Alternative Medicine History

We would all like to live healthier lives, but often medical and wellness information is either difficult to come by or confusing. Alternative medicine applies to all facets of health, whether it is urological, dental, orthopedic, or any other bodily function. With so many people writing about alternative medicine it is difficult to known what is true and what is error or distortions of truth and in many cases we just have not come to the full truth of an issue. The science of health is rather new in terms of actually working out the mechanism of how these treatments work. As a result, the information is eternally evolving and being clarified.

For example, we have known for thousands of years that many herbs and plant extracts are healthy and can prevent disease, but until recently we didn’t know the biological effects of these medicinal compounds. Over the past 30 years there has been an explosion of research demonstrating the mechanism of action of plant extracts and herbs, even down to specific cell signaling effects of these compounds. Unfortunately, the medical profession is far behind the times and is mostly unaware of these important discoveries.

On this website I will share with you many of these discoveries and guide you through how to utilize this knowledge to protect yourself and your loved ones from an ever rising sea of diseases and disorders afflicting our society. I thank you for your interest in this most important endeavor. But first, let’s take a quick look at the history.

The Beginnings of Alternative Medicine

Connected to a variety of different cultures, alternative medicine indeed has a very interesting history. Frankly speaking, it is impossible to pinpoint exactly when and where alternative medicine truly originated. This is primarily due to the fact that the practices which were under the term regarded as conventional medical practices during that time. However, if we trace the various forms of what is now alternative healing by going back in history, we will find that they go back at least 5000 years, which can indeed be regarded as very, very old!

History of Eastern Alternative Medicine

The oldest recorded practice of alternative medicine remains in the ancient Chinese civilization. Much like the way alternative medicine is being used today, the ancient Chinese too used them on the basis of their ability to heal the body and keep it and the spirit balanced. Buddhist and Taoist principles form a large portion of the philosophical basis of Chinese Medicine. According to this belief, an individual and their environs are closely linked together. The popular “Yin and Yang” theory, which comes from Chinese Medicine is very integral to this practice.

The theory of Yin & Yang explains the importance of opposing forces to one another and elaborates how balance within the body is dependent on the balance between these two. When Yin and Yang are unbalanced, it leads to serious diseases. According to Chinese Medicine, this balance can be restored (and diseases can be thwarted) with the help of methods like acupuncture, herbal medicine, movement and breathing techniques (such as Qigong and Tai Chi) and through good diet. Practitioners in this area observed the health and lifestyle of the patients to find out if their Qi (pronounced Chi) i.e. their “force of life” was out-of-balance, and then used different methods to get the patient restored to their healthy selves. Even if today’s modern world, Chinese Traditional Medicine is often used in clinics and hospitals alongside modern medicine.

India too has a rich history when it comes to alternative medicine. Going as far back as 6000 years, alternative medicinal practices in India too are closely linked with Buddhism. Ayurveda, which is a very popular practice in India even today, has its origin in two Sanskrit words: “Ayu” (life), and “Veda” (the knowledge of). An established system of medicine in its own right, Ayurveda aims to keep good health by keeping a person’s mind, spirit and body in tune with their surrounding nature.

Alternative Medicine in the West

The first use of such Medicine in the West goes back to around 3000 years. The ancient Greek, who were highly influenced by Babylonians and somewhat so by China and India introduced the practice of herbal healing in the West. Practices like hydrotherapy were extremely popular with the Greeks and the Romans. Hippocrates, popularly called “father-of-medicine,” was a Greek physician who was known to practice herbal medicine. In the Middle Ages, the European monks began to study medicinal plants and later even started growing them. They even translated several works on the topic from languages such as Arabic. Folk healers too began to pass knowledge from one generation to another by word-of-mouth.

Upon arriving and settling in America, the Europeans found out that Native Americans had great knowledge about the healing capacity of indigenous herbs. Similarly, the Australian aborigines had a strong understanding of the plants which were found in their environs and knew how they could be used in medicine. With the coming in of the 19th Century – and before the development of Western Medicine the way we know it today-, medical practitioners acted like the “naturopaths” of today’s world. After taking in an in-detail medical history and observing their lifestyle, they would proceed to suggest the ways in which they can improve their health through dietary and environmental changes. They were also known to prescribe different kinds of herbal remedies.

