By Barbara Kent
My 80 year old mother refused surgery for a ìshadowî on her
lung the size of a tangerine. She showed me a newspaper clipping about alternative
medicine and said ìThatís the way weíre going to go, Iím too old to be tortured again.î
After a three month bout with pneumonia last year, the medical technology of the
New Millennium which saved her life is also torture to her. Happily, the truth of
Alternative Medicine is the comfortable resurrection of medical systems that have
been around for millennia.
Ten years ago, mom would have had no choice but surgery. Today, if there is no malignancy, there are a number of alternatives that are sanctioned by her doctors and even a few sanctioned by her insurance company.
Dr. Sam Benjamin, director of the two-year old Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine at Stony Brook, believes that ìPeople should have the ability to integrate various modalities of healing and prevention and choose from them...Integrating alternative medicine with mainstream American medicine obviates the need for parallel systems.î Among the offerings at Stony Brook are herbalism, meditation, long distance intercession (prayer), massage; Reiki, traditional Chinese medicine, nutritional medicine, exercise, tai chi yoga and acupuncture. ìWe tell people what is proven and what is as yet unproven; where there is data to support, and where there is not. The single greatest problem is when information is presented in a biased fashion, negative or positive, so that if there is a ìspinî on it, the patient canít make intelligent choices for themselves.î
Dr. Sal Cumella, MD and publicist for Dr. Serafina Corselloís Centers for Nutritional Complimentary Medicine in Manhattan and Huntington, N.Y., added that in addition to ìtraditional alternative medicineî they also use ìVitamin therapy, live cell analysis, dark field microscopy... blood IV infusions, kinesiology, biofeedback and immunotherapy.î They also treat lung cancers.
Dr. Bernie Sengstock, President and CEO of Universal Health and Rehabilitation of Long Island, N.Y. states that their philosophy is ìThe premise that the body is a self-healing organism and all of the treatment modalities focus on enhancing the bodyís own innate healing abilities.î UHR offers chiropractic, a full line of holistically based treatment modalities including massage therapy, physical therapy, acupuncture, nutrional counselling, neurology, neuropsychology and internal medicine.
Some of the methods practiced by these and other alternative healing centers:
Acupuncture is successfully used in many different cultures, alone or with other disciplines, such as herbalism, massage, nutrition and exercise. It originated in China over 3000 years ago and is founded on the principle of balance and harmony of the physical, spiritual and emotional characteristics of humankind.
Chinese medicine attributes functional activities of the body to the movement of Yin (matter) and Yang (function) which form a unity of opposites. The development of this unity keeps the function of the organs active and in equilibrium. As long as balance and harmony exists, the body functions normally. When Yin and Yang unbalance the unity is lost and Qi (energy) disappears disrupting body functions.
The art of acupuncture endeavors to stimulate certain points on the body located along ìmeridiansî which intercross the entire body. These are gateways through which the acupuncturist manipulates the flow of energy (Qi) to the organs which, in turn activates the body's self-healing properties and restores the lost Qi.
If one part of the body is unbalanced, this may result in symptoms in seemingly unrelated parts of the body, and illness is likely. Practitioners and advocates claim that acupuncture and herbal medicine have the unique ability to maintain and/or restore this most delicate harmony. Consequently relief of one condition often leads to the improvement of other conditions, as well as a generally renewed overall well-being.
Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils from fragrant plants to alleviate discomfort and generally improve the quality of life. Essential oil is the concentrated extract from the blossoms, roots or leaves. They evaporate easily which makes them aromatic, and they may also be flammable. Essential oils generally need to be diluted before use because they are so highly concentrated. Inhaled or applied to the skin, the aromatic molecules stimulate the olfactory nerve, sending messages to the brainís limbic system. Theoretically, that stimulation can affect the nervous, endocrine and immune systems in addition to impacting the respiratory system directly. There are many products on the market that feature eucalyptus for itís pungent aroma which clears the sinuses and respiratory tract and helps fight respiratory infections. Another popular product is a wintergreen analgesic balm used for muscle aches. When applied to the skin the soothing unguent is absorbed into the body, and relieves muscle pain.
While some essential oils are obviously medicinal, others affect the emotions like relaxation or simply generate a positive, good feeling.
Chiropractic is the most widely accepted method of alternative medicine, and is covered in most health insurance plans. It is based on the theory that if the spine is misaligned, or has subluxations, disease will occur. The chiropractor frees the subluxations and the problem is ìcuredî or alleviated.
Herbalism is perhaps the first type of medicine practiced, and it is still viable. Herbal remedies are so popular they are now being sold in supermarkets--St. Johnswort for depression and echinacea for respiratory infections, and a myriad of others.
While this type of therapy is generally considered safe and non-contra-indicative, it is imperative that it be guided by a professional.
Homeopathy-- Popular in Europe, but less so here, homeopathy is a different approach to medical care. Homeopathic remedies are all natural -- plants, herbs, minerals and other natural substances. They are prepared with a unique process of gradual dilution and succussion (shaking) which makes them capable of stimulating the body's own defense system. The remedy is usually administered once and then given time to work. Homeopathic remedies are chosen based upon the "Law of Similars," which states that a medicine which produces a set of symptoms in a healthy person will cure the same set of symptoms in an ill person.
