Incorporate natural and alternative medicines into your life for a whole new perspective.
By Morgan DeBoest
Before pharmacies were stocked with cures for everyday ailments, people had to find natural, homeopathic solutions for common aches and pains. There’s a pill out there to fix anything, but some still seek these historical, natural treatments. According to the Mayo Clinic, nearly 40 percent of adults in the United States report using complementary and alternative medicines. We talked with alternative healing experts Dr. Terry Lynch and Dr. Kathy Gruver to find out about their personal regimens and what they recommend.
Many people begin a regimen in alternative medicine with massage, because it’s an easy transition to the bigger, scarier world of alternative medicine, Gruver said. Massage therapy and the use of hands-on pressure to relieve stress and tension has become one of the most mainstream forms of alternative medicine.
Pricking little needles all over the body doesn’t seem ideal, at first. But sometimes the smallest discomfort can lead to big relief. Generally used to relieve lower back, head or neck pain, acupuncture is conducted with FDA-regulated acupuncture needles. The needles can be manipulated by hand or electronically to stimulate various points on the body.
Chiropractors manipulate the spine to realign the body, often for preventative purposes. “I have it done all the time,” Gruver said. “I like forced chiropractic — I like the cracks. If my head isn’t spinning around so I can see my own butt, then I don’t feel like anything is working. I see him about once a week because I tend to throw myself out.” Like acupuncture, it’s all about finding the practitioner that works best for the individual.
Some choose to focus on how the mind interacts with the body. Practicing mindfulness may lead to a calmer disposition and a clearer look at what’s going on in life. Taking the time to meditate and visualize life goals are helpful ways to try and center the mind. “You can turn anything into a mindfulness practice — whether it’s a meal, brushing your teeth, doing the dishes — any activity where you have to be present and in the moment … you can make that meditation,” Gruver said.
Lynch uses life coaching and energy analysis to understand where patients’ energies are blocked and how to break down their barriers to happiness. “Emotions give you the status of your body and of your energy systems,” Lynch said. “Your body is a GPS system for life. It can guide you into being the greater good you’re meant to be.” Common forms of energy therapy include Reiki; a technique using palm healing, EmoTrance; noticing the energy within the body and flowing it, and Emotional Freedom Technique; looking at emotions as carriers of energy through the body, rather than something produced from the brain. There aren’t any wires or shocks involved here, just a breakdown of energy flows and the effects thereof.
The theory behind homeopathy is “like cures like,” which is along the same concept as a vaccine. If the body is given a small enough dose of something that in a large dose would cause harm, it will cause the body to heal itself. Arnica, in small doses, can be taken to help with inflammation, bruising and pain, but is potentially harmful in higher doses. To take care of a cold in its early stages, Gruver recommends gelsemium. “It all depends on what your current ailment is,” she said. “There are hundreds and hundreds of different homeopathics and you have to find what works for you.” Homeopathics are taken from plants broken down to the molecular level without using chemicals. They’re considered a very gentle form of healing and are generally inexpensive, as well. “They’re endless, because of how they’re made — we’re not going to run out,” Gruver said.
As with any healthcare regimen, creating a regular exercise and a healthy diet plan is key. The “80/20” rule works for some: “Eighty percent of the time, you do the best you can; Twenty percent of the time, maybe you’re traveling and your only choice is Wendy’s. Then you make the best choice you can there,” Gruver said. “I don’t think we can do anything 100 percent because then we’re setting ourselves up for failure. There are certain things I don’t do. I don’t do GMOs, artificial sweetener, high-fructose corn syrup, soda, milk… I’m strict in those things, but I give myself a break the rest of the time.”
It’s all about finding a balance. “It really has to be a combination,” Gruver said. “You can’t do one to exclude from the other.” Finding personalized solutions to ailments and pain is the best step to take toward reaching the goal for overall health.
Photo courtesy of Marnie Joyce
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