“Alternative” Health Practices Going Mainstream


Although these health practices, or the original practices upon which they are based, predate what is now “conventional” Western medical treatment by centuries or even millenia, they are still considered “alternative” by most people in our society. While still not accepted – or outright ridiculed – by mainstream medical practitioners, millions of people are pragmatically enjoying the benefits offered by these practices.

Judy Molland looks at five such practices in her article “From Reiki To Neti Pots: 5 Popular ‘Alternative’ Health Practices.” If you find these excerpts interesting, you’ll want to read the full article at that link.

 1. Reiki

Reiki is the hottest new Eastern healing practice making its way into the Western health industry. A spiritual touch practice based on the notion that human hands can redirect one’s life-force energy to heal stress and disease, Reiki is seen by many as an effective, accepted alternative practice. At least 1.2 million adults have tried this energy healing therapy.

“Reiki saved my life,” says Sandra Delgado, a lawyer with Bank of America in California’s San Fernando Valley. “I cannot live without it and I don’t want to know what would have happened to me if I hadn’t found it.”

Not everyone agrees with this statement, but energy healing is being woven into patient services and treatment programs for people with cancer, fibromyalgia, pain and depression. More than 60 U.S. hospitals have adopted Reiki as part of patient services, and Reiki education is offered at 800 hospitals.

2. Acupuncture

Another Eastern medical practice, acupuncture is far more popular than Reiki. A 2012 study found that six percent of Americans are using or have used acupuncture as part of their health care—over 14 million users, up from 8 million in 2002.

Traditionally, acupuncture has been used as a complementary or alternative treatment, but this report revealed that a growing number of people were using acupuncture to promote general health.

Acupuncture dates back more than 2,500 years to Chinese doctors who believed that illness was due to imbalances in energy. Acupuncture was thought to stimulate the body’s meridians, or energy-carrying channels, to correct these imbalances. Some doctors believe that these benefits are derived from the proximity of acupoints with nerves. Stimulation of these points causes nearby nerves to release signal molecules, called endorphins, well known to suppress the sensation of pain.

3. Yoga

The number of Americans who practice yoga has shot up by nearly 30 percent in the past four years, according to the latest Yoga in America study. The group’s 2008 survey suggested the U.S. had 15.8 million yoga practitioners, but the latest figure shows that 20.4 million Americans are now practicing–about 8.7 percent of U.S. adults.

There are numerous forms of yoga but, overall, the practice has come to be seen as something of a panacea for the ailments of modern society: tech overload, disconnection and alienation, insomnia, stress and anxiety. Yoga has been shown to help fight everything from addiction and lower back pain, to diabetes and the symptoms of aging, as well as boosting overall well-being and stress relief.

4. Chiropractic

Chiropractic is an approach to health care that uses spinal manipulation to relieve pain. It is most often used for back or neck pain, but can also address headaches or pain in the arms or legs.

… Chiropractic occupies a unique position in the United States health care system. It is the most widely disseminated indigenous American system of healing and the most frequently used type of alternative health care in the United States, and is so popular that it is often not considered “alternative” at all.

5. Neti Pots

… if you are one of the millions of Americans dealing with sinus problems, there’s a good chance you have already turned to nasal saline irrigation, a therapy that uses a salt and water solution to flush out the nasal passages.

Several methods of nasal irrigation exist, but the Neti Pot is one of the most popular: a ceramic or plastic pot that looks like a cross between a small teapot and Aladdin’s magic lamp. The Neti Pot originally comes from the Ayurvedic/yoga medical tradition, so it’s been around a long time, but has gained phenomenal popularity in the U.S. recently, and many people swear by it as a means to help them breathe more easily.


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