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Different therapeutic methods practiced centuries ago are being considered as part of mainstream medicine.


What follows are seven of the most popular health care alternatives.

1. Natural products

The Philippine Institute of Traditional and Alternative Health Care (PITAHC) was established through R.A. 8423 or the Traditional and Alternative Medicine Act of 1997. It serves to preserve and protect local alternative and traditional health care. It upholds “the right of every Filipino for better health through the provision of safe, effective, and affordable traditional and alternative health care products, services, and technologies.” 

Allied with the Department of Health, PITAHC has endorsed the following medicinal plants: akapulko, ampalaya, garlic, guava, and lagundi.

2. Mind-body medicine

Traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine rely on the mind to treat an illness, complemented by therapies with herbs, massage, and yoga. The 2007 American National

Health Information Survey (NHIS) found that progressive relaxation and guided imagery were among the top 10 complementary and alternative medicinal therapies for adults.

Deep breathing and yoga ranked high among children.

3. Manipulative and bodybased practices

Ancient Greeks were known to employ spinal manipulation, while references to massage appear in the ancient texts of China, Japan, India, the Arabic states, and Rome. Manipulative and body-based practices focus primarily on the structures and systems of the body, including the bones and joints, soft tissues, and circulatory and lymphatic  systems.

The 2007 NHIS survey ranked massage in the top 10 complementary and alternative medicinal therapy for adults and children.

4. Movement therapies

A broad range of Eastern and Western movement-based approaches promotes physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing. Feldenkreis method, Alexander technique, Pilates, and Trager psychophysical integration are examples of movement therapies.

5. Traditional healing

Employing indigenous theories, beliefs, and experiences, traditional healing is often holistic, or one that integrates the mind and body. Treatments involve a union of approaches such as psychotherapeutics, herbal medicine, nutritional therapy, and physical therapeutics.

6. Energy

The use of electromagnetic fields like magnets or light therapy and putative energy forms or biofields, reflects on the concept that human beings are infused with subtle forms of energy.

7. Whole medical systems

Evolved over time, these complete systems of theory and practice are employed by medical doctors (M.D.) or doctors of osteopathy (D.O.). Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine are examples of whole medical systems, as is Homeopathy, from Europe, which stimulates the body’s ability to heal itself through the ingestion of small doses of highly diluted substances. Naturopathy, another system, aims to support the body’s ability to restore itself through dietary and lifestyle changes, along with herbs, massage, and joint manipulation.

Word of caution

While alternative, complementary, or traditional health care are becoming widely accepted, the World Health Organization acknowledges that issues including national policy and regulation, safety, effectiveness, quality, knowledge and sustainability, and patient safety still need to be completely addressed.

When seeking alternative and traditional health care, it is best to err on the side of caution. Get as much information as you can about your practitioner. Remember, one man’s cure may not work for you.

Full article featured in HealthToday November 2010 issue.

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