Natural medicines involve a wide range of natural therapies that work on both the physical and emotional body in order to relieve pain, improve health, and also improve emotional conditions such as stress or anxiety.
The Benefits of Natural Medicine
There are many benefits to be had from undergoing one of these forms of natural therapies. Many of these therapies, such as herbal medicine, homoeopathy, and Traditional Chinese Medicine, use natural plants and essences taken from the earth in order to heal any problems or disharmonies within the body. These are safe remedies that are mixed to the precise specification of the individual, and have no side effects.
Flower essences are fantastic for helping to heal any emotional disharmonies that are currently occurring within the body. These essences, which can actually be self-prescribed, can help with emotions ranging from anger to fear. By neutralising or ridding ourselves of these emotions, we can actually be helping to avoid becoming ill in the future.
Many of these therapies such as Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda, treat the whole body, and are systems that have been in use for thousands of years. The fact that these treatment systems have persisted for so long is proof that they are safe, and that they work.
Therapies such as nutrition, weight loss, exercise and allergy testing/treatments are aimed at providing the body with the energy that it needs to operate at its peak, and removing any obstacles that may stop this from occurring. A healthy body needs the right fuel, and to be free of any toxins in order for it to be as healthy as possible.
Diagnostic tools such as Kinesiology, naturopathy, and holistic doctors also play a role in optimum health as their goal is to identify illnesses before they start to have a negative impact on the body. Being able to identify these potential illnesses early is vital and of great benefit as it helps to stop disease from damaging the body.
There is a strong preventative aspect in the majority of the natural therapies outlined below and this helps to prove the saying that prevention is better than cure. It is better to keep the body strong physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, so that toxins, disease or other physical conditions cannot take hold and create a negative impact on any aspect of the body.
Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine
• Acupuncture is a well known natural therapy that focuses on improving the overall wellbeing of the patient. It works by using fine needles that are inserted into the body at specific points in order to clear energy blocks or stagnant energy and to help energy flow freely throughout the body once again. By restoring the natural flow of energy, pain is relieved and health is restored. Many conditions can be treated with acupuncture, from addictions, to pain, skin problems, stress, and much more.
• Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a complete medical system that has been used for over 23 centuries in the treating and preventing of illness. All treatments within TCM are designed to bring the Yin and Yang into harmony within the body by regulating the flow of Qi in the body. Treatments that are used in TCM include acupuncture (link to acupuncture), herbal medicine (link to herbal medicine), diet, exercise, massage (link to massage), tai chi (link to tai chi), and qi gong.
Herbal Medicine and Homoeopathy
• Herbal medicine is practiced in many cultures and has been successfully used for thousands of years. An herbalist will prepare a treatment based on the consultation that they have with their client. Generally plants and plant parts are used within the herbal remedy, but some cultures will also use animal or mineral products in their herbal mixtures. The herbal remedy may take the form of teas, capsules, tablets, extracts, or tinctures, to name a few. Herbal medicine is effective as the ingredients in the remedy contain natural chemicals and compounds that have biological activity. Many conditions can benefit from the use of herbal medicine, from as simple as the common cold, to as complicated as digestive conditions and allergies.
• Homoeopathy is designed to help the body to heal itself. Symptoms of ill health are caused by disharmony within the person, and it is the person that needs the treatment rather than the disease or illness itself. The medicines used in homoeopathy are comprised of plant, mineral, and animal extracts and are prescribed according to the specific symptoms shown by an individual, as well as the emotions that they show and their general physical condition. Allergy Testing/Treatments
Allergy testing is carried out to diagnose allergies so that treatment may be undertaken. Any substance can potentially cause an allergic reaction, which may range from minor to potentially life threatening. Some common allergens include lactose, wheat, animal dander, shellfish, and dust. There are many tests that can be used to determine an allergen such as blood tests, elimination diets, and scratch or puncture tests, just to name a few. The treatment will depend on the person’s level of involvement with the allergen, but at a minimum, practitioners will recommend that you avoid the allergen wherever possible. Some allergy tests can only be performed by medical doctors but many natural therapists such as naturopaths (link to naturopathy) and nutritionists (link to nutrition) will use some form of allergy testing in their diagnosis.
