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Currently there is an unprecedented interest in today's health care. The arrays of Complementary Medicine treatments carry a wide appeal; these therapies refer to non-traditional methods of diagnosing, preventing, and treating all areas of Mental, Emotional and Physical illness.
Complementary medicines/therapies aim not to cure but to improve well-being.
Complementary and Alternative Medicine includes therapies from very diverse historical and cultural backgrounds, they share a common view of health and wellness and tend to be "Holistic", and i.e. they treat the whole person, not just the symptoms of a disease.
Many forms of Complementary and Alternative Medicine aim to stimulate or enable the body's ability to heal itself. Many Therapies require the individual's active participation in the treatment. The holistic approach usually requires more "lifestyle" changes (i.e. diet, exercise and positive thinking) than conventional treatments.
Just as their nature and origins are diverse, the ways in which Complementary and Alternative therapies are thought to work are diverse, although many are based on the idea of self-healing.
Empowered patients can organise a holistic approach to their health care. Natural therapies offer patients/clients many opportunities to engage in their well being on a daily basis. By combining professional care and self-care to create a complementary "cocktail" that meets one's own needs and lifestyle.
Medical systems that have developed in Western cultures include:
Homeopathy is system of medicine which is based on natural laws which have always existed but which were only discovered, understood and applied therapeutically some 200 years ago.
It is a medical system that treats illness through the administration and management of highly diluted herbs, animal substances, and chemical compounds. By using minute doses to stimulate the body's natural defence system by re-establishing normal immune system and cell functioning.
Homeopathy not only offers relief from temporary disorders but, can provide long term healing of a person due to its individual and Holistic approach.
Naturopathy,or natural medicine, is a system of medicine that uses physical, psychological, and biochemical therapies to maintain health and treat illness. Popular in 18th and 19th century Europe it has its roots in healing techniques.
The practice of naturopathy is governed by the belief that the body has the ability to heal itself. Naturopathic treatments are aimed at stimulating, strengthening, and improving the healing capability of the individual. A wide variety of treatments are available through seven main therapies:
- Oriental medicine, including diet and herbal medicines
- Botanical (plant-based) medicines.
- Homeopathic medicine.
- Naturopathic manipulation, uses the hands to treat soft tissue muscle.
- Lifestyle Counselling
The Holistic Connection - These techniques strengthen the communication between your mind and your body. Some therapy techniques and approaches may fit into more than one Holistic Connection system. For example, acupressure could fit either in the category of manipulation and touch or in the category of energy therapies. Here are some of the more broad sub-categories and ranges of complementary and alternative medicine.
All therapies tie together to give a unique approach to Complementary and alternative medicine. Practitioners say that the Mind & Body must be in harmony to stay healthy.
Examples of mind-body connection techniques include hypnotherapy, relaxation, meditation /yoga, art therapy, music and dance.
Different Complementary Medicine Practitioners work in different ways. Some use talking therapies, some focus on practical measures to help you manage stress and illness while some may even offer other complementary therapies in addition to this.
Ultimately, Complementary Medicine management involves making choices about one's own lifestyle and how one behaves and deals with past and present physical, mental and emotional issues.
The following Therapies are the most widely used complementary medicines here in the UK alongside Conventional Orthodox Medicine. Here is a brief introduction to theses Therapies.
- Chiropractic is an alternative medical system. It takes a different approach from standard medicine in treating health problems. Chiropractors get better results with spinal misalignment, and, contrary to some preconceptions, are gentler in their treatments. Their fundamental principle is that all health stems from an uninterrupted flow of energy to and from the brain and spinal cord. Chiropractors, commonly practice this intervention, which involves moving tissue by the laying on of hands. The primary focus of chiropractic is the detection, reduction and correction of spinal misalignment and nervous system dysfunction.
- Osteopathyworks on the principle that the whole skeleton must be properly aligned for the body to function at its optimum. They, therefore, are the experts in dealing with dislocated joints. Osteopathy is based on the belief that most diseases are related to problems in the Musculoskeletal system and that structure and function of the body are inseparable. The Musculoskeletal system is comprised of the nerves, muscles, and bones, all of which are interconnected and form the body's structure.
- Alexander Technique involves re-learning the right way to use and move the body and developing a physical awareness and ability to co-ordinate movement to minimise unnecessary effort. It is a method that works to change (movement) habits in our everyday activities. It is a simple and practical method of improving ease and freedom of movement, balance, support and coordination. It can be applied sitting, lying down, standing, walking, lifting, and other daily activities.
