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What is an Alternative Therapy?

Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) or Alternative Therapy is the term for medical products and practices that are not part of standard conventional medical care.

Conventional Medical care is the one practiced by medical doctors, doctors of osteopathy, and allied health professionals, such as nurses and physical therapists.

Alternative medicine is any practice that is put forward as having the healing effects of medicine, but is not based on evidence gathered with the scientific method. Alternative medicine consist of a wide range of health care practices, products and therapies, using methods of medical diagnosis and treatments.

Examples: Homeopathy, traditional medicine, chiropractic and acupuncture.

What is the philosophy underlying alternative therapies?

The underlying philosophy of alternative therapies is that body, mind and soul are one unit, which cannot be separated and what affects one, affects the others.

Alternative or Holistic therapies treat the entire patient, as opposed to merely treating the patients symptoms.

When are alternative therapies advised?

Alternative Therapies are mostly advised for the treatment of chronic conditions, where conventional medicine fails to provide a permanent solution. It could also be used along with conventional medicine.

Alternative therapies can also be used as self help measures to strengthen our bodies and heal oneself and properly maintain our body at the same time.

What are the other general advantages of alternative therapy?

Alternative therapies can be included in our life as self help measures to strengthen our bodies and heal oneself and properly maintain our body at the same time.

Alternative Therapies such as yoga, meditation etc improve overall well being. Healthy people often use alternative therapies to prevent illness or to ensure a healthier lifestyle.

What are the different ways of usage of alternative therapies?

Alternative Therapies are in general used along with conventional medical care. This practice is referred as Integrative Medicine. An example is using acupuncture to help with side effects of cancer treatment.

In some cases alternative therapies are used in place of standard medical care. An example is treating heart disease with chelation therapy (which seeks to remove excess metals from the blood) instead of using a standard approach.

How does an Alternative Therapy work?

Alternative therapies work on our body's subtle energy fields. Understanding of the subtle energy layers/fields gives better knowledge of how alternative therapies work.

Our physical body is actually a complex network of interwoven energy fields. The energetic network, which represents the physical/cellular framework, is organized and nourished by subtle energetic systems which coordinate the life-force within the body. There lies a hierarchy of subtle energetic systems which coordinate electrophysiologic and hormonal function as well as cellular structure within the physical body. Health and illness primarily originate from one or more of the subtle levels. Alternative therapies attempt to treat the blockages present in these subtle levels with pure energy.

What are the principles of Alternative Therapies?

Alternative therapies are based on the following principles:

1. Alternative therapies are based on the body’s innate ability to heal itself.

2. Alternative therapies are natural methods of healing. Alternative therapies do not rely on prescription drugs, surgery, and other conventional medical procedures. However, they don't discount the benefits that conventional medical procedures can provide when necessary.

3. Alternative therapies look at the underlying cause of the problem and addresses the whole mind, body, emotions and spirit as a whole without just masking the symptoms. Alternative therapies aim the entire person by taking into consideration all the factors of an individuals environment(social, physical, mental, emotional and genetic).

4. Alternative therapies focus on preventing disease and helping feel the best.

5. Alternative therapies encourage the patients to take responsibility for their health.

6. Alternative therapies minimize all harmful side effects while avoiding the supression of symptoms.

7. Alternative therapies analyze all risk factors with the participation of patient and implement the appropriate treatments.

What are the other terms for Alternative Therapies?

Other terms for alternative therapies are alternative medicine, complementary medicine, integrative medicine, wholistic medicine, holistic medicine, and natural medicine.

Are Alternative Therapies quick fixes for the health conditions?

Alternative Therapies are not quick fixes like inflammation-relieving drugs of conventional medicine, although in many cases a quick healing effect could be achieved.

Success of alternative therapies depends on the will power of the patient and the strenght of healing energies of the healer in invoking the healing properties.

What is the primary goal of Alternative Therapy?

The primary goal of Alternative Therapies is creating optimum health in a wholistic way. Alternative therapies aim to achieve optimum health no side-effects and without arising new health conditions. The use of Alternative Therapies has a steady rise in recent years with 80% of the worlds population using natural medicine as some form of primary healthcare.

What are the benefits of Alternative Therapies when compared to Conventional Medical Practices?

Alternative Therapies aim to treat the condition, not the symptoms. They are more cost effective. Alternative Therapy treatment targets the whole body.

What are the origins of Alternative Therapies?

Alternative Therapies have their origins in the ancient cultures of the different parts of the world. Different alternative techniques have arrived at different times.

There is no "father" of alternative medicine who is solely responsible for its growth.

Ex: Chinese medicine started some 5000 years ago. Ayurvedic medicine started some 5000 years ago.

How to minimize the health risk of an Alternative Therapy Treatment?

By following the below steps one can minimize the health risk of any alternative therapy.

