Complementary and alternative medicine - Part 1

Boosting the body

by Carmen Visser

There are many conventional routes to follow in terms of healthcare, such as visiting a medical professional who diagnoses illnesses and prescribes medication. However, there are also a wide range of unique routes you could follow.

According to Everyday Health, complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) includes “a variety of treatment approaches that fall outside the realm of conventional medicine”. These therapies and practices fall into different categories, namely body-based, mind-based and energy-based.

Body-based medicinal therapies include treatments such as acupuncture, chiropractic, osteopathy, body massages, tai chi and even yoga. These treatments aim to resolve specific issues like physical pains while also improving one’s overall health. This article will explore three of these, namely acupuncture, body massages and yoga.


Image from Katherine Hunlon on Unsplash

Acupuncture is a traditional technique believed to have begun in 6000 B.C in China, as explained by News-Medical. Many who practise acupuncture believe that to cure illnesses or body pains, the balance between the mind and the body must be restored. This is done through the flow of energy, called Qi.

Acupuncture involves improving the function of an affected organ through the insertion of fine copper or stainless-steel needles. The sterilised needles are inserted into specific points of the body – points that were mapped out by traditional Chinese healers thousands of years ago. By doing this, the organs of the body are stimulated, through the nervous system, to heal themselves.

According to WebMD, acupuncture has shown to be effective in treating nausea, anxiety, depression, insomnia, infertility and body pains. Although studies have shown acupuncture to be successful, Medirama warns that there might be no improvement at all. Furthermore, there have also been cases of acupuncture spreading other infections to patients. However, acupuncturists are trained in sterilising procedures and should use new, sterilised and disposable needles at all times to avoid these cases.

Body Massages

Image from Alan Cashian on Unsplash

Body massages are performed by a masseuse or massage therapist who rubs and kneads parts of the body in order to ease pain or help the healing process. Massage therapy can be dated back to 3000 B.C where massages were practised as sacred healing systems in India.

Today, there are many different massages that you can recieve. These include hot stone massages, aromatherapy, reflexology and deep tissue massages. Healthline explains how these different healing processes depend on the part of the body massaged, the gentleness and the items used, for example, oils or hot stones.

While body massages have been proven to be stress-relieving, they can also add additional stress to your life. Many consider body massages as an uncomfortable experience with a stranger. Others might experience body pains after the massage, as a result of deep tissue kneading. However, Zeel argues that body massages are beneficial to many more aspects of your life than just your body.

“A massage a day keeps the stress away” this slogan was used by Full Body Massage, when arguing that massages should become a part of your lifestyle. Additionally, Home massage explains how their relaxing and therapeutic massages can relieve aches, encourage tissue healing and even reduce muscular and emotional stress. The mobile spa also explains that body massages relax senses and improve one’s overall health.


Image from Kike Vega on Unsplash

Yoga is considered a body and mind practice invented in 3000 B.C in Ancient India. What started out as a breathing technique evolved into a physically and mentally healing exercise. The physical postures, breathing techniques, meditation and relaxation is believed to connect the mind and the body in a way that allows people to find peace and tranquillity.

Yoga can be done alone or in a group. Often yoga practitioners lead a group of people in their yoga session. Male practitioners are known as yogis while female practitioners are known as yoginis. In addition, yoga is used as a way to stretch out body muscles and relax the mind.

Yoga studios in South Africa believe that the type of meditation is crucial in finding peace and happiness. Living Yoga says, “Yoga is about realising your inherent happiness.”. Another studio, Yoga Warrior, argues that people are always rushing their lives and that Yoga allows them to pause and discover their true self.

Yoga could also be considered a complementary and alternative medicinal practice for your intellectual state. The next article in this series will expand on how meditation, biofeedback and hypnosis are treatments for one’s mind.

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