What is Natural Alternative Medicine?
25 Types of Natural Alternative Medicine
Many Examples for Personal Healing and Health
Alternative medicine is often called natural medicine or holistic medicine. Alternative medicine includes practices that are different from those of conventional medical systems. Alternative medicine includes methods that might incorporate spiritual, metaphysical, or religious beliefs; practices not based on research evidence, non-European medical traditions, or newly developed approaches to healing. Natural alternative medicine covers a myriad of various systems of healing and treating disease that are not widely taught at U.S. medical schools and not generally available at U.S. hospitals.
People give many reasons for choosing alternative medicine. Often they turn to natural alternative medicine in cases when conventional medicine is relatively ineffective or even harmful. They may want to improve the quality of their life. They may distrust medical practicioners. Most important, people try natural altermative medicine because they want a whole body, holistic approach to healing. They are also concerned that conventional medicine relies heavily on prescription drugs, and might be influenced by the financial interests of drug companies.
For serious health issues, alternative medicine and natural medicines should not be used to replace conventional medicine. As alternative medical practices become widely understood, more physicians are including them in treatment plans, whenever there is strong evidence of their efficacy and safety.
Examples of Natural Alternative Medicine
Under the umbrella term of Natural Alternative Medicine, a number of practices and therapies are covered. To give a few examples of natural alternative medicine, there is: Traditional Chinese medicine, Dietary Supplements, Acupuncture, Chiropractic Medicine, Yoga, Magnetic Therapy, Aromatherapy, Macrobiotic Diet, Ear Candling, Healing Touch, Tai Chi, Feng Shui, Fasting, Urine Therapy, Massage, Meditation, Homeopathy, Hypnosis, Organic Diet, Reflexology, Shiatsu, Hand Analysis, Light Therapy, Hypnosis, Iridology, Soil Bath Therapy and dozens of other beliefs, practices and behaviors. You’ve probably heard of many of these types of therapy.
Natural Alternative Medicine is Often Effective Treatment
Most Americans used some form of natural altenative therapy in the past 12 months. The most common Complimentary and Alternative Medicine therapies used in the USA are prayer (45.2%), herbalism (18.9%), breathing meditation (11.6%), meditation (7.6%), chiropractic medicine (7.5%), yoga (5.1%), body work (5.0%), diet-based therapy (3.5%), progressive relaxation (3.0%), mega-vitamin therapy (2.8%) and visualization.
The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, as part of the National Institutes of Health, funds and publicizes research on alternative medicine. The research showed that the therapies of many alternative medicines are effective. For example, Tai Chi, the traditional Chinese exercise of slow controlled movement, significantly boots immunity to the shingles virus in older adults. Laboratory studies have shown that grape seed contains antioxidants-substances that prevent cell damage caused by highly reactive molecules called free radicals. Some preliminary results indicate that lavender oil, combined with oils from other herbs, may help with hair loss from a condition called alopecia areata.
Herbal Therapy is an Example of Natural Alternative Medicine
There are a number of herbs used by alternative health practicioners for treat, cure and maintain health. Of the many herbs in Natural Alternative Medicine, here are a few examples.
- Kava is a member of the pepper family used for insomnia and short-term stress.
- Echinacea, the purple coneflower grown in gardens, has traditionally been used to treat or prevent colds, flu, and other infections. It is believed to stimulate the immune system to help fight infections.
- Scientists are studying the use of St. John's wort in a wider spectrum of mood disorders, including minor depression.
- The popular dietary supplement combination of glucosamine plus chondroitin sulfate provides significant relief from osteoarthritis pain in study participants with moderate-to-severe pain.
- People use ginkgo leaf extracts hoping to improve memory; to treat or help prevent Alzheimer's disease and other types of dementia; and to decrease leg pain caused by narrowing arteries. It’s also used to treat multiple sclerosis, tinnitus, and other health conditions.
Chelation Therapy Is a Natural Alternative Medicine
Chelation therapy is the use of chelating agents, such as the amino acid EDTA, to remove heavy metals from the body. In conventional medicine, chelation therapy is used only to treat heavy metal poisoning, but some alternative medical practitioners advocate the use of chelation therapy to treat coronary artery disease.
Chiropractic is Used in Natural Alternative Medicine
Chiropractic is a form of alternative health care that focuses on the relationship between the body's structure and function, particularly the spine. Doctors of chiropractic, who are also called chiropractors, use a type of hands-on therapy and manipulation or adjustment to treat back pain and problems with the muscles, joints and bones.
Homeopathy Is Used in Natural Alternative Medicine
Homeopathy aims to stimulate the body's own healing responses. In natural alternative medicine, homeopathic treatment is based on the idea that substances that produce symptoms of sickness in healthy people will have a curative effect when given in very dilute quantities to sick people who exhibit those same symptoms. This approach is called "like cures like." Homeopathy was developed as a gentler treatment, at a time in history when the most common medical treatments were harsh, like bloodletting, purging, blistering, and the use of sulfur and mercury. Homeopathic medicines are made by repeatedly diluting a substance, with vigorous shaking at each step of dilution.
Dietary Supplements in Natural Alternative Medicine
Nutritional and dietary supplements include vitamins, minerals, herbs or other botanicals, and amino acids. They are widely used in conventional medicine as well as alternative medicine. Here are five examples. Using folic acid prevents certain birth defects. A regimen of vitamins and zinc can slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration. Ginseng can lower blood sugar levels to improve diabetes.
