Ayurveda is a natural health care system developed in India over 5000 years ago. It teaches individuals how to maintain their own health through the prevention of disease and how to return to overall wellness. Methods include such exercises as a gentle yoga, brisk walks, herbal remedies, massage, meditation, and nutritional counseling. Deepak Chopra is the best known practitioner of Ayurveda.
The philosophy teaches that the body has three basic operating principles. One is responsible for respiration, blood circulation, digestion, and nervous system functioning. Another allows for the processing of nutrients, air, and water in the body. The last manages the structure of the body, which include muscles, fat, and bones.
Ayurvedic medicine follows two chief principles. The first is that the mind has a profound effect on the physical body, and the second involves the individual’s specific body type. The Ayurvedic practitioner will determine a course of treatment designed specifically for the individual.
Graduates obtain their education in India and must have completed a full medical degree in order to use the initials indicating BAMS (Bachelor of Ayurveda Medical Studies).
BodyTalk is a new kind of therapy that combines the wisdom of advanced yoga and advaitic philosophy, the insights of modern physics and mathematics, the energy dynamics of acupuncture, the clinical findings of applied kinesiology, and western medical expertise.
It was developed by an Australian chiropractor and acupuncturist, Dr. John Veltheim, in 1995. Since then, it has been taught to over a thousand practitioners worldwide, including medical doctors and specialists, psychologists, chiropractors, acupuncturists, naturopaths, physical therapists, osteopaths, nurses, licensed massage therapists, and laypeople.
It is a simple and effective form of therapy that allows the body’s energy systems to be re-synchronized so that they can operate as nature intended. Each system, cell, and atom are in constant communication with each other. Through exposure to the stresses of day-to-day life, these lines of communication become compromised, which then leads to a decline in physical, emotional and/or mental health. Reconnecting these lines of communication enables the body’s mechanisms to function at optimal levels, thus preventing disease and rapidly accelerating the healing process.
BodyTalk can be used alone to treat many health problems or integrated into any health care system to increase its effectiveness and promote faster healing. It is non-invasive, objective in application, and works effectively on humans and animals alike. Even if a bodytalk technique is performed incorrectly, it simply means that there will be no result or change. It will not make things worse; therefore, a person has nothing to lose and everything to gain as far as his/her health is concerned.
Bodywork involves a large collection of healing methods where the skill of the hands is used for healing purposes. Traditional medicine tends to focus on knowledge and intelligence, overlooking the subtle powers of the hands. Bodywork treatments have been able to resolve problems that traditional medicine has not even been able to address. Bodywork principles can be found within the practices of osteopathic manipulation, chiropractic techniques, massage, and movement therapies.
One limitation of all bodywork therapies is that the pain of a chronic condition eventually returns. It is not known exactly why it is so difficult to cure a soft tissue injury permanently, but it rarely, if ever, happens. One theory is that scar tissue forms within the muscles, causing pain and spasms. It is, therefore, wise to remember that all bodywork massage therapies will be temporary at best, with “temporary” lasting a month or a year.
Movement therapy tends to focus on correcting abnormalities of movement resulting from injuries. The body instinctively has a tendency to hold itself in unusual positions in order to protect itself, resulting in habitual abnormal movement. Branches of movement therapy include the Feldenkrais method, Hellerwork, Rolfing Movement Work, Laban, and, to some extent, Pilates, Alexander technique, and Trager.
Naturopathy also adopts the philosophy that symptoms are signals the body sends to indicate that it is in the process of ridding itself of something foreign. Naturopathy takes in all aspects of the body. These include the physical, psychological, emotional, and genetic factors and involves a combination of healing approaches. Dating from the ancient Greeks, Chinese, Indian, and Native American cultures, naturopathy promotes an overall healthy lifestyle, including an organic diet, exercise, and relaxation.
Hippocrates is recognized as being the same “father of medicine” for naturopathy as he is for traditional medicine. His basic teaching is summed up in one phrase vis medicatrix naturae, meaning “the healing power of nature.”
Naturopaths are trained in many areas of alternative medicine. These include acupuncture, clinical nutrition, counseling, lifestyle modifications, exercise therapy, herbal medicines, homeopathy, hydrotherapy, natural childbirth, osteopathy, and Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Naturopathy is the most influential branch of alternative medicine and differs from traditional medicine in several ways. The general belief of naturopathy is that changes in nutrition and lifestyle will prevent and cure many diseases and disorders.
Detoxification is another philosophy within naturopathy that differs from the mainstream. Linking the buildup of toxins in the body with specific ailments is a difficult thing to prove. Therefore, mainstream medicine tends to overlook its possibility; whereas, naturopaths tend to view the link as significant.
Immune system support is another area of contention. Naturopaths emphasize the importance of the body’s susceptibility to disease as being just as important as the entrance of viruses and bacteria. Naturopaths also view illness prevention and teaching as an important part of their work. Rather than just telling a patient what to do, the naturopath takes the time to explain reasoning behind the prescribed action.
Two aspects of naturopathic medicine that are now gaining respectability within the mainstream healthcare field are the use of herbs and food supplements to treat specific medical conditions. These treatments have been so successful in double blind studies that they are now becoming a part of traditional medical advice as in the use of St. John’s Wort for depression, Ginkgo biloba for Alzheimer’s, and Vitamin E for the prevention of heart disease.
Credentialing is obtained as an ND (Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine) after four years of medical school, followed by four years of training in naturopathic medicine. Some states allow these general practitioners to perform minor surgeries and write prescriptions for a limited supply of medications. However, not all states require proper academics or licensure. Therefore, it is wise to investigate.
Traditional Chinese Medicine
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a complex and sofisticated system handed down from generation to generation. Its origins stem from ancient Taoist philosophy that believes the body and the mind are one, with each influencing the other, and that illness is primarily caused by an imbalance in the body’s major systems.
Treatment does not focus on the disease as in traditional medicine, but rather in restoring balance so that the body is able to resume healing itself. Acupressure, acupuncture, herbal remedies, qigong, and tai chi are all forms of Traditional Chinese Medicine; and the theory of yin and yang is a fundamental philosophy.
It is dramatically different from any medicine practised in the Western world, but it is one of the most rapidly growing and influential healthcare fields today. TCM is geared for the individual and does not use “blanket-type” remedies. For example, ginseng is claimed to be an immune booster for all; but TCM, like homeopathy, states that it is an herb good only for certain people under certain circumstances. When the wrong people take it, they become sicker.
Credentialing involves degrees as a Doctor of Oriental Medicine (DOM/OMD) or a Master of Oriental Medicine (MOM).