Homeopathy

Homeopathy, also known as homeopathic medicine, is a form of health care that has been practiced in the United States since the early 19th century. It was developed In the late 1700s by Samuel Hahnemann, a physician, chemist, and linguist in Germany. Homeopathy is the second most widely used system of medicine in the world. Its growth in popularity in the United States has been around 25 to 50 percent a year throughout the last decade. Homeopathic practitioners are commonly called homeopaths. Homeopathy takes a different approach from conventional medicine in diagnosing, classifying, and treating medical problems. Homeopathy works by stimulating the body’s defense mechanisms and processes so as to prevent or treat imbalance. Homeopathy works in harmony with your immune system, unlike some conventional medicines that suppress the immune system. In homeopathy, a key premise is that every person has energy called a vital force or self-healing response. When this energy is disrupted or imbalanced, health problems develop. Homeopathy aims to stimulate the body’s own healing responses. Homeopathic remedies are normally based on natural ingredients. Treatment in homeopathy is individualized (tailored to each person) and holistic. It treats all the symptoms presented in a patient’s history and current condition, which in practical terms means that it addresses the cause, not the symptoms. Homeopathic practitioners select remedies according to a total picture of the patient, including not only symptoms, but lifestyle, emotional and mental states, and other factors. In homeopathic medicine, there is a belief that “like cures like,” meaning that small, highly diluted quantities of medicinal substances are given to cure symptoms, when the same substances given at higher or more concentrated doses would actually cause those symptoms. Similar principles form the basis of conventional allergy treatment, where the allergic substance is given in a small dose, and in vaccines where an impotent form of the virus is given to bolster the immune system against that particular virus. Remedies are often prescribed in high dilutions. In most cases, the dilution may not contain any molecules of the original agents at all. As a consequence, homoeopathic remedies, at least when applied in high dilutions, cannot act by pharmacological means. The theory of homeopathy is inconsistent with firmly established laws of chemistry and physics, since it states that extreme dilution makes remedies more powerful. Many homeopathic practitioners do not accept current, empirically verified ideas on the causes of sickness, such as the germ theory of disease. Instead, they see a sick person as having a dynamic disturbance in their “vital force,” and so reject the standard medical diagnoses of named diseases. Homeopathy can be extremely effective. When the correct remedy is taken, results can be rapid, complete and permanent. This often means that symptoms tackled with homeopathy do not recur. But, there are two main barriers to the effective use of homeopathy. Prescribing the right homeopathic remedy takes a little more time and patience than conventional medicine. According to classical homeopathy, exactly the right remedy must be taken for your symptoms. The remedy you take has to be matched to your particular symptom – where it occurs, what brings it on, what type of pain it is, what aggravates it, what makes it feel worse, your state of mind and what other symptoms you experience.  There are specific instructions that your homeopath will give on the proper mode of taking a remedy, what to expect and how long it will last. For instance, since homeopathic medicine is a form of energy medicine, the assimilation of the remedy needs to be in a “pure energy field”. This means practically that you...

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Rolfing / Structural Integration