Ayurveda is an ancient Indian medical practice that uses a range of treatments such as herbal medicine, diet, meditation, massage, and yoga to maintain or restore health. In Ayurveda, it is believed that each person contains part of the universe’s basic elements, and these elements combine to create one of three body types. They are known as vata, pitta and kapha. The theory behind Ayurveda states that illness occurs when one or more of the body types become imbalanced. This is a therapy that can be applied to every aspect of life, and can even become a way of life. The Ayurvedic treatments will be prescribed according to your body type.
The Alexander Technique is a simple method of re-educating the mind and body to improve movement, balance and coordination. It teaches how thinking becomes response in motion. It is taught by observing one’s own mannerisms while in motion, by training the body’s own sense of location and effort, called the kinaesthetic sense.
The Alexander Technique can be practiced during any activity, making any sort of body motion more efficient. It is most commonly taught in performance schools for dance, acting, circus, music and some Olympic sports. It can also be used remedially to stop stuttering, to improve ergonomics and to obtain full recovery. Its principles are useful in psychology, creative thinking, learning theory and philosophy of coaching.
Freedom of movement will always improve through practice, but depending on the causes of limitation structural posture may or may not improve. Motion is guided with hands-on modelling by the teacher whilst giving subtle indications of timing, direction and coaching.
The frequency of lessons and the speed at which the Alexander Technique is learnt depends on the student’s own motivation to shed old habits. The support from teacher and other students if in a class situation is very important therefore the sampling of a number of teachers is advisable.
Craniosacral Therapy is a hands-on energy healing technique, whereby therapists gently mobilize and release the craniosacral system, which includes the soft tissue of the head (cranium), the spine down to its tail end (the sacral area) and the pelvis. It focuses on the cerebrospinal fluid, which is produced and absorbed by the body and in particular, the irregularities in the flow of this fluid.
The movement of spinal fluid within and around the central nervous system is believed to create a vital body rhythm, equally important to health and well-being as the beating of the heart or the breath. This therapy may be of benefit in many areas, including hyperactivity, cerebral palsy, dyslexia and stress related problems.
Craniosacral Therapy helps to boost general well-being, reduce stress, improve quality of sleep, increase energy and enhance the functioning of all the body's organs. It is a non-intrusive therapy that works with the entire structure, physiology, mind and spirit. For a treatment, clients usually lay on a massage table and the therapist works through light clothing. It is a very gentle and profoundly relaxing procedure that lasts between 40 to 60 minutes.
Chiropractic was founded in 1895, in the USA, by Daniel David Palmer but it is now a much more diverse therapy than its origins. It is based upon the understanding that good health is dependant upon a normally functioning nervous system, especially the spine and nerves extending from the spine to all parts of the body. Chiropractic Doctors or Chiropractors, may sometimes refer to a patient's subluxation, which is a misalignment of the spine that interferes with nerve signals transmitted by the brain.
What Chiropractors Do?
Chiropractors examine the spine (after taking a case history) to ascertain any injuries, accidents or tension that may be causing irritation to the spinal nerve roots. By reducing or eliminating this irritation, the body will operate more efficiently and more comfortably. They may also refer a patient for x-rays, Massage or Physiotherapy if this is considered to be necessary.
There is an emphasis upon nutritional and exercise programs, along with advice on lifestyle modifications, as Chiropractors believe that the body is a self regulating organism with an inborn potential to be healthy. Pharmaceutical medications are not prescribed.
Patients may need to be undressed for treatments by gentle manipulation or adjustment of the spine, which are usually performed on a special Chiropractic table. Length and frequency of treatments will vary from one practitioner to another and the degree of severity of the problem presented.
