26 11 2010

Aromatherapy uses essential oils and other aromatic compounds for the purpose of altering a person’s mind, mood, cognitive function or health.

There are three modes of application of aromatherapythat  include:

  • Aerial diffusion: for environmental fragrancing or aerial disinfection
  • Direct inhalation: for respiratory disinfection, decongestion, expectoration as well as psychological effects
  • Topical applications: for general massage,baths, compresses, therapeutic skin care

Most researchers believe that the effectivness of aromatherapy, naming the calming and clarity of mind, is due to the placebo effect and not because it is actually a valid method for health. And of course, there are safety concerns like when a person uses an undiluted form of essential oil directly on the skin, the skin can be irritated, casuing harm.

The University of Maryland has a website dedicated to aromatherapy that answers many of the questions about the basics of aromatherapy. I thought it to be a good resource for determining if it is a good method for you to use.

One drawback of aromatherapy is cost. A professional aromatherapy session can cost between $45-$110. To set up for personal use can cost much more than this, several hundred dollars as some of the more exotic oils cost extravagant amounts. On this website, an essential oil ordering website, it lists the prices. For 15 mL of Rose de Mai Absolute costs $270.00!

What do you think, is it reasonable to spend outrageous amounts of money on a product that may only be effective because of it’s placebo effect?


26 11 2010

Acupuncture is the procedure of inserting and manipulating needles into various points on the body to relieve pain or for therapeutic purposes.

Acupuncture is a widely controversial topic among health professionals as to the questions of its effectiveness. The World Health Organization (WHO) and National Institutes of Health (NIH) have both concluded that acupuncture can be used for the relief of neurological conditions and pain while other organizations such has National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCAAM) and the American Medical Association (AMA) have studied and concluded on the lack of efficacy of acupuncture.

In this article about the Effectiveness of Acupuncture as Adjunctive Therapy in Osteoarthritis of the Knee, research was done in a randomized, controlled trial where patients received 23 true acupuncture sessions on the knee in order to determine if acupuncture provides relief. The results of the this trial found that acupuncture did indeed provide a significant amount of relief for patients.

In this article, Perceived Effectiveness of Acupuncture: Findings From the National Health Interview Survey, results found that 86% of 1,274 patients found that they received relief after having acupuncture performed on them. But the results found that older age and obesity greatly effected the perceived effectiveness of acupuncture. 

What do you think? Is acupuncture, or any alternative medicine method for that matter, a matter of perception? Why do you think older age and obesity effected the perceived effectiveness of acupuncture? 

–Be sure to visit the video page to watch a demonstration of this!–


23 11 2010

Reflexology is the physical act of applying pressure to the feet or hands without the use of oil or lotion with specific hand or finger techniques. The feet and hands have systems of zones that reflect other parts of the body, as shown in the picture above, with the premise that physical changes can be made to the body through pressure.

Being a branch under the Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) area, reflexology is often considered to be fraudulent. It has little documentation of being an effective means of treatment.

In this study, “The Effects of Foot Reflexology on Anxiety and Pain in Patients with Breast and Lung Cancer“, the goal of the researchers was to test the effects of reflexology by including an intervention condition where patients received foot reflexology on both feet for 30 minutes and a control condition. The results showed that patients with breast and lung cancer had a decrease in anxiety and one in three patients with breast cancer had a significant decrease in pain.

But are the patients really feeling a decrease in pain levels because there is a decrease because of the effectiveness and technique of the reflexology or because they know that it what they should be feeling?

This blog allows people to ask questions and they are answered by reflexologists. They cover many topics like reflexology and the elderly and reflexology and pregnancy

Do you think using alternative medicine can present problems? Even ones as questionable as iridology or reflexology? What if there is no physical harm to people using the methods?

–Go the the videos page to check this out!


5 11 2010

Who of us hasn’t heard the saying, “Eyes are the window to the soul”? There is an alternative medicine technqiue called Iridology that uses this saying to the highest extent. Iridology is an alternative medicine technique whose proponents believe that patterns, colors, and other characteristics of the iris can be examined to determine information about a person’s mental, physical, spiritual and emotional health. Practitioners match their observations to iris charts, which divide the iris into zones that correspond to specific parts of the human body.

What I love most about alternative medicine is the idea of whole body health and the balance between your physical, emotional, and spiritual levels in order to be truly healthy and truly happy. Iridology reminds me of Color Therapy in this way.

Iridology, while interesting, is not a true science and in several different articles, was found to be inaccurate and discredited. In The Journal of American Medical Association in 1979, the researchers in this article were able to determine that because the three iridologists involved in the experiment incorrectly identifited kidney diseases in a study of a photograph of the iris that “iridology was neither selective nor specific, and the likelihood of correct detection was statistically no better than chance.”

This blog, titled Ben’s Tidbits, goes so far as to say that Iridology is a precise science. He talks about the colors of the iris remaining constant through life but that pigmentation of the color is what changes due to toxicity. This blog is a random modge-podge of things but has several topics that are alternative health related. check it out!

