We tend to rush to the GP whenever we’re feeling out of sorts, but they’re not the only source of healthcare in SA. Here are some different kinds of complementary medicines you might want to explore.
- What is it? Kinesiology establishes what the mind-body system needs in order to heal. The practitioner uses non-invasive, techniques to identify and correct imbalances in the emotional, chemical and structural systems of the body, and facilitate healing.
- How does it work? Kinesiology makes you aware of your mind-body connection and makes you conscious of helping yourself, without the use of medication. It helps deal with the cause of your health problem, as opposed to treating the symptoms.
- What does it help with? Kinesiology can work for a multitude of problems including chronic neck and back pain, muscle pain, weight problems, emotional stress, headaches, depression and food sensitivities.
2. Body talk
- What is it? Body talk is an energetic healing method based on quantum physics and mechanics, which holds that everything in the world is intelligent and interconnected. The person is viewed as an energetic being in a world determined by energy flow around and within it.
- How does it work? Body talk activates the body’s natural healing system through a form of neuromuscular bio-feedback. The practitioner asks the body yes-or-no questions and receives answers directly from the body about the sequence for re-establishing these ‘disconnected’ lines of communication. This allows the body to repair and prevent disease and accelerate the healing process.
- What does it help with? Body talk addresses personal and spiritual growth and balances the body biochemically, physiologically and emotionally. The healing process of Body Talk empowers the person to take responsibility for their own health.
- What is it? Therapeutic reflexology works on the principle that there are reflex areas on the feet and hands that relate to all body parts. By stimulating these areas, the reflexologist may help to restore health to the body.
- How does it work? Reflexology achieves healing by restoring optimal blood circulation, nerve impulses and detoxification. The purpose of reflexology is to balance the various body systems.
- What does it help with? Reflexology can help with auto-immune disorders that cause pain, digestive disorders, diabetes and endometriosis.
4. Preventative & integrative medicine
- What is it? Supplementing with nutrients and herbal extracts usually addresses the underlying causes of health problems. For example, fish oil can reverse heart disease by helping to declog arteries, making the heart stronger and preventing blood vessels from attracting sticky deposits.
- How does it work? Integrative medicine combines natural medicines, bio-identical hormones and pharmaceutical therapies. It also focuses on dietary and lifestyle changes essential for healing.
- What does it help with? For acute but serious conditions needing immediate intervention, conventional medicine should be first option. Pneumonia needs immediate treatment with a strong antibiotic. But for chronic conditions like cardiovascular health, depression, insomnia and stress, complementary medicines often work more effectively because they address the underlying cause of the problems.
- What is it? Hypnosis is an altered state of consciousness where the person being treated bypasses the critical faculty of the conscious mind, eliminates undesirable programmes and replaces them with desirable ones.
- How does it work? The hypnotherapist talks in a gentle voice. He or she brings your attention to your breathing and takes you through various scenarios. A misconception is that you feel out of control when you’re hypnotised. This isn’t the case — you’re completely conscious and awake. Hypnotherapy lowers your brain’s activity levels so you can relax and focus better. If we habitually do a specific thing, such as smoke with our morning coffee or drive a specific route to work, our brain develops physical connections, mapping out these habits. So, our habit has a physical brain connection. Hypnotherapy aims to rework paths and break down connections, essentially rewiring your brain. In turn, newer, healthier paths and habits are created and the old ones disappear.
- What does it help with? Hypnotherapy can work wonders on psychological and emotional issues. It can also help with psychosomatic illnesses, alleviating pain, stress, depression, anxiety and phobias; and improving concentration and low self-esteem.
- What is it? Acupuncture is a Traditional Chinese Medicine technique. It involves the regulation of energy flow along the meridians of the body by accessing the acupuncture points — points of lowered skin resistance.
- How does it work? By calming or stimulating the energy (Qi) flow, pains and disease are soothed or cured. The energy can be manipulated using needles, low-energy laser, heat, ice, finger pressure, vacuum or magnets. Acupuncture has been found to influence the nerve pathways and release of biochemical mediators involved in pain and inflammation.
- What does it help with? Humans and animals can both benefit from acupuncture and it can be used to treat almost any condition. It’s often useful in the relief of stubborn pains that haven’t responded to conventional therapies, such as shingles.
- What is it? Biokineticists are clinical exercise specialists who are registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa. They promote the general health and well-being of individuals (general population, special population and athletes) through scientifically researched prescriptive exercise programmes.
- How does it work? A biokineticist assesses the necessary factors for you and determines the correct exercise protocol. An assessment includes body composition, posture analysis, strength and flexibility, fitness levels, current and prior injuries or orthopaedic issues, as well as current and prior health ailments like neuromuscular diseases, musculoskeletal disorders, heart disease, diabetes, lung disease, arthritis and osteoporosis. The biokineticist then develops a rehabilitative or performance-based programme based on goal structures determined through the assessment.
- What does it help with? Exercise is a necessary part of our overall health and well-being. Biokinetics aims to prevent and manage conditions as well as encourage a positive lifestyle. Having a stronger posture and physique enables you to physically move more effectively and efficiently within your daily activities and environment, and to achieve your health and fitness goals.
- What is it? Homeopathy is an energy system of medicine, based on the principles of quantum physics. It was discovered by Dr Samuel Hahnemann, who embodied the principle of ‘like cures like’ into the first Law of Homeopathy. A plant, mineral or animal substance is diluted hundreds of times. The water molecules supposedly carry the information signal, determined by the spatial arrangement of the water molecules, becoming amplified with each successive dilution and shaking. This information signal is transmitted via the prepared medicine to the person or animal being treated to elicit, if correctly prescribed, a response from within the individual.
- How does it work? Homeopathic medicines imitate the illness or symptoms a person presents. This is meant to strengthen your body’s immune system, giving it the capacity to fight the illness. A good example are the symptoms produced in a healthy individual by cutting an onion — tearing and runny nose. When a homeopathic remedy is prepared from onion, it is meant to treat these symptoms in a sufferer of hayfever or the common cold.
- What does it help with? Homeopathy is safe, as it has no side effects and is used to treat almost any condition. Homeopaths claim they can treat various conditions and long-term chronic illnesses such as allergies, hayfever, vertigo, osteoarthritis and ear infections.