Types of Alternative Medicine
other medicinal practices around the world?
Here's a list of common types of alternative medicine that are
practiced around the world.
Different health conditions may require different treatment methods.
Because of this, we felt it necessary to tell
you about the various types of alternative therapies that are in
current use today.
Many of these therapies can be used in combination to
enhance the benefits you will receive in maintaining health and
Contents for Alternative Medicine
This is the most recognized "standard" method of treating disease.
Practitioners, often called physicians or MD (medical doctor), would
natural and chemically made substances to counteract the effects of the
Most medications (AKA prescription medications or drugs)
given by MDs require a written note called a prescription before
the drugs can be legally given to the patient. Both the
physicians, prescription medications and the pharmacies
that dispense these drugs are under heavy and tight regulation
from government agencies.
made drugs (sometime extracted and concentrated from plants or animal
and modified) can produce significant unwanted and potentially
effects. This is in part due to the high concentration often given to
patients to treat the condition quickly. For example, yohimbine, a drug
used to treat erectile
, is extracted from the bark yohimbe
. The bark yohimbe
contains about 6% of the active ingredient only.
This method of treating disease focuses on treating the
immediate symptoms with limited regards to the underlying health
that might have caused the disease in the first place. It does not take
holistic approach to curing the disease.
example, if you have high cholesterol, most physicians will write a
prescription for you to take a cholesterol lowering drug (such as
Lipitor). That's pretty much what most patients will get out of their
In our clinical pharmacy practice, we ask the customers what else did
the doctor suggest to take? The unfortunate answer. "Really, nothing
else except to quit smoking, exercise a bit more and take care of your
You will be hard pressed to find a physician who would recommend taking
high cholesterol. When we were
practicing pharmacy 17 years ago
, natural and herbal remedies
were considered useless and of limited value in treating or curing
times are changing and we are happy to report seeing physicians
recommending natural remedies and alternative medicine. However, it
does not come fast enough to fight off the increase in health problems
we are seeing today.
is a 5,000 year old Chinese method
of treatment involving
inserting thin, metallic needles into specific points in the body to
help reducing pain such as headaches, migraines, muscle spasm and
nausea and vomiting.
The theory is based on the belief that the body is composed of a
complicated network of energy pathways (called meridians) through which
vital energy (called qi) flows. Inserting needles at specific points in
the meridian will regulate and control the flow of qi.
It shows promising results in treating
osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, lower back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome
and many other health ailments. The needles are manually manipulated or
major drawback of using acupuncture is that inserting the needles often
cause temporary tingling sensation or local pain. The depth the needle
is inserted varies. This may not be suitable for those patients are
fearful of needles. If they wish to get the benefits of acupuncture
without the use of needles, consider acupressure
This is a form therapy developed by the Chinese around 2,000 BC that
applying finger pressure to specific points of the body called the
people refer to it as needle-free acupuncture
It is used to treat
various ailments similar to what acupuncture would treat as the same
points on the body are stimulated.
It is used to help with relaxation, stress reduction, improve the sense
of well-being and for the treatment of varies diseases.
therapeutic method uses scented aromatic essential oils to create
a sense of well-being. It is often used in combination with other
treatment options such as massage
and music therapy
essential oils are chosen for their medicinal properties. When
applied on the skin, they can be absorbed into the bloodstream and
create benefits such as pain relief. As well, the fragrant oils can be
placed in bathwater or inhaled to reduce stress, elevate moods and
create other positive psychological effects.
traditional Indian medicine originated more than 5,000 years ago
and is believed to be the world's oldest of all natural medicine. The
word translates to "science of life" and it is believed that the
Chinese adapted Ayurveda as the foundation of their practice of Chinese
This natural system of treatment combines the use of
, exercise programs,
others techniques. It
is widely practiced in India even today.
This therapy involves a slow infusion into the bloodstream of
ethylene diamine tetraacetic acid (EDTA) mixed with vitamins and
It was first used to effectively treat lead
poisoning. It is also used to treat other forms of toxicity in the
such as iron, arsenic or mercury. Those receiving the treatment also
reported additional benefits not related to the removal of lead from
the body and this started the interest in using EDTA to treat other
Currently, chelation therapy is used to treat
diabetes, clogged arteries in the hands and feet (intermittent
claudication), angina, atherosclerosis and heart disease.
