Reflexology, acupuncture, homeopathy, herbology – these treatments officially labeled as Complimentary and Alternative Medicines (CAM), crop up when people are either in the brink of desperation or paranoid about prevention.
Americans spend more than $35 billion on CAM including medicines, vitamins, diet products, massages, as well as books and classes. In Australia, the government came up with a $5 billion fund program to investigate the use and effectiveness of CAM. AM launches its own investigation on five alternative means are and what they can do for you.
Reflexology is the practice of stimulating nerves on the feet, hands and ears by applying pressure to encourage the body's glands and organs to correct, strengthen and reinforce themselves. The practice has been around for thousands of years in Asia and was first brought to the United States in 1913 by William Fitzgerald, M.D. When Eunice D. Ingham (1899-1974) mapped the entire body into reflexes reflexology was renamed ‘zone therapy'. Reflexologists do not diagnose illnesses or diseases and the practice is not meant to replace conventional medical treatments.
Though it can also be done with the hands and ears, reflexology is usually performed on the feet. The reflexologist will observe the patient first and then he will sanitise or clean the feet before starting. He will then apply pressure (probably the reason why this is often interchanged with massage) to the different zones in the feet. When pressure is applied to these zones the nerve endings carry the message to the body.
The pressure relaxes that area and this relaxation serves to improve the flow of blood which carries nutrition and oxygen into all parts of the body. During treatment, a patient can feel tingling sensations and may immediately feel themselves relaxing. They may also feel tired and even fall asleep.
After treatment, there is a general feeling of renewed energy. Long term effects may include increased resistance to stress, improved blood circulation and a general boost in energy levels.
The purpose of Chiropractic is to diagnose and treat problems with the joints, ligaments, tendons and nerves of the body with particular attention to the spine which includes the neck, mid-back, low-back and pelvis. There are various treatments available that will relieve pain and muscle spasm.
But this practice does not involve the use of medicine or surgery, though consultations may consist of full examinations including X-ray. Most practitioners use a holistic approach and recommend the patient consult with a nutritionist and physiotherapist as well. Treatments involve manipulation of the spine to adjust or correct mechanical disorders which affects the nervous system. Some studies suggest that this is effective in treating headaches, acute lower back pain and other musculoskeletal issues.
History says that the practice has been around since ancient Greek and Chinese civilisations but in recent history, it's Canadian Daniel David Palmer who brought the practice in the West and into the new age. Since then, it has been used for over a 100 years; the British Chiropractic Association is about 80 years old. In most countries, a practitioner must be licensed and registered to practice. There is a chiropractic law and association in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Iran; and a chiropractic association in UAE, Turkey, Lebanon and Morocco. Chiropractic was first brought to Saudi by Prince Nawaf when he convinced Dr F. Garret Moscos, DC.
This is an ancient Chinese technique which is done by inserting filiform needles into acupuncture points. Though easily associated with the Chinese culture, there are also Japanese and Korean versions of acupuncture. Acupuncture is said to be good for nausea and lower back pain. For other ailments, results of studies are inconclusive. Chinese medicine is not based on scientific method as it predates that system.
Instead, it believes that the human body as a whole is a ‘systems of function'. It believes that we have vital energy or Qi which circulates through our bodies through channels called meridians, which in turn are connected to our organs or glands. In the UK it is used to treat sports injuries, childhood illnesses and to overcome drug addiction.
An acupuncturist will proceed on the treatment based on his observations and answers he gets from the patient. He will also look at the colour, shape and coating of your tongue and feel your pulse. The acupuncturist will then explain what he intends to do. The patient might be asked to lie down or to sit still and then fine needles (of differing lengths, depending on the area being treated) will be used. Treatments can range from six to 10 sessions before results are achieved. However, this can pose dangers to pregnant women so be sure to inform your acupuncturist and General Practitioner. Side effects can range from slight drowsiness to mild soreness on areas treated. Infections can also occur if sterilised or single-use needles were not used. Damage to internal organs like puncturing of the lungs is possible if the practitioner is not properly trained well.
This alternative treatment comes from the Indian subcontinent. The word itself means ‘knowledge of life'. It deals with healthy living which translates to physical, mental, social and spiritual harmony. Ayurveda believes that materials of vegetable, animal and mineral origin have medicinal value. So, medicines from this practice are made from herbs or a mixture of herbs alone or combined with metals and other ingredients of animal origin. Among the treatments that are utilised are Panchakarma and Ayurvedic Massage. The first is a purification technique that involves a dietary prescription, massage, herbs, purgatives, sweat baths, medicated enemas and nasal cleansing. The latter is used to treat common disorders to sooth pain, relax stiff muscles or reduce swelling.
As early as 520 BC, during the time of Buddha, the practice of Ayurveda was already flourishing. In the 20thcentury Ayurvedic practitioners organised themselves into a professional associations. It is now a recognised medical system in India. In Saudi, practitioners must be certified by the Saudi Arabian Standards Organisation (SASO).
Herbalism is also known as Medicinal Botany, Herbal Medicine or Herbology. It makes use of folk or traditional medicines composed of plants and plant extracts. Historically, people from all over the world used plants for healing. In 1960, the remains of a Neanderthal man were uncovered in Iraq. What makes this interesting is that the man was evidently buried with eight plants which are still used in traditional medicine all over the world.
Herbal remedies can come in many different forms: tea, coffee, plant extract, powdered, ointments, tinctures, essential oils and supplements. Peppermint tea for instance is good at treating irritable bowel syndrome and nausea. Black cumin is used to treat conditions such as asthma, pulmonary infections, allergies and influenza among others.
Garlic lowers cholesterol, blood pressure and has antibacterial properties. Herbs, though natural, are not always safe. It can cause an overdose if taken with another medicine which has almost the same contents or effect. When consulting herbalists, make sure that they are qualified and certified. They should know about a patient's medical history and other medications being taken before dispensing an herbal cure.
Reflexology UAE – One and Only Royal Mirage Dubai (www.One and Only Royal Mirage.com), Emirates Towers Dubai (www.jumeirahemiratestowers.com), Coral Boutique Dubai (www.coral-international.com)
Chiropractic UAE - British Lasik Centre, Dubai (www.chiropracticdubai.com); The American Clinic, Abu Dhabi,
Saudi Arabia – Chiropractic Association of Saudi Arabia Sama Medical Group; Gulf Spine Riyadh (www.gulfspine.com)
Lebanon - Lebanon Chiropractic (www.lebchiropractic.com);
Herman Chiropractic & Rehab (www.hermanchiropractic.com)
Qatar – Doha Chiropractic Center Acupuncture,
Herbalism UAE - Dubai Herbal & Treatment Centre (www.dubaihtc.com) and Holistic Healing Medical Centre (www.healthholistic.com), among others.
Ayurveda UAE – Home of Ayurveda, Dubai (www.worldofayurvedauaecom);
Taj Spas (ww.tajhotels.com); Ayurspa, Ras al Khaimah (www.ayurspa.com);
Softouch Ayurvedic Centre, Kempinski Hotel & Resort, Ajman (www.softouchayurveda.com);
Oman – Oman Ayurvedic Health Resort (www.ajitkhimjigroupcom)
Source: Arabian Woman