There are all sorts of treatments out there that could be classed as “alternative”. From Reiki to cupping, from leaches to acupuncture, from acupressure to hot stone massages, the list goes on and on. Being objective people, we know that some of these treatments are simply fads. Some may be based on some form of scientific method, or a process that has been used in ancient cultures, but whether or not they are relevant today and offer anything other than a placebo effect remains to be see. So what are the most popular types of alternative treatment today and is there any truth in the benefits of these treatments?
Astrology is a very ancient form of alternative therapy. You may question whether it is a therapy at all, but it needs to be seen on a psychological level. After all, when you go see a psychologist, psychiatrist or counselor, you are “in therapy”. As such, astrology is absolutely a type of therapy, as it gives people psychological peace of mind, or at the very least an understanding of the forces that are prevalent in their lives.
Astrology is a humanistic attempt at trying to understand the cycles that we share with the forces in the Universe. The planets have corresponding rulership to certain vitamins, minerals, cell salts, herbs, metals, colors and parts of the body. Through the chart, one can look to see what natal health conditions exist. Through these precepts, we can then look at the present and into the future to see what areas of our lives are being affected and potentially how we can head off ill health and promote wellness.
So does it work? Some people absolutely swear by it. However, from a scientific perspective, there is absolutely no truth in astrological therapy besides the placebo effect. It would imply that all the people that were born on the same date as each other would be pretty much the same, bar a few differences, and this is almost impossible. Indeed, people have found that they felt much better after following the advice of their astrologer, but anybody would feel better if they start to eat a healthier diet combined with the right supplements. Added to this the fact that there are many quack astrologers out there, such as those who write daily horoscopes for magazines, and it is safe to say that this is not a type of treatment that is likely to be accepted as a real field of science any time soon.
Cupping is another technique that is suddenly becoming very popular. It was recently featured in celebrity magazine, as it seemed Jennifer Aniston was using it to boost her fertility. Cupping is actually a very old technique, dating back to 4th century China.
In a typical cupping session, glass cups are warmed using a cotton ball or other flammable substance, which is soaked in alcohol, let, then placed inside the cup. Burning a substance inside the cup removes all the oxygen, which creates a vacuum. […] The vacuum created by the lack of oxygen anchors the cup to the skin and pulls it upward on the inside of the glass as the air inside the jar cools. Drawing up the skin is believed to open up the skin’s pores, which helps to stimulate the flow of blood, balances and realigns the flow of qi, breaks up obstructions, and creates an avenue for toxins to be drawn out of the body.
So does it work? A lot of people absolutely swear by it, and there have now been numerous programs of skeptics trying it out “for a laugh” and finding that it has actually given them benefits. However, a lot of people find that the relief they experience is short lived. The additional blood flow does make their body feel more supple, but the effects pretty much wear off after a good night’s sleep.
Herbalism is an alternative therapy that has been widely accepted in scientific communities. All drugs used in the pharmaceutical industry have their origins in nature. For instance, medicine created to combat malaria comes from the bark of the quinine tree. Herbalism goes back to those roots, taking the advantages of nature’s plants and turning them into healing forces without using chemical solutions.
Thousands of years of coevolution with plants gives us an advantage in that our bodies will readily respond to plant chemicals. In addition to having vitamins and minerals that form the basis of our nutrition, plants have evolved some pretty amazing compounds that enable them to adapt and survive. They are exposed to many of the same pressures and influences that challenge us, like bacteria, viruses, toxins, and local environmental stresses.
So does it work? Absolutely. Herbalism is not an airy fair form of medicine, but rather one that can truly cure people. It is not for nothing that herbalists were long seen as witches and wizards, as they would disappear into the fields for hours, coming back with plants to create potions that magically cured various ailments. You must also remember that there are numerous poisonous plants out there, which have the capacity to take human lives at worst, or inflict pain and injury at best. It stands to reason that they can do the opposite as well.
Lastly, there is Reiki. Reiki comes from Japan and is a technique designed to relax and reducing stress. In doing so, it also promotes healing.
It is administered by “laying on hands” and is based on the idea that an unseen “life force energy” flows through us and is what causes us to be alive. If one’s “life force energy” is low, then we are more likely to get sick or feel stress, and if it is high, we are more capable of being happy and healthy.
So does it work? This is the one that people aren’t very sure about. It has been used for a long time and the system of becoming a Reiki master is very intricate and requires almost what could be called proof of fact. This is one that will have to remain floating in the middle.