What is it?
Alternative therapy is any form of practice that is outside the realm of conventional modern medicine.
It covers a broad range of healing philosophies, approaches, and therapies. Most of these treatments and health care practices are not taught widely in medical schools.
What is complementary medicine?
If alternative medicine or therapy is used alone or instead of conventional medicine, it is called "alternative" medicine.
If the treatment or therapy is done along with or in addition to conventional medicine, it is referred to as Complementary Medicine as the two practices complements each other.
For example, many Chinese hospitals use acupuncture to reduce the pain during the surgery instead of anesthetics. This is complementary medicine.
What is holistic medicine?
Many of the alternative practices pay attention to the mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects of health, in addition to the physical body.
Therapies like hypnosis and visualization claims to be able to change physical conditions through purely mental interventions. They believe that our bodies are remarkably resilient machines, capable, with some occasional prodding or intervention, of healing themselves. The name "holistic medicine" came from this unification of the mind and the body.
Holistic practitioners treat the "whole person" as opposed to the individual organs of the body where symptoms occur.
What is natural medicine?
Any therapy that relies on the body's own healing powers may be considered natural medicine. These include herbal remedies, diet and water therapies.
Naturopathy (also known as naturopathic medicine or natural medicine) is an eclectic alternative medical system that focuses on natural remedies and the body's vital ability to heal and maintain itself.
Naturopathic philosophy favors a holistic approach and minimal use of surgery and drugs.
A system of treating disease by stimulating the body's innate ability to repair and heal itself, without the use of drugs or surgery.
Naturopathy "is a complete alternative care system that uses a wide range of approaches such as nutrition, herbs, manipulation of the body, exercise, stress reduction, and acupuncture. Parts of naturopathy are sometimes used with conventional medicine as complementary therapy.
Common natural pain relief therapies include:
- Acupuncture (using thin needles placed at strategic body points to help ease pain – especially nerve pain)
- Acupressure (A non-invasive form of massage therapy)
- Aromatherapy (Using essential oils and other aromatic compounds as complementary pain relief)
- Ayurveda (a system developed in India using pulse diagnosis and dietary changes)
- Biofeedback (using devices to measure and regulate body functions such as heart rate to help deal with chronic pain)
- Chinese medicine
- Chiropractic (Body adjustments aimed at improving nervous system functions to relieve pain)
- Cognitive therapy (A type of psychotherapy aimed at changing thought, behavior and emotional responses)
- Diet and Nutrition
- Herbal medicines
- Homeopathy (Using plants, minerals and other natural substances to relieve pain)
- Hypnosis (Often described as a different state of mind to help relieve pain)
- Ice and heat therapy
- Kinesiology (muscle testing and balancing)
- Magnets (Using a magnetic field including – patches, discs, shoe inserts, bracelets or mattress pads – as a complementary pain treatment.
- Massage therapy
- Meditation (Mind training techniques designed to reduce stress and pain)
- Music (Often used to aid visualization or meditation)
- Physiotherapy (Treatment techniques aimed at restoring movement and function to relieve pain)
- Podiatry (Specialists dealing with foot, ankle and lower leg pain)
- Reflexology (Applying pressure to the feet, hands or ears that relate to zones of the body)
- Reiki (A Japanese technique (life force energy) for stress reduction and relaxation to help relieve pain)
- Spiritual healing (Special healing and prayer techniques)
- Tai Chi (An ancient Chinese martial art that focuses on the mind through movement to help bring about a state of mental calm and clarity)
- Visualization (Use of imagery to focus the mind and enhance body functions and processes)