Alternative Healing Modalities

There are so many different forms of alternative healing out there. This is just a small sample of popular modalities to give you a sense of healing options. When looking into a healing modality for yourself, please do thorough research into the modality and the practitioners. Many of the modalities described below can be used as complementary forms of healing alongside traditional Western medical treatments.

Acupressure Acupressure is an ancient healing art that uses the fingers to press key points on the surface of the skin to stimulate the body’s natural self-curative abilities. When these points are pressed, they release muscular tension and promote the circulation of blood and the body’s life force to aid healing.
Acupuncture Acupuncture is based on the principle that there are energetic pathways, or channels, throughout the body that influence associated internal organs and structures. Energy from these pathways surfaces at various points on the body, identified as acupuncture points. Each of these acupuncture points serves as a tunnel, or access route, to the deeper circulatory channels within. Extremely fine gauge needles are inserted at selected points, stimulating these points and thereby activating the body’s natural healing abilities.
Aromatherapy Aromatherapy is a holistic treatment based on the external use of essential aromatic plant oils to maintain and promote physical, physiological, and spiritual wellbeing. The essential oils may be used in massage, added to a warm bath, used to moisten a compress that is applied to the affected part of the body, added to a vaporizer for inhalation, or diffused throughout a room.
Ayurveda Ayurveda is a holistic approach to health that is designed to help people live long, healthy, and well-balanced lives. Just as everyone has a unique fingerprint, according to Ayurvedic beliefs, each person has a distinct pattern of energy — a specific combination of physical, mental, and emotional characteristics. It is also believed that there are three basic energy types called doshas, present in every person: Vatta, Pitta, and Kapha. Disturbing the balance of your dosha leads to disease. Ayurvedic principles seek to maintain balance to prevent or treat disease.
Chiropractic Chiropractic is a health care discipline and profession that emphasizes diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mechanical disorders of the musculoskeletal system, especially the spine, under the hypothesis that these disorders affect general health via the nervous system. The main chiropractic treatment technique involves manual therapy, including manipulation of the spine, other joints, and soft tissues; treatment also includes exercises and health and lifestyle counseling.
Color Therapy (aka Chromotherapy) Colors affect moods and emotions. Color therapy uses this sensitivity to color to identify and correct any imbalances in the body’s internal energy patterns that might lead to emotional or physical ill health. Therapists believe that each organ and body system has its own characteristic vibrational energy, and disorders can be healed by applying color of the corresponding vibrational energy, either to the whole body or to the organ concerned. A therapist trained in color therapy applies light and color in the form of tools, visualization, or verbal suggestion to balance energy in the areas of our bodies that are lacking vibrance, be it physical, emotional, spiritual, or mental.
Craniosacral Therapy (CST) Craniosacral therapy is an alternative medicine therapy used by osteopaths, massage therapists, naturopaths, and chiropractors. A craniosacral therapy session involves the therapist placing their hands on the patient, which allows them to tune into what they call the craniosacral rhythm. The practitioner claims to gently work with the spine and the skull and its cranial sutures, diaphragms, and fascia. In this way, the restrictions of nerve passages are said to be eased, the movement of cerebrospinal fluid through the spinal cord is said to be optimized, and misaligned bones are said to be restored to their proper position. Craniosacral therapists use the therapy to treat mental stress, neck and back pain, migraines, TMJ Syndrome, and for chronic pain conditions such as fibromyalgia.
Energy Healing Energy healing is based on the belief that a healer is able to channel healing energy into the person seeking help by different methods: hands-on, hands-off, and distant (or absent) where the patient and healer are in different locations. Methods of energy healing include Acupressure/Acupuncture, Reiki, Pranic Healing, Quantum Touch, Qigong, and many others.
Herbalism Herbalism is a practice based on the use of plants and plant extracts. Herbalism is also known as botanical medicine, medical herbalism, herbal medicine, herbology, and phytotherapy. The scope of herbal medicine is sometimes extended to include fungal and bee products, as well as minerals, shells and certain animal parts. Herb plants produce and contain a variety of chemical compounds that act upon the body and are used to prevent or treat disease or promote health and well-being.   Remedies are produced by either taking the whole plant, or just the part of the plant required, and often mixing it with other plants. They are usually boiled in water or alcohol, and made into: herbal teas; herbal decoctions; herbal syrup; herbal tincture; infused oils; salves & ointment/creams.
