Alternative therapies have developed over time through medical knowledge which has been passed down through centuries in many cultures. Because many of these treatments have not been approved by the FDA or cannot provide the necessary research to substantiate all of the claims made by their practitioners, they have not always been embraced by the modern medical community.
This does not mean that some of these treatments are not highly successful in preventing illness or providing healing for some conditions. It only serves as a reminder that patients should know their own bodies, take charge of their health, and research any medical interventions, whether standard treatment or alternative therapies, before using them.
Types of Alternative Therapies
Some alternative therapies have gained ground in being accepted by traditional medicine and are now being incorporated into some conventional treatment plans. These include the following:
- Acupuncture – using needles applied to the skin to open nerve pathways
- Massage – manipulation of the muscles and joints to improve circulation and relieve stress
- Music therapy – for rehabilitation, stress relief, or motivation
- Herbs – taken orally or rubbed into the body to treat injury or illness
- Pet therapy – used for the elderly or physically or mentally challenged and heart patients
- Gene therapy – a defective gene is replaced with a normal gene or a virus is used to change the defect
- Meditation – used to treat panic attacks, high blood pressure, and heart conditions
Other alternative therapies, though thousands testify to their success, have yet to gain the acknowledgment of doctors in the Western world. These include homeopathy, naturopathy, and ayurveda to name a few. Because these alternative therapies use herbal treatments in many combinations or claim to work through unseen pathways which run throughout the body, these methods are often difficult to substantiate using the scientific method. Thus, researchers have done less to provide evidence of their efficacy. This does not lessen power of the anecdotal evidence of the value of these alternative therapies which has accrued through hundreds of years. The listing below gives a brief description of these alternative therapies which are practiced by people all over the world:
Widely Practiced Alternative Therapies
- Homeopathy: Uses treatments that produce the same symptoms as the condition in highly weakened forms
- Naturopathy: Uses the natural elements, such as light, air, water, massage, and diet to encourage the body to heal itself
- Ayurveda: Uses herbs, diet, and massage to keep the mind and body in harmony with their surroundings to keep the immune system strong and enhance healing
As scientific evidence catches up with the reported medical benefits delivered by these alternative therapies, they should receive greater acceptance in the world of modern medicine.