The homeopathís approach is holistic, observant of everything that is going on in the patients life rather than isolated symptoms. The patient who complains of headaches may also have a list of other problems. The homeopathic perspective is that all of these issues originate from one root cause, and by dealing with that, all of the other symptoms will disappear. The patientís list of complaints are explored during the first, lengthy appointment and then a single homeopathic remedy that fits the entire situation is chosen.
Hypnosis has been gaining ground rapidly in the allied medical arts. Today, many MDís are also licensed hypnotherapists. Anesthesiology and visualization are among the most popular uses for hypnotherapy as are birth, weight loss and recovery from substance abuse.
Iridology is the study of the iris. Teoretically, the iris reveals the ever-changing conditions of every part and organ of the body in a well defined area. Additionally the various marks, signs, and discoloration in the iris reveal inherited weaknesses and strengths. to the trained practitioner. By means of this art / science, an iridologist can tell an individualís inherited and acquired propensity toward health and disease, the current condition in general, and the state of every organ in particular. Iridology cannot diagnose, but, can guide an individual to a more healthful approach to life.
Massage is a powerful healing tool in the hands of the right practitioner. At least as ancient as the Roman Empire, massage therapy is also experiencing a renaissance with the renewed populairty of alternative healing methods. It increases circulation without aerobics and stretches ligaments and tendons to keep them supple and young. It reduces stress, both emotional and physical.
There are several different types of massage: Swedish massage was first developed in the late eighteenth century by a Swedish fencing master. It was based on the new knowledge of anatomy and physiology, incorporated with old European folk methods and som Asian techniques. One of the philosophies of Swedish Massage is to speed the venous return of unoxygenated and toxic blood from the extremities in order to shorten the recovery time from muscular strain by flushing the tissues of lactic acid, uric acid, and other metabolic wastes. Shiatsu is based on the Chinese theory of the circulation of subtle energy, or Chíi, (Qi.) Although the foundation of this massage is deep pressure exerted this system also includes a wide variety of stretches, rubbing, hacking and other common massage techniques. Sports massage is a combination of traditional Swedish Massage and Shiatsu. It was developed by Jack Meager, who is the official masseur for the U. S. Olympic Equestrian Team. Basic to the system is the fact that there are twelve principle body postures that form the axis of all athletic movement, therefore each sport tends to generate itís own particular and predictable injuries. Sports massage can help heal strained muscles and allow healthy ones to reach optimal ability. Medical Massage can be used to prevent muscular atrophy, reduce inflammation in strains and sprains, reduce inflammation of sciatica and lumbago, increase circulation of varicose ulcers, and much more.
Meditation and visualization are also ancient arts that are gaining popularity in the medical community, especially with long term pain victims and cancer patients. The many different types of meditation can offer a path for nearly everyone. Intrinsically, calms the body by keeping the mind focused. There are two different types of meditation techniques concentrative and mindful. Concentrative meditation focuses the attention on the breath, an image or a sound like a chant called a mantra, whereas mindfulness involves awareness of oneís surroundings without reacting. Profound visualization, wherein one can actually visualize the healing process, is possible once meditation techniques have been mastered. It does not take a long time, but it does take patience and focus. Medical researchers have discovered that meditation boosts the body's ability to heal itself, eases anxiety and hypertension and helps control chronic pain.
Qigong plays a major role in both Chinese and Native American health science where it is considered an integral method of treating disease and prolonging life. Qi refers to the body's physiological functions, internal Qi, the energy which generates life. Gong refers to practicing skill. Therefore, Qigong is a physical training method for self reliance, adjustment, healing, strengthening the constitution and prolonging life. It is an exercise of drills, posture, respiration and mental focus which clears the channels, collateralís and vessels through which Qi flows. This improves the dynamic equilibrium of Yin and Yang, and restores Qi in the human body to promote balance and harmony.
Reflexology also dates back to Ancient Egypt and the early Roman Empire.
The theory behind Reflexology is the principle that there are reflex areas in the
feet and hands which correspond exactly to all parts of the body. With the proper stimulation of deft pressure and manipulation, many health problems can be naturally treated. Many health problems can be linked to nervous stress and tension. Reflexology releives that tension, improves nerve and blood supply, and helps nature to heal.
Reiki is a Japanese word meaning "Universal Life-Force-Energy". The "Ki" is the same word as Chi or Qi, the Chinese word for the energy which underlies everything. Reiki is a system for channeling that energy, via touch and hand positions to another person for the purpose of healing. It was discovered by Dr. Usui in the late 1800's, a teacher or perhaps dean of a Christian school in Japan.
Where to go, who to talk to:
New York Center for Acupuncture and AlternativeMedicine
57 West 57th Street, Suite 702
New York, New York, 10019
The Corsello Centers for Nutritional and Complimentary Medicine
200 w 57 St. N.Y. N.Y. 10019
75 E Main St. Huntington, N.Y.
Universal Health and Rehabilitation
152 Islip Ave
Isllip, NY 11751
More questions? Try WEVD 1050 am on your dial, on Friday afternoons between 12:30 and 1:30 for Women for Women-- Live talk show discussing womenís health and social issues. Hosted by Linda Blau, directed by Sal Cumela, M.D.
A GOOD READ:
The Ageless Woman by Serafina Corsello, MD. An excellent book for serious women who want to et healthy and reverse the aging process. Full coverage of the most vital information for the best living environments.