Healing through alternative medicine is a broad subject, traditionally referred to as practices and applications not usually taught by conventional or western medical schools as treatment for illnesses. Alternative medicine is typically not covered by health insurance, although acupuncture, massage, and chiropractic have recently gotten the go ahead.
For those of you interested in becoming alternative medicine providers, the practice is divided into seven major categories:
- 1. Bio electric magnetic applications-which include magnet therapy
- 2. diet
- 3. nutrition
- 4. lifestyle changes, which are homeopathic practices
- 5. herbal medicine
- 6. manual healing, like Chinese medicine, massage and acupuncture
- 7. biological treatments
Alternative medicine is meant to treat the body holistically-body, mind, and spirit, and is highly based on preventative practices. That is, Alt. med. is geared toward preventing rather than simply treating symptoms of ailments. Actually, only about 30% of the world uses what we call western or modern medicine. The other 70% use holistic or alternative medicine and Americans are just now catching up.
The good news is that American doctors are beginning to see the benefits of alternative forms of therapy and more of them are beginning to add some form of alternative medicine to their practice. "Mainstream" doctors are beginning to refer patients for massage therapy, surgeons are referring to chiropractors. The result is that the terms ''mainstream" and "alternative" are beginning to blur.
Alternative medicine is being used along with other alternative therapies or traditional therapies (called "complimentary") and reflects a shift in attitude. It seems people are much more accepting of alternative medicine if it is used in conjunction with conventional methods of treatment rather than as an "alternative" or "instead of."
Professional alternative medicine practitioners are trained by accredited schools and practice in established locations-no back alley medicine here-you must meet all the entry requirements of the holistic medicine schools and maintain excellent skills to become accredited. Each health care system has its own accreditation, and includes Traditional Oriental Medicine, acupuncture, homeopathy, naturopathy, anthroposophy, and ayurvedic (Indian) medicine. Each system has its own theory of illness (although if you study them separately you will see that they are very much the same indeed, which is another feather in alternative medicine's cap-to have the same principles work on either end of the world), an educational plan to teach theory and practice, a support system and a legal and ethical committee to answer to. All have the need to restore balance as a common denominator.
Homeopath medicine is used world wide, and involves natural animal, plant, and mineral substances. Practitioners of homeopath medicine usually are also accredited acupuncturists and are regulated by the food and drug administration. They treat acute and chronic diseases and into preventative therapies and promoting good health in order to prevent sickness. Homeopathy very much is able to combine modern medicine with natural and herbal care.
Native American alternative medicine involves much sweating and expelling of toxins which cause imbalance and disease. This is achieved by the use of herbs and teas, and a lot of heat. Ceremonial dances and chants add to the mystical properties of the healing.
Or maybe you're interested in working in the bio electromagnetic field of alternative medicine. Working with magnets is growing in popularity as people are beginning to discover the benefits of wearing magnetic insoles in their shoes and sleeping on magnetically charged mattress pads. The magnets increase blood flow and bring about circulatory health which lessens back pain and headaches.
Chances are you've decided to enter the world of alternative medicine because you've had a good experience with it. Your current health provider can help you research the area of your choice and give you advice as to how to proceed.