The benefits of alternative therapies are a little bit controversial. More research is needed to determine the efficacy of nearly all of these practices, but that hasn’t stopped people from engaging in them.
Let’s take a look at some of the most common types of alternative medicine and see if it’s right for you…
5 Most Common Types of Alternative Medicine:
Acupuncture is a type of Chinese 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.
Despite its popularity, controversy over acupuncture’s efficacy abounds. Many studies find it helpful for chronic pain and depression. If you are seeking more information about Chinese medicine look up Chinese medicine for a specialist who can go into a little more details about the types of procedures and benefit.
Acupressure is similar in practice to acupuncture; only no needles are involved. Practitioners use their hands, elbows, or feet to apply pressure to specific points along the body’s “meridians.” According to the theory behind acupressure, meridians are channels that carry life energy (qi or ch’i) throughout the body.
The reasoning holds that illness can occur when one of these meridians is blocked or out of balance; acupressure is thought to relieve blockages so energy can flow freely again, restoring wellness. More research is needed, but pilot studies have found positive results: Acupressure might decrease nausea for chemotherapy patients and reduce anxiety in people scheduled to have surgery.
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.
4. Ayurvedic Medicine
Also known as Ayurveda, Ayurvedic medicine originated in India and has been around for thousands of years. Practitioners use a variety of techniques, including herbs, massage, and specialized diets, with the intent of balancing the body, mind, and spirit to promote overall wellness.
Studies of Ayurveda are few and far between (perhaps because the practice includes such a wide variety of treatments), so it’s difficult to determine how effective it is as a treatment system (But the fact that the treatment system has persisted for so many years suggests it’s got something going for it.)
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.
It’s always advisable to contact a medical professional before undergoing any form of conventional or alternative medical treatment.