Rolfing is named after Dr. Ida P. Rolf, who started this work over fifty years ago. Dr. Rolf eventually named her work Structural Integration. She discovered that she could achieve remarkable changes in posture and structure by manipulating the body’s myofascial system. “Rolfing” is the nickname that many clients and practitioners gave this work, and is now a registered service mark in 27 countries. Rolfing structural integration has the ability to dramatically alter a person’s posture and structure. Rolfing is a specific type of massage that differs significantly from other forms of bodywork.  Rolfing emphasizes deep pressure on the tissue, called fascia, which covers muscles, internal organs and ligaments.  One of the most common misconceptions about Rolfing is that it is a nothing more than a type of very deep massage. Rolfing is distinguished by 3 characteristics; palpation – touching the tissue, discrimination – or separating fascial layers that adhere and muscles that have been pulled out of position by strain or injury, and integrating the body – relating its segments in an improved relationship. Other soft-tissue manipulation methods, including massage, are quite good at the first two, but do not balance the body in gravity. As Dr. Rolf used to say: “Anyone can take a body apart, very few know how to put it back together.” The goal of Rolfing, which can be painful, is to align body sections so that they are in balance with each other and with gravity.  Rolfing practitioners press the fascia with their fingers, knuckles, elbows and knees to loosen it and release its tight hold on muscle and bone.  Patients are also encouraged to perform a series of exercises to help their bodies move more efficiently. With aging or injury, the body’s fascia becomes tightly attached to muscles and bones, making it difficult for the body to move smoothly and with a full range of motion.  By releasing the fascia’s hold, Rolfing can help patients move more smoothly, increase support for bones throughout the body, increase energy and improve posture, stamina and emotional health. Rolfing may release tension and stress resulting in improved performance of the immune system and heightened resistance to disease. People seek Rolfing as a way to ease pain and chronic stress, and improve performance in their professional and daily activities. It’s estimated that more than 1 million people have received Rolfing work. As Rolfers work with the deep myofascial structures, some people may experience the work as uncomfortable or possibly painful.  Patients with some chronic inflammatory conditions should avoid Rolfing.  Rolfing is a holistic technique in that changes in structure can impact the whole person, physically, emotionally, and energetically. Rolfing and Yoga – Rolfing and yoga complement each other by improving structure, balance and flexibility. Dr. Ida Rolf used yoga to further our understanding of human structure. Yoga was considered a bit far out at the time, and there were very few teachers available in the US. At the time, Rolf was cautious about referring her students to yoga. Dr. Rolf’s personal study of yoga, osteopathy and homeopathy contributed to the evolution of her Rolfing principles. Rolfing works primarily in two ways, with hands-on manipulation and movement education. It physically changes the body’s structure and energetically improves movement and function. Yoga and Rolfing both work subtly with energy inside and outside the body. The most common objectives that guide people to Rolfing and yoga are: 1.  To gain relief from chronic or acute tension or pain 2.  To increase flexibility or coordination 3.  To improve posture and alignment 4.  To learn to relax and obtain more body awareness...

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Nutrition

The use of nutrition as a tool to prevent and treat diseases is as old as human history itself. Nutritional medicine uses well-researched nutrients in a therapeutic setting to prevent diseases before they happen, and to cure diseases at their root, after onset of symptoms. Interest in and use of dietary supplements have grown considerably in the past two decades. Optimum nutrition means different things to different people. The basics of eating fruits, vegetables, proteins, whole grains and essential fats are more important now than ever. Many foods available in the marketplace today are lacking in essential nutrients because they’ve been processed, or chemicals such as preservatives and dye have been added to them. Processed food is not the same as naturally occurring “raw” food – which are high in fiber, antioxidant, and nutrients. We may not be receiving all the nutrients we need from the food we eat. Recent surveys show that most of us do not even meet the Reference Daily Intake (RDIs) of several essential nutrients. Furthermore, nutritional medicine often recommends higher than minimum levels of these nutrients. How do you know if you are getting the nutrients your body needs to flourish? Optimal health is reflected in some of the following signs: good energy, ideal weight, clear skin, good muscle tone, good appetite and digestion, and alert mental function. If you can’t say that all of these signs apply to your state of being, nutritional medicine can probably help. Nutritional medicine supports the idea that nature makes better pharmaceuticals than a lab can ever make. The first natural pharmaceuticals we concern ourselves with are the foods and liquids that we ingest. Averaged out over our life, food, air and water are the most powerful medicines we will take, and an adequate intake of healthy food is the beginning of nutritional health. For many people, especially those under the age of forty, this is all that is required for a healthy body. Most disease, in the view of the nutritional doctor, is an outcome of many years of unbalanced nutrition. It is possible that many diseases represent starvation states of specific enzyme systems in the body. Aging may have a lot to do with a progressive loss of enzyme systems that leaves the body with a limited repertoire of pathways to produce the energy required for optimal health. This loss of enzyme systems may be due to sub-optimal levels of vitamins and minerals in the body, ingestion of chemical-laced, processed food, or the taking of drugs, all over a long period of time. Vitamins and minerals, by definition, cannot be manufactured in the body. Therefore, vitamin and mineral deficiencies become a real possibility. There are other substances, not strictly vitamins or minerals, which can be manufactured in the body but as we age we are able to make less than is necessary for perfect functioning. These kinds of substances have important roles in nutritional medicine. Premature aging, a common condition, has a lot to do with poor absorption of nutrients. A dietary supplement is a product (other than tobacco) taken by mouth that contains a “dietary ingredient” intended to supplement the diet. Dietary supplements are considered foods, not drugs. Dietary ingredients may include vitamins, minerals, herbs or other botanicals, amino acids, and substances such as enzymes, organ tissues, and metabolites. Supplements come in many forms, including extracts, concentrates, tablets, capsules, gel caps, liquids, and powders. Non-herbal supplements are now a popular choice for patientsseeking relief from a variety of medical conditions. Use of vitamin and mineral supplements, a subset of dietary supplements, by the U.S. population...