Mold Changes Popularity of Alternative Medicine

The use of various alternative medicine forms declined considerably in number in the 20th Century. This was primarily due to the increasing development in modern medicinal practices, which led to a more hospital-based clinical approach of treating the sick and a much wide-based use of pharmaceutical-grade drugs to treat diseases. Finally, the discovery of the “wonder-mold” Penicillin and its subsequent development into a life-saving drug, which could thwart bacterial infections with much more effectiveness in the 1940’s, totally changed the way modern health care was perceived. Alternative medicinal practices totally lost their ground.

While many Doctors abandoned what they called “outdated” treatments like herbalism and homeopathy, among others, several patients continued to seek them out. A large number these were those for whom normal medicine did not seem to work.

Alternative Medicine Today

In today’s day and age, the alternative medicine usage is once again on the increase. Different alternative medical practices like herbal medicine, acupuncture, healing as well as aromatherapy, are being kept alive by hard-working practitioners who are specialists in one or more of these kinds of treatments. A new development in this regard is the use of alternatives with modern clinical treatments. This development has led to alternative medicine being renamed as complementary medicine.

From the aforementioned brief history, it is clear that many alternative medicine practices that are being used today have in fact been with mankind for millennia. And with the burgeoning popularity of the alternative medicine used in dealing with health problems today, it can definitively be said that said practices will stay for years to come.

Complementary and Alternative Treatments in Urology

For those accustomed to modern medicine, it is difficult to put alternative medicine and urology in the same sentence. However, there has been a growing interest in the use of alternative and complementary medicine in treating several diseases, and the trend is witnessed even in Western nations. For instance, more than 30 percent of patients in the U.S use complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), and they spend over $50 billion per year. The most common providers of alternative treatments include chiropractors, acupuncturists, and herbalists.

Patients Who Use CAM

A survey done in the U.S found that CAM was popular among younger patients with higher income levels and education compared to uneducated people with lower income. In the UK, organizations that educate medical practitioners and the public on CAM have been established. In addition, the UK parliament in 2002 published a comprehensive report on the use of CAM, areas of future research, and the training of healthcare professionals on the regulations and guidelines to be followed.

In the U.S, the NCCAM (National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine) has categorized CAM into five key domains. The domains include:

1. Mind-body treatments; these include mental healing, prayer and meditation;

2. Alternative medical approaches, such as Ayurveda, traditional Chinese medicine, and homeopathy;

3. Biological therapies, for example, the use of special diets and herbs, amino acids, minerals, and vitamins;

4. Body manipulation methods, such as massage and chiropractic therapy; and

5. Energy-based therapies, such as therapeutic touch and Reiki, Qui gong, and bio-field therapies.

Biological therapies are the most relevant to urology because they provide provisions and products that are increasingly being used to treat simple urological conditions.

CAM Treatments for Prostate Disorders

CAM treatment for prostate cancer entails the use of diet, fruits, vegetables and observing general nutritional guidelines. Several studies have shown that adopting a diet with low calories, low amounts of saturated fat, but contains lots of phytoestrogen, high amounts of isoflavones (found in green tea and soy products), and fruit and vegetables reduces the chances of developing prostate disorders. Moreover, the diet improves the prognosis of prostate disorders and prostate cancer in patients suffering from the conditions.

Researchers have noted that the type of diet and lifestyle habits in Western and Asian countries might explain the low prevalence of prostate cancer in these populations. Approximately 30 to 75 percent of patients suffering from cancer globally use CAM therapies that include biological, herbal, and dietary based approaches. About 60 percent of people with prostate cancer also utilize the aforementioned CAM treatments in treating their condition.

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Complementary-Alternative-Medicine-Prostate-Urologic

The use of CAM in Treating Erectile Dysfunction

The use of CAM in treating ED has not shown higher success rates compared to clinical trials that have used placebos and chemical drugs. Some of the CAM products used to treat ED include zinc supplements, acupuncture, gingko extracts, red ginseng products, and yohimbine among others. However, the use of these herbal products has not proven to be superior over placebos.