Chiropractic is one of the more popular alternative therapies in
around the world today. In Greek, it means "done by hand".
is believed that the body can cure itself when the spine is correctly
aligned. When the bones are misaligned, called subluxation, the nerves
cannot send signals properly and this results in pain in various parts
of the body.
The practitioner uses his or her hands, and tools
if necessary, to make adjustment to your spine. Some adjustments
may result in the popping sounds heard coming from the adjusted spine
what you hear when you crack your knuckles.
is a general term
describing a collection of cleansing treatments focused on getting rid
substance from our body and keeping them away.
This alternative medicine uses
chelation therapy, irrigation of the colon, natural remedies and
supplements, dietary changes, exercise and other alternative
believe that detoxification cleans the body, clears the skin, helps
with weight loss, improves fertility, increases absorption of food
products, increases body flexibility, repairs organs and slows aging.
believe that the causes of many of the disease we see in society such
diabetes, cancer, asthma and mental illness are directly related to
toxins that accumulate in our body.
It is a popular and
widely accepted option as our population is constantly exposed to toxic
substance in the air and the food that we eat.
meaning of the word in Greek is "like disease". It is a holistic
method of treating various health conditions based on the belief that
the same substance that creates a disease can be used to cure the
disease when given in very small doses.
As an example, onions can
cause symptoms of burning watery eyes as we all know if we get onion
juice in our eyes. However, a very dilute dose of this
substance, allium cepa, can treat symptoms of itchy water
eyes found in allergy and hay fever suffers.
The greatest controversy, even today, is
that homeopathic remedies are diluted so much that, in many cases, no
trace of the original substance can be detected by any of today's
advanced analytical machines.
experts are skeptical and are against homeopathic remedies because they
believe that no active ingredient means no effects and thus no
benefits. They believe it works because of the mental power of the
Practitioners claim that the
original substance is not required as its "energy" is captured in the
final mixture by the mixing process. The more dilute the homeopathic
mixture, the more effective it
is. This is the Law of Infinitesimal Dose. Homeopathic remedies are
free from any and all toxic dangers or
Massage therapists attempt to fix soft tissue problems (like muscle
spasm and pain) by applying pressure with their hands or mechanical
They may manipulate the body and move the arms and
legs into specific positions to aid with the
Skilled massage therapists can use feedback
from their fingers and apply the correct amount of pressure to ensure
that the person gets the most benefits.
therapy involves placing powerful magnets on the skin at various parts
of the body to
help relieve muscle pain and stiffness and to treat many common
ailments. Current scientific research
seems to suggest that it seems to work in some people.
Fortunately, it has very little risk or dangers; it either works or
does not work.
theory is that the magnets create an electrical current that
stimulates the nerves to release chemicals in the body that fights
pain. The other competing theory is that the magnets increase blood
circulation and temperature to speed up the healing process.
has been practiced for thousands of years. There are many
different formats for this therapeutic method but the general
definition is the intentional self-regulation of ones thought process.
The person may focus on his or her breathing, heart rate or other
physical sensation and different body organs that are in disease state.
It may or may not involve vocalization (or chanting) depending
type of meditation practiced.
Meditation has been show to help with
various health conditions. Studies show that meditation can have a
positive benefit on the physiology of the body, such as changes in
chemical and hormone levels.
Meditation is often associated with
a religious belief but this is not often the case or required. Anyone
can engage in meditation
for the purpose of clearing the mind, reducing stress, controlling pain
increasing the feeling of well-being.
alternative treatment method involves exposing the person to
specially designed music developed by a trained music therapist.
shows that music can affect the person's mood, behaviour and mental
well-being. Because of this, music is used in various settings
including nursing homes, hospitals, retailers and even your coffee shop
to create the most suitable atmosphere. (For example, in nursing home,
to reduce stress and in retail outlets, to make the shoppers to buy
Medicine (Naturopathy or Natural Medicine)
method of healing focuses on using the body's own immune system and
repairing capabilities along with diet and lifestyle changes and the
use of natural remedies.
Naturopathic doctors take an holistic
approach to curing a person of various health conditions and may also
use alternative medicine such as homeopathic
remedies and acupuncture
The doctors evaluates the person as a whole and looks at the health
status, emotional state, lifestyle, existing medical conditions and
To cure the patient, they attempt to avoid the use of prescription and
non-prescription drugs as in conventional
. This form of alternative medicine is extensively
practiced around the world.
treatment option involves applying pressure to specific points on
the hands and feet to help control symptoms of pain and to promote
general health in healthy individuals.
