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Homeopathic and other Natural remedies-What they involve and how they can be integrated together

Updated on April 4, 2013
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3.1) Range of other therapies used by natural therapists that may provide benefits to homeopathic patients:

Reiki

Reiki uses a technique known as palm healing which involve the use of hands on healing form of alternative medicine [1]. It is sometimes classified as a type of oriental medicine [1]. Through the palms, Reiki practitioners believe that they can transfer universal energy in the form of Ki or Qi which allows self-healing and a state of equilibrium to be achieved [1].

There are two types of Reiki, the Traditional Japanese version and the Western Reiki [1].

The main difference between these two types is that in the Westernised version, they use systemised hand placements instead of relying on an intuitive sense of hand-positions like in the Japanese Reiki branches [1].

Herbal Medicine

Herbs are an effective complementary therapy and its use in society is increasing since more and more people are turning toward a more holistic approach to medicine rather than relying on ‘orthodox’ medicine alone [2].

In “orthodox” or allopathic medicine, the scope of disease is limited to the physical level and focus is placed on removing symptoms [3]. Allopathic medicine does not address sickness in the levels of the mind and emotions or the difference in body constitutions or predispositions to certain illnesses [3]. Major importance is targeted at a man’s organs and not man himself as a whole entity [3]. Sickness is diagnosed by physical examination alone and drug treatment used in crude forms is aimed at removing only the ailments and symptoms of disease [3].

Herbal medicine or herbalism, on the other hand is based upon the natural ecological relationship between Man and plants and the wholeness of this approach and branch of medicine [2]. The philosophies behind the field of herbal medicine rely on a holistic method of healing where the ultimate aim is to “treat the whole person and not just the symptoms” [2]. It looks at the fundamentals of health as being a “positive state instead of the absence of a disease” [2]. The priority in herbal medicine is to promote health through the prevention of disease and the individual patient’s responsibility for their own health is emphasized and encouraged [2]. Treatments are individualised and catered to each person according to their needs and different constitutions and predispositions to certain diseases [2].

Nutritional Medicine

Nutritional medicine involves the relationship of food and the well being of our bodies [4].It involves the study of environmental effects on food quality and the impact food has on health and disease due to its nutritional factors and the combination of diet, vitamins, minerals and amino acids [4].

Nutritional medicine works through addressing our body’s metabolic pathways through the use of diet and nutrients such as vitamins and minerals that act as coenzymes in our body’s chemical reactions and also in the maintenance of every system within our body [4]. Once biochemical balance is achieved through supplementation, its state can be maintained with a healthy daily diet [4].

Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy uses essential oils and other aromatic plant compounds in improving health or mood in people [5]. Scientific evidence of using aromatherapy and its effectiveness is growing [5]. Lighter phytomolecules obtained through distillation have a different composition to that of other herbal products [5]. Aromatherapy may include using it topically like in massage or some in direct application on the skin as well as through inhalation [5].

Through smell with the inhalation of essential oils, the part of our brain that is connected to the olfactory centre sends a signal to the limbic system of our brain that is responsible in controlling emotions and retrieval of learned memories [5]. Thus through this pathway, aromatherapy allows certain chemicals to be released in our brains that produce a calm, relaxed state or even stimulation in some cases dependant on the essential oils being used [5]. Massage using essential oils brings about more relaxation to the body [5].

Essential oils have a direct pharmacological effect and aromatherapists have claimed that there exists a synergy between the body and essential or aromatic oils [5]. When applied topically on the skin, aromatherapy activated thermal receptors and destroys microbes and fungi [5]. Internal application may stimulate the immune system and is generally used in this way in prescribed form [5]. Some essential oils are regulated prescription drugs in France and can only be prescribed and administered by a doctor [5].

Ayurveda

Ayurveda philosophy considers that there are five elements in nature and in the body; ether, air, fire, water and earth [6]. They share similar principles as Chinese Medicine [6]. For example air is manifested in the beating of the heart and the expansion and contraction of the lungs whereas fire is manifested in body temperature, digestive tract and metabolism [6]. These five elements combine to form the three basic forces or doshas which exist in everything within nature [6]. These five elements also govern our five senses [6]. Ether and air combine to form vata, fire and water combine to form pitta and earth and water combine to form kapha [6]. These three doshas are found in each person in various combinations known individually as the tridosha or the combination of three doshas [6]. Only one of the three doshas dominate in general thus creating one of three basic mind-body or constitutional types which is similar to the ectomorphs, mesomorphs and endomorphs that conventional doctors used to talk about [6].

