Health & Vitality Posted by: Team Tony
Have you ever wondered if there is another way to treat our ailments and fill in the gaps that Western medicine may have left?
Each year, more and more people are turning to complementary and alternative medicine — also known as CAM therapy — to relieve pain from chronic conditions, improve their overall health, and alleviate emotional issues like anxiety and stress. In fact, alternative therapies have become so popular that the National Institutes of Health now estimates that about a third of Americans incorporate forms of complementary and alternative medicine into their daily lives.
What is CAM therapy?
Even if you can’t answer the question “What is complementary and alternative medicine?”, you probably already incorporate the elements into your everyday life. That fish oil pill you’re taking. The probiotic added to your yogurt. That kombucha you just drank as part of a healthier diet. The essential oils you use to help you sleep. Even that yoga class you just got out of. All of these are variations of CAM therapy.
Examples of CAM therapy have also been indoctrinated into mainstream culture. There is a growing number of doctors who have started to combine CAM therapy with conventional medical treatment – giving rise to the term “Integrative Medicine”.
Why has CAM become so popular?
There are a few reasons why CAM therapy has become so popular. Many turn to CAM therapy to treat certain health conditions such as depression, arthritis or insomnia because conventional medical treatment is too expensive. Some use CAM more because they believe western medicine could potentially do more harm than good. The increase in popularity is also likely related to the greater amount of information available and access to these treatments.
Does CAM therapy work?
The benefits (or lack thereof) of alternative therapies are a matter of ongoing debate. There are thousands of scientific studies on some of the most common examples of CAM therapy. These studies will help you better understand the potential effectiveness of CAM therapy.
Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese tradition in which practitioners stimulate specific points on the body, usually by inserting needles through the skin. This popular form of Eastern medicine has been practiced for centuries and is quickly becoming an accepted complement to Western practices.
There are a number of studies that show the effectiveness of acupuncture, especially for back and neck pain, osteoarthritis and migraines. However, researchers are only beginning to understand whether or not acupuncture may help in the management of other health problems such as mental health problems, respiratory diseases, digestive disorders, urinary disorders or fertility problems.
Aromatherapy is a form of CAM therapy that uses essential oils to promote physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. These concentrated flower, root, herb, leaf and seed extracts are most commonly used by inhaling or massaging into the skin with a carrier oil such as coconut or grapeseed oil. A wealth of research has been conducted on the effects of smell and the human brain and emotions. These studies tested aromatherapy’s effects on mood, alertness, and mental stress, as well as its effects on task performance, reaction time, and sexual orientation. Some studies have also shown that aromatherapy can relieve pain, depression, and anxiety.
Ayurvedic medicine is an ancient Indian therapy in which practitioners use a variety of techniques, including herbs, massage and special diets, with the aim of balancing the body, mind and spirit to promote overall well-being. Although this type of CAM therapy has been around for centuries, there are few comprehensive studies of Ayurvedic medicine, making it difficult to determine if this type of complementary and alternative medicine works.
Chiropractic is one of the most widespread types of complementary and alternative medicine in the western world. This alternative therapy that focuses on the relationship between body structure and how it functions. The most common procedure performed by doctors is “spinal manipulation” or an “adjustment”. This procedure is performed with the intention of correcting alignment issues, relieving pain, improving function, and supporting the body’s natural ability to heal. Research suggests that spinal manipulation may benefit some people with lower back pain. It can also be helpful for headaches, neck discomfort, joint discomfort in the upper and lower extremities, and pain associated with whiplash.
Homeopathy is an alternative medical system based on the principle that like cures like. The concept involves the idea that anything that would cause your symptoms when taken in greatly diluted doses will also cure those same symptoms. While there is some clinical research to suggest that homeopathy is more effective than placebos, more research is needed to determine how effective a treatment of this CAM therapy is for a specific condition.
Naturopathy is a system of therapeutic procedures based on the healing power of nature. Naturopathic practitioners can use a variety of approaches and different examples of CAM therapy, including diet and lifestyle modifications, homeopathy, herbal medicine, exercise therapy, detoxification, psychotherapy, and manipulative therapies. It is difficult to gauge how effective naturopathy is because so many different therapies are involved in this practice.
Probiotics are live bacteria and yeast that resemble beneficial microorganisms found in the human gut. Also referred to as good or “healthy bacteria,” they are said to offer health benefits when consumed as a form of CAM therapy. There is some evidence that probiotics may provide relief from various gastrointestinal issues such as acute diarrhea, antibiotic-associated diarrhea, and possibly constipation. However, when it comes to other uses of probiotics, there is insufficient research to show clear benefits of their consumption.
Reiki is a healing technique based on the theory that practitioners can channel energy into the patient by placing their hands lightly on or just above the body. The goal of this practice is to activate the patient’s own physical and emotional healing response. Although Reiki has been studied for a variety of conditions including pain, anxiety, fatigue and depression, the results of its effectiveness are inconclusive.
If you’re looking for answers outside of Western medicine, the practices listed above, as well as other types of complementary and alternative medicine, may provide the relief you’re looking for. As the science behind CAM therapies evolves, we will learn more about how useful these alternative practices can be.
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