Bach Flower Remedy

29 10 2010

Bach flower remedies are another branch of alternative medicine. Many naturopaths believe that the dilutions of flower material remedies are helpful for many emotional and spiritual conditions, including depression, anxiety, insomnia and stress.

The remedies contain a very small amount of flower material in a 50:50 solution of water and brandy. Because the remedies are extremely dilute they do not have a characteristic scent or taste of the plant. The best known flower remedy is the Rescue Remedy combination, which contains an equal amount each of Rock rose, Impatiens, Clematis, Star of Bethlehem and Cherry Plum remedies. The product is aimed at treating stress, anxiety, and panic attacks, especially in emergencies.

This website takes you to the Bach Centre. The website has several tabs, including a tab about the fundamentals of Bach flower remedies. It includes information about how to store and use the flower remedies and the theory and principle behind the remedy.

This study, done in 1999, was able to conclude through a double-blind, placebo controlled, randomized group, that through self-report, flower remedies have no signifcant differences. The administrators of the study were testing the effectiveness of flower-remedies when suffering from test anxiety.

Color Therapy

22 10 2010

Color Therapy, otherwise known as chromotherapy, is using color and light to balance a person’s “energy” wherever the body may be lacking, whether it is physical, emotional, spiritual or mental. A color therapist uses tools and techniques to “apply” color to our bodies. Johann Wolfgang Goethe who began studying the healing effects of color and he divided colors into two different groups: one that caused sadness and another that caused happiness.

This website, includes a great description about color therapy! Be sure to check out the section about the days of the week having specific colors and herbs and it tells you what location of the body should be worked on that day. The section at the end of the article if very enLIGHTening if you ask me. I might just paint my walls a brighter color this weekend or begin dresses in the color of the day. Hello GREEN Friday!

The color RED is for the base of the spine, its function is for grounding and survivial and its associated systems are the gonads, kidneys, spine, and sense of smell.
The color ORANGE is for the lower abdomen and genitals, its function is for the emotions and sexuality and its associated systems are the urinary tract, circulation, and reproduction.
The color YELLOW is for the solar plexus, its funtion is for power and ego and its associated systems are the stomach, liver, gall bladder, and pancreas.
The color GREEN is for the heart. Its function is for love and sense of responsiblity and its associated systems are the heart, lungs and thymus.
The color BLUE is for the throat. Its function is for phsyical and spiritual communication and its associated systems are the throat, ears, mouth and hands.
The color INDIGO is for the middle of the forehead and its function is for forgiveness, compassion and understanding and its associated systems are the eyes and pineal glands.
The color Violet if for the crown of the head. Its function is for connecting with the universe. Its associated systems are pituitary gland, the central nervous system and the cerebral cortex.
I think its very interesting how the associated systems often line up with the true functions of the body, for example The color BLUE is for physical and spiritual communication and its associated systems are the throat, ears, mouth and hands which are all very important structures of communicating in real life. Without our ears, we couldn’t physically hear communication others are giving us, without our throat or mouth we wouldn’t be able to verbalize our communications and without our hands we wouldn’t be able to use many different forms of body language, which is practically another form of communication in and of itself.

If you go to this e-how page, it gives you a little direction for at-home color therapy. All you need are some colored lightbulbs (available at Walmart or Home Depot), a computer with internet access, and colored water glasses or pitchers. The instructions aren’t the most helpful as they tell you to just get some other resources but the last section on the page is helpful for a few different ailments that color therapy could be used for. I think I might try number 1.

Color Therapy seems like a very interesting form of alternative medicine. I notice that for me personally, some colors make me happier than others. I find that yellow and orange immediately make me feeling happier, brighter and lighter but so does black and brown and other colors make me sad (i.e. ALL pastels)

What about you? Do you feel as though some colors may help improve your mood? Would you be willing to try color therapy?


14 10 2010

Cupping is a procedure which involves creating a small area of air pressure next to the skin using cups. The pressure can be created by heating the cup or the air within the cup with flame or heated oils and then placing it against the skin. When the air cools, the skin beneath the cup contracts and the skin is drawn within the cup. Skin marking is common after the cups are removed. This may be a simple red ring that disappears quickly, but more aggressive treatments can result in deeper bruising. In general, the longer a cup is left on, the more of a circular mark is created.

In this article, the auther recognizes a study in which cupping is effective for carpal tunnel syndrome, general pain and lower back pain.

This blog, also has a post on cupping. I love the insight that David Parker brings. He is a naturopath and went and received a demonstration in “wet cupping” and was able to also use science in describing his feelings towards cupping. He was able to conclude that with dietary change, cleansing and detoxification therapy, along with education regarding the avoidance of toxins within the patient’s environment that wet cupping is a very effective therapy.

Have any of you tried cupping?