Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Alternative Medical Systems

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Alternative medical systems involve complete systems of theory and practice that have evolved independent of and often prior to the conventional biomedical approach. Many are traditional systems of medicine that are practiced by individual cultures throughout the world, including a number of venerable Asian approaches.
Traditional oriental medicine emphasizes the proper balance or disturbances of qi (pronounced chi), or vital energy, in health and disease, respectively. Traditional oriental medicine consists of a group of techniques and methods, including acupuncture, herbal medicine, oriental massage and qi gong (a form of energy therapy described more fully below). Acupuncture involves stimulating specific anatomic points in the body for therapeutic purposes, usually by puncturing the skin with a needle.
Ayurveda (Eye yer vay duh) is India's traditional system of medicine. Ayurvedic medicine (meaning "science of life") is a comprehensive system of medicine that places equal emphasis on body, mind and spirit, and strives to restore the innate harmony of the individual. Some of the primary Ayurvedic treatments include diet, exercise, meditation, herbs, massage, exposure to sunlight and controlled breathing.
Other traditional medical systems have been developed by Native American, Aboriginal, African, Middle-Eastern, Tibetan, Central and South American cultures.
Homeopathy and naturopathy are also examples of complete alternative medical systems. Homeopathy is an unconventional Western system that is based on the principle that "like cures like," i.e., that the same substance that in large doses produces the symptoms of an illness, in very minute doses cures it. Homeopathic physicians believe that the more dilute the remedy, the greater its potency. Therefore, homeopaths use small doses of specially prepared plant extracts and minerals to stimulate the body's defense mechanisms and healing processes in order to treat illness.
Naturopathy views disease as a manifestation of alterations in the processes by which the body naturally heals itself and emphasizes health restoration rather than disease treatment. Naturopathic physicians employ an array of healing practices, including diet and clinical nutrition, homeopathy, acupuncture, herbal medicine, hydrotherapy (the use of water in a range of temperatures and methods of applications), spinal and soft-tissue manipulation, physical therapies involving electric currents, ultrasound and light therapy, therapeutic counseling and pharmacology.

Integrated medicine

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