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Naturopathy

Naturopathy, or naturopathic medicine, is a system of medicine based on the healing power of nature. Naturopathy is a holistic system, meaning that naturopathic doctors (N.D.s) understand the patient as a totality of body, mind, and spirit. It is a system of healing, originating from Europe, that views disease as a manifestation of alterations in the processes by which the body naturally heals itself. It emphasizes health restoration as well as disease treatment. The term “naturopathy” literally translates as “nature disease.” Benjamin Lust, a German immigrant, first introduced naturopathy to the United States in 1902 when he founded the American School of Naturopathy. The school emphasized the use of natural cures, proper bowel habits, and good hygiene as the essential tools for health. This was the first time that dietary principles, like increasing fiber intake and minimizing saturated fats, became popular. In the mid-1920s to 1940, while allopathic medical training and pharmaceuticals and medical technologies gained notoriety, the use of naturopathic medicine declined. It was not until the 1960s that naturopathic-style holistic medicine regained popularity. Today, naturopathic physicians having graduated from four-year nationally accredited naturopathic medical schools, are licensed primary care providers in many states offering information and advice on a variety of alternative and complementary therapies. Naturopathy is practiced throughout Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the United States. There are two areas of focus in naturopathy: one is supporting the body’s own healing abilities, and the other is empowering individuals to make lifestyle changes necessary for the best possible health. While N.D.s treat both short bouts of illness and chronic conditions, their emphasis is on prevention of disease and patient education. Naturopathic doctors treat the whole person, which means they consider a variety of factors before they diagnose and treat an illness. Factors an N.D. might consider in making a diagnosis include your mental, emotional, and spiritual state, your diet, your family history (whether or not your parents or grandparents suffer [or suffered] from the same condition), your environment, and your lifestyle. Some of the more common treatments used by a naturopath include: Nutritional counseling ; Herbal medicine; Homeopathic medicine; Acupuncture; Hydrotherapy (Water therapy) — Therapies in this category include drinking natural spring water, taking baths, and exercising in water, all of which are thought to stimulate and support healing and strengthen the immune system; Physical Medicine — This natural approach to healing involves using touch, hot and cold compresses, electric currents, and sound waves to manipulate the muscles, bones, and spine; Detoxification — This therapy removes toxins from the body by using techniques such as fasting, enemas, and drinking water in large amounts; Spirituality — Personal spiritual development is encouraged as an important part of an overall health program; and Lifestyle and Psychological Counseling — An N.D. may use hypnosis, guided imagery, or other counseling methods as part of a treatment plan. Naturopathic physicians can bridge disparate fields with their training in both conventional and non-conventional treatment. They are able to identify and prescribe appropriate treatment including referral to conventional medical doctors.   Client’s Guide – How do I use Naturopathic Medicine ? A visit to a naturopathic doctor, or N.D., will be similar to a visit to your family doctor. It’s best to have a referral to an N.D. Your first visit may take more than an hour. During this time, a very thorough history is taken. Next, the doctor will perform an appropriate physical examination, which may require laboratory tests. Naturopaths consider patients to be partners in their healthcare, so you may be asked to make lifestyle changes – such as changing your sleeping, eating, and...

