One of the principal goals of alternative medicine and natural healing is to break the cycle of dependency and allow people to be more in control of their own lives. A growing number of people are turning to alternative medicine and natural healing. Even mainstream doctors have begun to recommend natural drug-less therapies’ to treat both everyday complaints and serious illnesses.
If you were to pick up tablets or a formula for indigestion or acid reflux, the basic ingredients often come from peppermint and ginger. Both natural ingredients, that can be taken, without the chemical formula attached. Dietary modifications, for instance, has become the weapons of choice against a number of diseases that would have been treated mainly with prescription drugs a generation ago. Heart disease, cancer, weight problems, arthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure – they can all be treated to some degree with foods. Natural therapies found in alternative medicine are actually much older than Western treatments such as surgeries and antibiotics. Experts estimate that herbal remedies and Ayurveda, the traditional medicine of India, has been around for 5,000 years.
Ayurvedic medicine is a very comprehensive system that places equal emphasis on body, mind, and spirit and uses a highly personalised approach to return an individual to a state where he or she is again in harmony with their environment. Ayurvedic medicine uses diet, exercise, yoga, meditation, massage, herbs, and medication and, despite its long lineage, is as applicable today as it was 5000 years ago. For example, the seeds of the Mucuna pruriens plant have long been used to treat Parkinson’s disease in India; it is now receiving attention in conventional circles.
Today, many people are attracted to the alternative physician’s emphasis on treating the whole person – body, mind and spirit. Most importantly some physicians, like homeopaths, use intensive counselling to help patients find out whether aspects of their daily lives, such as job stress, marital problems, diet or sleeping habits might be behind their symptoms. In this age of managed care and impersonal group practices, patients find this individualized approach of alternative medicine particularly appealing.
Even those who battle with something as debilitating as depression, are looking to exercise, diet and natural remedies to fight it. The results are not just impressive, but they highlight the inadequacies of conventional medication in the absence of any lifestyle change, especially when it comes to the well-being of the mind. Many celebrities have come out and spoke about how exercise helped them combat low moods and depression.
Even traditionalists, who saw their local GP as the equivalent to a medical God, are now turning to their local health food-store, for remedies. Some burn oils to alleviate stress, whilst others attend reiki/homeopathic practitioners to alleviate any upset in their lives. People are beginning to realise how important it is to keep well, and prevent illnesses from occurring in the first place. Prevention is better than the cure, is becoming a daily philosophy for many today in the western world.
Unfortunately, GPs are often prescription pushers, because the medical model that frames their practice resorts them to this. Within the alternative health world, there are any number of practitioners that we can turn to – depending on our need/ailment. It is not a ‘one size fits all’ model of practice unlike conventional medicine.
There are now large numbers of alternative health practitioners who provide many different services and alternative remedies. A few of the most popular include:
Acupuncture: The power of acupuncture to restore the health of body and mind is recognised throughout the world. Acupuncture has an extraordinary ability to improve health and change people’s lives by releasing blockages to the body’s “qi”.
Reiki Therapy: It uses a technique commonly called palm healing as a form of complementary and alternative medicine and is sometimes classified as oriental medicine by some professional bodies. Through the use of this technique, practitioners believe that they are transferring universal energy (reiki) in the form of ki through the palms that allows for self-healing and a state of equilibrium.
Osteopath: Most people associate osteopathy with bones but osteopaths look at the whole body including the bones, muscles, ligaments, fascia and internal organs. As they do this assessment, they use their well-trained eyes and hands to find the problem areas that are causing that individual their pain. By doing this, Osteopaths are looking for and treating the root of the problem rather than just treating the symptoms.
Acupuncture: is a major part of Traditional Chinese Medicine. It is used to treat a wide range of conditions including back pain, sciatica, muscular injuries, arthritis, Irritable Bowel Syndrome(IBS), menstrual disorders, infertility, sinusitis, asthma, hay-fever, skin problems, smoking addiction, stress, fatigue, insomnia, and migraine.
Aromatherapy: is the practice of using volatile plant oils, including essential oils, for psychological and physical well-being.
Massage: relaxes the mind and body, increase circulation, treat injuries, and boosts the immune system. A variety of styles are available including Aromatherapy, Swedish, Reflexology, and Indian Head Massage.
Homeopathy: is a powerful yet gentle system of medicine that treats the person by stimulating the body’s own natural healing response. The aim of the treatment is to get to the root of the problem, rather than simply masking symptoms short term. Homeopathy can treat a wide range of illnesses such as infertility, period problems, menopause, pregnancy issues, migraines, skin complaints, allergies, hay-fever, IBS, depression, stress, anxiety, sleep problems. Homeopathy is suitable for everyone – babies, children, and adults.
Bio-Energy: alleviates a wide variety of conditions, physical, mental and emotional. This is a very powerful and effective healing therapy. It is a safe and non-invasive therapy which helps the body’s natural energy and capacity to heal unaided.
If you want to pursue a career in Alternative Health Care, a good option might be to start with a brief introductory course to gain some knowledge and see if it is for you. Many are available online.
For more in depth courses, a college such as The College of Naturopathic Medicine offers diploma courses in Acupuncture, Herbal Medicine and Naturopathic Nutrition. Mre details on their website – www.naturopathy.ie
There are a number of QQI/ITEC accredited courses in Alternative Health Therapies including the one offered by Plunket College. On completion of the course, participants are awarded the ITEC Diploma in Complementary Therapies and a QQI Level 5 Record of Achievement. This course also includes a module on starting your own business.
Alternative medicine is not to simply take the place of mainstream medical practice. One should complement the other. No matter how much we fly the flag for alternative remedies; there are some diagnosed conditions that rely on the medical model and prescription drugs to normalise behaviour or to keep people alive and free of pain. Alternative and conventional medicines can in-fact work side by side.
There are numerous advantages to Alternative medicine. Whilst conventional medicine prefers patients to be passive, and accept their treatment without too many questions; alternative medicine, in contrast, prefers and indeed, in many cases, requires the patient to take a highly active part in both prevention and treatment. Practitioners of alternative medicine treat each patient as an individual and do what, in their opinion, is best, rather than what is specified in a “rule book”.
In an age where people are cutting back on Health Insurance, the demand for credible Alternative Health Practitioners will continue to grow!
Click to view alternative health care courses on Findacourse.ie