Alternative Health Topics

This section will offer brief descriptions of a few alternative healing modalities. It is by no means a complete "list."

Anywhere from one to more than a dozen slender needles are inserted into the skin. These needles are placed in alignment with the meridians (the connections to the body's electrical system). During this painless procedure, the faster nerve impulses (four times quicker than pain impulses) that the needles stimulate, block the entrance of pain signals, preventing the brain from registering them. These healing messenger impulses also travel to every organ in the body. This gives them the electrical energy they need to re-establish proper function. Studies suggest that acupuncture directly causes the body to release natural morphine-like pain killers called endorphins and enkephalins. In China, it is commonplace to use acupunture in place of anesthesia during surgery. More often than not, acupuncturists prescribe ancient Chinese medicinal herbs as part of the treatment.

Even still, quite a few doctors and scientist believe that acupuncture has no physiological basis and works through a placebo effect. Not so, says a number of doctors who have successfully performed surgery on animals using ONLY acupuncture for anesthesia. Now, would an animal hold still and not yelp in pain because it has used the power of suggestion on itself? Not likely!

Even so, 3,000 American M.D.'s are now involved with the ancient therapy. Plus, 1,200 non-medical acupuncturists have become certified since the mid-'70s. It is becoming increasingly more accepted by the American public.

Acupuncture sure has worked for me! In the mid-80's, I was literally taken down (flat on my back) with an excruciating bout of sciatica. I could barely get to the phone to call an acupuncturist to come to my house. Within a half hour after the treatment, I experienced moderate pain relief.

Chiropractic is a form of medicine which restores joint and spinal motion based on the manipulation of specific bones in the spine, the control center for the body's central nervous system. This allows the muscles to become more relaxed and lets once impinged nerves flow increased amounts of electrical energy to our brains, organs and the rest of the body.

Chiropractors look at health problems from a different perspective than an M.D. They find the source of pain and eliminate or at least greatly relieve it rather than prescribe medicine. They sometimes prescribe vitamins, herbs and other natural remedies, however. Chiropractors claim they can treat dizziness, headaches, painful joints, muscles, ligaments and tendons, sprains, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, ear ringing, vision and swallowing problems, allergies and pain in the neck and lower back. Many healers in Ancient Greece, including Hippocrates, practiced chiropractics.

During the time I had sciatica, acupuncture along with massage and chiropractics were the only way I got relief. Many times I've been helped by my kindly 72 year old chiropractor friend, Dr. Paul Bray. Once, I came in with moderate carpal tunnel pain. Within two minutes of his treatment, the pain had greatly reduced. In a matter of hours, it was completely gone! Thanks to him and another chiropractor, the sciatica is gone and my lower back is back to normal.

The basic premise of Naturopathy is that if we give the body what it needs, it will bring itself back into balance and totally heal itself. The Naturopathic doctor goes through a rigorous six year training program that gives him the knowledge and understanding of which remedies, treatments and strategies to use to assist the body in it's healing process.

This form of medicine recognizes that a single disease may have multiple causes. For instance, chronic fatigue could result from a viral infection, a thyroid or a digestive order, or a long term illness - to name a few. And, hypertension may originate from stress, not enough exercise, allergies or cardiovascular disease. The naturopathic doctor feels that making a diagnosis on symptoms alone is inconclusive. There usually is a deeper, more hidden root cause. The naturopath traces the illness back to this cause so that he can give his patient an individualized treatment plan. While devising this "plan", not only does he treat in terms of their illness, he sees that the plan is in harmony with their whole self - body, mind and spirit.

Homeopathy is based on the principal that "like cures like" or the 'Law of Similars' laid down by the father of homeopathy, German physician, Dr. Samuel Hahnemann. He declared: "If a medicine administered to a healthy person causes a certain syndrome of symptoms, that medicine will cure a sick person who presents similar symptoms." He proved-out this hypothesis to his own satisfaction by giving homeopathic remedies to many people.

Let's say you go to a homeopath for a fever. He would prescribe something herbal or chemical which in a healthy person would actually cause the fever to intensify (in a safe proportion). He would give you this "remedy" in a small dose, probably in pill form that is not only tiny but has the medication in an extremely diluted form. This remedy would stimulate your immune system to rise up and reduce the fever brought on by the medication but also the fever you showed up with.

Most homeopaths are also M.D.'s. And, assumedly, an M.D. is going to know how to deal with an illness in a reasonable way and would not use homeopathy where not appropriate. Some homeopathic-practicing doctors do not use homeopathy in all cases. They are just as likely to approach a given illness as any other M.D. would.

There are not very many homeopathic physicians in the United States. These few are said to have to have excellent medical credentials and are usually very enthusiastic, open minded and knowledgeable. I heard of one that cured his son of a very serious illness after many specialists at a large hospital fell short of helping him. The homeopathic treatment he used consisted largely of herbs. Although there is no scientific proof that says homeopathic medicine works, there's at least one father who knows it does!

There are many more alternative ways to heal. There is polarity, touch for health, laying on of hands, shamanic, faith, psychic, crystal and gem, flower essence, long-distance, spontaneous and biomagnetic healing - to mention a few. Remember not to underestimate your mind and body's capacity to heal itself by itself! Your local library and bookstores are a great place to do your own "resourcing" if this chapter has sparked your curiousity!