Close your eyes. Imagine just for a minute that you suffer from a serious condition and you have exhausted all traditional treatment methods. You have tried every pill and you have visited all renowned doctors. You left no stone unturned.
What next? Would you try some of those untraditional medicine practices that many refer to as shady, unreliable or overrated? In fact, are you capable to name some of the most widely known complementary and alternative treatments? I bet you are. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be spending your time visiting a website that revolves around wellness and wellbeing, would you?
In this article, we are going to shed light upon six of the most celebrated alternative medicine practices that became extremely modern all over the world in the past years. Furthermore, we will try to answer the million-dollar question – are they efficient and are they really working as advertised in the first place.
We live in a fast-paced media age where there is huge information overload. In simple words, there is too much data all around us, coming from everywhere. In fact, there are so many sources of information that the brain is often unable to process all of it and instead of taking an informative decision about something, we end up being confused, even exhausted.
It’s not a surprise that there is an information overload when it comes to the topic of holistic medicine as well. A staggering abundance of opinions, facts, and myths revolves around the subject. One thing is sure – the buzz surrounding some of the most popular alternative medicine practices is never-ending and always exciting.
Without further ado, let’s check out some of the most trendy holistic medicine activities that the world has gone crazy about.
Based on a recent study conducted in America, there is a significant rise in the demand for acupuncture. The percentage of U.S. citizens who have tried this holistic practice has an upward trend.
Here is the time for me to mention that I have some personal experience with it. I have to admit that I was very skeptical when I first heard the idea of someone sticking needles in my precious body. In the end, however, I gained some amazing benefits for my health.
But what is acupuncture in the first place and why is it so popular?
It comes from Chinese traditional medicine and as you know, it involves inserting thin needles into the body. A common belief is that all diseases are a product of the disrupted energy balance in the body. This happens because of stress and all kinds of strong negative emotions.
According to the ancient Chinese philosophies, the human energy flows through parts of the body known as meridians. It’s important to know that they are not physical and they have many of the so-called acupoints spread all over them. When stimulating the right points by inserting needles, this applies pressure on the affected nerve. After some time (the number of sessions varies depending on the seriousness of the problem), the procedure is known to have an invigorating and healing effect.
This holistic approach is so very well-received by thousands of people because of three main reasons:
- It’s effective
- It’s risk-free
- It is covered by health insurance in the USA
Even though there are many people that swear by the health benefits of the acupuncture, it is still considered as pseudoscience.
It is mainly used for chronic pain relief and for strengthening the overall health.
Its efficiency for treating serious conditions is unconfirmed and most importantly not backed up by medical science.
That is why it is recommended to use acupuncture as a complementary approach to traditional medical treatment. Its usage as a main therapy when fighting an insidious disease is strongly discouraged. A similar to the acupuncture practice is the acupressure or the so-called EFT tapping which derives from the energy psychology.
Now, it is highly unlikely that there is a single person on Earth who has never tried a homeopathic pill. We have all relied on this system at some point in our lives one reason or another.
For those of you that don’t know, the idea behind the homeopathy is the usage of natural substances such as plants or minerals in order to treat various illnesses. It owes its origins to a doctrine created by Samuel Hahnemann in 1796. He believed that a substance that triggers diseases in healthy people would have healing effects when applied in small quantities on sick people. Unconventional, huh?
Similarly to the acupuncture, the homeopathy is currently on the rise not only in the United States but all over the globe. Moreover, developed countries such as Germany, France or Switzerland have integrated the homeopathy in their national health care systems. It is reported that 450 million patients in more than 80 countries are using homeopathic medications. A curious fact is that there is homeopathic treatment even for pets.
Why is it so crazy-popular? Because of the following reasons:
- It is 100% safe.
- It is included in the health insurance policies in many countries. So it’s often cheap.
- Unlike most of the traditional medications, it contains only natural substances and not artificial chemical elements.
The homeopathy may be used as a way to treat a wide range of illnesses, some of them very serious such as cancer and depression for example. However, the science strongly rejects it and discourages its application in life-threatening or urgent situations involving severe pain.
Many scientists and MDs find no scientific evidence in favor of the famous beneficial effects of the homeopathy.
They explain its positive results to the placebo or as a result of the natural self-healing abilities of the human body.
Nevertheless, the studies show that homeopathic medications can help fight moderate conditions such as allergies, chronic pain, constipation, diarrhea, stomach complaints, acne, psoriasis, etc. Many people successfully use homeopathy as a preventative health care method and for nourishing the immune system.
Herbalism (Herbal Medicine)
Herbs are scientifically proven effective for our wellbeing. It’s a fact that they contain a plethora of helpful substances that ameliorate our health. In addition, they often taste and smell good. That is why the tea is among the most popular and healthy drinks in the world, for instance.
To list just some of the miraculous herbs that contribute to our health, it would be wise to mention the rosemary, the ginger, the cinnamon, the parsley, etc. They are good for the heart, for the gastrointestinal health, for stable blood sugar, for cancer protection, etc. The list is long.