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Herbal Medicine

Herbal medicine, sometimes referred to as herbalism or botanical medicine, is the use of herbs for their therapeutic or medicinal value. Herbal medicine is the oldest form of healthcare known to mankind. An herb is a plant or plant part valued for its medicinal, aromatic or savory qualities. Herb plants produce and contain a variety of chemical substances that act upon the body. Herbs are less toxic to your body than drugs, generally have less side effects, and helps your body to heal under it’s medicinal influence. Herbs have been used by all cultures throughout history. Herbal medicine can be broadly classified into various basic systems: Traditional Chinese herbalism, Ayurvedic herbalism, and Western herbalism, which originally came from Greece and Rome to Europe and then spread to the Americas. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 4 billion people, 80 percent of the world population, presently use herbal medicine for some aspect of primary health care. Herbal medicine is a major component in all indigenous peoples’ traditional medicine. Well into the 20th century much of the pharmacopoeia of scientific medicine was derived from the herbal lore of native peoples. Many drugs commonly used today are of herbal origin. Indeed, about 25 percent of the prescription drugs dispensed in the United States contain at least one active ingredient derived from plant material. Some are made from plant extracts; others are synthesized to mimic a natural plant compound. Major pharmaceutical companies are currently conducting extensive research on plant materials gathered from the rain forests and other places for their potential medicinal value. Botanicals, or herbs, are sold in many forms: as fresh or dried products; liquid or solid extracts; and tablets, capsules, powders, and tea bags. A particular group of chemicals or a single chemical may be isolated from a botanical and sold as a dietary supplement, usually in tablet or capsule form. Common preparations include teas, decoctions, tinctures, and extracts. The action of botanicals range from mild to powerful. Some mild botanicals may have to be taken for weeks or months before their full effects are achieved. The dose and form of a botanical preparation also play important roles in its safety. Teas, tinctures, and extracts have different strengths. The same amount of a botanical may be contained in a cup of tea, a few teaspoons of tincture, or an even smaller quantity of an extract. It is important to follow the manufacturer’s suggested directions for using a botanical and not exceed the recommended dose without the advice of a health care provider. Herbal health products can affect the way the body processes drugs. When this happens, your medicine may not work the way it should. It is always a good practice to tell your doctor or health practitioner what you are taking so that they can advise you of possible complications, if there are any. On the other hand, most herbal medicines are less toxic than pharmaceuticals and can achieve positive results with less side effects. Consumers state that their primary reason for using herbal supplements is to promote overall health and wellness. Consumers consider the proposed benefits of herbal supplements less believable than those of vitamins and minerals. From 2001 to 2003, sales of herbs experienced negative growth. This was attributed to consumers’ withering confidence and confusion. As in all specialty practices, to avoid confusion it is best to consult a professional herbal consultant.   Client’s Guide – How do I use Herbal Medicine? Herbs are available over the counter at health food stores for you to buy, in pill, tea or tincture form. What to buy and...

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Chiropractic Medicine

Chiropractic medicine is based on the relationship between the alignment of the spine and the function of the body, and how that relationship affects the preservation and restoration of health. Chiropractic dates back to the times of ancient Egypt. Modern Chiropractic medicine was founded in 1895 by Daniel David Palmer, based on his idea that all health problems could be prevented or treated using “adjustments” of the spine, and sometimes other joints, to correct what he termed “subluxations.” He proposed that subluxations were misaligned vertebrae which caused nerve compression that interfered with the transmission of what he named Innate Intelligence. This interference interrupted the proper flow of Innate Intelligence from “above, down, inside, and out” to the organ to which it traveled. As a result, the human body would experience “dis-ease” or disharmony which would result in loss of health. Chiropractors believe that subluxations”, by disrupting normal neurological functioning, leads to stress held in the spinal system which must be released in order to remain healthy. Chiropractors, also known as doctors of chiropractic or chiropractic physicians diagnose and treat patients whose health problems are associated with the body’s muscular, nervous, and skeletal systems, especially the spine. They believe that interference with these systems impairs the body’s normal functions and lowers its resistance to disease. They believe most illnesses are due to blockages along the nerve bundles in the spinal cord. These blockages are found through physical examination and x-rays. Chiropractors use manipulative therapy as an integral treatment tool. With use of manual manipulation of the spine, chiropractors believe they can improve a person’s health without surgery or medication. Treatment may include lying on your stomach on a special table, while the chiropractor uses his or her hands and elbows to realign the spine. Chiropractic treatments have proven to be effective in treating certain lower back pain symptoms and muscle and other bone pains.  Some chiropractors also prescribe exercises to do at home. The chiropractic approach to health care is holistic, stressing the patient’s overall health and wellness. It recognizes that many factors affect health, including exercise, diet, rest, environment, and heredity. Chiropractors provide natural, drugless, non-surgical health. They also recommend changes in lifestyle—in eating, exercise, and sleeping habits, for example—to their patients. They take the patient’s medical history, conduct physical, neurological, and orthopedic examinations; and may order laboratory tests. X rays and other diagnostic images are important tools because of the chiropractor’s emphasis on the spine and its proper function. Chiropractors also employ a postural and spinal analysis common to chiropractic diagnosis. In cases in which difficulties can be traced to the involvement of musculoskeletal structures, chiropractors manually adjust the spinal column. Some chiropractors use water, light, massage, ultrasound, electric, acupuncture, and heat therapy. They also may apply supports such as straps, tapes, and braces. Chiropractors counsel patients about wellness concepts such as nutrition, exercise, changes in lifestyle, and stress management. Most patients who visit a chiropractor do so initially because of symptoms arising from musculoskeletal problems, especially low back and neck pain, although most chiropractors say they concern themselves with the overall health of the patient. According to a 2002 survey chiropractic was the fourth most commonly used complementary and alternative medicine therapy among adults in the USA (7.5%).   Client’s Guide – How do I use Chiropractic Medicine? Chiropractic treatments can last from 15 min to an hour depending on what’s done. You can find a chiropractor through many means, but referral is the best. As in any other professional specialty, chiropractors differ in their practice according to their unique orientation. Quite often, chiropractors recommend that a...