The Use of CAM Therapy in Treating Urinary Tract Infections

In alternative medicine and urology, cranberry juice is the most commonly used in treating urinary tract infections because the juice can prevent bacteria from adhering to thin inner walls of the bladder. Clinical trials at nccih.nih.gov and newriverurology.com and have demonstrated that cranberry juice is effective in treating urinary tract infections in women compared to placebos. Furthermore, cranberry reduces the risk of developing urinary tract infection symptoms in women who have been sexually active in the last six months. However, studies have shown that the use of cranberry juice can lower the absorption rate of antibiotics used to treat urinary tract infections. Moreover, excessive consumption of cranberry juice can lead to gastrointestinal problems and diarrhea.

Red Wine and the Risk of Prostate Cancer

alternative urology red wineEarlier studies have shown that a strong relationship between intake of alcohol and certain cancers such as prostate, lung and rectal cancer exists. However, red wine prostate cancer study done recently have shown that consuming red wine may lower the risk of developing prostate cancer. One study compared the history of alcohol intake of 753 men between the ages of 40 and 64 years with prostate cancer, and a similar number of men without the disease. The findings indicated that the risk of developing prostate cancer in the group that consumed red wine dropped by 24 percent. Another earlier study done in Australia indicated that women who consumed one or several glasses of wine on a daily basis reduced their chances of developing ovarian cancer by 40 percent.

Conclusion

The use of CAM in treating different medical conditions is becoming popular across the globe, especially in Western nations. Complementary and alternative medicines include a variety of therapies. Some of the therapies under the approach are complete treatments on their own, while others are used to enhance modern medicine. Nevertheless, more studies are needed to establish the efficacy of CAM in treating urological conditions and other diseases.

Holistic and Alternative Dentistry

In today’s day and age, the use of alternative medicine is on the rise. People are no longer relying on *just* allopathic medicine and modern clinical treatments to solve their health problems – they are also making use to alternative treatments such as acupressure, acupuncture, etc. What’s unique today, though, is the fact that alternative methods are being used along with conventional methods along with being used on their own, which can make us say that these are now more “complimentary” than alternative, so to speak.

It comes as no surprise, therefore, that dentistry too today uses alternative methods that eschew traditional systems and have a more broad-based approach towards healing – a process that, in a nutshell, is called holistic dentistry.

What is Holistic Dentistry?

holistic dental associationAlso known as biologic dentistry, biological dentistry, unconventional dentistry, alternative dentistry, and even biocompatible dentistry, holistic dentistry is the use of alternative and complementary medicine in the field of dentistry. Holistic dentistry is a different kind of approach which focuses more on an individual’s dental health in context of their entire physical, emotional and spiritual health. While several threads of holistic dentistry exist, they are all common on some points, such as a strong opposition to using any amalgam as materials in dental fillings, adapting a non-surgical approach to gum diseases, as well as the belief that root canals actually endanger a patient’s systemic health by inadvertently spreading trapped dental bacteria in the body. In fact, many dentists who practice holistic healing oppose water fluoridation. As with all alternative medicine, it is recommended that proper research using authority references be consulted before electing dental treatment, such as American Dental Association, Smileworks, American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, and CDC Oral Health.

According to the Holistic Dental Network, holistic dentistry is an approach to dentistry which promotes wellness and health instead of just treating the disease. A unique and one-of-a-kind approach, holistic dentistry uses both the knowledge of modern science as well as the knowledge drawn from the greatest natural healing traditions in the world. Instead of just focusing on the teeth, this form of dental care focuses on the relationship between the patient’s spirit, body and mind.

The following are the basic principles on which holistic dentistry functions:

  • Reversal and prevention of degenerative dental disease through proper and adequate nutrition
  • Eliminating and avoiding toxins made from dental materials
  • Treatment and prevention of dental malocclusion (i.e. bite problems)
  • Treatment and prevention of gum disease at the root of its biology

The Holistic Dental Association is the primary organization that deals with matters concerning holistic dentistry. Founded in 1978 by dedicated and concerned dentists, the primary goal of the organization is to provide a common platform for developing and sharing health-promoting therapies.