Here’s why millions of people around the world don’t hesitate to use herbal medicine as a complementary solution to the conventional medication methods.
The demand for medications containing herbal substances is so high that in 2017 the global herbal supplement market reached $107 billion.
What’s interesting is that unlike the previously mentioned alternative medicine practices, the herbalism is not exactly considered as pseudoscience. This is because the positive effects of the herbs for the human health are backed up by the medicine. In fact, based on a report made by the World Health Organization, roughly 25% of the medications used in America contain or are derived from herbs.
The popularity of the herbal medications is due to the following reasons:
- They are cheap as they can be often grown in our home garden
- They are natural and free of toxins and harmful preservatives and colorants
- They don’t require a prescription from a doctor
Still, herbal medicine is most suitable for treating mild or moderate conditions that don’t need strict medical observation.
In Sanskrit Ayurveda means knowledge of life. It is believed to be more than 3000 years old. There are many legends and rumors hovering over its origins and nature. This ancient Indian system relies on the principles of natural and holistic medicine. What’s interesting about this approach is that it teaches us how to prevent illnesses and how to identify and remove the cause of a certain disease, instead of simply treating it with pills.
According to the main Ayurveda theory, our health heavily depends on the proper balance between the spirit, the body, and the mind. Even though the ayurvedic principles are used to treat diseases, their main goal is to serve as a precautionary approach.
Probably you are wondering how this is all applied in practice. First, it’s important to say that in order to get the most out of the Ayurveda, it is mandatory to visit a skilled practitioner. Usually, he will be able to prepare a personal treatment plan in accordance to your physical, spiritual, and emotional condition. Some of the well-known methods of treatment include:
- Herbal treatment
- Special diet
- Usage of special medical oils
Often, the Ayurveda practitioners use a method known as pulse diagnosis in order to identify health issues and create a corresponding ‘action plan’ for fighting a certain condition.
Even though this alternative medicine approach is known to be generally harmless, it is heavily panned by science. Moreover, it was discovered that some of the Ayurveda medicines contain toxic metals that can be dangerous for the health. That is why it is always wise to consult a doctor before trying Ayurveda medicaments.
Ladies, that’s especially for you. We all know how much you love perfumes, oils, and everything cosmetic that smells good. So continue reading.
Aromatherapy, also known as essential oil therapy is probably one of the most pleasant therapies that exist. That’s why it is so popular not only among women but among men as well. Its market size was estimated at $7 billion in 2016 and the trend grows like crazy every day.
This holistic practice uses the extracts of plants, roots, seeds, and all kinds of herbs as a powerful wellness method. The carefully produced oils, based on the above-mentioned extracts are usually inhaled and absorbed through the skin (by using massage techniques). In rare occasions, they can be taken orally too.
According to this alternative treatment methodology, each herb/plant has its own purpose and can treat a specific condition.
In most of the cases, the aromatherapy fights inflammations, pain, and even anxiety and depression. It’s not a surprise that it is also good for stress relief. Just imagine how calming it would be to sense the concentrated aroma of tender jasmine, for instance.
The studies backing up the health benefits of the aromatherapy are still uncertain. However, it is totally safe and highly enjoyable, so give it a try without serious consideration. You will definitely like it.
The sensory deprivation industry is still young in terms of popularity. But it emerges as a powerful relaxation method in which more and more people show vivid interest. It is definitely ready to go mainstream.
The floatation therapy uses isolation tanks (or sensory deprivation tanks) as a way of deep physical and mental relaxation. The idea behind the practice is for the individuals to float effortlessly in a tank full of Epsom salt-saturated water, heated to body temperature. The main purpose is to achieve an ultimately peaceful and meditative environment where no external stimuli such as smell, light, sight, and hearing exist.
The health benefits of a regular floatation practice are astonishing. Most importantly, they are also scientifically proven and backed up by science. Here are some of them:
- It significantly reduces stress, anxiety, and depression.
- It aids physical recovery for athletes.
- The rich in magnesium water stimulates pain relief (low back pain, joints pain, and all kind of chronic pain).
- It boosts creativity and enhances concentration levels.
- It treats high blood pressure.
- It maintains good cardiovascular health.
Nowadays, there is a significant spike in the demand for sensory deprivation. That is why more and more float spa centers emerge all over the world. Living in a fast-paced, stressful environment, we often find ourselves in a desperate need to slow down and deprive ourselves of the tremendous amounts of stimuli that we experience every day. Floatation therapy offers an excellent solution for this issue.
The good news is that it already started to become more and more accessible to everyone. One proof of that is the apparition of comfortable, yet affordable solutions that provide the opportunity of floating at home at a reasonable price. Check out the Zen Float Tent, for example.
The alternative medicine is like swimming in a deep blue sea. It should be done in a careful manner. There are certainly many positives of undergoing a holistic treatment but it still hides many unknowns. The science is constantly examining many alternative treatment therapies in order to determine whether they are legitimate in terms of providing real health benefits. One thing is sure – it’s a growing industry that creates money, therefore it will continue to evolve in the years to come. Meanwhile, always consult a doctor, just because it’s always better to be safe than sorry.