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Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine

Acupuncture is a branch of ancient Chinese medicine that is based on principles developed in China over the past 2000 years. It is estimated that somewhere between 10 and 15 million Americans spend approximately $500 million a year on acupuncture for treatment of many common medical problems. The most common claim of success by acupuncture advocates is in the area of pain control. Studies have shown that many acupuncture points are more richly supplied with nerve endings than are the surrounding skin areas. Some research indicates sticking needles into certain points affects the nervous system and stimulates the body’s production of natural painkilling chemicals such as endorphins and enkephalins, and triggers the release of certain neural hormones including serotonin. In addition, studies have shown that acupuncture may alter brain chemistry by changing the release of neurotransmitters and neurohormones. Another theory suggests that acupuncture blocks the transmission of pain impulses from parts of the body to the central nervous system. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, TCM, the body is viewed as a balance of two opposing forces: yin and yang. Yin represents the cold, slow, or passive principle, while yang represents the hot, excited, or active principle. TCM philosophy presupposes that health is achieved by maintaining the body in a “balanced state” and that disease is due to an internal imbalance of yin and yang. This imbalance leads to blockage in the flow of Qi (chi -or vital energy) and of blood along pathways known as meridians. TCM practitioners typically use herbs, acupuncture, and massage to help unblock Qi and blood in patients in an attempt to bring the body back into wellness. The diagnostic tools differ from those of conventional medicine. The tools that the TCM doctor uses to analyze a patient’s condition are summarized below. Pulse diagnosis: An intricate expert evaluation of the radial pulses reveals excesses, deficiencies, disharmonies of Qi and what organs are involved. Observation of the patient: Noting color and condition of the tongue, texture and condition of the skin, of the hair, and quality of the voice. Questioning of the patient: Seeking a history of the illness, the patient’s feelings, lifestyle, diet. All of those may contribute to Qi imbalance. Physical examination: Feeling for tender acupoints is a reliable diagnostic tool. Certain acupoints are related to specific areas and functions of the body, and tenderness may relate to a specific problem. In TCM it is believed that the Qi circulates though all parts of the body along fourteen major energy channels, called meridians. Meridians make-up an intricate and invisible network transporting and directing Qi to every part of the body. The Chinese accurately mapped the locations of the meridians, and now some 500 specific acupuncture points have been identified where Qi can be accessed and stimulated when there is an abnormality of flow. An acupuncturist uses acupuncture needles to stimulate specific points along the meridians. In addition, heat from a moxa stick, or pressure via acupressure may be used to stimulate these points. This stimulation helps restore balance and the smooth flow of Qi to achieve harmony. This harmony allows the body to repair itself and maintain health. Qi flows through the meridians in the body in a manner similar to, but not identical to the nervous system or circulatory system. When Qi flows smoothly and harmoniously throughout the meridians, every organ and bodily system there is health and harmony, but when Qi is blocked or unbalanced there is pain and illness. The smooth and balanced flow of Qi can be affected by any noxious substance, both external and internal, including poor nutrition, impure food, toxic...

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