The History of Alternative Medicine

A New Fad or Steeped in Ancient History?

You may be new to using alternative medicine or perhaps you have already seen the amazing benefits alternative medicine and alternative therapies can bring to your life. But do you know how long its been practiced and where it originated? Well let me take you on a journey into the fascinating history of alternative medicine.

The history of Alternative Medicine is an interesting one and has links with many different cultures. However it’s difficult to say exactly when Alternative Medicine began, in part because up until recently the practices that fall under this term were the conventional medical practices of their time. But if we go back in history and trace several of the forms of healing that are now labelled as alternative we find that their origins go back as much as 5000 years.

From Eastern Philosophy to Widely used Western Alternatives

One of the oldest forms of alternative medicine can be traced back through Chinese history. The ancient Chinese, in much the same way as alternative medicine is used today, based their healing on the importance of the body and spirit being in balance. Much of the philosophy of Chinese Medicine is based on Taoist and Buddhist principals and the belief that a person and their environment are closely interlinked. The widely known principles of Yin and Yang come from Chinese Medicine and are integral to its practice. Yin and Yang explains how opposing forces are integral to each other and how for harmony within the body to take place, these must be in balance. When these are out of balance, disease occurs.

Chinese Medicine works at restoring balance in various ways including herbal medicine, acupuncture, breathing and movement (Tai Chi and Qigong) and also through diet. The practitioner looked at the patient’s health and life in detail to ascertain where their life force or Qi (pronounced Chi) was out of balance. Various methods would then be used to restore the patient back to health. Such was the effectiveness of Chinese Traditional Medicine that it still forms a large part of modern health care in the East. It’s not unusual for these “alternative” practices to be used in hospitals alongside western medicine.

The other Eastern Culture that has a long history of alternative medicine is India. Ayurvedic medicine dates back as far as 6000 years ago and like Chinese Medicine also has links with Buddhism. Ayurveda comes from 2 Sanskrit words – Ayu meaning life and veda meaning knowledge of. It is a system of medicine that keeps a persons body, mind and spirit in tune with nature in order to maintain good health.

When in Rome…

In the West, the History of Alternative Medicine goes back around 3000 years. Treatments such as hydrotherapy were popular with the Romans and Greeks. The Ancient Greeks who were greatly influenced by the Babylonians and to a lesser extent by India and China brought herbalism into the West. Hippocrates (c. 460-377 BC), a Greek physician commonly referred to as the Father of Medicine, practiced herbal medicine.

During the Middle Ages, Monks in Europe studied and grew medicinal plants and translated many works on the subject from Arabic. Folk Healers also passed on their knowledge of healing through word of mouth, from Master to Apprentice. The understanding of the power different plants have is ingrained in many native civilisations and has allowed man to understand and thrive in often challenging environments. When the Europeans settled in America they found that the Native Americans had an extensive knowledge of the healing power of their indigenous herbs. Likewise the Aborigines in Australia understood the power of plants found in their environment.

Moving forward in time towards the 19th Century, before the rise of Western Medicine, as we now know it, medical practitioners were more like today’s naturopaths. They would take a detailed medical history paying particular attention to the patient’s lifestyle. They would then suggest ways to improve this by changes in diet, environment and would also prescribe herbal remedies.

How a Bit of Mould Turned the Tables on Alternative Medicine

The widespread use of alternative medicine in its various forms decreased during the 20th Century. Treatment of patients became more focused on the use of hospitals, and developments in modern medicine lead to the widespread use of Pharmaceutical Drugs to treat disease. The discovery of Penicillin and its development into a drug that could treat bacterial infections in the 1940’s revolutionised health care and alternative medicine lost favour with most medical practitioners.

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Chinese Medicine – An Overview

Chinese medicine sometimes referred to as TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) or CCM (Classical Chinese Medicine) has a rich history dating back to thousands of years B.C. Based on the philosophies of the Tao and classical Chinese beliefs, these two variations of Chinese medicine differ from each other in that CCM strictly adheres to roots of the ancient Chinese medicine; and TCM is a more accepted form of alternative medicine that has become more “Westernized” in conjunction with modern terms.

Broadly taught throughout China, TCM is also offered through a number of Chinese medicine or acupuncture schools in North America as well. Teaching holistic principles that demonstrate how all things are connected (mind, spirit, and body); future Chinese medicine practitioners learn how to prescribe herbal prescriptions relative to the patient. The belief is to treat the “whole person,” not the disease.

Chinese medicine aims to balance the yin (water and earth) and yang (fire and air) of the body’s life force (Chi or Qi); and is a highly evolved medicine in that it approaches healthcare on the foundation of the meridian system (energy channels of the body). Unlike conventional medicine in the West, Chinese medicine places an emphasis on the body’s elements, and their interrelation with the body’s individual systems.

If you visit a Chinese medicine practitioner, you will discover an entirely different form of diagnostics. In addition to observing a patient’s face, these holistic health practitioners perform a pulse diagnosis (palpation of the radial artery pulse), body palpation, and other unique non-invasive diagnostic measures.

Once a Chinese medicine practitioner has formulated his observations, and has come to a conclusive treatment method, some of the many holistic medicines that he might offer include Chinese herbal medicine, acupuncture, holistic nutrition advice, moxibustion, cupping, Tuina (Chinese medical massage), Qigong, or Tai Chi, among others. Some specialized practitioners may administer auriculotherapy (ear acupuncture) as a health treatment.

Licensed Chinese medicine practitioners today have acquired a great deal of education and training. While there are many acupuncture and Oriental medicine schools in North America and abroad, no two curriculums are the same. However, prospective students in the United States have the option to enroll in a variety of Oriental medicine programs including Master of Science in Traditional Oriental Medicine (MSTOM), Doctor of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (DAOM), or Bachelors or Masters in Traditional Oriental medicine and acupuncture, among others.

If you (or someone you know) are interested in finding educational programs in Traditional Chinese Medicine, let professional training within fast-growing industries like massotherapy, cosmetology, acupuncture, oriental medicine, Reiki, and others get you started! Explore Chinese medicine [http://school.holisticjunction.com/clickcount.php?id=6634739&goto=http://www.holisticjunction.com/search.cfm] programs near you.

Chinese Medicine: An Overview
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