How to Get Started In Alternative Medicine
Your Starting Point for Herbal Remedy Therapy
By Laurence Layne
This article is geared for the beginner or someone who is thinking about trying alternative medicine and doesn't know where to start. Every day we receive calls or questions about what methods, techniques, or supplements will help someone restore their health. We know from this that if you're starting from ground zero, it can seem a little overwhelming.
Our goal here is to give you ideas that are safe, practical, easy, and genuinely effective. As an example, let's say you've read in a magazine about "10 ways to build your energy." Perhaps you question:
Does it work?
Is it safe?
Is the information reliable?
Are they selling something?
Here are some practical ways to clarify these questions.
- To see if it works, you have to try it. Nothing works for everyone. If it is a good remedy or wellness approach, it works for a lot of people; that's why you're hearing about it in the media, because someone derived benefit from it. If it works for you too, then you've added to your health and your knowledge.
- The issue of safety is generally overblown. Despite what critics say, vitamins and herbs are regulated by the FDA. If people were truly being harmed, the offending supplement would be pulled off the market. Millions of people take supplements every day. The amount of complaints about safety and adverse incidents involving supplements is far less than over the counter medicines found in a pharmacy.
- Most information in articles and books is authored by professional writers who tend to rely on scientific studies If well researched, the content of most of these articles is correct and if anything tend to err on the side of caution. The gold standard (in our opinion) in alternative medical writing is produced by writers who are clinicians and natural health professionals.
- This brings us to the Internet, books and other media. If health claims are made regarding a specific product seem excessive, they probably are. Ethical health professionals, whether alternative or regular, do not make dramatic claims for curing disease. Magazine or Internet articles discussing the healing powers of a method or remedy are fine unless they go overboard in promoting a particular product.
At this stage you are interested in Wellness, Improved Function, and Performance. The rule of thumb is: Try It! If the remedy, technique, or practice doesn't work, then you are only out of a little time and a small amount of money.
The next level of approach is to seek out information besides the Internet, magazines, books, and the media. You need to interact with people who know more than you do. These are your first teachers, whether they are officially called "teachers," or not. The second rule of thumb is: Become a Student. Here are some places to learn (and none of them are in a university):
1. Health food store -- look for an experienced owner or clerk.
2. Herb shops -- owners are usually dedicated to helping you with herbal knowledge
3. Healthy cooking classes -- Macrobitoics, raw foods, vegetarianism
4. Lectures by natural health professionals,
5. Classes, DVDs, CDs, that teach fitness methods such as tai chi, yoga, and Pilates
6. Seminars -- retreats, cruises, and classes on health
When you are working with symptoms, syndromes, and disease, you have moved beyond the general stage of learning about Wellness principles, and are in need of a professional level of knowledge. Most people seek out a natural healer or alternative medical professional because:
1. They have a diagnosis and medical treatment isn't working
2. They are philosophically oriented towards things natural and don't like drugs
3. They have syndromes–collections of symptoms–and no diagnosis is obtainable
4. They would like to use alternative and complimentary care in addition to regular medicine
At this level the rule of thumb is: Get Professional Help. We would not recommend you trying to put together a healing program on your own for serious diseases. There are many knowledgeable alternative healers such as acupuncturists, chiropractors, massage therapists, herbalists, midwives, etc. who can help you or refer you to alternative specialists in the community. You also need to interact with a medical doctor if you are working with serious conditions.
In conclusion, whether you are trying to improve your general health or attempting to heal symptoms, remember:
- Rule of Simplicity: Try simple things first before complex things. Examples: drink tea–full of antioxidants, eat a salad every day, practice deep breathing, learn how to stretch, try a supplement or herb, exfoliate with a skin brush, cleanse with a neti pot. These remedies and practices are simple to do and easy to add into your life with little cost or time.
- Rule of Complexity: Adding remedies and therapies together can have a multiplier effect, also called the synergistic effect. Example: create a personal healing program for the immune system by getting a massage, and doing castor oil packs, hot mustard foot soaks, herbs for the lymphatics, and eating miso soup. This integrative approach works by improving circulatory and nervous system tone, building white blood cells, balancing the pH (acid/alkaline), and supporting the body's innate healing power.
Did you know the United States government is scientifically investigating complementary and alternative medicine? Visit this web site: National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (http://nccam.nih.gov) to learn more.
Our web site is geared to help you understand how alternative medicine and natural healing works.
Looking to improve your health and quality of life? Learn how to get started with wholistic medicine.
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