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Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Treatments and Therapies in Asia

Updated on May 20, 2019
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Mazlan has an affinity for trivia and fun facts that he loves to share with others.

Complementary Therapies

Why are many completely logical and rational people swayed into trying some bizarre and strange therapy and alternative treatment?

Have they lost hope in the prescriptive western medicine?

Maybe, or perhaps they are now going back to their roots for alternative therapy in health and medicine?

Snake massage as an Alternative therapy
Snake massage as an Alternative therapy

Advantages of Alternative Medicine

One of the biggest advantages of alternative medicine compared to mainstream medical treatment is, it is safer. It uses only natural ingredients with no man-made chemical concoctions that are usually prescribed by doctors. And it usually has very little or no side effects.

It is designed to treat and heal the actual cause of the problems and not the symptoms as in mainstream treatment.

Asian Healing Traditions - Alternative Treatments

Before the introduction of science-based western medicine, Asians were practicing herbal and natural remedies, witchcraft and other supernatural practices to treat ailments from depressions to highly infectious diseases such as leprosy.

As these Asian countries progress to developing country status, conventional prescriptive medicine becomes the norm and the old traditional medicine took a back seat.

Although folks in the interiors or from the lower income groups will still practice them, the educated and the town folks will go for prescriptive medicines. This is partly because employers will only reimburse expenses for medical treatment from ‘science-based’ educated doctors. Complementary alternative treatments are not recognized and will not be paid.

But when the sickness takes a longer time to cure or when western-medicine fails, they might go back to traditional treatment.

These treatments that were once the norm for their ancestors are now termed as the alternative therapy in health and medicine.

The instinctual impulse to try alternative medicine has gained a lot of traction not only in Asia but also in the west. This has prompted countries such as China and India to develop them into lucrative industries.

Exploiting the Weird and Strange Therapy

Seeing good economic opportunity in this area has prompted some ‘creative healers’ to come out with some weird and strange therapy or treatment.

There is no known medical research or study to confirm the efficacy and safety of this strange therapy but it has become a very popular form of alternative treatment.

Let us take a look at this bizarre and strange therapy in Asia that swayed many completely logical and rational people to try.

1. Snake Massage Therapy

If your idea of relaxation massage with snakes slithering and writhing all over your body, then you are in for some exciting time.

But you might also panic and your heart will beat faster giving you the adrenaline rush.

When you feel that you are in danger, the endocrine gland will release the adrenaline hormone. This will boost up your energy level to react to this 'dangerous' situation. This will happen during snake massage therapy.

Python used in snake massage therapy in Indonesia
Python used in snake massage therapy in Indonesia | Source

Is Adrenaline Rush Good for Metabolism?

Hence, promoter of snake massage treatment will tell you that this therapy gives the adrenaline rush that is good for metabolism. The studies on Effects of Adrenaline by researchers at Department of Anesthesia and Intensive Care Medicine, Aarhus University Hospital, Denmark, confirmed the followings:

  • It prevents the production of insulin
  • it stimulates the synthesis of sugar and fat. This is used as fuel to react to the danger situation

Hence, the association of snake massage therapy to the above benefits of the adrenaline rush.

But an adrenaline rush is also bad as it affects proper brain functions which will lead to chronic stress and subsequent heart failure.

Will Snake Massage Relieve Stress?

How can snakes slinking all over your body be a stress reliever? Well, they said that once you overcome the initial fear, the unique sensation of snakes sliding over your body will relieve the muscle tension, hence the stress.

Bigger snakes will relieve deeper muscle stiffness while smaller snakes will give kneading effect. These are similar to deep tissue massage and light to medium pressure massage techniques administered by humans.

Studies on the benefits of massage show that it is a stress reliever. So can we also assume the same with snake massage therapy?

Alternative Treatments for Depression

Because of its claimed ability to relieve stress, it is also touted as the alternative treatments for depression.

Benefits of Body Massage

One of the benefits of body massage is the improvement to blood circulation.

Likewise, in snake massage therapy with snake's sliding movement over your body will improve blood circulation. It causes blood to move including to the congested area. Availability of oxygen-rich blood to various parts of the body will, therefore, improve body functions.

How Does Snake Massage Work?

The treatment may include one big snake, usually a python, or several snakes of various sizes. These snakes are non-venomous snakes and are initially washed and dried.

The snakes with their mouths taped will then be encouraged to move around your unclothed body, supervised by two masseuses. These masseuses will also apply small kneading pressures without disturbing the snakes’ movements.

The session can be for one hour or 90 minutes. If this is your first try, an hour is probably long enough.

This alternative and strange form of therapy is gaining popularity and you can now find snake massage therapy not only in Indonesia and Thailand but in health spas in Israel and Russia as well.

Any Benefits in Urine Therapy?
Any Benefits in Urine Therapy?

2. Self Urine Therapy

Self urine therapy or urotherapy is the use of your own urine to treat ailments that range from eczema to cancer.

You may either drink a few drops or a glassful of your urine or inject it directly into the bloodstream.

Besides drinking your own urine, urotherapy also involves massaging your body or the affected parts of your body with urine. There are also powdered versions that you can apply directly to the affected skin area or taken in capsule form.

