HERBS FOR HEALTH MANAGEMENT

Herbs are a foundational root in medicine and health treatments, dating back thousands of years throughout every culture around the world. Modern Western herbalism comes from ancient Egypt. The Greeks developed a comprehensive philosophy of herbal medicine by 100 BCE and the Romans built upon it to create a variety of medical practices, some of which are still used today.

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ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE IMPACTS PSYCHOLOGICAL HARDINESS

Psychological hardiness is an individual’s resistance to stress, anxiety and depression. It includes the ability to withstand grief and accept the loss of loved ones. Alternative medicine is a more popular term for health and wellness therapies that have typically not been part of conventional Western medical approaches but are often used along with conventional medicinal protocols.  Coping and dealing with stress in a positive manner play a major role in maintaining the balance needed for health and well-being.

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ALTERNATIVE REMEDIES FOR ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION

Interest in complimentary and alternative medicine (CAM) is increasing as consumers and health care professionals search for additional ways to treat anxiety, depression and other mental health disorders. Some of these remedies include:

St. John’s Wort.  More than 30 studies show it to be effective for treatment of mild forms of depression,…

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meridians. Tiny needles are inserted into the meridians to unblock energies, thus alleviating symptoms. This technique should only be performed by a licensed acupuncturist. Western scientists are still studying how acupuncture works. It has been shown to relieve chronic pain, nausea, high blood pressure, asthma and many other conditions with few side effects. Acupressure is similar to acupuncture, but without the needles. Practitioners use their hands, elbows or feet to apply pressure to specific points along the body’s meridians. Research suggests acupressure may decrease chemotherapy patients’ nausea and reduce anxiety in people scheduled to have surgery.


Biofeedback: This technique allows people to control bodily processes that normally happen involuntarily, such as heart rate, blood pressure, muscle tension and skin temperature. It is said to improve high blood pressure, headache, irregular heartbeat (cardiac arrhythmia) and chronic pain, among other conditions. An electronic monitoring device helps the patient learn how to recognize and control different parts of the body to relieve medical conditions without pain or medication. Many hospitals and clinics now have experts on staff who can teach biofeedback. Researchers still aren’t sure how or why biofeedback works. Relaxation seems to be a key component since most people who benefit from the practice have conditions that are caused or exacerbated by stress. Research has shown the technique can help with nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy.


Herbology: Herbs, botanicals, vitamins, minerals, probiotics, flowers and flower essences, leaves, stems, roots, bark, fruits and seeds are used for preventative healthcare, to enhance the function of body systems and organs and to treatment various conditions. Herbology has been around for thousands of years; it was the main treatment of disease in ancient cultures before the invention of antibiotics. Some herbs are very powerful and can interact with traditional medications, so be sure to consult your primary care physician before trying herbology or any CAM.

OVERVIEW: COMPLEMENTARY & ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE

ANGELA S. HOOVER

Angela is a staff writer for Health & Wellness magazine.

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Naturopathy: Naturopathic doctors, who are trained in both conventional and alternative medicines, seek to understand what causes a condition by exploring its mental, physical and spiritual manifestations. Naturopathy relies on many treatments to bring about natural healing from within, such as nutrition, behavioral changes, homeopathy, herbs, acupuncture, aromatherapy, massage therapy and meditation. This makes it difficult to design studies to test naturopathy’s effectiveness. However, one study that tested naturopathy for low back pain found positive results.


Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM): The ancient practice of traditional Chinese medicine relies on the laws of nature to improve health. The basis for TCM is that the underlying disease itself must be treated, not just the symptoms that develop as a result of the illness. Acupuncture, acupressure, herbal therapy and energy balancing are examples of TCM treatment modalities.


TECHNIQUES AND PRACTICES

Acupuncture: Acupuncture, which dates back to at least 2,000 years in China, asserts problems arise within the body as a result of blocked energy channels or

Complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) are holistic approaches to healthcare that address the entire body and treat the individual’s mind and spirit, not just symptoms of illness.


CAM continues to grow in popularity. More than 30 percent of American adults and 12 percent of children use CAM, according to the National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCIH). In 2011, more than 42 percent of American hospitals offered alternative therapies, according to a survey by the American Hospital Association. Here is an overview of some common CAM offerings.


COMPLETE SYSTEMS

Ayurveda: This is one of the oldest forms of healing. Its goal is to keep the body in an overall balanced state through diet, meditation and relaxation techniques and herbal remedies.


Homeopathy (Allopathy): The main principle behind homeopathy is to treat like with like. A substance that causes symptoms in an individual can be used to eradicate those symptoms in larger doses, stimulating the body’s ability to self-heal. Conventional medicine uses this allopathic theory with vaccines and when prescribing a stimulant such as Adderall to hyperactive children. The formulas are prepared by specialty pharmacists who carefully dilute the substance and shake it to activate it.