Know about Alternative Medicine

Alternative medicine is any form of medical practice a patient embraces other than mainstream medicine. My personal view as a practitioner of mainstream medicine is “a patient should seek help from alternative medicine only when there is no acceptable treatment or management in mainstream medicine, to alleviate medical problem”. Help of alternative medicine should be taken for chronic long standing diseases when no solution can be provided by mainstream medicine. In late stage of cancer alternative medicine can at least give some psychological support to the patient and family members. If cause of backache can not be defined than ayurveda and yoga can give better management result than modern western medicine. But one should be always be careful about the side effects of alternative medicines, because many practitioners of alternative medicine claim their system to be free from adverse effects. But in reality there are no systems of medicine which have no adverse effects. The rule is simple; everything has some good and some bad things.

The following are some of the alternative medicine practices:

  1. Acupuncture: A traditional Chinese medical practice that involves the insertion of hair thin needles into non anatomical energy channels called meridians. The Acupuncture practitioners have mapped the entire body for inserting needles at different locations for different problems.
  2. Alexander Technique: A movement therapy that emphasizes efficient use of muscles to relieve pain, decrease skeletal strain and improve posture.
  3. Anthroposopic Medicine: A spiritually based system of medicine that incorporates herbs, homeopathy, diet and a movement called eurhythmy.
  4. Aromatherapy: The use of essential plant oils (distilled concentrate) in massage, inhalation and bath.
  5. Ayurvedic Medicine: This is major Indian traditional medicine system of thousands of years old. They use pulse and tongue diagnosis. Treatment includes herbs, diet, exercise, oil massage and elimination regimens. They claim to heal the body not only the disease. They claim disease to be due to biological imbalance of the body and they try to correct the imbalance.
  6. Bach Flower Remedies: Dilute flower infusions used to treat emotional problems.
  7. Biofeedback: The use of machinery to translate physiological process into audio visual signals.
  8. Chiropractic: they make adjustments of spinal vertebrae in an effort to affect the neuromuscular functions.
  9. Craniosacral Therapy: This is gentle manipulation of spine and cranium.
  10. Curanderismo: This is a spiritual healing tradition common in Mexico and Mexican Americans. They use ritual cleansing, herbs and incantations.
  11. Dance Therapy: They use dance movements therapeutically to facilitate emotional expression and release.
  12. Feldenkrain Body Work: This is highly structured movement sequence which emphasizes proper positioning of the head.
  13. Guided Imagery: The use of imagination to invoke specific images to effect (they hope) physiological functions.
  14. Homeopathy: developed by German physician Samuel Hahnemann in late eighteenth century in reaction to the toxic adverse effects of allopathic approaches. He postulated that substance that because particular side effects in a normal person can be used to treat or prevent such symptoms in an ill person if administered in miniscule amount, this is known as “doctrine of similars”. For example, poison ivy causes an itchy blistering rash. Highly diluted extract of poison ivy is recommended for treatment of chicken pox which has similar symptoms of itchy blistering rash.
  15. Hydrotherapy: This use water at various temperatures, aerated or under pressure. Sometime they add salt and other substance to water.
  16. Hypnosis: Under hypnosis the subject or the patient becomes more receptive to specific suggestions. It is used mainly in psychiatry patients.
  17. Massage: They use specific gliding and kneading strokes and frictions to achieve muscle relaxation.
  18. Meditation: It hardly requires an explanation.
  19. Music Therapy: This involves listening to soothing music, playing instruments and singing.
  20. Naturopathy: A mixture of modalities that includes herbs, acupuncture, homeopathy, diet, exercise and hydrotherapy.
  21. Native American Medicine: It is a diverse system including prayer, chant, music, healing ceremonies, counseling, herbs, laying of hands and smudge which is ritual cleansing with smoke from sacred plants.
  22. Osteopathy: It is mainly for musculoskeletal system by using manipulative techniques.
  23. Reflexology/zone therapy: It is manual stimulation of points of hands and feet to stimulate distant organ.
  24. Rolfing: Manual therapy to realign the body by deep tissue manipulation.
  25. Shiatsu or Acupressure: It is finger pressure at various points to heal.
  26. Siddha: An Indian medical system used by Tamil speaking people of Indian state of Tamilnadu. They use herbs, breathing techniques, incantation and muppu (a tri salt preparation).
  27. Tai chi chaun: It is a Chinese dance like exercise called “moving meditation”.
  28. Therapeutic Touch: It is healing meditation, a secular version of the laying on hands.
  29. Tibetan Medicine: They diagnose by pulse and urine examination. Therapy is by diet, herbs and massage.
  30. Traditional Chinese Medicine: They use acupuncture, herbs, massage, exercise, diet and diagnose by pulse and tongue examination.
  31. Trager Body Work: Light massage with gentle passive movements to help patient maximize freedom of movements.
  32. Unani: An Indian medical system derived from Persian system practiced mainly by Muslims.
  33. Yoga: An Indian practice that include posture (asanas), breathing exercise (pranayam), and cleansing practice (kriyas). Yoga requires no more explanation than the above due to its popularity and wide acceptances throughout the world.

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