- Acupuncturists believe that energy—called Chi—circulates through the body and that pain or illness results when this energy is blocked from moving along specific pathways, called meridians. According to the principles of acupuncture, health can be restored by inserting needles along the meridians to remove energy blocks and achieve balance. In order to restore balance and a healthy energy flow to the body, needles are inserted at specific accupoints, just deep enough into the skin to keep them from falling out. They are usually left in place for a few minutes. Skilled acupuncturists cause virtually no pain. The acupuncturist may twirl the needles, or apply heat or a weak electrical current to enhance the effects of the therapy.
- Chinese Herbal Medicine, with many other complementary therapies, takes a holistic approach. Treatment will be tailored to the individual, so different people with similar symptoms or conditions will not necessarily be prescribed the same medicines.
The remedies are usually a combination of specially selected herbs chosen and initially prepared by the practitioner, especially when they are prescribed in the form of a herbal tea as they very often are, although pills are also used. Some practitioners now also prescribe remedies prepared as freeze-dried powders.
As well as aiming to prevent ill health, Chinese herbalists also claim particular success in treating existing conditions, including skin disease, gynaecological problems, digestive problems, allergies, problems with the immune system, pain and psychological problems
- Reflexology is a specific pressure technique administered with fingertips, which works on precise reflex points on the feet. These reflex points correspond to every part of the body so stimulating these reflexes properly can help many health problems in a natural way, a type of preventative maintenance. Reflexology is a serious advancement in the health field.
Reflexology releases blocked energy and toxins, stimulates the circulatory system, improves nerve function, and relieves stress and tension. It strengthens the immune system and restores and maintains a healthy balance in the mind and body.
- Aromatherapy has been around for thousands of years and has been practised in one form or another since the beginning of civilisation. It is the ancient art and science of using oils extracted from aromatic plants to enhance health and well being.
Apart from the physical benefits, essential oils can have subtle effects on the mind and emotions. Aromatherapy aims to treat the whole person by helping to restore the harmony of mind, body and spirit. Aromatherapy is the most effective in therapeutic massage, often using relaxing and uplifting fragrances as well as treating physical ailments such as backache, common colds, lack of energy , migraines etc.
- Hypnosis involves entering an altered state of consciousness whereby suggestions made while an individual is in an altered state can lead to changes in behaviour or, in the case of pain, altered physical sensation. Clinical Hypnotherapists use mental imagery to help patients visualise their pain or disease and then encourage them to imagine these images changing to healthy ones.
- Meditation is used to guide imagery as a relaxation technique that involves sitting or lying quietly and imagining yourself in a favourite peaceful setting (e.g., beach, forest). Meditation/guided imagery, also called visualisation, is more than just picturing your favourite peaceful setting—it's truly imagining yourself in that setting. Be as specific as possible. Imagining what sounds you hear, what sensations you feel (e.g., cool or warm breeze), the textures you might feel, and the sights you might see. The more specific your visualisation, the higher level of relaxation you'll experience as your mind truly is in the relaxing place you're picturing.
- Yoga helps improve flexibility and muscle tone, develops good deep breathing and relaxation techniques, and reduces stress. Yoga is an exercise that focuses on physical postures called "asanas" and breathing exercises called "pranayma." As with any exercise program, it's important to discuss yoga with your health care provider before beginning. It is more beneficial to begin yoga practice in a class where an instructor can help and guide postures and breathing techniques.
- Reiki increases relaxation and sense of well being. During a Reiki session, the practitioner places his or her hands in 12 to 15 positions on or just above various parts of the patient's clothed body to channel universal life energy, balancing energy within and around the body.
The hands are held in place for approximately 2 to 5 minutes in each position. A Reiki session usually lasts about one hour. Some practitioners say that they achieve the best results when patients have 3 Reiki sessions within a relatively short time, then take a break and repeat the process.
Patients/Clients coming for any of these Therapy treatments may be suffering as a result of any number ofstress-related ailments. It is important that any advice given be appropriate to the patient's age and physique – as well as the practicability of the individual.
To sum up, all Practitioners offer the following points; propose a lifestyle-oriented management programme specifically in reference to the patients health:
- Walk outdoors -Every day, in daylight, for at least half an hour, gradually increasing duration, distance and pace as you get into it.
- Check diet -If it's not going to do you any good, look at alternatives. Eat raw, fresh produce with at least one daily meal. Drink as much water as possible – filtered if not pure spring.
- Plan the day the night before –jobs that must be done; and jobs that give pleasure in doing – be realistic in your listing.
- In the workplace, as far as possible, good comfy and supportive chair, windows opened (wear extra clothes if necessary), and smoking discouraged.
- At least half an hour per day for reading, relaxing, listening to music, painting...whatever gives pleasure.
- Join a club –dancing, painting, gardening, yoga, and drama – whatever is appealing and convenient.
- Treat yourself regularly to a session of your favourite natural therapy.