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What Really Works? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Allen Lawrence, M.D.   
Wednesday, 14 December 2011 00:14

Frank H. swears he's playing tennis at 82 because magnets cured his arthritic hands. Diann B. struggled to give up smoking, then quit after three hypnosis sessions. Susan J. swears that she cured her pancreatic cancer using vitamin-mineral therapy prescribed by her alternative nutritionist. John T. believes that his chiropractor cured his scoliosis and has permanently relieved his crippling back pain. Alternative therapies like these aren't as 'alternative' as they used to be anymore, in fact, a growing number of people are swearing that they have been healed and saved by alternative medicine. A 1997 survey published in the Journal of the American Medical Association estimated that, in the previous year, four in ten Americans used a non-mainstream treatment such as meditation or massage, paying some $27 billion.

While the medical establishment tends to be wary of alternative healing, the general public is more and more moving toward alternative medicine. Several studies have now suggested that some therapies can be effective in relieving certain conditions. The following is a brief overview of what we know:

Acupuncture

Acupuncture is one of the oldest healing methods known, it is based on the ancient Chinese belief that there are patterns of energy (Qi, pronounced as ..chi) flowing throughout the body. Disease occurs if this flow of energy is blocked or disrupted. When thin needles are inserted into the body at specific points, where each point is linked to a particular organ network, the energy flow supposedly can be unblocked and restored, hence the body is made whole again and healed.

Is It Effective?


A 1997 National Institutes of Health (NIH) consensus-development conference reported evidence that acupuncture is effective for nausea after surgery or chemotherapy and probably during pregnancy. It may also be useful as an adjunct treatment for other conditions, including headaches, joint pains, asthma, stroke rehabilitation, cessation of smoking, and fibromyalgia.

A comparison of detoxification programs in Boston found that people who chose to enter outpatient acupuncture programs were less likely to re-enter detox than those in residential programs. In a trial of acupuncture as a treatment for chronic pain completed by Finland's National Health Service, 65 percent of patients either stopped taking painkilling drugs or reduced their dosage of pain medications.

Discussion:

Western doctors, as a rule, dismiss the concept of Qi. Instead, researchers conjecture that the needles prompt the release of natural painkillers called endorphins, or hormones that stimulate the immune system. Today many experts regard acupuncture as practically mainstream treatment process. An National Institute of Health panel declared, "There's sufficient evidence of acupuncture's value to expand its use into conventional medicine."

Hypnosis

What Is It?

Using one of many techniques such as inducing relaxation by asking the subject to count backward from 100 a practitioner can bring on a trance-like state of deep relaxation. While in it, a patient might focus on healing thoughts or on letting go of negative habits. About one person in ten cannot be hypnotized.

Is It Effective?


While Western medical practitioners cannot explain why, hypnosis does seem to work for certain conditions. Traditional medical researchers speculate that it acts by touching the unconscious mind, and putting things generally not within our control, such as pain perception, under our power.

Hypnotism may help alleviate some forms of chronic pain as well as offer relief from stress-related conditions such as asthma. "With almost every medical problem people have, whether it's migraine headaches or irritable bowel syndrome, there is a significant overlay of anxiety and tension," explains Dr. Dabney M. Ewin, clinical professor of psychiatry at Louisiana State University and Tulane. "If you remove that part, which you can do with hypnosis, they get a whole lot better."

Scientists are studying hypnotism's consistency as a method of anesthesia or pain relief, and its ability to speed healing.

Discussion:

We believe that hypnosis allows us to shut off the conscious aware self which in our Western worlds believes that it must dominate the lower self and hence control it. Once quieted and shut down the individual can communicate directly with his or her lower self and tell it exactly what it wants, what it expects and empower it to give these results to the individual.

Magnet Therapy

What Is It?

Americans spent hundreds of millions of dollars last year on magnets for ailments such as back pain and carpal tunnel syndrome. Found in items ranging from necklaces to golf shoes, magnets are thought of as one of the latest healing devices, however, the idea that they promote healing has been around for centuries.

Is It Effective?

Studies so far have been too limited to say for sure whether these magnets work, and their results have been mixed. In a 1997 study, Dr. Carlos Vallbona of the Baylor College of Medicine reported that a magnet taped to post- polio patients' most sensitive sore spots reduced pain in 76 percent of the 29 participants. But a study of heel-spur pain at the New York College of Podiatric Medicine found no difference in pain relief between patients using magnet foot pads and those with placebo pads.

