By Luis S. R. Vas April 2005 A dossier of alternative therapies available around the world. Who has identified more than 300 alternative therapies like acupressure/ acupuncture, aromatherapy, reiki/pranic healing, folklore medicine and others which are popular in different part of the world. Today, worldwide, alternative health science therapies are gaining ground. Together with the modern system of medicine, alternative health sciences and therapies offer cheaper and easily adaptable solutions to various ailments for positive health. Not all alternative therapies are equally effective nor are all backed by equally sound research. Here we present a survey of various alternative therapies along with the claims made for them by their practitioners and adherents. Yoga TherapyYoga therapy tries to re-establish the inner balance by various means, working from the gross to the subtle. On the physical level it uses: Asanas: They energize the organism, create awareness of the body and its function and stabilize the mind.Kriyas: These are simple hygienic procedures which support the body’s own cleansing mechanisms and draw the attention of the mind towards the affected area.Pranayamas: These are breathing techniques which have very subtleinfluences on the whole organism.Diet: Many diseases are directly or indirectly linked with wrong food habits. A change in diet can stimulate the whole system.Simple Nature Cure Techniques: The elements water,air, sun and simple procedures like massaging or steam inhalation are used as a support. The second line of therapy is the work on the mind. Mental disturbances – anxieties, confusion, unsteadiness are the most important factors which can cause a disease condition. Therefore, various techniques have been developed to create positive mind states. Among others there are:Relaxation: both physical and mental.Conditioning: Sitting in a meditative posture one tries to calm down and center oneself.Bhavanas:Contemplation on certain basic ideas like the transitoriness of all things can stimulate a change of attitude towards life. Yoga has claimed that tension is disease and relaxation is health. To this end the whole eightfold path of yoga is to purify the body-mind complex. HomeopathyDeepak Das, a kick boxer, was diagnosed with kidney stone. Tired of popping pills to no avail, he turned to homeopathy. Within a fortnight of starting treatment, he experienced a new zeal and an alleviated immune system. Several such incidents can be cited in which homeopathy has shown positive results. Homeopathy, founded by Dr. Samuel Hahnenmann, a German allopath, is now a little over two decades old. It is based on the principle of Similia Similibus Curentur. In English it would translate into ‘a substance which produces symptoms in a healthy body, cures the symptoms in a sick body when taken in small, diluted quantities’. For instance, opium in a significant dose paralyzes the smooth muscles of the intestine while in a homeopathic dose it becomes one of the elements for treating constipation. People are increasingly becoming aware of the effectiveness of these potentised white pills, particularly with skin ailments and in treating infants and children. While other medicines leave a bitter taste in the mouth, children love to eat sugary sweet pills which slowly melt under their tongues! The popularity can be attributed to the patient-friendly approach and complete disregard for standardization.We Indians identify with this holistic approach as it is very much an extension of our culture. Besides, it is popular in European countries, Russia and other Asian countries also. Its popularity in America is lagging behind, but not for long. AcupunctureAcupuncture is a branch of Chinese Medicine, which has more than 3,000 years of history. The method of acupuncture is to encourage one’s body to promote natural healing and to improve its functioning. Acupuncture starts the therapeutic ball rolling by stimulating the appropriate organs and systems to create more chi and blood in the body as well as addressing specific problems. Classical Chinese theory behind acupuncture: In the body there are channels of energy that run all over its surface. These channels are called meridians. They are like rivers flowing through the body irrigating and nourishing the tissues, allowing a smooth flow of chi and blood, which runs through the body to various parts, structures and organs. An obstruction in the movement of these energy rivers is like a dam. The obstruction backs up the flow in one part of the body and restricts it in others. Any obstruction and blockages or deficiencies of energy, blood and chi eventually lead to a disease. Needling the acupuncture points can influence the meridians. It unblocks the obstructions at the dams re-establishing the regular flow of energy through the meridians. Acupuncture treatments can help the body’s