Chinese medicine is based on the idea that chi (life force energy) flows through the body along constant, definable pathways called meridians. Although there are many meridians, there are twenty-six principal ones, each associated with a different body function or organ. Chi exists in two opposite but complementary forms: yin and yang. When the flow of chi is impeded, the yin and yang become misbalanced, leading to conditions of ill health. There are about 800 places where the flow of chi emerges at the surface of the body. These are the acupuncture points. An acupuncturist stimulates selected points on the body, usually by using very fine needles. The goal is to make the patient healthier by rebalancing the patient's chi over a period of time.
Alternative Medicine Resources
Tired of too many drugs and poor bedside manner? Here's where you can find information about alternative forms of medicine. Track down the info you need about acupuncture, homeopathy, naturopathy, osteopathy, herbal medicine, diet and nutritional therapy, biofeedback, rolfing, aromatherapy, and much, much more.
Alternative Medicine Talk and General Discussion
Here are the Usenet discussion groups in which people talk about alternative medicine. If you are interested in health with a twist, one of these groups will be right up your medicinal alley. My philosophy is that, when it comes to medicine, if you don't want to walk the alternative walk, you should at least talk the alternative talk.
In Sanskrit, ayurveda means "laws of health," and is the name of one of the four sacred Hindu texts. Ayurvedic medicine is based on Indian traditions more than 3,000 years old. These resources will help you understand this ancient healing art and how it is practiced today.
Cannabis and Medicine
Cannabis (marijuana) is one of the most popular intoxicating drugs in the world. The most common use of marijuana is to induce a sustained sense of well-being and mild euphoria (the technical term is "getting high"). However, there are a number of medical conditions for which cannabis can be used as an effective treatment: cancer chemotherapy symptoms, certain types of loss of appetite, chronic glaucoma, muscle spasms, menstrual cramps, certain AIDS symptoms and moderate chronic pain. Read about these treatments as well as related information about government and legal issues.
According to the Chinese system of medicine, a body that is in a balanced state can best maintain health and avoid disease. The question is, what is a "balanced state" and how does one achieve it? I have selected these resources to help you learn about Chinese medicine and the principles behind it. Remember, though, that the Chinese system of medicine was developed over many years to treat people living in a Chinese society, not to use as a marketing tool to sell herbal supplements to Western consumers.
It's good to be informed on all aspects of medical treatments. When I was in medical school at the University of Toronto, I used to go to the local chiropractic school's public clinic to be treated. These Web sites offer you an introduction and history of chiropractic, an overview of the profession and treatment, links to education and licensing information, and other chiropractic resources.
Dictionary of Metaphysical Healthcare
The phone rings. It's that beautiful woman you met at the Santa Cruz Tofu Festival. She wants to know if you would like to come over to her house and do some Dayan Qigong and then have lentils for dinner. Before you commit yourself (because commitments are important), you put her on hold and check with the Dictionary of Metaphysical Healthcare. You find out that Dayan Qigong, or Wild Goose Breathing Exercise, is a series of sixty-four movements that imitate the postures of a wild goose. Practicing Dayan Qigong may help you delay the aging process and prolong your life. Wow -- all that and lentils too!
Herbs have been used in healing for thousands of years, with their popularity occasionally rising and falling. However, there is a lot more to using herbs than knowing enough to give valerian to your lawyer to calm him down. Before you start messing around with your body chemistry, spend a little time on the Net and learn something about the herbs you propose to take. Many herbs contain pharmaceutically active ingredients that can cause significant side effects, especially if you are already taking medication.
Homeopathy is a system of medical diagnosis and treatment established by the German scientist Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843). A homeopath (practitioner of homeopathy) treats patients by taking a detailed history, including a comprehensive analysis of the patient's symptoms. The homeopath will then prescribe one specific "remedy" based on the principle of "like cures like". The idea is to use a very dilute preparation of a substance that, taken in its concentrated form, would cause the exact same symptoms being experienced by the patient. Even more strange is the homeopathic idea that, the more you dilute a remedy, the more powerful it becomes. (These ideas are, of course, contrary to established scientific beliefs.) Traditional homeopathy teaches that there are no easy answers: it takes a long time with the patient -- and a lot of knowledge on the part of the homeopath -- to choose the exact remedy for each particular patient.
Virtually everyone responds to music. We all know that the right music at the right time can be soothing, energizing, inspiring or entertaining. Music therapy practitioners use music and rhythm to alleviate various medical and social conditions. In the United States, certified music therapists must complete an approved college curriculum (including an internship) and then pass a national board examination.
Osteopathy is a system of medicine descended from the teachings of Andrew Taylor Still (1828-1917). Osteopaths receive medical training similar to regular doctors, with the addition of special courses in tissue manipulation. Where a regular doctor is known as an M.D., an osteopath uses the designation D.O. (Doctor of Osteopathy). In the United States, osteopaths are licensed to practice medicine by using drugs and surgery. However, they tend to have a more generalized and natural approach to healing that they use along with their manipulation techniques. A large portion of osteopaths are engaged in primary care (family medicine).
People complain about stress, but think how much less satisfying relaxation would be if there were nothing to relax from. In fact, what good would these Web sites be if it weren't for stress? So stop what you are doing right now and contemplate the stress in your life, and how lucky you are that stress provides you with an excuse to fall apart and utilize the relaxation resources available on the Net.
Rolfing is a complex system of bodywork in which a practitioner makes structural changes in the body of the client. Rolfing is named after its inventor, the American biochemist and physiotherapist Ida P. Rolf (1896-1979). Within the body, the muscles, tendons, ligaments and organs are surrounded by thin, tough sheets of tissue called fascia. This tissue is arranged in "fascial planes" that run throughout the body, providing a framework for movement and posture. A rolfer is specially trained in understanding the nature of the fascial planes and manipulating them along with the musculature. (Note: I spent four years in medical school, and I don't remember learning anything about the fascial planes. Later I found out that the only people who really understand them are rolfers and plastic surgeons.) Rolfing is carried out in a series of treatments (usually ten) in which the rolfer uses his hands, arms and even elbows to manipulate the soft tissue of the client. I can sum up the entire experience (I have been rolfed a lot of times) as follows: (1) It can hurt. (2) It can be expensive. (3) It is absolutely wonderful and is definitely worth doing.
Shiatsu is a traditional form of Japanese medicine in which the practitioner uses his palms and thumbs to apply pressure to various points on the body, the same points that are recognized and stimulated during acupuncture. A shiatsu treatment can be a lot like acupuncture using pressure instead of needles (in which case it is sometimes described as acupressure), or it can be more like a massage that concentrates on the various points. A session with a skilled shiatsu practitioner is usually an enjoyable experience, leaving one with a pleasant feeling of relaxation and comfort.
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