January 13th, 2011 at 3:11 am
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Expand your health options with complementary and alternative medicine

by Sue Lanza

You just had your 3rd sinus infection of the winter season and you feel as if the antibiotic you were prescribed isn’t quite working as well as you hoped it would. Ever feel like you wish there was something more you could do? And for that matter, what are the effects of taking antibiotics frequently?

As seasoned (translate: senior) health care recipients, we are always looking for new non-pharmacological approaches to health care. As we pass middle age, many of us have asked the question, “is that all there is?” to various areas of our lives with the view of health care being no exception.

In the United States, we are used to a medical model of health care: we have symptoms of something and we present ourselves to a health care professional who gives a medication to “cure” it. Elsewhere in the world, in places like India and China, the model of health care is holistic and based on keeping the body well. People living in this type of health care are no strangers to what we know by the acronym CAM.

CAM, which is an abbreviation for complementary and alternative medicine, offers many of us some potential alternatives for embracing wellness and staying healthy. Using CAM techniques is a perfect example of relooking at a collection of modalities that have been around for centuries and making them new again. But what are CAM techniques?

Complementary and alternative medicine, is a group of medical and health processes that are not thought to be part of conventional medicine; at least not in the United States. In many other parts of the world, CAM therapies are routine and part of every day life.

Complementary techniques are those that are used “in addition to” traditional methods. For example, you may go to the doctor for a broken arm that is placed in a cast and slowly healing. In addition to following the guidelines that your doctor specifies, you may opt to add guided imagery, which helps you relax and forget about the pain as your arm heals. You use both methods to assist in the restorative process.

Alternative methods are those used “instead of” common treatment options. An example of this might be a decision by a person to use acupressure to calm the pain of migraine headaches instead of using prescribed medications, which could give results but have lots of unwanted side effects.

So if you are asking yourself: would I recognize the names of some of these CAM techniques? Of course! Some of the complementary and alternative modalities include: biofeedback, yoga, aromatherapy, acupuncture, massage therapy, reiki, tai chi, acupressure, guided imagery, music therapy, dance therapy and the list goes on.

Have you tried any complementary or alternative methods in your quest for wellness? I am a poster child for trying many of these techniques, including all on the list above. Heck, I even went so far in my journey for alternative knowledge that I decided to become a gentle yoga teacher.

All I can suggest to you is to challenge your viewpoint and try some of these approaches. Your body is thanking you already.

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