The Feldenkrais Method is recognized for its demonstrated ability to improve posture, flexibility, coordination, self-image and to alleviate muscular tension and pain. The effectiveness of the Feldenkrais Method is in its ability to access the nervous system's own innate processes to change and refine functioning. The Feldenkrais Method is a unique and sophisticated approach to human understanding, learning and change.
Feldenkrais is based on principles of physics, biomechanics and a complete understanding of human development. As a form of somatic education, the Feldenkrais Method uses gentle movement and directed attention to improve movement and enhance human functioning. This allows increased ease and range of motion, improved flexibility and coordination, and a re-discovery of efficient, graceful movement.
Anyone, young or old, physically challenged or physically fit, can benefit from the Feldenkrais treatment. It is beneficial for anyone suffering chronic or acute back, neck, shoulder, hip, leg or knee pain, as well as for healthy individuals who wish to enhance their self-image. Helpful in dealing with central nervous system conditions such as multiple scelorsis, cerebral palsy and stroke relief, all patients of the Feldenkrais Method enjoy greater ease of movement, an increased sense of vitality and an experience of relaxation leaving one feeling more centered and balanced.
Feldenkrais work is done in two formats.
• Group classes are known as "Awareness Through Movement" during which a teacher leads the class through a sequence of movements in basic positions involving sitting or lying on the floor, standing or sitting in a chair. These sessions usually last 30 to 60 minutes and can vary in difficulty and complexity, for all levels of movement ability. The students are guided through the movement process within the limits of safety by avoiding pain and strain.
• Private lessons are called "Functional Integration" as the movements are tailored to each student's individual learning needs. The student remains fully clothed, usually lying on a table or sitting or standing in certain positions which are sometimes supported by various props such as pillows, rollers or blankets. This hands-on form of kinesthetic communication conveys the experience of comfort, pleasure and ease of movement as the student learns how to reorganize their body and behavior in new and more expanded functional motor patterns.
Flower essences can be used to treat negative emotions, thoughts, and even disease. This is done by choosing a remedy that matches a patient’s temperament as well as their state of mind. Flower essences are not used directly for physical conditions but rather treat the worry and anxiety that is troubling the patient. In this therapy, the essences work n a vibrational level, so that the life force can flow more freely. These essences are able to treat emotional problems such as anger, apprehension, loneliness, despair, uncertainty, self-esteem, and creativity, to name just a few. Flower essences are complete safe to use and have no side effects.
The difference between a holistic doctor and your regular Family Doctir is that the holistic doctor looks at the issues of health and disease from a holistic or “whole body” philosophy. They treat the body, not just the symptoms that you present with. Holistic Doctors embrace the idea of treating the whole person in order to eradicate disease and promote a state of wellness. They will look at diet, exercise, nutrition and discuss lifestyle changes that may need to be made. They may also discuss other alternative treatments from a wide range of modalities, that may not necessarily be considered by a GP. They are fully qualified and possess a medical degree, exactly like your local GP – what makes them Holistic Doctors is that they also have training in one or more areas of alternative medicine.
Naturopaths prevent, assess, and treat conditions of the mind and body. They use conventional health sciences along with a range of natural therapies in order to treat a person’s mental, emotional and physical states for a lasting effect. Naturopathy believes that every person has their own healing energy, and naturopathic treatment simply allows the body to repair itself and recover from illnesses. Naturopaths encourage a person to take responsibility for their own health. The goal is to create a lifestyle that supports health and wellbeing. Naturopaths use therapies such as herbal medicine, nutrition, flower essences, homoeopathy, iridology and massage to assist in the healing process.
Nutrition is vital for our health and it can be defined as the science that establishes the relationship between a person’s diet and their overall health. To function properly, the body needs the correct levels of carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins, mineral, and water. If any of these reach too low a level, a deficiency occurs and this results in a person feeling generally unwell or even illness. Antioxidants are another important part of nutrition as they neutralise free radicals in the body – damaging substances that can contribute to premature aging, heart disease, and liver disease, amongst other problems. To have a healthy diet, it is best to eat a diet that is rich in wholegrains, fresh fruits and vegetables, and plenty of water. For added health benefits, you can try eating some “superfoods”.
