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There are literally hundreds of types of unconventional medicines. An
unconventional medicine is any type of therapy that is different from
traditional medicine in the way that it focuses on a patient’s mind, body, and
inner energy, to aid in healing. Some, use magic charms, colour therapy, sound
therapy, and juice therapy, in which natural juices are used as tonic therapies.

Flower remedy is a system of natural medicine that uses remedies distilled from
blooming plants and trees, and some followers believe that flowers are
nature’s gentle tools for treating and preventing disease. (Gottlieb,1995:37)
There is even a healing process called food therapy. It involves a healthy diet
and relating nutrition to disease, something a lot of conventional doctors do
not practice these days. Hydrotherapy involves using different water temperature
and pressure to help heal many things such as sprains, headaches, and even
pneumonia. It is usually accompanied by massage, and used often in sports.

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Imagery is a type of therapy in which the patient imagines that they are being
healed, and before long, they will feel better. For example, if a patient had a
bad sunburn on their back, they could imagine that a block of ice was melting
inside their neck and dripping down the back. Within minutes, the pain should be
gone. Imagery can also include sounds, tastes, and smells. (Nash,1996:45) The
list of alternative therapies goes on and on. For every disease known to
mankind, there is probably a complementary alternative medicine to counter it.

Most alternative medicines are unheard of in North America, where conventional
medicines and doctors dominate over eastern medicine. This is mainly because
when North Americans hear the term “alternative medicine”, they can think up
some pretty exotic images. In recent years though, the more popular eastern
medicines have become more widely used in the west. For example, a few years
ago, herbal teas, were used as remedies for everything from insomnia to morning
sickness, were sold mainly in health food stores. Today, one can find seemingly
endless varieties in a regular supermarket. Of all the different remedies that
exist, North Americans are probably most familiar with therapies that are most
talked about and receive the most attention. Reflexology, aromatherapy, and
acupuncture are valid and considerable forms of alternative medicine. They are
proven to work effectively, and when administered by a professional, are usually
safe, and non-toxic. These three types of natural medicines are often talked
about on television specials, in magazine articles, and other visual and print
media. They are being used more commonly as people are getting tired of
conventional medicines that don’t work, or worsen the problem, and doctors who
do not treat their patients as individuals, and are always overbooked. Now is a
time when people crave information about the human body. Many people would like
to heal themselves of illness, or prevent disease, using methods that have fewer
toxic side effects than many of today’s modern pharmaceuticals.

(Gottlieb,1995:2) This is why many people are turning to the ancient tools of
the past. Reflexology is a skilled treatment of pressure points on the feet,
developed by an American medical doctor, William Fitzgerald. “It has become
one of the most popular complementary therapies because it is so effective.”
(Mackay,1997) It is gentle, painless, very relaxing, and has no harmful side
effects, yet it is quite effective because it corrects the underlying cause of
the problem, rather than just masking the symptoms. Reflexologists believe that
certain spots on the feet are directly linked to other body parts, including
muscles, bones, organs, and more. Working these spots helps the body relax,
giving it a chance to heal. (Gottlieb,1995:108) The idea is that pressure is
applied to the hands and feet promotes a beneficial response throughout the
body, providing a break from stress. Although researchers are still looking for
the how’s and why’s of reflexology, Kevin and Barbara Kunz, reflexology
researchers in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and authors of Hand and Foot Reflexology,
say “The results are obvious. Reflexology can be a great contributor to
overall health.” (Gottlieb,1995:107) According to reflexology, the body is
divided into ten zones called “energy zones”. Every tendon, ligament, organ,
muscle, bone, and brain cell in included in one of these zones, and every zone
ends at the soles of the feet. (Hill,1978:187) Reflex areas are the spots on the
feet that when massaged, correspond to specific body parts and help them to feel
relaxed. Hands also have reflex areas, but feet need the relaxation more so
because they are constricted to shoes all day. Some reflexologists say that
toxins settle in the feet because of gravity, so this is another reason why the
feet need to be worked on more than the hands. (Rosenfeld,1996:162)
Reflexologists say that they can often tell from the feet when something in the
body is wrong. Tender spots on the feet indicate that you may have a problem in
the corresponding part of the body. (Gottlieb,1995:110) An explanation behind
reflexology is still a mystery, but evidence is building up that it does work.

