Alternative Medicine

Written by Helen Glenn Court
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Alternative medicine is fast becoming the chosen option of many today who are fed up with the lack of results of so-called modern medicine. "East is East and West is West and never the twain shall meet" is the way the writer Rudyard Kipling put it more than 100 years ago. Western medicine, always on a different course than Eastern, is now almost diametrically opposed. Eastern medicine is thus termed "alternative."

What IS Alternative Medicine?

What we call alternative or holistic medicine arose about 6,000 years ago in China and India. These traditions, like others nearly as old from other parts of the world, are all based on a similar approach: harmony of body, mind, spirit and environment. In these days, many people are looking for increase simplicity in their lives and alternative forms of medicines often fit the bill.

Put most simply, holistic medicine treats the root of the tree. Conventional medicine treats the branch. Holistic medicine treats the imbalance that causes the symptoms, conventional medicine treats the symptoms. Holistic medicine addresses function, the big picture, the whole picture. Conventional medicine addresses structure, part by part, singly. This approach, mind you, is sometimes precisely what's called for, when you've fallen while hang-gliding, for example, and your upper arm bone is broken in two.

Alternative medicine is in large part prevention, a way of life. Alternative medicine is a balance of diet, rest, exercise, and interactions. "Prevention is better than a cure" might be the best byword for alternative medicine. One primary treatment is acupuncture, which is based on a theory of applying fine needles to the skin along well-defined channels throughout the body through which the life-force (chi, or energy) flows to balance that energy. Specific points along these channels are associated with the vital organs, muscles and joints, and the nervous and circulatory systems. Among other alternative medicine approaches to health and wellness are aromatherapy, reflexology, ayurveda, yoga, energy healing, biofeedback, and reiki. What is common to these treatments is their holistic approach, treating the root of the tree rather than simply the branch.


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