Weight loss is the process of losing body mass by reducing body fat content. Too much weight causes additional stress to be placed on the body and this excess weight can result in conditions such as back pain, heart disease, and diabetes. While all natural therapies will help with the emotional and physical issues that may have led to the weight gain, naturopathy, yoga, personal training and nutrition are some of the more commonly used natural therapies for weight loss. As well as changing physical habits, it is also important to change your dietary habits – replacing your old diet with a diet that is rich in wholegrains, fresh fruits and vegetables.
The philosophy of Osteopathy is to treat the whole person, not just the symptoms. It places emphasis on the relationships between the body's structure, framework and function, teaching the appreciation of the body's ability to heal itself.
Osteopaths work with their hands to perform such treatment using a variety of techniques:
• Massage and stretching techniques
• Articulation techniques – passive joint mobilization
• Muscle energy techniques – releasing contracted muscles by working against resistance
• Counterstrain techniques – counter stretching restricted joints and muscles whilst in position of comfort in order to achieve release
• Functional techniques – gentle joint mobilization
• Visceral techniques – management of conditions affecting internal organs involving gentle and rhythmical stretching of the visceral areas
Why See an Osteopath?
The most common complaints for which patients consult Osteopaths include back and neck pain, sciatica, headaches, pains in peripheral joints such as shoulders, knees and ankles, tendinitis and muscle strains, work-related and repetitive strain injuries, and sports-related injuries. Other conditions for which Osteopathy can play a significant role in reducing the severity of symptoms include asthma,, arthritic conditions and chronic fatigue.
When visiting an osteopath for the first time, a full case history will be taken as well as an examination. This generally requires the removing of some clothing and the performance of a simple series of movements. The Osteopath will use a highly developed sense of touch, called palpation, to identify any points of weakness or excessive strain throughout the body. Osteopathic treatments are tailored to the requirements of the individual patient, and techniques are selected which are appropriate to the patient's needs. For some acute pain, one to two treatments may be all that is necessary. Chronic conditions may need ongoing maintenance averaging six to eight sessions.
Pilates is a unique method of body conditioning that integrates muscle control, breathing, flexibility, strength training and body awareness. Pilates is a series of movements that engage body and mind, performed on specifically designed exercise apparatus or on floor mats and supervised by extensively trained teachers.
Pilates promotes physical harmony and balance for people of all ages and physical conditions while providing a refreshing and energizing workout. Floor pilates is done on mats using few pieces of equipment. Apparatus pilates uses a variety of equipment specially designed for pilates namely Cadillac (or Trapeze Table), Wundachair, Reformer Bed, Spine Corrector, Ladder Barrell and Magic Circle.
Many dancers and athletes use Pilates to prevent injury and improve performance. It can also be effective in relieving chronic back and neck pain, and may be useful for those suffering from Arthritis. In addition, it can improve abdominal-muscle strength and posture. By engaging the mind and body, Pilates is also a known stress reliever.
Pilates can be taught one on one or in a class environment. Breath control and body movements are continually monitored in the 45 minute to one hour long session. Comfortable attire is required to perform both apparatus and floor Pilates.
Touch For Health
Touch For Health is a form of kinesiology that restores the body to its natural state of health. Developed in the early 1970s by Dr John Thie, Touch For Health is internationally recognised as the fundamental training concepts for kinesiology.
How Does Touch For Health Work?
Touch For Health uses muscle monitoring or testing combined with Chinese medicine to diagnose and correct energy imbalances within the body. It may use acupressure, touch or massage. These are applied to the appropriate meridian points (energy points) within the body to improve the patient’s health and wellbeing.
Muscle testing or monitoring is a key component of kinesiology, and it is used to diagnose and heal imbalances that may have occurred as a result of stress, nutrition, injuries, allergies, or learning problems, and so on. Touch For Health can improve postural balance and reduce physical and mental pain as well as tension. It is designed to correct the imbalances that may result from a busy life.