Tips For Urine Therapy - If You Need One!

  • To produce good urine, you must drink plenty of water and have a balanced light diet.
  • Drink only FRESH urine as aged urine can be caustic.

This alternative treatment, which may be strange and bizarre to most of us, has been in use as a traditional medicine for thousands of years in India, China and used by ancient Egyptians, Aztecs, and Native Americans.

Urine Composition

Urine is composed of:

  • 95% water
  • 2.5% urea
  • 2.5% mixture of salts, minerals, enzyme, and hormones.

Although it contains some body waste, it is non-toxic. See Wikipedia article on urine.

Benefits of Urine Therapy

This drugless form of treatment has a negative stigma associated with urine and not many people are willing to give it a try.

Urine therapy proponents claimed that there are several benefits to be gained from this alternative treatment. The obvious benefit is, it cost nothing. Some of the other benefits are:

Urotherapy As Alternative Treatments For Cancer

In the study by J. Eldor of Theoretical Medicine Institute, Jerusalem, Israel, it concluded that urotherapy might be a new treatment method for a cancer patient.

The study found that urine could provide the intestinal lymphatic system with tumor antigens to produce antibodies to fight against cancer cells.

Urine for Acne, Skin Scars etc.

Urine as a treatment for acne? Yes, since the enzymes present will lower the production of sebum, the oily substance that is responsible for acne.

You can also use urine to treat scars and for other skin problems as such eczema, burns, wounds, and abrasions. Some people even use it as a skin toner.

Reference: The Golden Fountain: The Complete Guide to Urine Therapy by Coen Van Der Kroon

Drinking Urine Side Effects

Some of the known urine therapy side effects are:

  • Fatigue
  • Soreness in the shoulder
  • Diarrhea
  • Itchiness
  • Fever
  • Headache

Famous People Who Drink Urine

Some of the famous people who drink urine are:

World Conference on Urine Therapy

Tired of the traditional prescriptive medicines, believers in urine therapy organized the first World Conference on Urine Therapy in 1996. More than 500 people attended this inaugural event. This world conference has now become a regular event.

Some of the world's big names in Urine Therapy are:

  1. Coen van der Kroon (author of the book "The Golden Fountain")
  2. Dr. Schaller (France)
  3. Atom Inoue (Columbia)
  4. Dr. Sonia Rodridgues (Mexico)
  5. Dr. Kang Kook Hee (South Korea)
  6. D.r John Wynhausen (USA)
  7. Dr. Lutz Riedel (Germany)
  8. Dr. Carmen de la Concepcion (Cuba)
  9. Dr. Ryosuke (Japan)

Ready to Drink Urine?

If you are keen to try this self-urine therapy, a drugless form of treatment, then follow these:

  • Take a small sample of your urine in a small glass (discard the initial fluid)
  • On your first attempt, just give it a small sip
  • Continue taking small sips every day and gradually increase it to two, three and more as you get used to the taste
  • As the weeks go by, you probably have gained enough courage to try a glassful
  • Soon, you will graduate from once a day to two and three times a day
  • Alternatively, you can mix the urine with fruit juice, to mask the taste
  • After every attempt to sip or drink your pee., do not forget to rinse your mouth with water

The first pee in the early morning is the best urine to drink. It is rich in nutrients as any hormonal secretion will take place when our body is relaxed and repairing itself. This will happen late at night and the early morning hours. However, it will taste strong and may be hard for beginners to try.

During the first few days or the first week of urine therapy, you may feel weak or have a fever, as your body is adjusting and reacting to the treatment. This will slowly go away.

Reference: The Golden Fountain: The Complete Guide to Urine Therapy by Coen Van Der Kroon

3. Cow Dung Therapy

Cow dung is serious stuff in India and to 'recycle' the cow's waste as medicine may sound ridiculous. Then again, animal dung including cow dung was used in British folk medicine from the early times, so it is not just confined to Asian cultures.

Benefits Of Cow Dung

The Indians used cow dung as medicine for centuries and is part of the Ayurvedic treatment regime. Extensive research and the healing properties and health benefits of cow dung were documented in several of their ancient Hindu texts.

Among its uses are to treat diabetes, cancer (with a mixture of cow dung and cow urine), arthritis, and even AIDS.

Reference: Therapeutic Potentials of Cow Derived Products - A Review published in International Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Research

Cow Dung in Capsule Form

In India, cow dung medicine dispensing is either in liquid or powder form (capsule or tablet). If you are tempted to try this 'alternative home remedy' but find it difficult to consume, the pill form will be your savior!

The use of cow dung does not just stop at medicine. You can buy soap made from cow dung, which is claimed to be good for dandruff, skin disease, will rid the body of bad odors (yes, with cow dung soap!) and will make your skin soft. Surprisingly, this cow dung soap mixed with essential oils is available on Amazon - interested to try?

Traditional Medicine Clinic

You can find several clinics practicing traditional medicine in India and this includes cow dung medicine. The easiest way is to search for 'Ayurvedic Treatment' for the listing of such clinics.

