Five Recommendation for Complementary Medicine

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Acupuncture is an ancient art practiced by the Chinese, one that now has a significant foothold in the U.S.
  • Most people have probably seen acupuncture in action, with thin needles being inserted into what are thought to be "strategic, energy-balancing points of the body." Acupuncture is an ancient art practiced by the Chinese, one that now has a significant foothold in the U.S. According to Mayo, "acupuncture can prevent and treat nausea and vomiting and help relieve many types of pain, including that from osteoarthritis, low back pain, neck pain, headaches and post-surgical pain." Patients are ordinarily given one or two treatments a week, up to a total of 12 treatments. The most important evidence involved a German study of 3,000 patients with hip or knee osteoarthritis. It found that those receiving acupuncture had more pain relief than those who did not.
  • The patient can be put into a state of deep relaxation or focused attention by a hypnotherapist or an instructional audio (self-hypnosis). Then verbal suggestions are made to relieve anxiety, pain, tension headaches and insomnia. The doctors at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City looked at 20 studies. In 80 percent of the cases, patients who were hypnotized had less pain, used less pain medication and recovered faster.
  • Massage of the skin, muscles and tendons with fingertips, hands and fists has been used to treat lower back pain and improve postsurgical healing. Studies conducted at the University of Miami's Touch Research Institute found that massage can relieve back pain and strengthen the immune system in women treated for breast cancer. It does so by increasing levels of disease fighting cells.
  • Meditation focuses on breathing and on a word such as "peace," "love" or "life." The word, repeated with each breath, is called the mantra. Mayo has used meditation to treat anxiety and high blood pressure and to help people quit smoking without medication. An analysis of 20 studies found that meditation helped patients cope with epilepsy, premenstrual syndrome, menopausal symptoms, autoimmune disease and anxiety during cancer treatment.
  • This treatment is given a broad definition that includes prayer, faith in a higher being, deep appreciation of nature or art or even participation in a secular community. In 16 studies of religious intervention (praying and attending religious services), researchers in Virginia found that "spirituality can decrease the length of hospital stays and fever in patients with severe infections ... increase immune function ... help relieve rheumatoid arthritis symptoms ... reduce anxiety ... and improve outcomes in people with heart disease."

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