Using this muscle monitoring or testing, simple and gentle techniques are applied to the body’s energy systems (or acupuncture meridian points) in order to create complete balance and harmony.
Touch For Health is useful for:
• emotional disorders
• helping with quitting smoking and other addictions
• problems with nutrition
• vision improvement
• physical injuries
• providing pain relief
• realigning muscles so that they work correctly and in harmony
Anybody can learn Touch For Health, especially those interested in furthering their personal development and growth.
Tai Chi is an ancient Chinese discipline that integrates mind, body and spirit. Practitioners use meditation and deep breathing as they move through a series of continuous exercises, called 'forms', which resemble slow-moving ballet. Tai Chi is a component of Traditional Chinese Medicine that works to improve the flow of internal energy (Qi) throughout the body.
The central element of practicing Tai Chi focuses on Internal Discipline. That is, how a movement should be made from the internal core of the body - the abdomen and back - rather than from the external parts of the body - the limbs.
Benefits of Tai Chi
Tai Chi, although a martial art, is now mainly practiced for its therapeutic benefits, which include reducing stress, promoting balance and flexibility. Tai Chi can also be used to help Arthritis, Balance, circulation problems, High Blood Pressure, Multiple Sclerosis and stress.
Tai Chi can be taught in a class setting or from books and videos. You must wear something comfortable to move around in and it can be done with shoes or bare feet.
Yoga is a therapy that aims to unite the mind, soul and body. Most yoga styles are derived from hatha yoga, a type of yoga that focuses on the body and breath and aims to develop control the body through poses (or asanas). Hatha represents the two sides of life – the yin and the yang, the dark and the light – and aims to bring these two sides into harmony and balance. All styles of yoga balance the body, mind and spirit but how they do so may differ. Some styles focus on the poses, while others may focus on breathwork, alignment or the flow of movement.
Breathing is very important in yoga as the breath signifies your vital energy. In yoga, being able to control your breath can help you to control your body and your mind. No matter which style of yoga you choose there are many classes available and the health benefits are many.
Benefits of Yoga:
The benefits of yoga are far ranging and plentiful. Following is just some of the things that yoga can help you with:
• increased flexibility
• increased strength and vitality
• strengthening of the immune system
• improving of circulatory system
• stimulating of endocrine system
• stretching and toning of muscles
• weight loss
• management of chronic health conditions such as asthma, carpal tunnel syndrome, depression, back pain, osteoarthritis and osteoporosis
• improved concentration and focus
• reduction of stress and anxiety
• encourages the connection of our physical, mental and spiritual selves
The great thing about yoga is that anyone can practice it, as there is a style to suit everybody.
Main Styles of Yoga
There are several different styles of yoga, indeed too many to list here. However, there are some common styles and these are outlined below:
• Ashtanga – is the “workout” form of yoga. It is a series of poses performed sequentially and beginning with sun salutations. Movements are linked to the breath and the poses move continually. It is an aerobic form of yoga and moves quickly.
• Bikram – developed by Bikram Choudhury, this style of yoga is performed in a heated room. Bikram yoga is sees students performing 26 poses that are designed to cleanse the body and enhance physical strength and balance. It is good for detoxification.
• Kundalini – this form of yoga awakens the Kundalini energy at the base of the spine and mixes chanting, breathing and yoga poses. The focus is on chanting and breathing more so than getting the poses absolutely right. This is a powerful form of yoga and should only be taught by an experienced teacher.
• Iyengar – is a precise style of yoga and one of the most popular in the world. It places much focus on attention to detail and getting the alignment of the poses absolutely right. Iyengar also uses props such as blocks and belts. It is a great style of yoga for the fitness conscious.
• Viniyoga – places emphasis on healing and is gentler than other styles. The breath and movement of the spine is carefully integrated and the intensity of the poses is subject to the health of the person practicing the yoga. Viniyoga may also involve meditation and reflection.