Research remains limited, but one study shows a possible link between
reflexology and the relief of pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS). The study involved
35 California women who complained of PMS symptoms, and the women who received
true reflexology reported feeling significantly better than those who received
placebo reflexology sessions which included working on parts of the ears, hands
and feet that are not supposed to have any effect on PMS. (Jacobs,1996:193)
Reflexology can be used to treat many things including anxiety, arthritis,
bronchitis, indigestion, sinus problems, and even grief. Laryngitis, for
example, can be treated by paying special attention to the throat, chest, lung,
diaphragm, and lymphatic system reflex points on both feet. It is also suggested
to thoroughly work all of the points on the sides and bottoms of the toes.

(Gottlieb,1995:409) Aromatherapy is another form of alternative medicine. It the
use of essential oils to promote good personal health. It combines the sciences
of chemistry, botany, and physiology with the art of essential oil blending to
achieve physical, emotional, and mental balance. (Monte,1993:212) Healing
effects of organic chemical components are done by inhalation or application of
essential oils and hydrosols. Essential oils can be inhaled by diffusers,
candles, a handkerchief- or anything that can give off a scent. A hydrosol
(which is the leftover water from distilling the plant material) is spritzed in
the air or on the face and inhaled with a deep relaxing breath. By application
and inhalation, aromatherapy claims to affect the entire being to promote vital
health and wellness. It is a form of complementary medicine to heal physical and
mental imbalances. (Earle & Rose,1996) Aromatherapy often works because”humans relate fragrance to specific experiences. Take for example, being in a
rain forest. The brain records these experiences, often unconsciously, and when
the odour is re-encountered, one recalls the specific point in time.”
(Monte,1993:212) Essential oils have the ability to help heal and prevent
infections. During World War One, chemist Maurice Gattefosse experimented with
the use of essential oils for the treatment of soldiers war wounds. In July of
1910, he burned his hands in a laboratory explosion. He rolled in grass to put
out the flames, but gas gangrenous sores began to appear. He applied essential
oils of terpene-free lavender to the burns and noticed a sudden arrest of
gasification tissues. (Nash,1996:19) Quick healing, arrest of blisters, and
masking of gangrenous odours were all achieved in record time. Aromatherapy is
known to help the immune system stay strong. Lavender, lemon, bergamot, thyme,
chamomile, pine, sandalwood, myrrh, and vetiver are all essential oils that
stimulate the production of infection fighting white blood cells. (Earle &
Rose,1996) The antiviral action of certain essential oils with terpenoid
compounds are very specific- the citruses and the pine oils are the most
effective at boosting immunity. (Keville & Green,1997) Headaches can also be
treated by a range of different oils and herbs depending on the specific origin
of the headache. It is important to find the cause of the headache in order to
obtain the proper essential oil. Peppermint oil is one of the more traditional
aromatherapy remedies for headaches. It can be applied as a compress, or
straight- one or two drops directly to the back of the neck. A significant
reduction in pain, as well as positive mood change, and noticeable performance
improvement was seen in aromatherapy patients in a large experiment in 1990.

(Earle & Rose,1996) Natural remedies are said to increase the body’s
resistance to disease by improving its ability to fight infection. No single
essential oil will heal a person, but many plants have immune modulating
properties. (Rosenfeld,1996:45) Essential oils should not be solely relied upon
in cases of serious illnesses, but may be integrated into any therapeutic
program such as physiotherapy, or massage therapy. Aromatherapy is both a
specific science, and a deeply complex art. An understanding of the human body
and the interrelated functions of all its systems allow the aromatherapist to
act as both an artist, and a scientist for their patient. This form of
unconventional medicine is slowly making its way into acceptance in society. In
the past few years, acupuncture has also established itself as an effective and
considerable form of medicine in North America. It’s recognition has increased
in the conventional medical world, and has also made an impression on the
public. Acupuncture has a reputation for treating the person as whole, as well
as curing specific ailments and complaints, and its growing role in the west is
matched by an increasig demand for well trained and qulaified acupuncturists.

