A is for Alternative Therapies, Part 1

Photo: istockphoto.com/Yanik Chauvin
More people are turning to alternative or complementary therapies for natural solutions to relax, improve health, treat chronic pain or find relief from acute conditions. There is an ‘outside-of-the-box' treatment that can help almost everyone. Mylinh Nguyen, B.Sc., N.D., D.N.M. from Inspired Life Health Centre created this ABC guide of alternative therapies for Green Living readers. Acupuncture This form of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) dates back 5000 years. Using thin needles, a practitioner (often a naturopath or Chinese medical doctor) will stimulate energy systems below the skin known as meridians. Having balanced meridians can help with acute and chronic conditions. During a treatment, clients will often describe "electrical" sensations in the area of the needle or even in other parts of the body. Acupuncture can help with fertility, bodily aches and pains, weight loss, migraines, anxiety, depression and more. Read more about in our article The Yin-Yang of Acupuncture. Bowen Therapy Using gentle pressure with their hands on specific points on the body, a Bowen therapist helps to stimulate the body's natural healing ability to correct physical problems. It's an extremely effective treatment option for people suffering from sudden injuries, like car accidents and sports related injuries and more chronic conditions, like foot and shoulder problems. You're fully clothed during a Bowen therapy session. Breast Massage Breast massage helps maintain the health of your breasts, increases relaxation, help improve circulation and health while creating a general sense of well-being. It aids in maintaining healthy breast tissue by removing drainage obstructions and decreasing restrictions that cause breathing difficulties. It is also a healthy way of monitoring your breasts for changes and can reduce sensitivity to pain (especially during certain times of the month) while helping to minimize future problems. Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) EFT involves light tapping of the fingers on specific acupuncture points on the face and body in order to decrease and/or eliminate negative emotions that may be interfering with a person's health. Many of us carry around past hurts and traumas which can interfere with our health, causing poor sleep, low energy levels, bad digestion and other problems. EFT helps to allow a person to release old thought patterns and tensions. It's a technique quickly learned and can be self-administered. Holistic Nutrition Food is the foundation of our health and what we eat on a daily basis acts as the fuel for our bodies. As more people realize the impact of food, they are turning to holistic nutritionists to help guide them to proper eating habits. A nutritionist looks at people's current state of health and develops an individualized diet plan to help them achieve their optimal potential. Homeopathic Medicine During the initial session, a homeopath will spend up to two hours gathering information on your physical concerns and background history. A healing remedy, derived from a plant, mineral or animal, will be chosen that closely matches your current health state; this remedy will encourage your body to heal itself naturally. Throughout the course of treatment, different layers of ill health are stripped away until the root cause of a health issue is found (like peeling an onion). Homeopathy works incredibly well with other treatments to enhance their effectiveness and can be used in conjunction with other supplements and medications. How to Before staring your chosen therapy, be sure to check with your family doctor. Your alternative practitioner should have a current registration and be able to provide references from a respected and impartial third party. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) has online tips for finding a qualified practitioner as well as ongoing research about various alternative therapies. This is Part One of a two-part series. Read Part Two here. Mylinh Nguyen, B.Sc., N.D., D.N.M. received her Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) degree from the University of Waterloo and went on to earn the Naturopathic Doctor (ND) designation after graduating from the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (CCNM). For more information contact the Inspired Life Health Centre at 416-461-8688.