Alternative medicines are type of therapies that are not based on allopathic medicines, procedures, or surgeries. These types of therapies try to resolve the root cause of the problem and cure the disease. Some of the prominent alternative medicines are homeopathy, ayurveda, acupuncture, Chinese medicine, reiki, holistic medicine, vipassana, and unani. In fact the list is quite long, and so is the list of beneficiaries. Some of the above mentioned prominent alternative medicines are discussed below.
Like cures like – the substance that causes the healthy people to have symptoms of disease shall cure the sick people with same symptoms. This is the basic principle behind homeopathy therapy or medicine. Homeopathy medicines are prepared by continuous dilution of a suitable substance and are prescribed after taking due considerations of the disease symptoms. Homeopathy medicines are safe and effective and can be given to infants and pregnant women. The remedies are made out of natural substance and hence side effects are very rare.
With Ayur standing for life and Veda for science, Ayurveda, the traditional medicinal system of India, dates back to several millenniums. As per ayurveda, human body is made up of.
- Doshas - Vata, Pitta and Kapha, all the functions of the body are carried out by these three doshas.
- Dhatus - Rasa (Plasma), Rakta (Blood cells), Mamsa (Muscular tissue), Meda (Fatty tissue), Asthi (Bony tissue), Majja (Bone marrow) and Shukra (Hormonal and other secretions of genital)
- Malas- Pureesh (faeces), Sweda (sweat) and Mutra (urine)
The treatment methodology of ayurveda strives to keep all these components in dynamic equilibrium to balance each other. The treatment is usually through panchkarma, a collective therapeutic procedure.
Alike ayurveda, acupuncture is also a several millennium old medicinal system. Acupuncture medicinal system believes that patterns of energy that flows through the body are important for health care. When the flow pattern changes, diseases occur and the same is rectified by penetrating points close to the skin by thin, solid, metallic needles. The selection of penetrating points is done by expert practitioners. This ancient Chinese method has now been adapted and suitably modified by several countries.
Reiki, one of the popular alternative medicines was developed by Japanese Buddhist monk. Since then, this method of treatment has been gaining popularity and has made in-roads to several countries. With the help of reiki, universal energy is transferred from the palm of the practitioner and heals the disease. As it has no side effects, it is usually practiced along side or as supplement to other forms of treatment.
Holistic medicine can be explained as a treatment in which a practitioner takes into account body, mind, and all circumstances that leads to a disease. Holistic medicine practitioners believe that humans are made up of parts that are dependent on each other. If a part does not work properly, it leads to mismatch in the balance and creates diseases. Usually, along with medicines, these practitioners suggest change in life style, diet plans and sleeping habits so as to bring harmony among all the interdependent parts.
Unani is a form a health care system followed in Middle East and South Asia. On the lines of teachings of Hippocrates, Unani medicine is based on humors:
- Balgham - Phlegm
- Dam – Blood
- Safra – Yellow Bile
- Sauda – Black Bile
Treatment methodologies include the diagnosis of disease based on symptoms and signs. Subsequently, treatment is provided to eliminate the cause, regularization of humors and organs.
Though the modern allopathic medicine practitioners claim that alternative medicines do not have the backing and evidence of science or scientific methods, several hundreds of them are being successfully practiced today for the benefit of the patients. Millions of persons benefitted through alternative medicines stand as testimony.