The following are some of the main practices often used in holistic dentistry:

  • Metal-Free Dentistry: Safely removes conventional amalgam restorations (i.e. “silver fillings”) and replaces them bonded, metal-free, and state-of-the-art composite resins ( i.e. white fillings), or with other materials such as implants, bridges, veneers, and all-porcelain crowns.
  • Mercury-Free Dentistry: Method where specifically developed protocols are utilized to reduce the risk of getting exposed during the removal and subsequent replacement of mercury-amalgam restorations.
  • White Fillings: Also known as composite resin fillings, white fillings make use of high-tech dental materials which look very much like a natural tooth. These have none of the health issues which are associated with conventional amalgam fillings (such as mercury toxicity) and in fact help strengthen and seal the “real” tooth that adjoins them.
  • Fluoride: Holistic dentists oppose the use fluoride, saying that it does more harm than good. Not only does ingested fluoride have no documented benefits to the teeth, it also may cause cancer and bone problems in the long run. Too much ingested fluoride can also cause fluorosis.
  • Biocompatibility of Dental Materials: According to holistic dentists, anything that goes into your mouth has an effect on your body. Several holistic dentists have equipment on-site to test the biocompatibility of the materials that they use.

Alternative Dental Care Conclusion

Although the topical aspects of complimentary/alternative dentistry have been abundantly used (primarily due to the fact that topical elements being very visible and easily understandable are much more easier to identify), the practice is more about having a different philosophical view. This approach, instead of only looking at the problem, looks at the root cause and the system imbalance that caused it, and seeks to repair the whole system. In other words, it is the practice of treating underlying problems which cause the symptoms in the first place, making an attempt to get rid of those problems, and finally ensuring that the work that has been done in the mouth has no adverse effect on your overall health.

Alternative Health Remedies

It’s a good feeling stocking your bathroom medicine cabinet up for everything you need for an everyday medical need – for insect bites, dandruff, indigestion or anything else. They do have lots of specialized over-the-counter stuff for every one of these things, and you could be tempted to buy them up. We all stock up this way to be ready for anything; in fact, we usually take it personally if there is a problem that we don’t have the right remedy for. The problem is though, that you never seem to need these things when they are close at hand. Sometimes, it’s when you’re out on a trip with the family or when you are at a friend’s house and a kid gets hurt that you really wish you had the exact right materials with you. That’s where it becomes useful to earn a few improvisational skills – using alternative remedies when you need to. What follows is a list of new uses for stuff we all have around the house or in our bags – to help you improvise, when the need strikes.

Tee Tree Oil

Everyone loves tea tree oil these days – we use it for athlete’s foot, for acne, for anything that needs a little antifungal or antibacterial action. What people often don’t know though is that tea tree oil is a great remedy against dandruff. So the next time you’re with a friend on a trip and they seem to have forgotten their anti-dandruff shampoo, throw them your bottle of tea tree oil; a teaspoonful added to regular shampoo should turn it antidandruff. And on that same trip, if one of you seems to have a little foot odor problem from maybe sitting in the car with their shoes on for too long on a warm day, how about having them rub their feet down with a cloth soaked in vodka. It happens to contain some pretty strong alcohol, and it will easily kill all the odor causing bacteria, fungus and other nasties (that should be some trip – smelly feet and vodka).

Headache and Pencil Technique

So you’re on a day out with your friends shopping, and one of you is really bothered with a headache. It can happen – too much walking, too much stress. Stress actually makes us reflexively tighten our jaw and this can starts off a tension headache. Fish out a pencil and ask your friend to hold it between their teeth without actually biting. It helps your muscles unclench and occupy themselves with something else. And the headache disappears.

Blisters and Listerine

People get blisters – women on their toes especially, when they pick shoes that are more pretty than they are comfortable. If that happens to you when you’re out of the right cream for that, are there any alternative remedies in your bag? You do, if you have a little Listerine somewhere. Put a few drops of Listerine on the sore part couple of times a day, and you should be set. For aching feet, a frozen bottle of water can work wonders. Just put it on the ground and roll it with your foot.

