Natural healing means to be made healthy – to have the symptoms of bad health eased or removed – without the use of synthetic products. In this article I’ll explain what complementary and alternative medicines are, and how they can be used to improve health naturally.
Before we start – just to clarify – some of the words I’ll be using are different ways of saying the same thing, so without getting bogged down with definitions and dictionary quotations…therapies, remedies, healing and medicine are all methods used to treat, heal, relieve and possibly cure – disease, sickness, injury and ill-health. Perhaps more importantly they can also be used to prevent ill-health.
Before we look at what complementary and alternative medicine is, we should first be clear on what mainstream medicine is.
What is Mainstream Medicine?
Mainstream, conventional or allopathic medicine is the system of treatment we are most familiar with and conditioned to follow today in the Western world. It falls into three categories:
Preventive – examples are immunisation and screening. More recently preventive medicine also includes the promotion of a healthy lifestyle with an understanding of the importance of not smoking, eating a nutritional diet, taking regular exercise, reducing stress and so on.
Non-invasive – using medicine to mask, control or cure symptoms. Non-invasive medicine takes many forms, from taking aspirin for a headache to receiving radiotherapy for the treatment of cancer. Predominantly the medicines prescribed in conventional practice are synthetic and many have adverse side effects. They may well do a great job of dealing with the symptoms of illness, but that is the problem; they do not address the root cause of the health issue.
Invasive – in the form of surgery. I read recently that up until the early nineteenth century, surgery and dental work was carried out by barbers! Thankfully surgery has come a long way and many lives are saved at the hands of today’s amazing and dedicated surgeons, but I’m sure none of us wish to be in the operating theatre at any time soon.
At this point I should mention that I have nothing but respect for the mainstream medical profession and those who work tirelessly within it, but there are downsides to the approach we call the “norm.” In order to achieve optimum health we really should take ownership of our wellbeing and know that there are other options available to us. It’s not enough to just deal with symptoms and ignore the underlying reasons for poor health.
Which brings us neatly to…
What is Complementary and Alternative Medicine?
Complementary and Alternative Medicine, or C.A.M., falls under the holistic approach to health and wellbeing i.e. addressing the person as a whole – mind, body, spirit and emotions. If one of these areas is out of balance, it can affect the others. For example, if you have emotional issues that you’ve not dealt with, they can manifest as physical illness or disease further down the line.
The difference between complementary and alternative therapies is that complementary therapies are used alongside conventional medicine and alternative treatments are used instead of it. The countless therapies available are used to boost natural healing systems and address imbalances by identifying the underlying issues that are causing us to be unwell.
In addition, these therapies are practiced as part of a lifestyle in order to pro-actively maintain existing balance and wellbeing. Sometimes they are regarded as a treat or a form of pampering, for example massage or reflexology. At the other end of the scale many can provide pain relief and comfort to those with terminal illness, preparing them for the transition from this life, for example reiki and meditation.
Complementary and alternative therapies are natural healing remedies, many of which have been practiced for thousands of years. They are non-invasive and non-pharmaceutical, using only natural products and ingredients. Next, to understand…
How To Take Ownership of Your Health and Wellbeing
There are a number of things to consider when taking ownership of your health and wellbeing. The most important is your current health situation. Do you have an existing health issue? Are you taking any form of conventional medicine? Have you recently finished a course of medication?
If so it’s advisable to speak to your doctor about complementary therapies and find out which could be implemented to enhance your current or recent course of treatment. At no point should you discontinue prescribed medicine without discussing with your G.P. first.
Holistic remedies can be extremely beneficial to pregnant women, but expectant mothers should also speak to their G.P. before commencing any course of treatment as a precautionary measure. Likewise, it’s advisable to check the suitability of complementary therapies for the elderly and for children.
In recent years more and more conventional health professionals are working closely with complementary therapists and have a much better understanding of how they work, the methods they use and whether or not they are appropriate for certain groups or individuals. A good complementary therapist will gladly answer any questions you have as well.
In addition, self-assessment is key in taking control of your wellbeing. You can have all the tests in the world but only YOU know how you really feel. Are there physical issues that you haven’t seen a doctor about? Perhaps you self-prescribe to ease headaches or other recurring aches and pains. Maybe you suffer with indigestion, eczema, asthma?
Take some time to consider your mental and emotional health…do you feel right? Are you coping with life well? How are your stress levels? Are you happy? On a spiritual level do you feel lost in any way? Are you seeking some kind of guidance but feel alone and without direction? Or maybe your health and wellbeing is great and you want to keep it that way.
When you are self-aware you will have a better idea of what natural healing remedies will suit you and for what purpose. There are many ways to research your options. One of the main aims of this website is to provide valuable information on the countless choices that are out there.
What Complementary Therapies Should You Try?
If your budget permits, why not sample some different treatments? If money’s tight, student therapists or newly qualified practitioners will often provide reduced cost or free sessions in order to build on their experience. There are also a number of therapies where you can perform self-treatment, or incorporate them into your daily routine without breaking the bank (e.g. aromatherapy or meditation.) Why not give them a try to see what works for you?
When choosing a therapist, it’s advisable to check their credentials. Ideally they should be insured and have appropriate qualifications, or at least be working towards them. Holistic healing is largely unregulated, but a good therapist should belong to a relevant guild or federation; this indicates a level of professionalism, adherence to industry standards and guidelines and a commitment to continuing professional development (C.P.D.) See the directory page for contact details of the main organisations associated with each method of therapy as well as general bodies and organisations.
So now you have a good understanding of conventional and complementary medicine, the differences between them and how they may be used together to improve health. It’s important to identify the root cause of health issues and by appreciating the importance of healing the person as a whole, you will be in a better position to improve your overall wellbeing. As importantly, when you are well there are many ways to maintain good health in the form of complementary therapies.
On a day to day basis there are so many things we have no control over in life; it’s good to remember there are steps we can take to achieve optimum health – for our body, mind, spirit and emotions. If you have any questions on the above, please get in touch. Likewise, if you have any comments or feedback I would love to hear from you. In the meantime, wishing you good health and positivity for your journey ahead!