Things You Should Know About Alternative Healing Methods
What Is Alternative Healing?
The way illnesses or ailments are being treated or relief is sought from pain is changing now with more and more people edging towards alternative healing techniques in combination with conventional medicine. An alternative healing method is typically a health treatment which is different from the usual western medicine. However, words can barely define the complementary therapies, simply because they’re so diverse and encompass techniques that not only span lifestyle modification, fitness or diet, but also incorporate different ways of training your mind, finding new ways of healing the body and rejuvenating the spirit.
Alternative medicine, holistic healing methods, complementary remedies, natural healthcare, or integrative medicine, are a few of the expressions used to describe an assortment of healing practices that fall outside the domain of medicinal or clinical treatments these days. Until a few years ago, these therapies weren’t taught in mainstream healthcare. But now, they are easily offered in clinics and hospitals and their use and acceptance is on the rise, which reflects in the way they are known, which is Holistic or Integrative Therapies.
Alternative Medicine is defined roughly as a set of practices, theories and products that are perceived to have healing or therapeutic benefits of medicine, but whose efficacy hasn’t been established using scientific reasoning and may hence be contradicted by traditional norms of medicine. Alternative Healing Methods may also be based on personal beliefs of faith, religion or supernatural powers.
So these practices should not be approached as a substituite for appropriate allopathic medical treatment.
Long Term Benefits of Alternative Healing Therapies
You can use integrative healing methods as a substitute to conventional medicine. However it is recommended to use it in combination with traditional medicine, simply to lessen the additional repercussions of clinical treatments. For instance, if someone is undergoing chemotherapy for cancer treatment, it would be better to undergo an energy healing therapy or massage treatment in addition to it, to help the body recover.
With the help of alternative therapies, an individual becomes actively involved in the treatment part and understands the body’s structuring, systems and well as the functions related to overall well-being. Alternative Therapies help view life from a higher perspective, more in terms of exercising the mind, relaxing the mental faculties, thinking positive and clearing the unnecessary and toxic clutter. Most turn to this form of treatment for pain relief when the conventional methods fail to work.
Comparatively, alternative healing therapies are less expensive and have fewer or no side effects, are beneficial to an individual’s mind-body and spirit, aiding in reducing stress, relieving depression, releasing deeply repressed emotions and improving mental and physical health.
Types of Alternative Healing
The number of holistic healing practices is nearly impossible to count, with new variations and techniques emerging continuously! For a beginner, this may be quite overwhelming. To help you understand the gamut of therapies and practices, we can categorise them in terms of their key features. For instance, under the gamut of Alternative Medical System, we can bring in systems that are established outside the western biomedical methods.
- There’s the Whole Medical System under which you will find therapies with a defined thought process and explanation of diseases, their diagnosis and therapy and include Traditional Chinese medicine or Ayurveda, Naturopathy and Homeopathy.
- Then there’s the Mind-Body Medicine which functions on the concept that mental and emotional aspects affect physical health, through a structure of codependent neuronal, immunologic and hormonal links throughout the body and for this, different psychological, social, behavioral and spiritual techniques are used to increase the mind’s ability to influence the body and prevent ailments. The scientific reasoning behind such a system is now found in plenty, which makes it easier to incorporate these therapies in the treatment of coronary artery disease, chronic pain, insomnia, headache and more. The Mind-Body medicine therapies include Guided Imagery, Hypnotherapy, Biofeedback, Conscious Breathing and Mindful Meditations.
- Body-based practices focus on the body’s structure and systems based on the belief that the body can control and heal itself and all its systems are interdependent. These manipulative techniques include treatments like Chiropractice, Reflexology, Massage, Cupping, Coining, Moxibustion, Accupuncture.
- Energy Medicine focuses on influencing subtle energy fields which are believed to exist in and around the body affecting its health. A common belief that binds all energy healing therapies is that there’s a universal life force that resides everywhere and hence can be channeled to specific parts of a body to restore and heal it both energetically and physically. A component of different therapies, energy medicine includes – Reiki, Pranic Healing, Magneto Therapy, Healing Touch and more.
