The problem is finding it. There are very few people whose understanding embraces all forms of healing. For example if you go to a Chinese herbalist for treatment, you will get Chinese herbs! As with medical doctors who promote drugs and surgery, each practitioner has a vested interest in prescribing their preferred form of treatment. A basic understanding of the philosophy behind alternative treatments will help you find options that are best suited to your unique situation of ‘dis-ease’ or genetic inheritance if you are searching for your own healing.
Western medicine will treat a ‘disease’ whereas Chinese is based on a subtle and detailed diagnosis of a particular patient. Western medicine sees in terms of the pathology of isolated organs whereas Chinese sees the dysfunction of a normally harmonious, complete, living entity. Western medicine will prescribe drugs to modify a system whereas Chinese medicine will nurture a system back to a balance where self-healing becomes possible.
Ayurveda means ‘science of life’ in Sanskrit. It is India’s oldest holistic healing system. It treats the mind, body and spirit with herbal medicines, oil therapy, massage, yoga and meditation. It works to create harmony in the patient through balancing the three bodily humours. It focuses on cleansing, purification and rejuvenation.
Homeopathy works by stimulating the body’s own defences to deal with disease. The word ‘homeopathy’ is Greek in origin and is based on ‘homoios’ meaning ‘like’ and ‘pathos’ meaning ‘disease’. In essence ‘let like be treated by like’. It uses substances that mimic the illness in some way to stimulate the body’s recuperative powers. It is a patient centred treatment that seeks to tune remedies to the patient’s emotional and mental state. The forms the treatment takes can be tablets, granules, powder or liquid, cream or drops.
The practice of Naturopathy asserts that the body is a self-healing mechanism. Given the right set of circumstances it will heal itself. Disease happens in the body due to an unbalance of some kind and the role of the Naturopath is to bring it to a state where self healing can take place.
This is done through a ‘whole person’ approach to health and disease (often called holistic) that may include activities and experiences that don’t even seem medical in intent.
This philosophy of medicine looks at the role of the mind in creating health and illness and is sometimes called ‘psychoneuroimmunology’. Environmental and nutritional factors are recognised as important root causes of cancer. Also psychological and physical states often work together in bringing about the conditions for disease to develop. Early trauma or prolonged emotional stress create all sorts of physical changes, altering hormone balances, changing body acidity, provoking malignant cells and suppressing the immune system.
There is always room for the unexplained cure and anecdote records many brought about by a ‘spiritual intervention’. In tribal cultures this has been a mainstay of the medicine man for many thousands of years.
Reiki, for example, is a form of healing which channels a flow of energy through the body in order to activate the body to detoxify, rebalance and heal itself. A premise of Eastern medicine is that all living things have an energy system and that it is blockages in the energy that can lead to disease. The practice of Reiki has roots in Tibetan Buddhism and practitioners are shown how to be a conduit for life force energy.
The word Chiropractic comes from a Greek root, ‘cheir’ meaning ‘hands’ and ‘practikos’ meaning ‘done by’. Chiropractic concentrates mainly on the spine, muscles, joints, ligaments, muscles bones and tendon to improve function, relieve pain and increase mobility. For example a minor displacement of the spine can create nerve irritation, which disturbs the nervous system and can lead to disease. Therapists believe that joint and muscle problems can be bought about by stress, postural problems and accidents and that the physical manipulation and correction of the joints has a positive effect on the nervous system. Examples of physical dysfunction not relating to joints that are successfully treated this way include asthma, constipation and Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
Studies of electrical effects of implanted tumours in mice have suggested that electrical currents may enhance cancer-killing effects of chemotherapy. Albert Szent-Gyorgi, the discoverer of vitamin C, has been exploring the bio-electronic model in cancer.
Vibrational medicine attempts to treat people with various forms of pure energy. This can be light or sound or even a vibrational value transferred to water. We readily accept imaging heat, even though we can’t see it, because heat is something we can sense through touch.
With the ‘energy body’ it is not so straightforward. Very few of us have experienced this for ourselves and there is apparently no sensory backup to tell us it is there. Although modern physical science tells us we are made of energy, modern medical science so far refuses to consider this.
The body has natural defences against free radicals, antioxidant enzymes and nutrients can ‘mop up’ free radicals and render them harmless. These include iron, zinc, copper, manganese and selenium as well as vitamins A, C and E. Beta Carotene and bioflavonoids are other plant substances that help protect against free radical damage. If your diet is low in these particular substances, or you have a lifestyle that uses them up very quickly, you are often without defence. The body is a self-healing mechanism, but only if it is functioning properly.
Nutraceuticals and botanicals
Pharmaceutical companies are screening plants from all over the world and even plundering folk medicine in the search for chemicals. After 200 years of being ridiculed by orthodox medicine, herbal medicine is stronger than ever and the clinical effects of natural medicines are being clearly demonstrated in research. This is because companies such as Monsanto have found out that they can ‘copyright’ the formulas found in such plants (bio-piracy) and hence render them illegal for use by other people.
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