Homeopathy Homeopathy is the second largest medical system in the world, western medicine being number one.   The term homeopathy comes from the Greek words homeo, meaning similar, and pathos, meaning suffering or disease.   Modern homeopathy was invented by a German physician, Dr. Samuel Hahnemann in the late 18th Century. Hahnemann’s theory, which he called the law of similars, was that preparations which cause certain symptoms in healthy individuals are given in diluted form to patients who already exhibit similar symptoms. These preparations are formed into small pellets with sugar. They are created by FDA-approved pharmaceutical companies who painstakingly follow Hahnemann’s instructions to make the pellets for each remedy.
Hypnotherapy Hypnotherapy is a therapy that is undertaken with a subject in hypnosis. Hypnotherapy is often applied in order to modify a subject’s behavior, emotional content, and attitudes, as well as a wide range of conditions including dysfunctional habits, anxiety, stress-related illness, pain management, and personal development. Hypnotherapy employs direct suggestion of symptom removal, with some use of therapeutic relaxation and occasionally aversion to alcohol, drugs, etc.
Massage Therapy Massage involves acting on and manipulating the body with pressure – structured, unstructured, stationary, or moving – tension, motion, or vibration, done manually or with mechanical aids. Target tissues may include muscles, tendons, ligaments, skin, joints, or other connective tissue, as well as lymphatic vessels, or organs of the gastrointestinal system. Massage can be applied with the hands, fingers, elbows, knees, forearm, and feet. There are over eighty different recognized massage modalities. The benefits of massage include pain relief, reduced anxiety and depression, and temporarily reduced blood pressure and heart rate.   Modalities of massage include Swedish, Shiatsu, Deep Tissue, Thai, and Lomi Lomi.
Myofascial Release Myofascial release is a form of soft tissue therapy used to treat somatic dysfunction and accompanying pain and restriction of motion. This is accomplished by relaxing contracted muscles, increasing circulation, increasing venous and lymphatic drainage, and stimulating the stretch reflex of muscles and overlying fascia. The direct myofascial release (or deep tissue work) method works on the restricted fascia. Practitioners use knuckles, elbows, or other tools to slowly stretch the restricted fascia by applying a few kilograms-force or tens of newtons. Direct myofascial release seeks for changes in the myofascial structures by stretching, elongation of fascia, or mobilizing adhesive tissues. The practitioner moves slowly through the layers of the fascia until the deep tissues are reached. The indirect method involves a gentle stretch, with only a few grams of pressure, which allows the fascia to ‘unwind’ itself. The gentle traction applied to the restricted fascia will result in heat and increased blood flow in the area.
Naturopathy Naturopathy (also known as naturopathic medicine or natural medicine) is an alternative medical system that focuses on natural remedies and the body’s ability to heal and maintain itself. Naturopathic philosophy favors a holistic approach and minimal use of surgery and drugs. Naturopaths use a wide variety of treatment modalities, focusing on natural self-healing rather than any specific method. These methods can include Acupuncture, Color Therapy, Homeopathy, Holistic Nutrition, Reflexology, Traditional Chinese Medicine, and more.
Qigong Qigong is an ancient Chinese health care system that integrates physical postures, breathing techniques and focused intention. Qigong practices can be classified as martial, medical, or spiritual. All styles have three things in common: they all involve a posture, (whether moving or stationary), breathing techniques, and mental focus. Some practices increase the Qi; others circulate it, use it to cleanse and heal the body, store it, or emit Qi to help heal others. Practices vary from the soft internal styles such as Tai Chi; to the external, vigorous styles such as Kung Fu.
Reflexology Reflexology is the practice of applying pressure to the feet and hands utilizing specific thumb, finger and hand techniques without the use of oil, cream or lotion based on a system of zones and reflex areas that reflect an image of the body on the feet and hands with a premise that such work effects a physical change in the body.
Reiki Reiki is a form of energy healing that channels ki energies to promote balance and well-being.   The term Reiki is derived from two Japanese syllables, rei and ki (pronounced “ray key”), meaning Universal Life Energy. Many traditional Reiki practitioners use hand positions directly on the body to heal. Some non-traditional practitioners do not follow the specific hand positions or do not touch the body at all. There is no incorrect way to give the healing energy of Reiki.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Traditional Chinese medicine, also known as TCM, includes a range of traditional medicine practices originating in China. Although a common part of medical care throughout East Asia, it is considered an alternative medical system in much of the Western world. TCM therapy largely consists of Chinese herbal medicine, acupuncture, dietary therapy, and tui na massage. The health promoting aspects of qigong and taijiquan are also closely associated with it. Main aspects of TCM’s concept of the human body, health, and disease, are yin and yang, the Five Elements, qi, meridians and the “six excesses”, usually translated with Six Exogenous Pathogenic Factors.

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