- Biological Therapies use plants or biological materials to heal and include therapies like, Aromatherapy, Bach Flower Remedies and Herbal Medicines.
Alternative Healing Therapies
Integrative Psychotherapy is also known as a mind body therapy which involves healing and easing out of life’s uncertainties and challenges by enhancing your spirit and personal willpower, incorporating the basic principles of conventional psychotherapy and holistic medicine to promote healing at all levels of emotional, mental, physical and spiritual well-being. Mind body therapy includes practices like faith healing, meditation, guided imagery, biofeedback or yoga.
Whether you call it healing based on religious beliefs, faith or prayers, this form of healing has had a profound effect on a person’s health all across the world. Research reveals that spiritual healing can provide permanent solution to the incessant worrying and stress that surrounds us, bringing about a complete change in our mind’s consciousness and physical health.
Meditation complements natural therapies well and in addition to relaxing your body, mind and soul, it also helps lower your blood pressure, increase your concentration levels, and treat insomnia. To make it work, meditation should be practiced daily, as it will allow your body to turn its energy to healing and repairing any damages, flushing out toxins and rejuvenating your muscles and organs. In combination with imagery and visualisation, meditation can have a lovely impact on healing the body.
Biofeedback is used to prevent and treat different ailments like migraines, chronic pain, high blood pressure or incontinence. It functions on the foundation that when you harness the mind’s ability to become aware of what’s going on within, you gain control over your health and transform it for the better. During a biofeedback treatment, electrodes are connected to your skin, along with finger sensors, which send signals to a monitor that displays a flash of light/sound/image implying your heart and breathing rate, skin temperature, muscle activity and blood pressure. With the help of a biofeedback therapist, you can practice relaxation exercises to control different body functions.
Self Healing with Gratitude
Our emotions have a very strong biochemical connect with our endocrine, immune, nervous and digestive systems. For ages, we’ve been told that stress is disastrous for us and how negative emotions like anger, fear, grief can impact our biochemistry. The science behind it all is quite enthralling and results are shocking! The biochemical reactions to any mental or emotional provocations occur not only in the brain but also in virtually every system of the body at the same time. Now, if we talk about positive emotions, popular studies reveal that when emotions like joy, love and gratitude are exercised, they tend to release certain chemicals like Dopamine, Oxytocin which broaden and build on more positive emotions, which have an immediate physical effect by way of changes in breathing patterns, pulse as well as balanced levels of blood pressure and hormones.
Physically, positive emotions can lead to an increased balance in levels of tolerance to infection, a better immune system, lower systematic inflammation and increased chances of survival viz a viz battling life threatening diseases like Cancer. Research confirms that there have been numerous benefits to one’s overall well-being when change is accompanied with Gratitude. Scientifically proven, Gratitude is known to open doors to better and happier relationships, improve physical health, enhance psychological health, boost empathy and reduce aggression, develop self-esteem, sleep better, and increase mental strength. Developing an attitude of gratitude is one of the easiest ways of changing and healing various aspects of your life.
Simply put, gratitude is good for your body, acts of kindness and feelings of gratitude flood the brain with Dopamine, which is a natural high and motivates us to feel it again, which in turn makes us more inclined to express gratitude and do good for others as well. Thankful people have been known to have higher energy levels, are much happier and healthier and are more relaxed.
Practicing gratitude is easy, all you need to do is notice the good in your life, appreciate it, savor - absorb and accept it and then express your thanks for them. Each day, look for at least 3 things you’re grateful for. It could be anything from the air you breathe to the basic necessities of life you’re blessed with. Maintain a gratitude journal and record everything good that happens every day in your life.
Reflexology involves the application of pressure to certain points on the head, hands and feet that correspond to a different body organ and system. It is based on the belief that pressing these points has a beneficial effect on not only the related organs but also on general health. Just like anesthesia numbs specific zones of a body, stimulating these points help in reducing pain and increase the organ/system’s functioning. For instance, in case of constipation, reflexology can help heal your digestive tract and have it function optimally again!
