Alternative Therapy or Alternative Medicine generally refers to any health treatment that is not a standard medical practice. Then again, it’s rather difficult to define what alternative therapies specifically are, mainly because the field is so diverse: this discipline encompasses practices such as diet and exercise changes, hypnosis, chiropractic adjustments, and poking needles into a person’s skin, just to describe a few.
Technically, “alternative” treatments are used in place of conventional medicine. When used alongside standard medical practices, alternative approaches are referred to as “complementary” medicine. Here are four of the more widely-used alternative treatments in recent years.
Aromatherapy is as easy as what the name suggests. 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 taken by mouth (in very rare events). Each oil has a specific purpose: some are used to treat inflammation or infections, while others are used to promote relaxation.
Some of the health benefits of aromatherapy include its ability to reduce anxiety, ease depression, boost energy levels, and even speed up the healing process of various forms of injury. It also helps eliminate headaches, boosts cognitive performance, and induces sleep. Generally, aromatherapy strengthens the immune system and improves digestion to aid in circulation and pain management.
Acupuncture might just be the most famous of the alternative therapies that most people have seen and may have tried out. Though hearing the word acupuncture may immediately bring needles to mind, this alternative therapy is actually more inclined to 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. This treatment is quite popular, with millions of Americans opting to undergo the procedure to find help in treating chronic pain and depression. In fact, its widespread reach and massive following have created opportunities for job growth in many states.
Chiropractic treatments are the most widely-accepted alternative treatment by medical doctors. Since it’s completely backed up by modern science, it qualifies more as a complementary medicine than an alternative one.
Chiropractic practices focus on disorders of the musculoskeletal and nervous systems, including pain in the back, neck, joints, arms, legs, and head. The most common procedure performed by chiropractors is spinal manipulation which involves applying controlled force (typically the chiropractor’s hands) to joints that have become hypomobile: the idea is that the joints’ movements become restricted when surrounding tissues are injured either during a single event (tweaking a muscle during a weightlifting session) or through repetitive stress (sitting with poor posture for extended periods).
Chiropractic adjustments of the affected area are intended to restore mobility and loosen the muscles, allowing the tissues to heal and the pain to resolve. Studies of chiropractic generally affirm its efficacy, with research suggesting the practice can decrease pain and improve physical functions.
Many claim that Homeopathy practices function in much the same way as a vaccine: it’s based on the principle of treating like with like, meaning a substance that can cause adverse reactions (when taken in large doses) can be used to treat those same symptoms.
Homeopathy is a system of natural health care that has been in worldwide use for over 200 years. Homeopathy treats each person as a unique individual with the aim of stimulating their own healing ability. A homeopath selects the most appropriate medicine based on the individual’s specific symptoms and personal level of health.
It is recognized by the World Health Organization as the second largest therapeutic system in use in the world. While it is most popular in India and South America, over thirty million people in Europe and millions of others around the world also benefit from its practice.