“Traditional” medicine practiced for thousands of years by the Chinese and other ancient peoples like the Greeks, Indians and Romans was rooted in holistic health by treating the whole body through emotional and spiritual well-being.
Their practice, without benefit of scientific evidence or established science, of course, is considered today’s “alternative” medicine because it runs counter to mainstream orthodox medicine. Few Western practitioners in the modern medical profession integrate holistic principles in their practice.
About 40 percent of adults and 12 percent of children in America use some form of alternative or complementary medicine.
Here are the most popular.
Nurturing the mind and body through ritualistic and healthy products has been fashionable in our modern society for several decades. However, the origin of spas has long been associated with nature’s healing hot springs and mineral waters and dates back to ancient Greek and Roman times.
“Spas are places devoted to overall well-being through a variety of professional services that encourage the renewal of mind, body and spirit,” says the International SPA Association. Today, there are more than 21,000 traditional spas in this country.
Spa services include massages for muscle relaxation and relief from tension; facial and body treatments for contouring, detoxifying, toning and exfoliating; manicures; pedicures; and hair salon. Pools, steam rooms, saunas, Whirlpools and relaxing lounges provide total sensory wellness and calm in a soothing environment. Therapists and estheticians also conduct a variety of specialty services.
This niche healthcare/cosmetic industry has emerged over the past decade with more than 2,100 facilities nationwide open for business. Minimally or non-invasive aesthetic procedures led by laser machine technological advances have pushed this hybrid industry fast-forward into our culture.
Aging Baby Boomers, the majority women, are lining up for laser hair removal, chemical peels, microdermabrasion, skin rejuvenation, Botox injections, dermal fillers, body contouring, facials, waxing and other anti-aging treatments.
Most medical spas have a physician on-site, although state regulations vary.
Western medicine oftentimes treats the symptoms of pain and discomfort rather than the causes. Acupuncture has been in the Chinese medicine cabinet for thousands of years, effectively unblocking the flow of internal energy through the body’s pathways by inserting thin metal needles into the skin at specific trouble spots. The procedure redirects energy to help alleviate pain.
Practitioners also use acupuncture to stimulate connective tissue, nerves and muscles, as well as to increase blood flow to release the body’s natural pain relievers. It’s often used when standard therapies, medications and treatments have been ineffective.
Common distresses like neck pain, lower back pain, knee pain, allergies, insomnia, headaches, nerve injuries, chronic fatigue, stress and anxiety, inflammation and arthritis are often treated by acupuncture. Typically, five to 20 needles are inserted painlessly at targeted distress points where they are left for 10 to 20 minutes.
All acupuncturists are licensed by the state of South Carolina.
Herbalism nurtures good health and helps prevent and treat illnesses through natural remedies.
Although the use of herbs—any plant or plant part consumed for its therapeutic value--has been on the upswing for years in the West, modern synthetic, single-chemical medications have long been the dependent go-to source for curative powers and good-health maintenance for 5,000 years.
The fundamental premise of a healthful yin/yang balance in the body for overall well-being dictates which herbal formula of organic ingredients are applied. Unlike modern pharmaceuticals, side effects are relatively scarce.
Turmeric, cinnamon, rosemary, ginger, basil, garlic and St. John’s wort are among the most popular and therapeutic herbs.
Many people who have never seen a chiropractor imagine lying flat on a table face-down and hearing their back crack or pop during treatment…and then imagining immediate pain.
No worries, it’s only tissue of the spinal joint stretching—a simple, painless readjustment of structural alignment in the musculoskeletal system.
Spinal manipulation helps to increase joint movement and muscle relaxation either by hand or with a special device. Controlled force on the affected joint can be gentle to strong and slow to fast. Heat, electrical stimulation or ultrasound might be used prior to the hands-on treatment.
Back and neck pain are the most common symptoms, but headaches and arm or leg pain also might prompt treatment.
HYPERBARIC OXYGEN THERAPY
Breathe deeply. As the name of this medical treatment suggests, a total body chamber or tube where atmospheric pressure is increased three-fold in a controlled environment produces 100 percent pure oxygen for inhalation. The technique enhances the body’s natural healing process by stimulating damaged tissue.
As the blood transports this oxygen throughout the body, bacteria is attacked, and growth factors and stem cells are released.
Among the symptoms that oxygen therapy treats are severe anemia, bubbles in the blood pressure, burns, decompression sickness, carbon monoxide poisoning, gangrene, vision loss, diabetic foot ulcers, skin or bone infections and skin grafts, among others.
It hurts when you walk up the stairs or get out of bed.
When it’s hard to move around and have a full range of physical function, making an appointment for physiotherapy should be your next move. The treatment will help to relieve pain and restore normal movement. The same applies for lengthy rehabilitation after successful rotator cuff surgery or any other surgery where mobility is impaired.
A consultation with a physical therapist will examine and diagnose your physical symptoms of pain, reveal your lifestyle and daily activities, and determine a game plan for treatment. The end goal of treatment is to restore and enhance flexibility, strength, endurance, coordination and balance.
A therapist’s first duty will be to reduce pain and swelling, sometimes with manual therapy and techniques such as heat or cold or electrical stimulation.
Exercise does wonders for sustained good physical health and wellness. It makes us feel good. Repetitive cognitive training can do the same thing to maintain or improve brain function, especially for reducing the risk of age-advanced dementia.
For those who have been diagnosed with memory impairments, social interaction and cognitive stimulation through digital and hands-on technology can boost spatial, memory, language and visual skills. Art and music therapies, games, storytelling and physical exercise can assist in promoting better brain health--so can restful sleep, good nutrition and social interaction.
Brain plasticity, which means the brain’s ability to change at any age both physically and chemically, can positively affect the brain’s declining machinery as we grow old. Specific targeted exercises that are repetitious and challenging can help retrain and reinvigorate the brain’s functionality.
Good brain health requires daily discipline.
YOGA AND PILATES
In with the old and in with the new: yoga and Pilates.
Indian yoga postures date back to 3,000 B.C., and was founded on the unity of the mind, body and spirit through breathing exercises, movement and meditation. It reached our shores in the 1800s and surged in popularity in the 1960s because it stressed strength, balance, flexibility, anti-aging and health remedies.
A progression of holistic seated and standing poses stimulates blood flow to all the organs, glands and tissues for proper body alignment.
Although there are many similarities between yoga and Pilates, the century-old younger technique focuses on strengthening the core muscles, which in turn strikes a balance between muscle groups and forms a stronger, more flexible physique.
One difference between the two practices is that yoga moves at a slower pace and holds each pose for a longer period of time.
More than 28 million people in this country practice yoga or Pilates or both.
Other alternative medicine practices include sound therapy, Transcendental Meditation, magnetic energy therapy, reiki, tai chi, gi gong (breathing exercises), healing touch, pet-partner therapy, acupressure, aromatherapy, hydrotherapy, biofeedback, naturopathy and reflexology.
Monthly salutes the following practitioners of alternative medicine:
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