Symbolic Healing Rituals

Native American medicine includes a variety of symbolic healing rituals. One type exemplifies the communal nature of efforts to restore health. An example is the Dineh Navaho tribe's sing, a community ceremony that can last from two days to more than a week. The chants are lengthy and complicated, requiring years to learn. Because learning the entire ritual of a chant is so arduous, most singers learn only a few in their lifetimes, and they tend to specialize in chants focused on interactive...

Chiropractic

Chiropractic is a commonly used alternative therapy in the United States, Canada and Australia. Some chiropractors are called mixers because they combine chiropractic with exercise, nutritional supplements and other therapies. Those who depend only on chiropractic manipulation are identified as straight practitioners. Now in the minority, they emphasize vitalism and spinal adjustments, and consider subluxations to be the leading cause of all disease. Founded in the 1890s by a grocer and mystic...

Megavitamin and orthomolecular therapy

Scientific data on problems associated with deficiencies or overdoses of nutrients are well established, and vitamin and mineral supplements are used appropriately to compensate for vitamin deficiencies. But some alternative practitioners believe that huge dosages of vitamins, sometimes hundreds of supplement pills a day, can cure disease. These individuals practice megavitamin or orthomolecular therapy (the latter adds minerals and other nutrients), but these unproven methods are considered...

Electromagnetic Therapies

The biological effects of magnetism, and of what eventually was identified as electricity, have been studied since the time of early Greek and Roman civilizations. It is believed that lodestones, pieces of naturally occurring minerals with magnetic properties, were found thousands of years ago, when people literally stumbled upon them. By the eleventh and twelfth centuries, lodestones were thought to have curative powers and were used to treat gout, arthritis, baldness and other ailments, as...

Macrobiotics

The macrobiotic diet is based in large part on the yin-yang principle of balance, a fundamental component of ancient Chinese medicine (see Chapter 6). Yin and yang are opposite forces believed to describe all components of life and the universe. Here the worldview of balance is embodied in diet, including the selection, preparation, and consumption of foods. The macrobiotic diet was popularized by George Ohsawa, a Japanese philosopher who sought to integrate traditional Asian medicine and...

Aromatherapy

A combination of folk wisdom and accident merged to become the modern practice of aromatherapy. Aromatherapy involves the use of oils distilled from plants for therapeutic purposes. It has a long history of use in ancient Egypt, China and India. The distillation method used to extract essential oils was invented by an Arab physician in the tenth century AD. Modern aromatherapy in the West began with a French chemist, Ren Gattefosse. Working one day in the laboratory at his family's perfume...

What Practitioners Say It Does

Sometimes given deliberately (when physicians had no proven medication) and sometimes by chance (when patients participate in some research studies), placebos have worked over the centuries to treat the symptoms of many diseases and disorders. Scientists understand that, although placebos in fact are inactive, their use creates a psychologically initiated response that can reduce or relieve the body of pain and other distressing symptoms. Numerous studies have shown that placebos provide relief...

Info

When your dentist numbs an area of your mouth before drilling to fix a cavity, he or she uses an anesthetic injection such as Novocain. Anesthetic injections also are used to control severe localized pain. Neural therapists also inject anesthetics like Novocain or lidocaine in various parts of the body, but they do so for different reasons. They believe that such numbing injections remove blockages that inhibit the body's electrical energy flow, and that the anesthetic travels throughout the...

Alexander Technique and Pilates

There are many exercise techniques, each a variation on the theme of maintaining good muscle strength and function. The two noted here are especially popular today. Frederick M. Alexander depended on one of the oldest human tools, simple self-observation, to develop his bodywork system. Alexander was an Australian actor, born in 1869. While performing on stage, he periodically suffered episodes of voice loss, and the problem threatened to end his acting career. Visits to physicians resulted in...

Hypnosis and Self Hypnosis

Like other alternative therapies, hypnosis has existed in one form or another since early recorded history, and like early alternative therapies it was often tied to magic and religion. Hypnosis was an important component of Native American healing rites, when hypnotic states typically were induced through chanting, sometimes in conjunction with hallucinogenic drugs. Modern medical hypnosis originated with the Viennese physician Franz Mesmer. Mesmer believed that the human body contained animal...

Professional Degrees and Titles

American Board of Allergy and Immunology American Board of Colon and Rectal Surgery American Board of Emergency Medicine American Board of Neurological Surgery American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology American Board of Orthopedic Surgery American Board of Preventive Medicine American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology AD Associate's degree (two-year degree) AOCN Advanced Oncology Certified Nurse AOCNP Advanced Oncology Certified Nurse...

Cancer Care

Essential Information for Patients, Survivors and Health Professionals Cassileth BR (Ed.). The Cancer Patient Social and Medical Aspects of Care. Philadelphia Lea & Febiger, 1979. Cassileth BR and Cassileth PA (Eds.). Clinical Care of the Terminal Cancer Patient. Philadelphia Lea & Febiger, 1982. Dush DM, Cassileth BR, and Turk C (Eds.). Psychosocial Assessment in Terminal Care. New York Hayworth Press, Inc., 1986. Cassileth BR. The Alternative Medicine Handbook The Complete Reference...

Apitherapy

Apitherapy's roots go back to biblical times and ancient Egypt. Hipprocrates, the famous Greek physician of antiquity to whom the Hippocratic oath is attributed, used bee venom to treat his patients' arthritis and other joint problems. Some famous rulers throughout history received beestings as a medical treatment, including Charlemagne, Ivan the Terrible, and Charles the Great of England. This long history is continued by practitioners of apitherapy today. Proponents claim that bee and other...