Reflexology is often mistaken for massage or acupuncture, but the difference lies in the way the treatment is conducted. Massage involves influencing large portions of soft body tissues, while reflexology applies pressure on specific points on the feet/hand/ears/head. Acupuncture or acupressure do use reflex points to influence other parts of the body, but they aren’t the same as the ones used in reflexology. Although reflexology may not be able to diagnose or cure diseases, but many people globally have benefited from it, when used in combination with other treatments when suffering from cancer, asthma, cardiovascular difficulties, anxiety, diabetes, sinusitis or PMS.
Reiki is a Japanese techniques based on the belief that a Reiki practioner can channel the Universal Life Force energy to a client by a gentle touch or through a distance with the power of the mind to activate the natural healing processes in the Individual’s body. Often used for relaxation, stress release and overall calm and healing, Reiki promotes the fact that the energy around us which is available to all, if it gets low, we’re more like to fall sick.
The source of all health comes from the Ki that flows through and around us all and also enlivens the physical organs and tissues in the body through the process of flowing through them, thereby creating a healthy condition. If the energy flow’s disrupted, the organs and tissues can get affected adversely which further leads to the base of an illness. Ki responds to our thoughts and feelings and hence, is affected by their quality. Negativity of any sort causes disruption in the flow of Ki and this is the source of all our problems.
Very easy to pick up, Reiki isn’t taught in the typical way, but actually transferred to a student during a Reiki class by a Reiki Master through a process which is known as Attunement, and it allows the student to tap into the infinite supply of the life force energy that can improve one’s health and enhance their quality of life. It is not one person’s treasure but is equally available to all and is for everyone. One can learn it for their personal benefit or as a practice to help heal others.
Reiki treats the individual as a whole, including the body-emotions-mind and spirit, creating multiple effects that positively affect and promote peacefulness, a sense of security and a positive state of being. A simple, natural and one of the safest methods of spiritual healing, Reiki has been very effective in assisting with almost every known ailment, in combination with other medical or therapeutic techniques to relieve the side effects and encourage recovery. While it is spiritual in effect, Reiki isn’t a religion or doesn’t promote any specific philosophy, since it’s believed to be connected to a Higher Power/God or the Universe at large, most people find themselves getting reconnected with the experience of their individual religions than having an intellectual and unbiased concept of it!
Also known as the Magnetic Field Therapy or Bioenergy Therapy, Magnet therapy is an alternative healing method that uses magnets of different sizes and powers, which are placed on the body to relieve pain and treat an ailment. Our bodies have magnetic and electric fields naturally and all our molecules have some amount of magnetic energy in them, and deviations occur if the magnetic fields are imbalanced. Ions like calcium or potassium help the cells and send signals.
The advocates of Magnet Therapy believe that the magnetic fields produced from the negative pole of the magnets has healing powers, which is thought to encourage metabolism, create a less acidic atmosphere with the body and increase the amount of oxygen available to cells. Magnet Therapy has been known to have diagnosed and treatment diseases like arthritis, circulatory disorders, cancer, diabetic neuropathy, HIV/AIDS, immune dysfunction, fibromyalgia, inflammations and infections, insomnia, MS and muscle pain, rheumatoid arthritis, sciatica, stress and helps in basic enhancement of energy and increases lifespan.
Thin metal magnets are either attached with adhesive patches, bands, or belts to the body, alone or in groups. They can also be worn as bracelets/necklaces, and are also available as magnetic insoles, slumber pads or blankets. Depending on the practitioner’s evaluation and assessment, the magnets can be worn for a few minutes or few weeks. Even though this form of therapy is available to most, using it may not be very useful for people with pacemakers, insulin pumps or pregnant women.
