Alternative medicine (also referred to as integrative, complementary, holistic, or complementary and alternative medicine) is a term used to describe any practice whose goal is to attain the healing impacts of medicine but that is untestable and has no biological plausibility. A common feature of alternative medicine or therapies is that, rather than relying on the scientific method of research, they rely on pseudoscience. Some of the most popular types of alternative therapies include:
Derived from an ancient Chinese practice, acupuncture is an alternative medicine method that involves the insertion of sterilized needles in various spots along the energy lines (meridians). The main idea behind the insertion of the needles along the meridians is that the lines connect the body’s vital organs and as such, the energy pathways or lines can be manipulated to not only rebalance but also redirect energy. Imbalances are usually believed to cause various symptoms of sickness.
Research has shown that acupuncture treatment is effective in managing fibromyalgia, relieving chronic pain, and minimizing the risk of vomiting and nausea related to the anesthesia used in surgery. It has also been found to successfully complement cancer treatments, ease knee pains more especially among individuals with osteoarthritis and other neck and low-back pains, and increases the probability of successful vitro fertilization (IVF) implantation.
This is a form of alternative therapy that focuses on diagnosing, treating, and preventing structural imbalances which could lead to immune system, metabolic, and nervous system disorders. According to Hippocrates, an ancient Greek physician as well as philosopher, the spine is the ’cause of illnesses.’ This essentially means that essence of healing and health is contained within the spine which houses the nervous system.
In recognizing the ability of the human body to heal itself, chiropractors usually adopt natural and conservative treatment methods. They also take into account the vital role that the nervous system and other corresponding body organ systems play in preserving and restoring human health.
Neurology is key to chiropractic since the brain, peripheral nerves, and spinal cord are part of the nervous system, and as such, are important in determining the cause of a disease. Chiropractors undergo training on how to identify nerve pressure as well as how to relieve it by making spinal adjustments that ensure that important nerve flow is opened up to rehabilitate and revitalize connective tissues, bones, and organs without surgery or drugs.
Over the past two decades, research has established that wherever joint or muscle problems and structural imbalances occur as a result of injury, impact, and/or strain, there is a distinct difference between primary and secondary areas of restriction. Focusing on world class athletes from countries such as Australia, Russia, and the U.S, research has found that the primary restriction areas are usually clearly defined.
Effectively treating sports-related injuries requires an in-depth knowledge of how to identify the primary restrictions and how they reflex to the other involvement areas. The first step is to isolate and then address the issue, which is why sports medicine is considered a holistic and effective alternative treatment approach. The methods used in sports medicine focus on releasing the primary areas of restriction to aid the body to naturally respond which in turn helps to resolve the secondary areas of involvement. Once the restrictions are resolved, the individual is able to go back to training and competing.
A massage therapy is basically an extension of the spa massage. As a form of alternative medicine, massage therapy has been found to be effective in relieving pain associated with fibromyalgia, headaches, and cancer. While most people need a relaxing massage after a stressful day, for those struggling with chronic pain or injuries, a massage is not just a treat but a form of alternative medicine.
There are over eighty types of massage therapies including deep-tissue, pressure point, Swedish, and Shiatsu massages that involve pressure being applied to the muscles as well as soft tissues to facilitate the free flow of blood, relaxation of muscles, and relieving of pain. The healing technique is not new and can be found in ancient Japanese, Greek, Chinese, Roman, and Egyptian texts. It has been used to resolve a wide range of musculoskeletal issues.
Derived from two Greek words “homo” (same) and “path” (illness), homeotherapy is an alternative therapy developed in Germany whose main principle is that small quantities of substances sourced from plants, mineral, or animals can be used to remedy the same symptoms that they cause if administered in larger doses. Symptoms are usually a reflection of how the body is responding to an underlying disease. Homeotherapy is premised on the idea that the remedies can foster the self-healing mechanisms of the body.
These remedies are diluted before they are administered. The sequential dilution process is important as, by distilling the substances’ true essence, their effects are greatly enhanced. While homeotherapy remains relatively under-researched, various studies have shown that it can help to control hay fever, reduce the symptoms of vertigo, manage diarrhea among infants, and boost immunity among people with HIV.