Hiccups and Sugar

Hiccups are common enough. But other than scaring a stuttering friend, what else do you have up your sleeve? Sugar, of course (no, not literally up your sleeve). Sugar helps the nervous system ease a misfiring nerve and calm a hiccup down right away. Now these should help you be the go-to person in your circle in a health emergency, shouldn’t it?

How Herbal Alternative Medicine

For centuries, herbal treatments were the primary medicines people, in a diversity of cultures around the world, relied upon to both cure and mitigate the common diseases and ailments. Even though people in the 1600s were unaware of the germ theory, through trial and error, they discovered that certain herbal treatments proved effective against infection.

In feudal times, it was the custom and responsibility of the ‘lady of the manor’ to be somewhat of an expert on herbs and their uses, maintaining an herb garden to dispense appropriate healing herbs to the people of the village, to remedy their ailments.

Spider Webs and Comfrey

Here are a few examples of historically popular and effective herbal remedies. Did you know that spider webs were used to protect against infection and help heal skin wounds, even into the mid-1900s? This herbal treatment is still useful, if you find yourself stranded in the back woods without a modern first aid kit. Comfrey, a common weed, is also known as ‘bone knit’. Before modern medicine, comfrey leaves were applied to the site of a broken bone, in the form of a plaster and bound up around the site of breakage. The broken bone would subsequently be mended back together, by generating new bone cells, due to a peculiar property of this herb. Cayenne pepper, taken internally, stops internal hemorrhaging and has saved many a life. Each of these herbal treatments are well documented by modern science, both in clinical studies and anecdotal reports.

Essiac

During the 19th century, the so-called eclectic physicians relied almost entirely on herbal remedies, many times comprised of a mixture of herbs, to treat their patients. One of the most famous of these remedies was the result of a Canadian nurse’s investigation into Native American remedies, which came to be known as Essiac. This formula reportedly cured thousands of cases of various types of cancer and is still sold today in herb shops. Members of the Kennedy family used this formula with success, which probably contributed to the widespread popularity it still enjoys. At the same time, some unscrupulous healers jumped on the bandwagon, selling elixirs which were ineffective, but nonetheless popular. However, these charlatans soon popularized the term ‘snake oil sellers’, seriously damaging the credibility of legitimate physicians in general, along with herbal treatments.

Herbs and Modern Drugs

When modern medicine was in its infancy, pharmaceutical companies began producing their ‘magic bullets’ for a variety of diseases and common ailments. Interestingly, herbs formed the main constituents of these drugs, with one significant difference. These chemists would extract only the constituents of each plant which was deemed to be the curative property. If you study herbal medicine, you’ll find that all of the constituents in the plant parts, be it the leaves, berries or roots, have a synergistic relationship, whereby one constituent may be the driving force of the cure, but used alone, may be accompanied by undesirable side effects. The properties which were not included in the pharmaceutical version, most often offset and mitigated the undesirable effects, thus making the pharmaceutical an inferior herbal treatment option.

Try Herbal Medicine

It’s unfortunate that the ‘snake oil’ vendors compromised the opinion of the general population against the ‘old ways’ and so, popularizing the modern drugs, with the result that herbal treatments became passe. Today, with the many deleterious side effects of modern drug therapy, fully a third of Americans report using herbal treatments as an effective alternative form of medicine. If you doubt the veracity of herbal medicine, it may be worth your while to try a few of these ancient remedies on minor injuries as a test case. For example, should you become sunburn from a day at the beach, try applying aloe gel to the affected area. It certainly works, serving to both heal the skin, prevent blistering and take the sting out of the burn. You may find that herbal treatments are as effective as the OTC remedies, at far less expense, making a valuable addition to your first aid kit.

Is Ayurvedic Medicine Believable?