Energy work is all about balancing, and Chakra Balance aims at influencing the 7 major energy centers/chakras in addition to multiple other chakras and meridians and prompt healing on both an energy and physical level. According to our Indian ancient literature, we have a vital energy force called Prana that moves through the energy fields in the body’s midline with each Chakra related to a primary human need. When the center or the chakra is open, the energy flow is free and effortless, but when it is blocked or imbalanced, the energy stagnates and the purpose of that field is challenging to achieve.
The 7 major chakras are located throughout the body, and have a direct relation to specific body ailments/physical dysfunctions, and also house our emotional and mental strengths. When there’s a physical challenge, it affects our emotional body adversely. The energy cleanse and balancing can restore our emotional being. For instance, if there’s a block in your heart chakra, which is connected to your heart, you may experience loneliness or be apprehensive of expressing your natural self. When the chakra is worked on, you will be able to identify your repressed emotions and find a way to break out of negative patterns and overcome all the obstacles. Here’s a snapshot of how the 7 chakras function and the imbalances they affect both our physical and emotional bodies.
The world of Alternative Healing is ever evolving and every day there’s some new technique or an existing one that’s returned and represented around the world. Sound Healing is a new kind of sound therapy, also popular as Vibrational Medicine which employs the human voice frequencies in addition to objects that resonate like tuning forks, Tibetan singing bowls, gongs, and more to stimulate healing and induce relaxation. Sound Healing’s origins goes way back to ancient Greece when music was used to cure mental disorders and since then, it has been used to promote morale in military troops to ward off negativity by use of sacred words/chants and help people work faster and more productively. It is also known to have affected a number of health conditions, from boosting the immune system to lowering stress to improving the health of premature babies. As the modes of sound healing are varied, so are the techniques that come in the gamut of Sound Healing.
- There’s Vibroacoustic Therapy which uses audible vibrations of sound involving embedded speakers in recliners, mattresses or mats to transmit music/sound vibrations directly to the body, thereby promoting relaxation, reducing pain and alleviating cancer symptoms or healing people recovering from surgery.
- Guided Meditation is another technique in which healing is aided with voiced instructions either individually or in a group, involving chants, mantras or prayers as well. This form offers a number of health benefits like reduced risks of heart attack, low cholesterol, and reduced pain, normalized blood pressure, improved memory and concentration, and reduced stress/elimination of anxiety or depression.
- Singing Bowl Therapy has been used in the Tibetan culture for meditations and rituals since the 12th century in which metal bowls produce a deep penetrating sound that relaxes and repairs the mind, reducing stress, anger, fatigue and depression.
- Tuning Fork Therapy involves the use of adjusted metal tuning forks that apply specific vibrations to different parts of the body, releasing tension and energy that promotes emotional balance and may also relieve muscle and bone pain.
- Brainwave Entrainment is also known as Binaural Beats encourages reaching a certain state with the use of pulsing sounds to stimulate brains waves in alignment to the beat frequency. It helps promptly improved concentration, relaxation or sleep and is known to have reduced anxieties, symptoms of PMS, improvement in behavioural problems in kids and all kinds of pain.
In other words, Sound Healing uses different features of sound to enhance one’s emotional and physical well-being by simply sitting/lying down while listening to music/sounds or having vibrations applied using special tools or self-help by singing, playing instruments or moving.
Healing with Mudras
In our everyday chaos of life, our peace of mind is left staggering somewhere along the way. Yoga, in that respect, has become an important part of one’s health regime which aids holistic development and can prove to be highly beneficial if followed religiously. Under the gamut of Yoga, there are different techniques that help treat various ailments and Mudra Healing is one of them. A Mudra is a gesture that is used during Pranayama and the thought process which directs the flow of energy correctly to the individual’s body. As per ancient beliefs the body is made of 5 elements – air, water, earth, fire and space) and the mudras are supposed to influence and hold this energy.
