Alternative medicine refers to therapeutic practices that are based on natural and traditional methods. The treatment methods are totally different from the allopathic medical practice. In contrast to the conventional medical techniques that only treat diseases, these therapeutic practices emphasize in improving the quality of life; be it treatment of diseases or promoting the well-being of the individual. Furthermore, it is the form of treatment for practicing holistic health. A holistic health practitioner has a thorough knowledge about the body, mind, and spirit of the human system.
In general, the term complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is used to cover all the practices, other than the standard medical care techniques (or conventional methods). However, the terms complementary and alternative can be used to determine the purpose of following the therapies. If alternative medicine therapies are used in addition to the conventional treatment methods, then they are referred to as complementary. Therapies are called alternative, in case they are used instead of the conventional methods.
Alternative medicine has been used for treatment of many diseases, since the olden days. Further, it encompasses many disciplines such as homeopathy, herbal medicine, acupuncture, naturopathy, massage therapy, physical therapy, chiropractic, and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Though many of these therapies have gained interests worldwide, there are some like humor and radium therapy that are no longer in use. Following are some of the benefits of alternative medicines.
Herbal medicines (use of herbs) are used for treatment of varied health problems like insomnia, diabetes, bad breath, respiratory disease, heart disease, circulatory problem, skin and allergy problems. Some known herbs like aloe vera and garlic can be used for the detoxification process. Various herbs are also identified that help to lose weight naturally.
Pain in the joints can be successfully treated by following acupuncture techniques. Acupuncture can also be used to treat mental illnesses. Its advantage is that it can be conducted in people who have a low immune system. Health problems treated by this technique include fatigue, stress, headache, tennis elbow, and osteoarthritis.
Chiropractic is a popular technique for treatment of ailments related to muscle, bone, and joints (neuromusculoskeletal system). The basic principle behind this technique is that the body system has the ability to heal by itself. It gives more emphasis in treatment of spine problems, as spine is the primary center for many health-related problems.
Aromatherapy refers to the use of plant essence for the treatment of diseases. In recent times, aromatherapy has become a part of massage therapy. Essential oils added to a carrier oil base are used for massaging the body. The skin absorbs the plant essence easily (due to their molecular structure), which then stimulates the circulatory system, lymph flow, and helps in the natural detoxification process.
In addition to the aforementioned benefits, there are no side effects as well, provided that these therapies are conducted properly and by a licensed practitioner. Furthermore, it is more cost-effective as compared to medical treatments. Since these therapeutic practices often lack biomedical proof, a number of research studies are ongoing to study effects of alternative medicine on the human body.
Disclaimer: This HolisticZine article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.