Complementary and alternative therapies are therapies that can be used in conjunction with conventional medical treatments to help in the healing process. They help in providing alternative curative resources, and they generally focus on the restoration of mind and body connection.
The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine has proposed a simple classification system that helps in listing and observing these corresponding therapies. All complementary and alternative therapies fall under five categories: alternative medical systems, biological-based therapies, mind-body interventions, energy therapies, and manipulative and body-based interventions.
Alternative Medical Systems
Four medical systems are generally represented in these categories.
- Traditional Chinese Medicine is an alternative therapy that focus on maintaining and restoring a balanced flow of energy. Some practices include acupressure, acupuncture, diet, medication, tai chi (a relaxed form of martial art), and qigong (an exercise that focuses on breathing, movement, and visualization.
- Ayurveda: this alternative therapy focus on the balance between mind, body, and spirit. Its interventions may include detoxification, breathing exercise, medication, yoga, and diet.
- Naturopathy focus on enhancing the natural healing responses of the body and this alternative medical system will often include biofeedback, hypnosis, counseling, and psychotherapy.
- Environmental medicine has a strong focus on preventing the harmful effects of the environment on the body. It includes patient education, immunotherapy, detoxification, and counseling the patient on the advantageous usage of environmentally safe products.
Four therapies are generally considered in these complementary therapies, and they include aromatherapy, herbal therapies, macrobiotic diet, and orthomolecular therapy.
- Aromatherypy uses topical or inhaled oils that will promote and maintain health.
- Herbal therapies use natural herbs to help in the healing process.
- Macrobiotic diet – this diet is high in vegetable, beans, and whole grains but low in meats, eggs, and animal fat.
- Orthomolecular therapy – has the focus on nutritional balances, including the use of vitamins, essential amino acids, essential fats, and minerals.
Mind-body interventions focus on the controlling physical functions through positive mental processes. These interventions therapies can include hypnosis, music and art therapy, prayer, mental healing, and biofeedback.
Energy therapies are therapies that focus on taking the energy that originates within the body and/or taking the energy that comes from other sources and using it to help with the healing process. This category includes magnetic therapy and therapeutic touch.
In conclusion, there are many complementary and alternative therapies that are useful in the healing process and should be considered in the treatment of illness, in addition with conventional medical treatments.