Alternative Healing

In a world of data overload, unprecedented scientific and technology advancement and where man now have the knowledge and means to travel to outer planets – many of us are turning to alternative medicine and natural remedies. I find myself pulled to learn more about each of these alternative medicines, from Reiki to homeopathy. Here I will introduce a few of these practices:

1. Reiki 

Reiki is a healing practice codified in the early 20th century in Japan. In Japanese, rei roughly translates to “spiritual”; ki is commonly translated as “vital energy.” Reiki Healers silently place their hands on or over a person’s body to evoke a “universal life force.” A Reiki treatment can even, practitioners believe, be conducted from miles away.

Over the past two decades, a number of studies have shown that Reiki treatments help diminish the negative side effects of chemotherapy, improve surgical outcomes, regulate the autonomic nervous system, and dramatically alter people’s experience of physical and emotional pain associated with illness. But no conclusive, peer-reviewed study has explained its mechanisms, much less confirmed the existence of a healing energy that passes between bodies on command. 

2. Homeopathy

Homeopathy is a medical system based on the belief that the body can cure itself. Those who practice it use tiny amounts of natural substances, like plants and minerals. They believe these stimulate the healing process. It was developed in the late 1700s in Germany. It’s common in many European countries, but it’s not quite as popular in the United States.

A basic belief behind homeopathy is “like cures like.” In other words, something that brings on symptoms in a healthy person can — in a very small dose — treat an illness with similar symptoms. This is meant to trigger the body’s natural defenses. For example, red onion makes your eyes water. That’s why it’s used in homeopathic remedies for allergies. Treatments for other ailments are made from poison ivy, white arsenic, crushed whole bees, and an herb called arnica.

Homeopathic doctors (who also are called “homeopaths”) weaken these ingredients by adding water or alcohol. Then they shake the mixture as part of a process called “potentization.” They believe this step transfers the healing essence. Homeopaths also believe that the lower the dose, the more powerful the medicine. 

3. Ayurveda

Ayurvedic medicine (“Ayurveda” for short) is one of the world’s oldest holistic (“whole-body”) healing systems. It was developed more than 3,000 years ago in India. It’s based on the belief that health and wellness depend on a delicate balance between the mind, body, and spirit. Its main goal is to promote good health, not fight disease. But treatments may be geared toward specific health problems..

Students of CAM therapy believe that everything in the universe – dead or alive – is connected. If your mind, body, and spirit are in harmony with the universe, you have good health. When something disrupts this balance, you get sick. Among the things that can upset this balance are genetic or birth defects, injuries, climate and seasonal change, age, and your emotions.

Those who practice Ayurveda believe every person is made of five basic elements found in the universe: space, air, fire, water, and earth.

These combine in the human body to form three life forces or energies, called doshas. They control how your body works. They are Vata dosha (space and air); Pitta dosha (fire and water); and Kapha dosha (water and earth). Everyone inherits a unique mix of the three doshas. But one is usually stronger than the others. Each one controls a different body function. It’s believed that your chances of getting sick — and the health issues you develop — are linked to the balance of your doshas.

4. Sound Healing

It’s unclear how exactly singing bowls are supposed to work. However, there are theories as to why it might have positive health and well-being effects. These theories include:

  • The sound from the singing bowls can actually change your brain waves to types of waves that make you feel relaxed.
  • The sound waves from the bowl act on the energy field of your body and cause you to relax.
  • It’s not the sound from the singing bowls but the vibrations that lead to its effects.

There’s also some evidence that music therapy more generally can reduce your levels of the stress hormone cortisol. When your levels of cortisol are lowered, you feel more relaxed. Listening to music may also help boost your immune system by increasing production of certain immune cells.

4. Cold Therapy

Cold therapy is also known as cryotherapy. It works by reducing blood flow to a particular area, which can significantly reduce inflammation and swelling that causes pain, especially around a joint or a tendon. It can temporarily reduce nerve activity, which can also relieve pain. 

In conclusion, many of these alternative healing methods may have limited to no scientific backup. However, it is undeniable that many people find benefit and solace in practicing either one or multiple healing methods. Once modern medicine, pills and hospitalization does not work people turn to these as gentler but more effective ways to healing the body, mind and soul. It is to up to each of us to find what works for ourselves – as the power of mind over body is greater than any medicine.