Each finger in a hand represents an energy point for each element and leads to benefits in healing ailments. For instance – the Index Finger represents air and individual soul, self-esteem, sorrow and depression, associated with lungs, large intestines and heart chakra; the Middle Finger represents heaven, associated with the throat chakra, circulatory and respiratory systems and emotional issues of impatience, ego or responsibility; the Ring Finger represents earth, associated with the root chakra, liver, gall bladder, nervous system and emotions related to anger, relationships and illusion; the Little Finger implies water, and is associated with the sacral chakra, kidneys and emotions regards fear, communication or karma and finally the Thumb represents fire, associated with the stomach and emotions of assertiveness for self.
Some of the popular known Mudras include Anjali Mudra which aids in enhancing one’s self-respect and respect for others, reducing anxiety and stress, as well as treating diabetes. The Primal Mudra reduces snoring by improving the oxygen flow and improving the lung function. The Vayu Mudra is beneficial for treating chronic rheumatism, paralysis, cervical spondylitis, gout and Parkinson’s. Since this is an ancient form of healing, the range of Mudras is nearly impossible to number and hence you have a wide variety to choose from, to easily work with, in the comfort of your space.
Food as Alternative Medicine
Hippocrates said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” Eating healthy is good both for the mind and the body. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains bolsters our immune system and provides vital nutrients like vitamins, fiber, folic acid, and potassium which are important for nearly every function and process in the body. Food affects mental health in the way that it can protect against stress or cortisol spikes, triggers the release of serotonin which not only calms us but also comforts us. Leafy greens contain antioxidants that protect the brain cells and prevent cognitive failure. Potassium helps maintain healthy levels of blood pressure, while fiber reduces cholesterol in the blood and folic acid produces red blood cells, while vitamins build the immune system and can be used as building blocks throughout the body!
When powered with a healthy diet, the body becomes resilient and the stronger immune system is able to fight infections, suppress inflammations and prevent the development of chronic diseases. In comparison to calorie focused diets, nutrient laden foods fill and energize us, with their properties of low in sugar in high in fiber content. For instance, an apple’s soluble fiber helps lowering BP and cholesterol levels and with its abundant phytonutrients, an apple can counteract chemicals in the blood, preventing the damage of certain molecules.
Abundant researches have factually proven how healthy food choices aid in healing specific diseases. Made in small or high proportions, eating a customised healthy diet can bring about healthy results to your emotional and physical well-being. A plant based diet can help you stay healthy and live longer, and encourages eating nutrient heavy veggies, fruits, seeds, legumes and nuts in their entirety, while a Mediterranean diet is effective in reversing diabetes, reducing the risk of heart attacks and outperforming low fat diets for weight loss. Along with all this, a moderate amount of poultry or fish, dairy, red meat, sweets and an occasional glass of red wine helps just as well.
Art & Music Therapy
Using creative forms of art and music to focus on one’s physical or emotional needs may sound like a nice way to spend some time with self. However, increased research reveals that these artistic interventions are little more than activities of enjoyment - they also bring in a wide variety of benefits! For instance Cancer patients when given an opportunity to express themselves with art, have been able to manage their treatment-related symptoms, while in music therapy, playing soothing tunes or applying low frequency sounds to a Parkinson’s patient in the neonatal ICU can improve on the outcome. These therapies have been used creatively to treat several health conditions by using dance, creative writing and poetry to help people of all ages with conditions like depression, Alzheimer’s, autism, cancer or heart diseases. The different categories of therapy under Art include:
- Creative arts which use visual art as a form of expression/communication using paints, pens, pencils and other materials and are known to have treated trauma addictions, grief, anxiety and stress;
- Music Therapy improves the quality of life with simply listening to music, singing, playing an instrument or writing a song, thereby helping patients with motor and communication skills or medical conditions like brain injuries or cancer, not to forget aid in labour, reduce loneliness and pain, improving one’s self-esteem;
- Dance Therapy is another form that employs movements to improve one’s emotional well-being, social skills or physical abilities;
- Drama Therapy offers a therapeutic approach by using role-playing, improvised opportunities for self-expression and release of negative emotions for people dealing with PTSD, grief, substance abuse or depression.
