In the present era, allopathy or western medicine is the only system of medicine that is referred to by the traditional medical practice, but there are other systems that are followed as well. The term “alternative medicine” is used to refer to these “non- traditional” treatment methods. These include acupuncture, ayurveda, herbal remedies, homeopathic remedies, traditional Chinese medicine, yoga, etc. When these alternative medical sciences are used along with traditional medical treatments, they are referred to as complementary medicine.
There are five categories into which alternative medicine has been classified:
- Alternative Medical Systems
- Body-based Therapies
- Biologically-based Therapies
- Energy Therapies
- Mind-Body Techniques
Alternative Medical Systems
Many of the alternative medicines are systems that were developed even before traditional medicine came into existence. Ancient systems like Ayurveda and Chinese medicine were brought forth in the eastern culture, while systems such as homeopathy and naturopathy are rooted in western culture.
Acupuncture: In acupuncture, a variety of techniques are used to stimulate particular parts f the body. In the most typical technique, metallic hair-thin needles are inserted into strategic locations on the body.
Ayurveda: It is less of a treatment and more of a lifestyle. Preventing diseases is what this system focuses on. Ayurveda is rooted in India, comprising of different modes of treatment, like diet, herbal remedies, internal cleansing, massage and yoga.
Homeopathy: Homeopathic remedies rely on the healing power of the body. In this alternative medicine treatment, minute doses of substances are used to invoke the body’s self-healing ability.
Traditional Chinese Medicine: It originates from Chine and treatments like acupuncture; herbal remedies and diet therapy are included in it.
Mainly, “hands-on” treatments are included in body-based therapies. The body parts are manipulated through stimulation. Chiropractic or spinal manipulation and massage therapy are included in it.
Massage Therapy: In it, hand strokes or mechanical aids are used to eliminate an illness.
Chiropractic: Nervous and musculoskeletal disorders are focused on in this therapy. Manipulation of the joints and spine, and exercise are included in it.
This category of alternative medicine includes biologically based therapies. The natural elements, like food, herbs, minerals and vitamins, are used in this type of therapies for general good health or treatment.
Herbal Medicine: In this treatment, herbs in various forms like decoction, extracts, pills, powders, tinctures, or in whole are administered.
This category of alternative medicine emphasizes on principles of mental and physical health, which are essential for wellness. Behavioral therapy, biofeedback, hypnotherapy, meditation and yoga are some of the common mind-body techniques.
Biofeedback: In this procedure, internal physiological processes, like blood pressure and heartbeat, by using electronic devices. According to the biofeedback received, patients are trained to control involuntary activities of their organs.
Hypnotherapy: In this treatment, a person is put into deep relaxation and an altered state of a trance or consciousness. The hypnotherapist introduces images to be absorbed by the person for treatment.
This category of alternative medicine on tapping the energy fields located around and in the human body. Bioelectromagnetic-based therapies and biofield therapies are the two segments of energy therapy.
Biofield Therapies: In this therapy, hands-on applications like therapeutic touch and reiki are used to influence the human body’s energy field.
Bioelectromagnetic-based Therapies: In this therapy, patients are treated by using electric currents and magnets.
There are no scientific proofs and/or tests that support most alternative medicine systems. Nevertheless, the concept alternative health has gained a lot of popularity since these methods, and techniques have proven beneficial and effective time and time again.
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