They tell you that Ayurveda is these five millennium-old Far Eastern medical techniques that treats you holistically. It doesn’t fill you with harmful chemicals and it has cures for things that allopathy is still looking under every rock for, they tell you. Is Ayurvedic medicine really that advanced? Does it really help you? Should you really believe Deepak Chopra when he promises you perfect health through Ayurvedic medicine?

When he tells you things like your happy thoughts make happy molecules and your bad thoughts make bad molecules, you must wonder if there’s something funny going on here. When he talks about how Ayurvedic medicine takes the intelligence of the universe to make it work for you, you do wonder – is he onto something or has he been smoking something.

Let’s first get to the claim that Ayurvedic medicine is 5000 years old. While Ayurvedic certainly is at least hundreds of years old, most of whatever techniques were developed were lost over time. Much of what they tell you today is just rewritten stuff that was put together barely 30 years ago.

People have sued proponents of Ayurveda like Deepak Chopra for seriously bad advice. In the year 1995, Deepak Chopra was consulted by someone in California who had cancer. Chopra and other Ayurvedic practitioners performed some kind of Ayurvedic treatment called pulse diagnosis among other things on him. At some point, an Ayurvedic practitioner pronounced the patient free of cancer. For these services, these practitioners collected $10,000 in fees.

And then the patient died of the cancer. They were poor people and the family sued for fraud. Unfortunately, they were not able to pursue the case for want of money. Therefore, we can’t really know if any of these accusations were actually true. But they do seem to ring true from what we hear of what Ayurvedic practitioners usually claim and recommend.

Is it safe to buy Ayurvedic hair oil and other stuff that they sell from India? Only 10 years ago, customs in America sent back huge quantities of Ayurvedic products imported from major manufacturers in India like Baidyanath because they contained a great deal of mercury, arsenic and lead – remnants of low-tech distillation processes.

As natural as Ayurvedic claims to be, it also does claim that these heavy metals and poisons have therapeutic properties. Should you believe in them when you see something that completely goes against all logic? These studies were actually published in the JAMA.

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Alternative Pain Relief

Over the past decade there’s been a notable “boom” in the alternative medicine market, specifically focused on finding alternative pain relief for everything from chronic arthritis to menstrual cramps to cancer. While I can’t specifically speak to the last two from personal experience, I can describe in detail the benefits and drawbacks of alternative pain relief when it comes to arthritis, tendonitis, and joint pain in general.

The first thing to understand when it comes to alternative pain relief is that most techniques and methods – the ones that work, anyway – at their core rely upon the very same principles as tried-and-tested drugs, prescriptions and training techniques. The goal, whether using herbal remedies or some chemical concoction made in the labs of New Jersey, is to alter or improve your body’s bio-chemical, bio-physical reaction to its natural processes.

In the case of arthritis, the natural processes of the body are actually out of whack. Be it osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, in either case your body is producing too many red blood cells, cells that tend to congregate in your joints causing swelling and pain. The goal of any therapy or alternative pain relief program, then, is to not only treat the symptom (by increasing flexibility, blood circulation, and range of motion), but also to treat the cause.

The way to do that is to focus on the food you eat and your daily exercise regimen. It’s important to understand that the old cliché “You are what you eat” isn’t just a cliché, but it’s a bit of a truth bomb. Certain foods like sugars, alcohol, red meat and the like, have properties that increase your body’s producing of inflammatory agents. If you eat a crappy diet, you’re more likely to have aches and pains.

So your initial step in alternative pain relief is adjusting your diet. Work in more fresh fruits and vegetables, especially green leafy vegetables like spinach, lettuce, broccoli and the like. Avoid foods that are high in fat (You can have some, but moderation is the key – your body evolved over millennia to eat stuff like fruits, berries and nuts, not cheese and beef jerky).

Your next step is to adjust or improve your exercise regimen. Jogging is good since it’s a great cardio work-out that will get your blood flowing throughout, but at the same time it is a high-impact exercise. Ride the bike instead, or better yet, go swimming regularly. When it comes to an all-around workout, swimming is the absolute best. You’ll burn the most calories, build the most muscle, elevate your heart rate, and increase blood-flow to all your extremities. All while putting no stress on your joints.

alternative pain relief