By Lady Rainbow
Many people have been turning increasingly to other forms of healing besides Western Allopathic Medicine. What are the reasons behind this change? There are many reasons. Many people today are frustrated of being told by their doctors that they’re “fine” according to their charts and tests, yet still feel like something is wrong”. So they look elsewhere for the answer as to what ails them.
Other people feel that Western Medicine is too invasive, and doctors are all too quick to pull out the knife and begin surgery! Another reason is that the negative side effects of expensive pharmaceutical drugs outweigh their benefits. Many people are also tired of feeling like “cattle”; rushed in and out of the doctor’s office, and not feeling like they’ve been genuinely listened to by their physician. Finally, it is becoming increasingly difficult to obtain medical insurance.
So what some options outside of Western Medicine? The most rapidly growing alternative is a traditional Chinese medicine known as Acupuncture. But to limit Acupuncture to just needles is to limit the scope of what an Acupuncturist can do. Acupuncture isn’t just being randomly “poked like a voodoo doll”; it is also looking at the body as a whole, and not just localized symptoms. An acupuncturist must learn not only about the human body on the physical level, but on a deeper level by studying the energy channels of the body, known as “meridians”. This whole-body perspective is what differentiates Eastern medicine from Western medicine.
Other components of Traditional Chinese Medicine are herbs, moxa, cupping, and Tui-Na massage, which is similar to a deep-tissue massage. Acupuncture can help cure a variety of ailments: headaches, acne, digestive problems, diabetes, infertility, boosting immunity, shoulder/neck/back pain, and more. I’ve personally seen it heal a friend with her torn meniscus, thus saving her from undergoing knee surgery. It is even being used as an alternative to cosmetic surgery and botox; this treatment is often called “facial rejuvenation”.
Another alternative is Naturopathy. A Naturopathic doctor, like an Allopathic doctor, attends medical school for 4 years. They can perform minor surgeries if needed. But their course of study is bit different from that of an M.D. Their focus is on prevention, not just treating symptoms. An N.D. can also include other modalities into their practice and often do, such as Acupuncture, botanical medicine, psychotherapy, Ayurveda, and midwifery.
Other Healing Modalities
There are other modalities like world folk medicine, massage therapy, energy work, chiropractic medicine, nutritional food therapy and herbs, and others. These categories can be divided to even further sub-categories such as Ayurveda, Unani Tibb, Jamu, Mayan Healing, N.A.E.T., Osteopathy, Naprapathy, Homeopathy, Aromatherapy, Reiki, Color Energy Healing, Shiatsu, Rolfing, and Flower Essences to name a few. Embarking on a mind-body exercise program such as Yoga, Tai Chi, Chi-Gung, and various other Martial Arts are good preventative measures.
While not necessarily “alternative” per se, psychology can be considered as an alternative to standard medicine by attempting to discover what emotions and thought patterns may be triggering a physical ailment. Author Louise L. Hay is a major proponent of the idea that our emotions and thoughts can trigger various physical problems, from arthritis to even cancer. There are many forms of psychotherapy, which go beyond traditional “talk therapy” such as movement therapy, art therapy, gestalt, transpersonal, and humanistic psychology. Outside of psychology, there are shamans, spiritual counselors, and life coaches whose work can also be beneficial to mental, spiritual, and emotional health.
The down side to most of these modalities is that one must pay out of their own pocket. This can get expensive, as one usually has to make a lot of repeat visits to see results. However, the benefits may be well worth it in the long run. Another positive is that more and more insurance companies are willing to cover certain treatments, particularly acupuncture, as it costs the insurance company less than it would to cover Western medical treatment. Another downside is licensure; not all states legally recognize these various alternatives.
This means that one has to be careful of who they choose to work with, as there are many people who don’t really understand what they are doing and in fact may only be after money. Unfortunately this is what gives the Alternative Medicine field a bad name and causes those who are sincere in their dedication to help others to be unfairly labeled as “quacks”.
Many of these modalities that we have just taken a brief look at are much older than Western Allopathic medicine. However none of this is to say that I’m advocating abandoning Western Allopathic medicine altogether; in fact integrative medicine is the wave of the future and we are seeing more and more Western medical facilities embracing not only Acupuncture, but other alternative Mind-Body modalities as well.
Already there are a few hospitals that are beginning to include alternative treatments in their list of services. Some of these include the Venice Family Clinic, and the St. John’s Riverside Hospital in Yonkers, New York, which has included Auricular Acupuncture in their drug detox program. Western Medical doctors such as Deepak Chopra, Christiana Northrup and Andrew Weil, have all written about the value of alternative medicine, thus furthering the popularity and awareness of Western Medicine alternatives. I believe we will see more and more integration of medicine within our lifetime.