Medicines Made from Cow Dung & Cow Urine

4. Bathini Mrugasira Fish Medicine

If urine therapy and cow dung as medicine baffle you, wait for this Bathini Mrugasira Fish as medicine. It is even more mind blasting.

Every year since 1845, the Bathini Goud brothers from Hyderabad, India will give free medication to people suffering from asthma and respiratory problems using their famed Bathini Mrugasira Fish Medicine.

On every first week of June on Mrigasira Karthi day, thousands of people will throng the city stadium for their live Bathini fish treatment. The fish that has a secret herbal formula stuffed in its mouth is given to patients to swallow whole.

The wriggling action of the live fish as it goes down the throat will clear the phlegm congestion. This 2-inch murrel fish is a species of snakehead fish and also known as Channa SP or Ophio Cephalus.

Patients have to take this treatment for three consecutive years and have to follow a strict diet for 45 days.

Bathini Mrugasira Fish treatment is only administered by the Bathini Goud brothers in Hyderabad, India during the Mrigasira Karthi day. Hence, do not go to other places that claimed to offer similar treatment.

Murrel fish, a species of snakehead fish, is stuffed with a secret herbal medicine and patient will then swallow the live fish whole
Murrel fish, a species of snakehead fish, is stuffed with a secret herbal medicine and patient will then swallow the live fish whole | Source

Taking the Bathini Mrugasira Fish Medicine Treatment

Will You Try This Strange & Bizarre Cure?

If given a choice, which of the alternative treatment will you try?

See results

Bizarre Alternative Therapy In Health And Medicine

The above are just four of the bizarre alternative therapies that are in practice in Asia and some have even spread to other parts of the world.

Despite the unusual and weird approach to these alternative medical treatments, nothing seems to dampen people’s desire to try. Whether it is an alternative therapy in health and medicine or complementary to the current medical treatment, the quote by Dalai Lama practically sums up our way of life:

"When asked what surprised him most about humanity, Dalai Lama replied, Man: because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then, he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. Then, he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present. The result is: he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived"

~ Dalai Lama

This content is for informational purposes only and does not substitute for formal and individualized diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed medical professional. Do not stop or alter your current course of treatment. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2014 Mazlan


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    • greatstuff profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Malaysia

      Hi poetryman6969. Actually I too have not tried any of these therapies, but the snake massage sounds fun!!

    • poetryman6969 profile image


      5 years ago

      I am definitely interested in the subject but I will pass on actually trying these therapies!

    • greatstuff profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Malaysia


      I think there is more weird stuff out there that we have not heard or seen before. Hopefully, we will learn more through HP. Thanks for stopping by.

    • ShariBerry profile image

      Sharon Berry 

      5 years ago from Michigan

      Wow, you made me think about things that I never would have believed actually existed.

    • greatstuff profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Malaysia

      suzettenaples, these weird alternative medical treatments are difficult for most of us to make sense out of all the fuss. However, I have seen people who are desperate for a cure, will try on something that they thought they will never do. That's human psychology! Thanks for the visit and let's pray that we continue to keep our body in good health and we don't have to do these weird stuffs!!

    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 

      5 years ago from Taos, NM

      This is very interesting and informative, but I will never try these therapies or cures. Snakes just creep me out and give me nightmares. And, drinking my own urine will only happen if I am dying on some world desert with no hope of finding water, and then I doubt if I would have any urine in me anyway. I found this hard to read but I am sure there are others who would really could see benefits from this.

    • greatstuff profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Malaysia

      travmaj, it is very challenging to try these alternative medicines, but if I am forced to choose one, then I will go for the snake massage. It looks easier!

    • travmaj profile image


      5 years ago from australia

      Fascinating and interesting. I'm not sure I'd want to try them but I wouldn't totally dismiss them either. Come to mention it I have two cows here, although perhaps processed would be more palatable! Reading this certainly kept my attention and there's much to learn about alternative medicine. Thank you. Voting.

    • greatstuff profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Malaysia

      Nell: Yeah, the urine therapy sounds crazy, but there's a large followings not just in India, but also in the US & the UK!

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      5 years ago from England

      Wow, I think I will stick to traditional medicine! lol! the urine one is just crazy as our urine is the waste product so putting it back in our bodies is just silly, and never ever inject it, yikes! great hub! and fascinating to learn all these new ideas, nell

    • greatstuff profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Malaysia

      @raymondphilippe: Yup. snake massage sounds good to me too! Thanks for dropping by.

    • raymondphilippe profile image

      Raymond Philippe 

      5 years ago from The Netherlands

      Wow. Hadn't ever heard about these treatments. I must admit i wouldn't mind a snake massage.

    • greatstuff profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Malaysia

      Eddy, you are right, these alternative therapies are weird and looked gross. Despite all these, they seem to be gaining popularity and in the case of Murrel Fish therapy, thousands will gather every year. That shows how desperate we can be when it concerns our health. Dalai Lama was right! Thanks for the visit and vote.

    • Eiddwen profile image


      5 years ago from Wales

      Amazing but I certainly don't fancy all these remedies. Weird for sure but they do probably work. The Murrel Fish looked and sounded so off putting. A wonderful read ; so much hard work and voting up.



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