Alternative Medicine – What is it?

According to Websters Dictionary, alternative medicine is defined in the modern western world as a practice that encompasses any healing practice, “that does not fall within the realm of conventional medicine”.

Notice that this is extremely jingoistic. The definition automatically implies that “alternative” is not “conventional.”

Acupuncture NeedlesConventional is defined as what is accepted. But by whom? Who decides what is conventional and what is alternative? In China palm reading, herbs, phrenology, and meditation, are conventional and the west defines them as “alternative.” It is my contention that this is an arbitrary term that has grown to be accepted by the west as truth. This article discusses many types of medicine and healing that are useful and beneficial and are not part of the accepted medical community.

Let us examine the definition of conventional medicine According to the Oxford Dictionary conventional medicine is:

Medicine as practiced by holders of M.D. (medical doctor) or D.O. (doctor of osteopathy) degrees and by their allied health professionals, such as physical therapists, psychologists, and registered nurses. Other terms for conventional medicine include allopathy and allopathic medicine; Western medicine, mainstream medicine, orthodox medicine, and regular medicine; and bio-medicine.

So, from this definition we see that a treatment is alternative – dare I say, UN-conventional – if it is not practiced by an individual who fits the above definition. Therefore, it is subjective and changing. To illustrate this point, not too far in the past an Osteopathic doctor, or chiropractor, was considered alternative, or un-conventional.

Some examples of Alternative Medicine:

Traditional Chinese medicine(TCM) includes herbs, massage, acupuncture, and dietary therapy. These practices are considered conventional in the eastern world. Acupuncture, which has a moderate following, even in the west it is considered by the World Health Organization to be:

“…showing efficacy of acupuncture in adult postoperative and chemotherapy nausea and vomiting and in postoperative dental pain. There are other situations such as addiction, stroke rehabilitation, headache, menstrual cramps, tennis elbow, fibromyalgia, myofascial pain, osteoarthritis, low back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and asthma, in which acupuncture may be useful as an adjunct treatment or an acceptable alternative or be included in a comprehensive management program.”

Glass VialsHomeopathy
Homeopathy is based on the belief that a person can be healed by ingesting a substance that produces the same symptoms in a healthy person using a process called serial dilution. Practitioners also alternate between this and psychological treatment to assist the patient.

Yoga
One of the goals of yoga is to improve health. This is accomplished by a combination of breathing and physical body positions. It is also based upon the Chakra system which is not discussed here.

Reiki
This energy healing system that was brought to the Japanese world by Mikao Usui in the late 19th century.

This system has gone through many permutations and has changed significantly in the last 100 years. Originally, it was a self-healing technique that had its roots in the Japanese shamanic and martial arts traditions. In fact, the Japanese art of Akido, can trace some of its elements to the practice of Reiki.

It was brought to the west by Hawayo Takata who is considered by some western practitioners as the last “Grand master.”

Shamanic Practices
All cultures have an indigenous Shamanic component. These individuals are/were considered the doctor and priest of the community. In the west, we have replaced our shamans with psychologists, physicians, and priests. This is indicative of the specialization process western society has gone though over the last two to three hundred years. All of them share the idea that an individual must be treated (w)holistically in order to achieve healing. If we strip away the modern terms, then those individuals who practice a (w)holistic approach to helping others, are indeed shamans

Similar to Reiki discussed above is ‘Celtic Transformational Healing‘; a system that I developed in 2006 based on the Cauldron of Posey by Amergin the Bard. This system helps individuals to “correct” the status of the three cauldrons in the body of every individual. We know that music soothes us somehow. We tap our feet, dance, spin, or other expression that brings a smile to our faces. Mongolian bowls, and chimes are also used for bringing about the proper vibrational health within our bodies.

Drumming has been used by cultures from all over the globe for healing. Drum energy and the physical and emotional health of a person are connected. In meditation, we use the beat of the person’s own heart to facilitate the light trance state that is necessary to achieve the stated objective.

Many practitioners use the energy of drumming to help us make the changes we need in our body, mind and soul. Even in the scientific community, studies have begun to acknowledge the power of vibrational energy and the Healing Drum to transform and relieve physical and emotional maladies.

Therefore, we may find that soon, the healing drum will become “conventional” instead of alternative.

Being (W)hole
As these practices approach different aspects of a person, so too being a (w)hole person means to approach and pay attention to many aspects of oneself. As we develop this site, we will add more information on how one can be healthy, happy, and lead productive, satisfactory lives.

First image retrieved from Wikimedia Commons

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  1. Pingback: The Circle of Hearth and Kin - Alternative Medicine – What is it?

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