internal organs to correct the imbalance of digestion, absorption and energy producing activities. They can also help in the circulation of energy through the meridians. Modern science explains the functions of acupuncture thus:Needling the acupuncture points stimulates the nervous system to release chemicals in the muscles, spinal cord and the brain. These chemicals either change the experience of pain or they trigger the release of other chemicals and hormones. These chemicals and hormones influence the body’s own internal regulating system. AcupressureAcupressure, as an alternative therapy to allopathy, is second only to yoga in India. Acupressure is a traditional Chinese medicine that concerns itself with the anatomy and physiology of the human body. It maintains the regular flow of bio-energy (or chi, as the Chinese refer to it) in our body. According to this science, the human body is divided into 14 meridians which are situated in the back and in the front. Each of the meridians, identified as either the Yin (the female) or the Yang (the male), have specific points that link it to different glands and organs. Like the urinary tract, gall bladder, stomach, liver and the kidney, fall under the Yin meridian. Though the aim of the therapy is to increase our body’s resistance to disease, many aches and pains can also be got rid of with its help. Generally, a patient can undergo a 20-minute therapy at a time, which is repeated for about 10 days at a stretch. Acupressure is easy to learn and can be used every day, especially when one suffers from headache or a common cold. The eastern system entails using one’s fingers, the thumb, elbow, palm and blunt metal or wooden instruments for self-help. Foremost among the advantages of acupressure’s healing touch is that it is safe to do on yourself and others – even if you’ve never done it before – so long as you follow the instructions and pay attention to the cautions. There are no side-effects from drugs, because there are no drugs. And the only equipment needed are your own two hands. You can practice acupressure therapy any time, anywhere. UnaniUnani medicine, like any other form of medical science, strives to find the best possible ways by which a person can lead a healthy life with the least or zero sickness. It prescribes drugs, diet, drinks and other regimens including codes of conduct which are conducive to the maintenance and promotion of positive health, as well as the prevention and cure of disease. The ultimate aim of these scientific prescriptions and prohibitions is the creation of a healthy society. Unani medicine believes that diseases can be kept at bay by the use of clean and fresh water, breathing clean air and consuming fresh food. Likewise, a balance should be maintained between the mind and the body so that the metabolic process can take place easily and the body waste evacuated. Unani medicine also believes that all life forms have originated from the sea. According to the unani discipline as it stands today, the human body is composed of seven natural and basic components called ‘Umoor e Tabaiyah’ which are responsible for maintenance of health. These are :-• Arkan (elements)• Mizaj (temperament)• Akhlaat (humours)• Aaza (organs)• Arwah (vital forces or neuro)• Quwa (faculties) • Afaal (functions) The loss of any one of these basic components or alteration in their physical state could lead to disease, or even death. It is highly essential to consider all these factors so as to reach the correct diagnosis and consequently the correct line of treatment. The unani system of addressing whole health considers illness as an event serving to cleanse, purify, and balance us on the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual planes. Sound TherapySound therapy is a technology designed for accessibility, affordability and ease of use. Its health benefits are extensive and include the following effects:• New vitality and sense of well-being• Obliteration of tiredness and stress• Deep relaxation and relief of anxiety• Heightened creativity and mental capacity• Increased energy, focus and performance• Deep, beneficial sleep and an end to insomnia• Improved hearing for those with industrial deafness or hearing loss due to ageing• Relief of tinnitus (ringing in the ears)• Better balance and recovery from Meniere’s vertigo and BPPV• Improved concentration and learning ability• Recovery from learning problems such as ADD/ADHD, dyslexia, etc.• Improved behavior and communication in children• Increased voice quality and vocal range• Better relationships and greater family harmony• Improvement for sufferers of epilepsy, schizophrenia, stroke and dementia Sound therapy is simple, effective and effortless. By listening to the specially recorded music tapes while you go about your daily routine, you can create t
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