1. Find out what research says about therapies applicable for healing a particular condition.

2. Decide on the therapy relevant for your condition.

3. Discussing the treatment with your doctor. Check whether it may have any side effects and possible negative reactions with your current medication if any.

4. Choose alternative medical practitioner by checking their track record.

How to be successfull in using a new Alternative Therapy or learn about it?

For being successfull in exploiting the benefits of alternative therapies one should have a proper action plan. One has to test, measure and monitor the effectiveness of a therapy after starting it.

By following the below action plan one can effectively use alternative therapy

Step 1: Self Assessment of your health condition to identify the areas which needs to be addressed.

Step 2: Identification of the therapy suitable for the condition to be treated keeping in view the problem areas identified in self assessment.

Step 3: By setting realistic expectations alternative therapies should be started on trail and error approach. If a particular therapy doesnt work try looking for another one till you start seeing results. Explore as many therapies as you can till you find the one which works for you.

Step 4: Overcoming Healing Crisis. A healing crisis is an important aspect of an effective natural, deep healing process. Healing crisis generally occurs after every treatment for any illness through alternative therapies. One must overcome this phase with the assurance that once it is passed one can feel much better.

Step 5: Monitoring the progress of alternative therapy can be done by keeping notes in a diary or journal about improvements of health.

Step 6: Never give up till you achieve perfect health.

What is the significance of healing crisis in alternative therapies?

A healing crisis generally occurs after every treatment for any illness. Western pharmaceuticals tend to suppress many of the symptoms of a 'healing crisis', but alternative therapies depend on them. As the body realigns itself and begins to eliminate the toxins that have built up, one experience some period of discomfort, or at least a period of feeling 'different' somehow.

A healing crisis may have slight symptoms or they may be quite severe. Symptoms may be sleepiness or fatigue, thirst, nausea, cramps, diarrhea, headache, shooting pains, muzziness around the head, build up of mucous, disorientation, dizziness, coughing, etc.

In chronic conditions you may experience a temporary worsening of all symptoms and wonder if the treatment was successful. It is usually recommended, following a treatment of any kind, that you rest and drink plenty of water to help flush out the body. If you feel sleepy or thirsty, this is your body telling you what it needs. It is usually a good idea to go with it.

With more severe symptoms, you body is again telling you to find a comfortable place and position and let it do its job. In all cases a Healing Crisis is a good sign. It means your body is clearing out toxins and on its way to feeling better. In most cases, the discomfort will pass in a day or two, or at most a week, depending on how deeply the cleansing goes. But be assured, that once it is passed, you will feel very much better.

Which complementary health Products and Practices can be used safely?

It is important to consider safety before using complementary health products and practices. Safety depends on the specific therapy, and each complementary product or practice should be considered on its own.

Mind and body practices such as meditation and yoga, for example, are generally considered to be safe in healthy people when practiced appropriately.

Natural products such as herbal medicines or botanicals are often sold as dietary supplements and are readily available to consumers; however, there is a lot we don’t know about the safety of many of these products, in part because a manufacturer does not have to prove the safety and effectiveness of a dietary supplement before it is available to the public.

Two of the main safety concerns for dietary supplements are:

The possibilities of drug interactions—for example, research has shown that St. John’s wort interacts with drugs such as antidepressants in ways that can interfere with their intended effects.

The possibilities of product contamination—supplements have been found to contain hidden prescription drugs or other compounds, particularly in dietary supplements marketed for weight loss, sexual health including erectile dysfunction, and athletic performance or body-building.

(As suggested @ http://nccam.nih.gov/health/safety?nav=fb)

How can holistic therapies help us in taking charge of our health?

With holistic therapies people can choose and learn an alternative therapy for self-healing from the vast list of therapies. By equipping oneself with a holistic therapy one can take charge of their health and wellness.

Can we use a combination of different holistic therapies for overcoming a conditions?

Holistic therapies can be used in combination with one another as and when required to enhance the effectiveness of the healing process for certain conditions.

Ex: Aromatherapy is used along with energy healing modalities, crystals are also used in combination with energy healing modalities.

How can we find a reliable alternative medicine practitioner?

The best place to start is by asking your primary care doctor for a recommendation.

Additionally, most medical schools and major teaching hospitals have centers devoted to alternative or integrative medicine -- or at the very least, retain a list of local practitioners they can recommend.

If your insurance company covers alternative medicine treatments -- for example, biofeedback or acupuncture -- they would also be a good source of information. You can also contact professional organizations that represent the type of practitioner you are seeking. And universities that offer relevant degrees may also be able to provide a list of certified, licensed practitioners.

Visit the web site for the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) for guidance on selecting a practitioner.

How to make us of alternative therapies for best results?

A combination of alternative therapis work really well - some cost nothing, others cost a bit, but nowhere near the cost of conventional medical treatments.

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