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Alternative Therapies could include:
The practice of acupuncture originated in China 5,000 years ago. Today it is widely used throughout the world and is one of the main pillars of Chinese medicine. There are many different varieties of the practice of acupuncture, both in the Orient and in the West. The most common forms available to westerners are as follows. Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) usually combines acupuncture with Chinese herbs. Classical acupuncture (also known as five element acupuncture) uses a different needling technique and relies on acupuncture independent of the use of herbs. Japanese acupuncture uses smaller needles than the other varieties. Medical acupuncture refers to acupuncture practiced by a conventional medical doctor. Auricular acupuncture treats the entire body through acupuncture points in the ears only. Electroacupuncture uses electrical currents attached to acupuncture needles. Aside from needles, other methods of stimulation are also considered forms of "acupuncture." These include the use of heat from the burning of herbs placed on specific points ("moxibustion") and the placement of herbal pastes on specific points. Research on the effectiveness of acupuncture has special challenges. These include the diversity of approaches, the practice of individualizing treatment for each patient, differing skill levels between practitioners, and difficulty separating out the effects of acupuncture from placebo effects (i.e., how the patient's beliefs and expectations affect his/her perception of symptoms). Based on acupuncture's long history of use as well as the limited research available, both the World Health Organization and the National Institutes of Health have identified many conditions for which it may be recommended. However, many common uses do not yet have formal scientific evidence to support them.
Ayurveda, which originated in ancient India more than 5,000 years ago, is probably the world's oldest system of natural medicine. When translated, its name means "science of life," and it stems from the ancient body of spiritual teachings known as the Vedas. Some medical historians believe that Ayurveda was also the original basis for Chinese medicine. Ayurveda is an integrated system of specific theories and techniques that use diet, herbs, exercise, meditation, yoga, and massage or bodywork. The goal of Ayurveda is to achieve optimal health on all levels: physical, psychological, and spiritual. In India, Ayurveda involves the eight main branches of medicine: pediatrics, gynecology, obstetrics, ophthalmology, geriatrics, otolaryngology (ear, nose, and throat), general medicine, and surgery. An estimated 80% of the Indian population uses Ayurveda, although it is often used in combination with conventional medicine. There are more than 250,000 Ayurvedic practitioners in India, and some hospitals are based solely on this approach to medicine. Ayurveda made its way to the West mainly through Europe, where it still has a strong presence today. However, in modern times and particularly in western countries, the practice of Ayurveda is less focused on its spiritual roots than on its use as a form of complementary or alternative medicine. Ayurveda is practiced in the West by healthcare professionals who are licensed in a variety of disciplines, such as MDs, osteopathic physicians (DOs), naturopaths, acupuncturists, nurses, massage therapists, and chiropractors. It is also practiced by lay people who are not licensed, but who function as health counselors, educators, or consultants. To practice this discipline, the standard length of training in India is five years, but there are no agreed upon standards in the West. The West offers two major currents of training and practice. The first is offered by a diverse variety of teachers and practitioners, many of whom are eithe...
Cupping and moxibustion are healing techniques employed across the diverse traditions of acupuncture and oriental medicine for over 2,000 years. In modern times, both methods are usually used to complement acupuncture with needles but they may be used independently. Cupping and moxibustion share the principle of using heat to stimulate circulation and break up congestion or stagnation of blood and chi. Cupping has some relation to the massage technique tuina , which uses rapid skin pinching at points on the back to break up congestion and stimulate circulation. Moxibustion is more closely related to acupuncture as it is applied to specific acupuncture points, while cupping may be used over acupuncture points or elsewhere. The literature on these techniques consists predominantly of opinion based on clinical experience, case reports, and a few case series reports in which the methods of observation and analysis are not clear or consistent. This does not mean the techniques do not work, but little of what has been reported can be evaluated as scientific evidence.