Bonus Tip: Tips to Find Out If You're Meant to Be a Healer
A wise person once said, ‘a true healer is one who heals himself first, so others can benefit from his own healing.’ In the world we live now, we need healers more than ever before, who can not only help themselves but others also, to spread the spirit of peace, love, light and harmony. Here’s a quick way to gauge if you have the inherent qualities of a Healer and are meant to follow it through!
- Empathy and Sensitivity: Light workers usually absorb the energy around them and all the emotions they pick out can make them anxious or depressed. Big crowds and loud places deter them and can bring about panic attacks. Being overly sensitive is one of their gifts.
- Reclusive: Healers love people, however with varied emotions their energies can easily drain the empaths, for which they need to be on their own to heal and recover, recharge and enjoy ample time in the company of mother nature or meditate. Solitude is a major source of support to a healer’s well-being.
- People’s Person: Light workers have no desire for mundane jobs, and feel their calling is in helping people with or without monetary compensation. They find happiness and contentment by bringing a smile to someone or help in improving one’s life in whatever way they can.
- Counseling: People seek healers from far. The aura, the vibes and the energy that healers emit can be sensed by troubled souls instantly, bringing them comfort and solace, which is why they trust complete strangers sometimes with their deepest problems, for in them they find a healer.
- Enhanced Intuitiveness: Healer usually make choices and decisions based on their instincts or emotions, bringing about positive results in their life and in the lives of those they help.
- Professional Healing: Healers are naturally drawn to healing techniques or professions of massage, counseling, yoga, energy work and more. ul>
Bonus Therapy: Healing with Divine Intervention
Have you ever had an overwhelming problem or issue? Was there ever a challenge in your life that seemed beyond your ability to handle it? No two people are alike and neither are their troubles! In the rush to fight for survival in a competitive world and working hard for the material comforts through our lives, somewhere deep down the heart calls for ‘something more’. Most of us have experienced this emptiness deep within. Some of us choose to ignore it, putting our minds to the mundane issues of life, whilst the rest begin to wonder, what is it? Is it a desire to explore the purpose of life? The search for happiness, or is it simply a desire to improve life?
Well, our life journey may be easy, it may be difficult, we may be born rich or have a debt ridden life, no matter how simple or complicated our lives may be, we do not necessarily have to walk this pathway alone! Lost in a world of challenges, more and more people all over the world are discovering their way to a world of love, and finding their calling with the angels. There are a lot of definitions and explanations floating around on the web, in books and articles along with real angel experiences about these mysterious beings. Angels are high frequency beings, divine messengers and healers who can help in any aspect of your life, be it relationships, finances, career decisions, health ailments and housing concerns or any other issue that’s troubling you. They help you to be peaceful.
Having evolved as a spiritual healing therapy in the recent times world over, angel healing involves working with your guardian angels and other divine beings to heal, harmonise and fill every aspect of your life with love and light. Practitioners of this form of healing say everyone has their own guardian angel, who is with them throughout their life, waiting and longing to help! But under the laws of the universe, they cannot do so unless asked. As soon you ask them for help, they raise a situation and manifest miracles!
The underlying idea is that connecting with angels allows us to connect more deeply with our own soul selves, irrespective of religions and culture. From finding a parking slot during a crowded weekend at a busy mall to getting out of sticky situations at home or work and getting rid of long running health issues, angels can become your best friends and a great source of inspiration and strength overnight.
How is angel healing different from other energy healing techniques? Healing modalities such as reiki or pranic healing require guided training and constant follow up sessions, whilst angel healing works on self-belief.
Healing Comes from Within
No matter what medicines you take or what alternative healing therapies you undergo, the fact remains that healing comes from within you. As long as you believe that you will be better, you stand a good chance to actually get better faster. But if you wallow and tell yourself that things are going to get worse, it affects your body and healing adversely. It is necessary to believe in mind-body harmony for any kind of therapy to work. Eventually, it will lead to a healthy life, both physically and mentally.