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What Is Alternative Medicine

Dec 30, 2007
Most people have seen the commercials for medications on television... the list of side effects they can cause are extremely alarming. It is no wonder that many people are turning to alternative medicine.

Alternative medicine encompasses a variety of healing practices. The thing that most of these practices have in common, and that differs from allopathic, or conventional medicine, is that the therapies offered take the whole person into consideration, rather than just trying to alleviate symptoms. This overall philosophy is known as holistic medicine.

Some of the most common methods of alternative medicine include:

The ancient Chinese developed this healing system based on meridians running through the body. Pressure points along these meridians are stimulated by either needles or pressure to unblock the life force, or chi, thus releasing any blockages and allowing healing to take place.


Healing with herbs is an ancient practice all over the world, with several different systems evolving in different areas. Western herbalism, Ayurvedic medicine, and Chinese medicine are all based on medicines created from plants that grow all around us. While each system evolved different diagnostic tools, they each are very effective, and take each individual's characteristics into account when prescribing a remedy.


Homeopathy was discovered in the 1800s through trial and error. It is based upon the premise that like treats like. For example, if a person is suffering from fever, all possible reasons for the fever will be taken into account and a medication will be prescribed that in a large dose would cause a similar fever. The medication, however, contains a very minute amount. It is surprising to many people, but homeopathy is remarkably effective.

Energy Work

There are many forms of energy work that directly affects the chi, or life force. A common one is Reiki, which was presented to the public at large in the early 1900s in Japan. Reiki works whether you are touching the person directly or not, and utilizes the energy flowing around us constantly to unblock energy flow in the body. It is non-invasive, and amazingly effective. Some traditional hospitals have incorporated Reiki volunteers to help in cancer and AIDS wards, and with maternity patients.


Iridology was developed by a doctor in Hungary in the early 1800s. He noticed that changes occurred in the eyes depending on the health status of a person. He later developed a map to use in diagnosing the health of someone by studying their eyes. Today, iridology is used in conjunction with other alternative therapies to aid in diagnosis.


Naturopathic physicians utilize many natural therapies to help the body use its innate abilities to heal itself, once the problem is recognized and eliminated. Naturopathic physicians are trained in conventional medicine, but have gone on to learn alternative methods, which they use as a first defense against illness.


Chiropractors diagnose and treat musculo-skeletal and spinal subluxations that cause problems in the body. They treat these problems by manipulating the spine to correct these problems. Despite controversy, chiropractic care is becoming more accepted all the time, and chiropractic patients are reportedly the most satisfied out of all healthcare disciplines.


The therapy of reflexology teaches that there are points in the feet and hands that correspond to every part of the body. By applying varying pressures to these points, those body parts in question are affected, and can heal when there are health problems dealing with those parts.
About the Author
Written by David Swanson. Find the latest information on alternative medicine visit What is Alternative Medicine as well as Alternative Health Care Medicine
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