Alternative Medicine has gained momentum in recent years. More and more people are seeking out alternative forms of healing and maintaining wellness and insurance companies are covering more therapies than ever before. In this chapter, the different types of alternative therapies will be explored along with the training and scope of practice for each practitioner in that field.
Acupuncture is a treatment modality which has its origins from Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Acupuncture is a technique in which the practitioner uses very fine needles to stimulate the vital force that flows in channels called meridian lines. This vital force is also known as the life force or “Chi”. Acupuncturists are master’s degree level practitioners that are schooled in the art of traditional Chinese medicine. In addition to needling, acupuncturists employ the use of herbs, diet and certain exercises to achieve wellness. Acupuncture is covered by some insurance plans. For more info:
Chiropractic was founded by Daniel David Palmer, a researcher of alternative therapies. DD Palmer was interested in the spine and its relationship to health and function of the human body. Influenced by ancient Chinese bodywork traditions, DD Palmer tested the use of spinal manipulation. His first patient was a deaf janitor who worked in the building of which DD Palmer had an office. The janitor had explained the origins of his hearing loss as a direct result of lifting a very heavy object. While lifting the object the janitor heard and felt a pop in his upper back. He agreed to let Mr. Palmer perform manipulation (adjustment) to the area of concern. Soon after the adjustment the janitor reported being able to hear again. Since then Chiropractic has become one of the largest practices of alternative medicine. Chiropractors are doctorate level practitioners who concern themselves with the detection and correction of subluxations. More information regarding Chiropractic can be found at: www.ACAtoday.org.
Herbalism is the art and science of using various plants, spices and herbs for medicinal reasons. An herbalist is a medicinal practitioner who advises and counsels others on the proper use, care and cultivation of medicinal herbs and plants. Herbalism is the oldest form of the medical practices. Modern herbalists can be found with varying degrees of education and backgrounds. Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners engage in medical herbalism as do most acupuncturists. Other herbalist professionals have categories depending on education level. The levels tend to be; Herbalist and Master Herbalist. www.americanherbalistguild.com
Homeopathy is a form of medicine that is based on three principles: The law of Similar, Single remedy and minimum dose. Homeopathy was founded by the German Physician Samuel Hahnemann; Dr. Hahnemann postulated that a disease or illness can be cured by minute amounts of a substance of which in regular quantities can illicit the same symptoms. Many countries around the world have an active homeopathic presence within their population and in some it is considered very comparable to modern (allopathic) medicine. The Royal Family in the UK has a history of relying on homeopathic physicians for care. A few states in the US license Homeopathic Practitioners and a few schools do exist. Homeopathy was the dominate form of medicine up until the early 20th century where the use of chemical based pharmaceuticals become more and more popular. www.homeopathy.org
Naturopathy is the practice of medicine which incorporates natural remedies to help someone achieve a better state of health. The natural remedies can include herbals, homeopathic remedies, proper diet, nutraceuticals, movement therapies and bodywork. There are currently two types of naturopathic practitioners in existence today. They are known as the traditional Naturopath and the Naturopathic Physician. Both practitioners try to reach the same goals but differ in their approach and methods. The Naturopathic Physician is licensed in 17 states and their scope of practice varies. More information can be found at: www.anma.org and www.naturopathic.org
This therapy also dates to the time of ancient Chinese medicine. This type of body work incorporates the use of hand pressure and movement to the skin and muscle areas to promote wellness, relaxation and health. Massage therapy is used in clinics, hospitals and at home for a variety of reasons. Different forms of massage have emerged: Swedish, neuromuscular, trigger point and reflexology. Swedish massage was designed to help with relaxation and involves using long strokes on the skin utilizing lotion and medium to light pressure. It is designed for relaxation and comfort.
According to the Rolf Institute of Structural Integration; Rolfing is a “holistic system of soft tissue manipulation and movement education that organizes the whole body in gravity”. Rolfing was founded by Ida Rolf, PhD. She developed this type of soft tissue manipulation by studying the foundations of homeopathy, chiropractic, osteopathy and Yoga. She hypothesized that the body can work and function at optimum levels if the alignment was correct in relation to gravity. Today there are many certified Rolfing practitioners carrying on Dr. Rolf’s legacy of alternative healing through body work. For more information visit: www.Rolfing.org
Acupressure uses some of the same philosophy as acupuncture but instead of using needles to stimulate meridian pathway points, hands and fingers of a practitioner is utilized. This can be beneficial to someone who has a fear of needles. Acupressure can be used to treat similar ailments that acupuncture does. For more information visit: www.acupressure.com
Reflexology is a type of body work that focuses on the hands and feet. Certain points on the hands and feet are thought to be directly connected to certain internal organs and systems throughout the body. Energy can be manipulated at these “reflex points” on the hands and feet. Reflexology is based almost on the same premise as acupressure.
The International Training Center for Reiki defines Reiki as “a technique for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing”. It is administered by the “laying on hands” and is based on the idea that an unseen "life force energy" flows through us and is what causes us to be alive. If one's "life force energy is low, then we are more likely to get sick or feel stress, and if it is high, we are more capable of being happy and healthy”. Reiki practitioners can function at three levels; first degree, second degree and third degree also known as Master Reiki Practitioner.
Qi Gong is an ancient martial art that originated in China. This type of martial art is both a defensive and healing art. Practitioners of Qi Gong have been known to help with the healing of others by focusing on the Chi “Qi” of both the practitioner and the patient. Qi Gong is very similar to Thai Chi.
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