Taking 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C per day to prevent or treat a cold is a popular use of dietary supplements. Another example is the use of zinc supplements to ward off colds.
Acupuncture Is an Example of Natural Alternative Medicine
Acupuncture is one of the oldest, most commonly used medical procedures in the world. Originating in China more than 2,000 years ago, acupuncture began to become better known in the United States in 1971, when New York Times reporter James Reston wrote about how doctors in China used needles to ease his pain after surgery.
The term acupuncture describes a family of procedures involving stimulation of anatomical points on the body by a variety of techniques. The American practice of acupuncture incorporates medical traditions from China, Japan, Korea, and other countries. The acupuncture technique that has been most studied scientifically involves penetrating the skin with thin, solid, metallic needles that are manipulated by the hands or by electrical stimulation. It is used for relief of pain and other health conditions,
Ayurveda Natural Alternative Medicine
Ayurveda is a traditional system of medicine in India. It analyzes the human body in terms of earth, water, fire, air, and ether, as well as the three bodily “humours,” wind, bile, and phlegm. To prevent illness, Ayurvedic medicine emphasizes hygiene, exercise, herbal preparations, and yoga. To cure ailments, it relies on herbal medicines, physiotherapy, and diet.
Aromatherapy as Natural Alternative Medicine
Aromatherapy is the use of selected fragrant substances in lotions and inhalants to affect mood and to promote physical health and psychological well-being. Aromatherapy uses plant-based, aromatic essential oils. It is sometimes used in combination with massage and other therapeutic techniques as part of a holistic treatment approach
Creative Visualization in Natural Alternative Medicine
Creative Visualization refers to the practice of seeking to affect the outer world by changing one's thoughts. Although various spiritual traditions claim that our thoughts affect the outer world, the phrase "Creative Visualization" came from the New Age Movement. Many alternative health gurus support the practice of creative visualization as part of natural medicine to promote healing and relief from pain.
Crystal Healing in Natural Alternative Medicine
Crystal healers claim that every living organism has a vibrating energy system, which includes chakras, electromagnetic fields around your body known as an aura, subtle bodies and meridians. By using the appropriate crystals, one can tune an energy system or rebalance energies. Improved well-being is due to the vibrations produced by the crystals, according to color, chemical composition, atomic structure and overall physical form. Crystal healing is also used by Egyptians, Chinese, and the Inuit of Canada for natural health as an alternative medicine..
Iridology as a Diagnostic Tool for Natural Health
For an Iridologist, the eyes reveal information about the person's physical and emotional constitution. They study the iris of the eye to diagnose health problems. Strengths and emotional tendencies may also be revealed. Cleansing and healing can be verified by changes in the iris. By looking for certain signs such as healing lines, iridologists obtain information about previous health problems and injuries and discover what may have gone wrong in the person's past.
Meditation as a Natural Alternative Health Modality
Meditation is a practice of concentrated focus, often while seated with the eyes closed. You might meditate on a sound, an object, visualization, the breath, movement, or attention itself. Meditation produces a state of deep relaxation and a sense of balance. People who meditate regularly feel less anxiety and depression.
Meditation can be used with other forms of medical treatment. It is a proven therapy for the treatment and prevention of many stress-related conditions. Regular meditation can reduce the number of symptoms experienced by patients with a wide range of illnesses and disorders, including high blood pressure, cancer, insomnia, asthma and Parkinson’s disease. It helps prevent heart attacks and strokes.
Rolfing in Natural Alternative Medicine
Rolfing was developed by biochemist Ida Pauline Rolf about 1940. Rolfing is more than just a massage of the body's surface. It is a system that reshapes the body's structure by applying pressure and energy, thereby freeing the body from the effects of physical and emotional traumas. Although Rolfing is used extensively to treat sports injuries and back pain, it is not designed as a therapy for any particular condition. Rather, it is a systematic approach to overall wellness and natural health. It works by counteracting the effects of gravity, which over time pulls the body out of alignment.
Yoga as an Alternative Path to Natural Health
Yoga is a combination of breathing exercises, physical postures, and meditation, practiced for over 5,000 years. Yoga is believed to calm the nervous system and balance the body, mind, and spirit. Yoga has been used to lower blood pressure, reduce stress, and improve coordination, flexibility, concentration, sleep, and digestion. It has also been used as supplementary therapy for such diverse conditions as cancer, diabetes, asthma, AIDS and Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Conventional medicine, as well as alternative medicine, recognizes the health benefits of yoga.
Precautions with Altermative Medicine and Natural Medicine
Although the National Institutes of Health has initiated research programs for alternative medicine, many alternative therapies have not be subject to rigorous, double-blind, randomized, controlled scientific studies. Since alternative medical therapies usually cannot be patented, there is little financial incentive to study it. Consequently, fewer research studies have been done on alternative therapies. Instead, research is directed toward developing pharmaceutical drugs that can be patented and marketed as a proprietary product.
The herbs and neutraceuticals used in natural alternative medicine may interact with prescription medicine.
For some people, herbs can cause an allergic reaction, just as foods and ragweed do.
Some herbal products may contain higher or lower amounts of the active ingredient than the label indicates.
The placebo effect plays a role in the benefits of all medical treatment, conventional as well as alternative medicine, but practitioners maintain that this does not diminish their validity.
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