All of us have heard of alternative medicine, even in passing. By simple definition, complementary and alternative medicine is a collection of healing and therapeutic practices considered unorthodox in the medical field and conventional medicine. Some examples are herbalism, homeopathy, osteopathy, naturopathy, acupuncture, and chiropractic.
There’s a lot of discourse regarding the popularity and legitimacy of alternative medicine over the decade. But in essence, alternative medicine solidly grounds itself on the fact that even if it follows pseudoscience, it tries to delve into and address the different things that influence and impact our health. It is also possible to study and prove the effectiveness of some alternative medicine practices, contrary to popular belief.
Complementary and alternative medicine in itself is already so broad, so here we narrow down some current practices that you could get into with no regrets.
According to Statista, more than 55 million Americans are practicing yoga. When we think of yoga, poses and exercise immediately come to mind. In fact, it’s a spiritual practice rooted in Indian philosophy and applies breathing exercises combined with low-impact physical activity.
Yoga instructors and teachers are also certified to impart the principles of yoga (although the certification is not necessary). Studies have been made on the correlation between yoga and decreasing the risk of cardiovascular disease, eventually demonstrating the positive potential it has in doing so. A study on 52 women also showed how yoga has greatly helped in decreasing their depression and anxiety.
Other benefits are how it helps in managing stress and mood, increasing strength, improving flexibility, and easing arthritis symptoms.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), chiropractic is a licensed health care profession that involves manual therapy, particularly spinal manipulation. It treats mostly musculoskeletal-related problems.
Chiropractors are specially educated, trained, and certified to perform and develop manual treatment plans that best suit their patients. They use manual treatment methods that involve sustained pressure to specific joints done with a quick, gentle thrust by hand.
The benefits of chiropractic care are in the threshold of pain relief, reducing joint dysfunction, and specialized treatment plans. According to studies, chiropractic care applied in specific cases can reduce pain better than medication.
Chiropractors also work with healthcare practitioners to maximize their benefits for patients.
Acupuncture originates from Chinese medicinal practices involving sterile, hair-thin needles to prick the skin and tissues to stimulate the nerves. It is based on the theory that tapping into certain nerves and points on the body helps regulate the flow of “chi” or energy.
Acupuncture offers plenty of benefits, especially for pain relief, migraines, headaches, insomnia, and anxiety. Healthcare practitioners observed drastic improvements among their patients who get acupunctured.
In the US, acupuncture has increased in popularity due to the many positive purported claims. Many states also require acupuncturists to be certified and take an exam from the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.
Herbalism or herbal medicine is a complementary and alternative medicine practice that uses plants for medicinal and therapeutic purposes. Popular in oriental medicine, herbs have been used for thousands of years in progressively treating ailments, first-aid, and alleviating many symptoms.
Herbal medicine is beneficial in strengthening the immune system, treating chronic illnesses, and stabilizing metabolism and hormones. Aside from that, herbs are easier to acquire and are cheaper.
Getting into herbal medicine requires a lot of research, depending on the problems you want to treat. It is recommended to consult with an herbalist to clear up your uncertainties and to gain more insight.
Massage applies techniques that manipulate skin, muscles, tendons, and ligaments through stroking and pressing. This is popular among athletes, people who partake in extraneous physical activities, and those who often deal with muscle soreness and chronic pain.
It helps alleviate pain, inducing relaxation, lessening stress, improving circulation, and lowering the heart rate and pressure. However, not everyone is suitable for massage therapy, such as people with bleeding disorders, infections, fractures, and severe osteoporosis.
The typical massage therapy session can last around 10-90 minutes. Masseuses and masseurs provide massage therapy and can be found in a clinic or by appointment.
It’s easy to be skeptical about the benefits of complementary and alternative medicine. But there’s no great risk at all. Even medical practitioners recommend pairing some form of alternative medicine practices with medical treatment. As long as you do your research, update your healthcare practitioner, and consult proper experts in the field, there’s no harm to come.