It is believed that
a properly applied pressure on these points stimulates the nervous
system which then can benefit the body organs.
This form of alternative medicine is extensively practiced in Japan.
This therapeutic method was developed in Japan and involves combining
stretching and standard massage
consider it a Japanese form of acupressure.
objective of physical therapy is to enhance mobility, restore
physical body functions, eliminate or reduce pain and prevent further
injuries. This is done by various methods such as stretching, physical
electrical or ultrasonic stimulation and traction.
use various devices and equipment such as heat and cold packs, fitness
equipment, elastic bands, weights, electrical stimulators, ultrasound
Physical therapy is used to treat and cure
muscle and joint pains and disorders, recovery from car accidents,
surgery and various diseases.
gong is estimated to be at least 4,000 years old Chinese practice of
using sounds, body postures, breathing techniques, exercises and
meditation to enhance the body's Qi. It is a branch of the Traditional Chinese
Qi is believed to be the life
energy that is responsible for maintaining health and vitality.
are two main types of Qi gong, internal and external. Internal Qi gong
can be practiced daily by oneself. External qi gong (AKA Qi emission)
is used by a Master practitioner to pass the Qi to the patient to
cure him or her of the disease.
are many different styles but all revolves around curing disease though
prayer and belief in the Devine Power of God or a Higher Source.
Spiritual healing does not require the use of any herbal remedy.
healer, by placing his or her hands on the patient can channel the
energy from God or a Higher Source to the person to cure the disease.
distant healing, the patient does not have to be present and the healer
and patient can be a considerable distance apart, something thousands
of mile and across continents. The patients may or may not be aware
that healing is taking place but they can obtain significant benefits
for this process.
In the UK, the National Federation of Spiritual Healers defines
spiritual healing as "a natural energy therapy that complements
conventional medicine by treating the whole person - mind, body and
spirit. Spiritual Healers act as a conduit for healing energy, often
described as 'love and light' which relaxes the body, releases tensions
and stimulates self-healing. The benefits of healing can be felt on
many levels, as well as the physical, and the effects can be profound."
This is a Chinese movement technique that involves very slow and
fluid-like graceful body movements. It is believed to originate from
12th Century China and is originally a self-defense strategy.
technique exercises the body and benefits the body and the mind and can
be helpful in reducing stress, increasing flexibility, balance and
Chi is practiced in silence as intense concentration is often required.
The session usually last up to 20 minutes and many people
enjoy engaging Tai Chi daily in the morning indoors or outdoors either
alone or with a group.
of therapeutic touch do not need to touch the patient but actually
hold their hands close to the patient to sense and correct the
disrupted "energy field" that is the cause of the disease.
that they can engage in the conscious exchange of energy needed to heal
a person. It is believed that therapeutic touch
can benefit the patient by reducing pain, stress and improving general
health and a sense of well-being.
It was first modernized by Dolores Krieger, PhD, RN and by her
colleague, Dora Kunz in 1972. This
technique does not require the patient to undress and it can be done
either with the patient lying down or sitting upright in sessions
lasting up to 30 minutes.
Chinese Medicine (TCM)
(Chinese Herbal Medicine)
is a very old holistic system of treating disease that dates back to
over 5,000 years in the Chinese culture. In China, western medicine and
Chinese medicine are used together in many hospitals.
remedies are used extensively in TCM and there are more than 2,000
types available. About 400 types of herbs are commonly used.
addition, other techniques are also used such as cupping (putting a
suction cup on the skin to promote circulation), moxibustion (burning
herbs on the skin to heat the area), meditation
martial arts, feng
shui and Qi gong
. This form
of alternative medicine is practiced extensively in China and Asian
is believed to have been practiced over 5,000 years ago in India. The
practice of yoga unites the mind, body and spirit and involves specific
yoga postures that strengthens and aligns the body.
believed that these postures can promote circulation to organs and
tissues. It also can contribute to relaxation, fitness and general
As well as specific postures used, breathing
techniques and meditations
are used to reduce stress, to calm and quiet
down the mind and to promote better mental function.
Related Articles and Resources on Alternative Medicine
Natural Remedies Table of Content
Health Conditions Table of Content
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