Fact vs Fiction: Are natural healing options better for you?

Accessories for natural therapies

Of all the aspects of wellness and healing, alternative and natural therapy options are some of the most misunderstood. Everything Alternative is here to separate fact from fiction.

Myth: Alternative health practitioners can’t treat physical ailments.

Fact: Yes, they can. In fact, they can treat not just the symptoms, but fix the root of the symptoms, as well.

Because most alternative health practices take a mind-body-spirit approach to optimal wellness, they can cover a wider range of ailments than modern medication. Alternative health practitioners don’t just focus on treating the symptom; they treat the whole person on all levels. An acupuncturist can reveal deep-seated stress triggers in a person suffering from a sore back. Instead of treating just a chronic migraine, a homeopath can discover that it’s being caused by food allergies and treat that instead. A reiki healer can renew the body’s energy systems and, in a series of sessions, ease a patient’s heart disease, chronic pain, and infertility.

Myth: Medicine derived from plants is unreliable.

Fact: Many essential modern medicines, some of which are used to treat cancer, have plant extracts among their ingredients.

Around 11 percent of what the World Health Organization considers essential are rooted in flowering plants. Morphine, a popular painkiller, is derived from the opium poppy. Aspirin, an anti-inflammatory blood thinner, comes from the willow leaf. Drugs that treat childhood leukaemia are derived from a decorative herb from Madagascar, the Madagascar periwinkle. Now, more than ever, it is vital to acknowledge and make use of the medicinal qualities of plants.

Read: Why is Herbal Medicine so Popular?

Myth: Modern medicine is superior to natural medicine.

Fact: There is a real risk of over-medication and harmful side effects with modern medicine.

According to Peter Gotzsche, co-founder of global charitable organisation Cochrane Collaboration, over-prescribed medication is the third most common cause of deaths globally. Modern medicines can also present adverse side effects, from diarrhoea and dizziness to congenital anomalies and, in extreme cases, death. On the other hand, natural medicines are extracted from plants. Because they are organic, they bring zero side effects and are gentle on the body.

Myth: Natural healing treatments involve witchcraft. Or it’s just for hipsters who are riding on this natural therapy fad.

Fact: The practice of alternative healing dates back to ancient civilisations, and it is still being practised globally today. This is not a health trend; nor is it about witches and wizards.

Alternative healing methods have been around for thousands of years. They are not a fad. Ayurveda, for one, originated in India 3,000 years ago. Today, large parts of the Eastern world still use Ayurveda to complement modern medicine. In India alone, at least 500 million people subscribe to Ayurvedic healing.

Similarly, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) emerged sometime between 1600 – 1046 BC. Its use has now spread to 180 countries, with more than 70 governments establishing TCM in their standard healthcare system, including Australia.

Then there is the traditional healing system of Native Americans, which consists of holistic treatments. In use for thousands of years, these health practices are seen as a complete medical system by the National Institutes of Health/National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 

Bush medicine, which largely focuses on plant-based treatments, has been around for 60,000 years. Although many of its traditional methods have been lost, some are still being used today, including the use of tea tree oil in many Australian homes.

Read: Why 7 out of 10 Australians are Embracing Alternative Health Practices

Myth: Alternative medicine can’t work alongside modern medical treatments.

Fact: Many modern physicians attest to the fact that these two aspects of healing can be complementary.

According to a 2021 study, complementary alternative medicine (CAM) is widely used to supplement common clinical practice in Western countries. In fact, recent data shows that generally, one in three patients who have a neuro-muscular disorder also consult with an osteopath, a chiropractor, or an acupuncturist. 

Turning to alternative medicine requires an open mind and commitment to a holistic approach to health. It helps when you educate yourself with the facts. This way, you can take charge of your journey to wellness. Finding the right combination of natural healing options and necessary medical treatments may not only be kinder on your body, it may also be a faster way to optimal health.  

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