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Alternative Medicine - A Placebo or a Reality?

by Dr. Enozia Vakil on  September 10, 2012 at 11:48 AM Health Watch   - G J E 4
Millions of years ago, when men didn't possess the knowledge of treating illnesses and ailments as we do now, they resorted to using simple techniques to help the body achieve a state of wellbeing. These practices are still done today, classified under alternative medicine. They are gaining popularity due to their non-invasive techniques and a commendable audience among people around the globe.
Alternative Medicine - A Placebo or a Reality?
Alternative Medicine - A Placebo or a Reality?
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Controversy strikes!

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Due to an exponential increase in the acceptance of these practices, a new controversy came into play. Conventional medicine practitioners claimed that these practices have no medical background whatsoever, and that they just act like a placebo. An argument emerged that these practices work by compelling the mind to think and accept the healthy state and don't produce any changes in the body itself.

The most extensive researches conducted so far still fail to decipher the reality, leaving the question 'Is alternative medicine a reality?' unanswered. However, not all branches of this mysterious science had the same fate. Some of them, like aura and chakra balancing, past life therapy and angel healing failed to get past the accusations whereas a select few including Acupressure, Acupuncture, Reflexology, Ayurveda and Naturopathy made it to the podium.

Qi matters

There is enough evidence to determine the effectiveness of some of these practices, passed down through generations, by our ancestors. For instance, Acupuncture, Acupressure and Reflexology are based on the theory that our body has channels of the vital life force energy (Qi) throughout it, and that diseases are mere manifestations of energy blockages within these channels. These practices bring about well-being by pressing or needle-stimulating points on the body, which are believed to be energy regulators. The energy blockages are thus removed and health is restored. The fact that energy does flow through the human body through channels was confirmed by a vast number of studies and finally, these practices got a clean chit.

Naturopathy Rules!

Similarly, naturopathy is another widely-accepted form of alternative medicine due to its emphasis on healthy living. Hippocrates, now known as the father of modern medicine, actually was a follower of naturopathic practices and resorted to using natural methods to cure diseases whenever possible.

Naturopaths usually view the disease as a manifestation of both physical and mental imbalances. Naturopathic practices involve balancing both the physical and mental aspects of the body by use of mud packs, cold and hot baths, toxin clearing and lifestyle changes. Since these practices very rarely bring about any negative impacts, naturopathy too succeeded in establishing its effectiveness without any controversy.

Herbs to go...

Herbal medicine and Ayurveda too managed to escape the clutches of controversies and accusations by being purely natural in nature, and also because they did show effective results in most people. Also, they gave a very clear explanation of their mode of action-plants and herbs contain different biochemicals and substances that help improve organ function and ward away most deficiency diseases.

On the downside...

The field of Alternative medicine has also bought together many strange therapies into existence, some of them purely fictitious, whereas some other unfortunate ones who failed to pass the test. A few examples are aura clearing, crystal therapy, Rebirthing, Shamanic healing, Neuro-linguistic programming, osteopathy, Bach flower remedies, color therapy and more.

Fact file:

Herbal medicine practitioners use colors to heal the body. Yellow flowering plants treat jaundice and blue/ violet flowered plants treat insomnia. This theory is known as the 'Doctrine of Signatures'.

Iridology uses the references of the iris (the colored portion of the eye) to determine possible illnesses and treat them.

Magnet therapy uses magnets to clear circulation, charge water and make you buzz with energy.

Ayurvedic system of medicine classifies an individual into 3 different categories based on their dominant constitution-the kapha, the pitta and the vata.

Aura-soma technique determines a person's life mission, obstacles and difficulties, progress and future possibilities by the color the individual selects or prefers.

Blood letting is a scary procedure carried out in Japanese medicine which involves piercing the skin with a 3 edged needle to let out blood. This procedure is thought to relive pain, and sometimes even fever!

Tongue diagnosis-which forms a major part of Ayurvedic, Tibetan and many other holistic medicine forms, surprisingly detects diseases even before they exhibit the symptoms.                                                         

References: Complementary medicine for Dummies

Source: Medindia
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