a Chinese alternative medical procedure that involves Dao – the advocate for living in balance and moderation, with ying and yang – two life elements that are opposing forces that when balanced brings good health and happiness. Acupuncture brings relief of pain, aids respiratory illnesses, and relieves headaches and ulcers, among other physical issues. It also balances the qi life force.
Reiki is the practice of transferring healing energy from the healer’s hands to the ill person. This can be done hands-on and from a distance. The healer is believed to be full of universal energy. It is thought that the practitioner can use Reiki energy to alter the frequency of the aura. Healing is achieved first physically, then emotionally, and finally spiritually.
Crystals: A Tool for Healing
Crystals have long been associated with alternative healing. A crystal is created when crystalline is formed by minerals being arranged in a precise pattern. Quartz is the most popular crystal. The belief behind the use of crystals is that blocked energy will be released when the crystal is placed at specific points around the body.