The other day I was chatting with a client about the different kinds of alternative medicine practices, and she didn’t know what other kinds were out there. This made me remember that there are so many different modalities, and each has there own benefits and uses, and everyone might not know about them. I find the best idea is to learn a little about each and then choose what is very interesting to explore further. I found this fantastic article over on the Greatist website.
Here’s 5 types of alternative medicine:
Though “acupuncture” may immediately bring needles to mind, the term actually describes an array of procedures that stimulate specific points on the body. The best-known variety consists of penetrating the skin with thin needles controlled by a practitioner or electrical stimulation, and it’s currently used by millions of Americans each year.
Aromatherapy uses essential oils (concentrated extracts from the roots, leaves, seeds, or blossoms of plants) to promote healing. The oils can be inhaled, massaged into the skin or (in rare cases) taken by mouth, and each has a specific purpose: Some are used to treat inflammation or infections; others are used to promote relaxation. Studies suggest aromatherapy might reduce pain, depression, and anxiety, but more research is needed to fully determine its uses and benefits.
Homeopathy functions in much the same way as a vaccine: It’s based on the principle of treating “like with like,” meaning a substance that causes adverse reactions when taken in large doses can be used—in small amounts—to treat those same symptoms. (This concept is sometimes used in conventional medicine, as well; for example, Ritalin is a stimulant used to treat patients with ADHD.) Homeopaths gather extensive background information on patients before prescribing a highly diluted substance, usually in liquid or tablet form, to jumpstart the body’s natural systems of healing. There’s some clinical evidence that homeopathy is more effective than placebos, though more research is needed to determine its efficacy.
Reflexology involves applying pressure to specific areas on the feet, hands, or ears. The theory is that these points correspond to different body organs and systems; pressing them is believed to positively affect these organs and a person’s overall health. (For example, applying pressure to a spot on the arch of the foot is believed to benefit bladder function.) A person can either use reflexology on her or his self, or enlist the help of a reflexologist. Millions of people around the world use the therapy to complement conventional treatments for conditions including anxiety, cancer, diabetes, kidney function, and asthma. Some studies have found that reflexology can improve respiratory function in breast cancer patients, reduce fatigue, and improve sleep—but other studies have reached less definitive conclusions.
Reiki is a form of energy healing based on the idea that a “life force energy” flows through everyone’s body. According to this philosophy, sickness and stress are indications that life force energy is low, while energy, health, and happiness signify a strong life force. In a Reiki session, a practitioner seeks to “transfer” life energy to the client by placing their hands lightly on the client’s body or a slight distance away from the body (Reiki can also be performed long-distance). The purpose is to promote relaxation, speed healing, reduce pain, and generally improve the client’s wellbeing. For the most part, there’s no regulation for Reiki practitioners. Studies of the practice’s efficacy are varied: Some find therapeutic touch to be an effective form of treatment; some don’t.
So that was a quick introduction to some types of alternative medicine. Have you tried any of these? What have you found to be effective for you? Leave a comment and let me know your favorite kind of alternative medicine.