  • · “Dominant Dosha types and their description (table adapted and quoted from [6].
  • Vata Types are enthusiastic, vivacious, imaginative, anxious, quick to learn, and quick to forget. They tire and chill easily, sleep poorly, and tend to have digestive troubles, lower back pain, nervous system diseases, and arthritis. They're often thin, with narrow shoulders and hips.
  • Pitta types are intense, quick to anger, sharp-witted, enterprising, impatient, commanding, orderly, and critical. They tend to have medium and muscular builds, fair or reddish complexions, warm skin, and large appetites, and are prone to heartburn, gallbladder and liver disorders, skin problems, ulcers and haemorrhoids.
  • Kapha types are relaxed, graceful, slow-moving, tranquil, affectionate, complacent, indecisive, empathetic, and slow to learn but long to remember. They tend to be thickset and gain weight easily, need a lot of sleep and warmth, and are prone to sinus problems, colds, allergies, asthma, and painful joints.”

Many people belong to a combination of these three types such as vata-pitta type with one type being more dominant that the other [6]. A few on the other hand, have almost equal aspects of all the three doshas [6]. Each particular combination gives each one of us our unique prakriti or nature from birth [6].

Thus guided by these doshas, Ayurveda treats people based on their constitution and the key to achieving health is through achieving the best balance as possible by harmonising these doshas with your inborn nature [6]. An Ayurvedic practitioner has to identify your prakriti and your tridosha and to prescribe appropriate treatments that will bring them into harmony with each other and thus achieve health [6].

Traditional Chinese Medicine

Traditional Chinese Medicine philosophy involves seeing the human body like that of nature itself. They are guided by the Yin-Yang theory and the aim is to achieve a balance is optimal to one’s health [7]. Like Ayurveda, there are also the five element theory however it comprises of Wood, Fire, Earth, Air and Water which correlates to the different organs and parts of our body. It is also known as the five phases theory.

There are also different types of Qi or vital energy in Traditional Chinese Medicine such as the congenital qi which originates from birth or conception to the defensive qi that refers to our immune or defence system against diseases [7].

Diseases are also classified based on each person’s physical constitution for example a ‘hot’ type person should avoid heaty herbs and foods like chillies whereas a ‘cold’ type person should avoid eating too much ‘cold’ energy foods like watermelon and cucumbers or raw salads [7]. In TCM, there also exist a corresponding and reliant relationship between the five elements and the way in which one element/organ combination can affect the next element such as Wood affects or supports Fire and also how each element can suppress another such as Earth suppressing Water just like in nature [7].

3.2) Potential conflicts between homeopathy and other remedies:

Homeopathic remedies can be affected by strong aromas so it is advisable to avoid coffee, to avoid eating sweets and inhaling substances containing mint, eucalyptus, camphor or turpentine [8]. Soaps, perfumes and tobacco can also affect the efficacy of homeopathic remedies and thus should be stored away from these items [8].

Homeopathic remedies do not usually interact with medicines but caution is warranted and one should always consult a doctor if you are currently on medication for hypertension, antidepressants or cortisone [8]. It is also advisable to consult a doctor if you are pregnant or recently had surgery or recovering before using homeopathic remedies [8].


REFERENCES

1) Reiki, 24 March 2013, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reiki, Accessed 27th March 2013

2) Hoffmann D, Holistic Herbal, 1990, Thorsons; pages 6-22

3) Dr Kent, James Tyler,2012, Lectures on Homeopathic Philisophy, B.Jain Publishers (P) Ltd, India

4) Nutritional Medicine, 2013, http://www.bodybelieftherapies.com.au/nutritionalmedicine.html, Accessed 27th March 2013

5) What is Aromatherapy? The theory behind aromatherapy, 8th July 2009, http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/10884.php , Accessed 27th March 2013

6) Ayurveda; 2013, http://www.editorsweb.org/alternative/ayurveda.htm, Accessed 27th March 2013

7) Traditional Chinese Medicine, 4th March 2013, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Traditional_Chinese_medicine, Accessed 27th March 2013

8) Wauters A., The Homeopathy Bible, 2007, A Godsfield Book, Octopus Publishing Group, Great Britain.

9) Dr Dash. Bhagwan, Ayurvedic cures for common diseases, 1999, Hinds Pocket Books, India.

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