Acupuncture invloves using very fine needles that peirce the skin, which work as
antennae to draw Qi (pronouned “chee”) into the body at specific points and
along certain meridian lines. (Monte,1993:247) It works by stimulating the
body’s own healing abilities. The fine hair-thin needles do not inject
anything into the body, but instead, the healing components of the body are
broadened, directed, and generally made stronger in order to manage future
health problems. (Nash,1996:15) According to the Chinese, a huge group of
pathways run throughout the body. These pathways flow from organ system to organ
system, and connect with every cell of the body. Along these pathways, close to
the surface of the skin are little nodules, or acupuncture points, that only a
trained acupuncturist can feel. (Galem,1997) When these points are stimulated by
heat, touch, or penetration by a needle, the nodules cause a chain reaction of
events that affect many aspects of the body, mind, and spirit. (Nash,1996:15)
These pathways, or meridians were explained by the Chinese as being channels of
energy, or Chi (pronounced “chee” and sometimes spelled “Qi”). Dr. Ben
Galem says that: “Each person is, in reality, an energetic body with a
physical body contained within. By cultivating and building Chi in the body, we
strengthen ourselves so that our body works better, our immune system gets
stronger, our energy level grows, and we have a greater sense of well being.”
(1997) A concept of Chinese medicine that influences acupuncture, is that of yin
and yang. Everything is composed of opposites, which need each other to exist-
like a cycle. Hot does not exist without cold, and vice versa. Sometimes these
opposing forces become out of balance with each other, and acupuncture, and
other Chinese medicine can turn up or turn down the Chi and cause a balance to
return to the individual who is being treated. (Eisenberg ; Lee,1995:52) For
example, if a person is too hot, then hot can be turned down, and cold raised.

If a person is too cold, the cold can be turned down, and the hot raised.

(Galem,1997) Another way acupuncture works, is by countering outside influences
such as cold weather. Acupuncture can help build the body’s immune system so
that catching common colds and other viruses is less likely. If treatment is
given in the early stages of cold, symptoms will be less intense. If it is given
in the late stages, it can speed up recovery time. Duration and frequency of
treatment depend on the initial patient condition and severity of the disorder.

Usually, patients see their acupuncturist twice a week for the first two weeks,
then once each week, and then less frequently as symptoms settle. After therapy
is over, maintenance visits are five times yearly. The goal is to maintain
homeostasis in the body for longer periods of time. (Galem,1997) Acupuncture can
be used to treat many conditions including migraines, asthma, bursitis,
tendonitis, menstrual pain, aid in weight loss and quitting smoking, back pain,
sports injuries, and much, much more. It is a very well known type of therapy,
and its possibilities are almost endless. The use of major alternative medicines
is increasing in areas where they remain inferior to conventional medicine,
mainly in Canada and the United States. This is because people with health
problems and complaints do not like the atmosphere of a regular doctors office,
and they do not feel as if the doctor is giving them the attention that they
need and deserve. Practitioners of natural healing all believe that the patient
and their illness must be looked at deeply, and seriously. The mind, body, inner
energy, and lifestyle, must be treated as a whole. There must be no
distractions, and the appointment must not be rushed, as is the case of many
conventional doctors offices with crowded waiting rooms, and small, stuffy
examining rooms. Reflexology, aromatherapy, and acupuncture are all
unconventional medicines that are worth consideration. They are proven to be
valid, effective, and very helpful. Believers and patients of these natural
remedies swear by them. Researchers are constantly finding evidence that back up
practitioners theories that natural remedies really do work just as well, if not
better, than popping a few pills. Although most alternative medicines are safe,
and have far less toxic side effects than many doctors prescriptions, some
natural remedies, whether they include flowers and herbs, or sound and a wide
imagination, can have unwanted, and sometimes harmful side effects. This usually
happens when an inexperienced person tries to treat themselves and they know
nothing about the field. A professional should always be consulted before action
is taken. There is a lot of information to be found as more and more research is
brought out about alternative medicine methods such as reflexology,
aromatherapy, and acupuncture, and many, many more. One should converse with a
qualified practitioner and come to a decision on what type, or types of, natural
healing methods that they wish to use to help heal their sickness. Natural
remedies can be used on their own, or blended with another for faster relief.

They can also be incorporated with modern science and modern medicines,
pain-killers, or supplements. For anyone seeking help for anything from
depression and insomnia, to headaches, and the common cold, and thousands of
more unwanted sicknesses, many believers of natural remedies will strongly
recommend this form of healing which dates back thousands of years, to aid in
therapy of open minded individuals.

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