If magnets do work, the reason may be suggested in studies coming out of the lab of Dr. Robert R. Holcomb at Vanderbilt University. His research appears to demonstrate that magnets can stop the transmission of pain impulses at the cellular level. Dr. Holcomb and his team have reported successful results with a magnetic field developed by using four magnets together, arranged so positive and negative poles are in an alternating pattern. "We have evidence that magnetic fields, properly used, have an effect on pain, " Dr. Holcomb declares. Whether the magnets commonly used for therapy deliver these same results remains to be seen.

Discussion:

Magnet as with acupuncture may tamper with, unblock or redirect, improper energy patterns. While Western medicine is uncomfortable with considering human beings (and all other animals as well) as having energy fields which if disturbed create imbalances and illness this is a very old concept with works very well in science in many other disciplines. The block in this case is Western medicines willingness go believe in what they cannot see or at this time provable. Once they have invented a test to show these energy fields and prove that acupuncture or magnets can make a difference all will change. This process is very similar in many ways to touch for life, acupressure and other touch techniques used by alternative healers.

Massage

What Is It?

This treatment uses touch to apply pressure to the body's skin, muscles, tendons and ligaments. The idea is to ease disorders by relieving tension, promoting blood flow, calming the nervous system and loosening muscles. Massage therapy now encompasses countless techniques, including Swedish, shiatsu and Rolfing.

Is It Effective?

Yes, according to researcher Maria Hernandez-Reif of the University of Miami's Touch Research Institute.

"There is a relationship between stress and our immune systems," she says. The institute has found evidence that massage may reduce the amount of the stress hormone cortisol. Researchers speculate that a reduction in cortisol allows the immune system to spring back. Researchers are also trying to determine if massage can have specific benefits for children with asthma and cystic fibrosis.

Discussion:


Touching in whatever form is an essential part of life for all animals. Touching and preening are seen at every level of the animal kingdom, any good Veterinary professional or anthropologist would tell you it is virtually essential for healthy individuals and healthy communities. Only in Western medicine must it be proved as a recognizable health treatment. Once again touching during the massage process is very similar in many ways to touch for life, acupressure and other touch techniques used by alternative healers.

Biofeedback

What Is It?

This technique trains people to improve their health by using a machine that measures body signals, such as brain waves. Supposedly, this feedback of physical signals helps the patient recognize-and subsequently control-previously uncontrolled responses.

Home biofeedback machines, which monitor breathing or skin temperature, were introduced in the 1960s. Other biofeedback devices include EKGs, which measure heart rate, and electromyographs, which evaluate muscle tension. In each case, sensors attached to the body take readings and translate them into beeps or lights that patients can understand. A form of biofeedback called neurofeedback, or EEG feedback employs sophisticated computers.

Is It Effective?

Scientists can't explain exactly how biofeedback works. But while not everyone has had success with this treatment, it has helped some people alleviate the symptoms of migraines, digestive system disorders, abnormal heartbeat rhythms, chronic pain, high and low blood pressure and spinal-cord injuries. Research on the reliability of biofeedback centers on machines used with trained counselors, not home devices.

Studies conducted by Joel F. Lubar at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, have found evidence to support neurofeedback's usefulness in treating kids with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder without drugs. Neurofeedback also has a 25-year track record in helping epilepsy patients control seizures.

Despite encouraging findings, none of these therapies should be a substitute for the care of your regular doctor. Your physician is in the best position to understand your overall health and this can be critical. If you choose to try an alternative therapy, be sure to keep your doctor fully informed.

Discussion:

While biofeedback is not exactly like hypnosis, it is another technique that allows the conscious aware self to be suspended and for attention to be shifted to the lower self. Once quieted and redirected into seeing and thinking about physiologic functions the individual can communicate more directly with his or her lower self and tell it exactly what it wants, what it expects and empower it to give these results to the individual. Focusing on biologic values is 1) a form of hypnosis, 2) a way of measuring the functions of the lower self, the autonomic and parasympathetic nervous systems, and 3) a way of allowing the middle self to have a " visible " mechanism for seeing the lower self in action.

 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 14 December 2011 00:33