Alternate Therapies Category : Secondary School Level

Alternate Therapies

Category : Secondary School Level

Alternate therapy means healing practices that differ from modern medicine as it is practiced in developed countries. A typical definition would be "every available approach to healing that does not fall within the realm of conventional medicine". Richard Dawkins, Professor of the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford, defines alternative medicine as a "...set of practices which cannot be tested, refuse to be tested, or consistently fail tests. If a healing technique is demonstrated to have curative properties in properly controlled trials, it ceases to be an alternative. It simply.... becomes medicine."


Alternate therapies may be based on unscientific belief systems or philosophies incorporating spiritual, metaphysical or religious underpinnings, untested practices, pro-modern medical traditions, or newly developed approaches to healing; but today, many people utilize mainstream medicine in conjunction with alternate therapy for diagnosis and healing as they believe alternate therapy to have health-enhancing measures; but no side-effects.


In developing nations, access to essential medicines is severely restricted by lack of resources and poverty. Traditional remedies, often closely resembling or forming the basis for alternative remedies, may shape primary health care or be integrated into the health care system. The use of alternative medicine in developed countries also appears to be increasing.


The basic philosophies of alternative therapy include:


•   Prevention is the key to good health.


•    Body has the ability to heal itself.


•   Learning and healing go hand in hand. Alternative medicine practitioners see themselves as teachers and guides: the individual himself does the healing.


•   Holistic care. The focus is on treating you as a whole person.


The Alternate therapies available can be placed in broad categories as follows:


(1)   Healing systems - They are complete sets of theories and practices that center on a philosophy or lifestyle, such as the power of nature or the presence of energy in your body. Examples include:


Ayurveda - originated in India more than 5,000 years ago, emphasizes a unique cure per individual circumstances and incorporates treatments including yoga, meditation, massage, diet and herbs.


Homeopathy - uses minute doses of a substance that causes symptoms to stimulate the body's self-healing response.


Naturopathy - focuses on noninvasive treatments to help your body do its own healing including massage, acupuncture, herbal remedies, exercise and lifestyle counselling.


Ancient medicines- treatments include Chinese, Asian, Pacific Islander, American-Indian and Tibetan practices.


(2)   Mind-body connections- techniques strengthening the communication and harmony between an individual's mind and body for him to stay healthy. Examples:


Meditation, Yoga, Biofeedback, Prayer, Hypnosis


Relaxation and art therapies, like poetry, music and dance.


(3) Dietary supplements and herbal remedies – they use ingredients found in nature. Examples: herbs like ginseng, ginkgo and Echinacea or dietary supplements like selenium, glucosamine sulfate and SAM-e.


(4) Manipulation and touch


These methods use human touch to move or manipulate a specific part of your body, including:


Chiropractic and spinal manipulation, Massage, Osteopathy, craniosacral therapy and acupressure


(5) Energy therapies


They believe that an invisible energy force flows through the body, and when this energy flow is blocked or unbalanced one can become sick. Unblocking or re- balancing the energy force is the goal of these therapies. Examples are Acupuncture, Therapeutic touch, Reiki, Magnet therapy and Light therapy.


The dangers and possible benefits of many alternative treatments remain unproved. One reason is that proper research and clinical trials are costly; whereas such studies for conventional medicines are funded by government or drug companies. Alternate therapy may yet not be proven as a substitute for conventional medical care — but used wisely and in conjunction, with modem medicines. It may help alleviate stress, pain and anxiety, manage symptoms, maintain strength and flexibility, and promote a sense of well-being.

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