Alternative Health Care is not a modern creation; it has, in reality, been in existence for centuries, in fact many people believe it predates written human history. So what is Alternative Health Care? In Western Culture it is frequently defined as “a healing method that does not fall within the field of conventional medicine”, e.g. medicine as practiced by M.Ds. and by allied health professionals.
Alternative Health Care includes major therapies such as:
Acupuncture – an ancient Chinese procedure involving the insertion and manipulation of needles in the body. It is used to relieve pain, such as in rheumatic conditions and to treat many other illnesses.
Alexander Technique – used to teach people how to use their bodies efficiently and effortlessly in everyday life; to use muscles in a relaxed way with a minimum of effort.
Aromatherapy and aromatherapy oils – this is suitable for all age groups and is the art of applying essential oils, usually by massage. It can be used to treat many conditions, especially depression, anger, stress and linked conditions such as headaches.
Homeopathy – This is a method of prescribing, using minerals, plants and sometimes animal remedies. It stimulates the natural healing process and as homeopathic remedies do not have side effects they can be used safely in pregnancy, young children and also elderly patients.
Osteopathy – osteopathic doctrine believes that good health involves physical, mental and social well-being, not merely the non-existence of disease, thus the whole patient must be treated taking into account not just physical symptoms but such factors as nutrition and mental habits also. Osteopathic therapy corrects muscular-skeletal abnormalities by treatment with the hands – massage, stretching, manipulation etc.
Reflexology – this involves massage of the feet and sometimes the hands. The feet contain reflex areas matching all parts of the body thus enabling the whole body to be treated as well as the body as a whole. An important factor in any natural therapy is that it allows not only the symptoms, but also the causes, to be treated.
These are just a few of the treatments that are included in Alternative Health Care. It is a very broad field and the methods are diverse in their methodologies which can incorporate or base themselves on traditional medicine, folk knowledge, spiritual beliefs or newly formulated approaches to healing.
An important difference between conventional and alternative medicine is that whilst conventional medicine targets specific symptoms and their causes, Alternative Health Care has a holistic approach;that is to say it treats the whole person, promoting self-care and self-healing and acknowledging the spiritual nature of each person. The idea that the mind is important in the treatment of illness dates back more than 2000 years. Similarly, spinal manipulation dates back to ancient Greece, and was incorporated into chiropractic and osteopathic medicine in the late 19th century.
Alternative Health Care treatments are effective in treating a wide range of minor and major medical conditions. Interest in, and the use of, Alternative Health Care has grown considerably over the past few decades, both for adults and children. In a short article it is impossible to cover the countless forms of Alternative Health Care methods, their benefits and advantages.