Yoga is a word from the ancient Sanskrit language that means Union, the attainment and merger of the individual human consciousness with the cosmic consciousness. The word Yoga is also used to describe the different Yogic Techniques employed, the different disciplines that are used to facilitate the awareness and experience of Body, Mind and Spirit integration.According to the World Health Organization (WHO), total health should include physical, mental and social well being. For thousands of years, Yoga had a holistic understanding of the Human being, its subtle physiology and the connection between mind and body. The vast philosophies and disciplines of Yoga have remained essentially the same over the years. Yoga views the human body as a composite of mind, body, and spirit, and supplies unique techniques that create a harmony between these increasingly more refined aspects of our total personality.Scientific research on Yoga, and its impact on mind and body, has been expanding at a modest rate for the past three decades. One of the yogic models used to describe, what constitutes the human beings total personality is known as the PanchaKosha (five sheaths or bodies) theory. The five body theory can be experienced through awakening of the major chakras, Sushumna and Kundalini, i.e. Yoga. From the deepest most subtle body or sheath to the gross and superficial body, Yoga views the innermost essence of everyone as:
An analogy once described by Swami Niranjan went like this. Imagine a human being like an onion consisting of five layers. The outer ring or sheath is the physical body, the second ring inside is the bio energy sheath, the third ring is the mental body, the fourth ring is the psychic body or sheath, and the last ring is the innermost essence, being the spiritual essence and experience. Yoga views health as essential and an outcome of having found a balance between our total personality and the world around us. This fits well with the total health model definition described by WHO. According to Yoga when there is a free flow of Prana or Chi (Life force or Subtle energy) within the Nadis or Meridians, it permeates our bodies, resulting in good health. This is because of the body's ability to maintain a physiological and psychological homeostatic balance.Yoga uses techniques that help boost, harmonize and refine the flow of breath, thereby helping to maintain or enhance health. When there is an imbalance or blockage to the flow of consciousness or energy that moves within these channels, then illness and or diseases can manifest and impact your health.
Yoga Postures (Asanas) - are postures that stimulate the flow of Prana/ Chi(Energy) throughout the body. They can include forward bending postures, backward bending postures, sideways bending postures, twisting postures, inverted, balancing and meditational postures.
Breathing Techniques (Pranayama): A repertoire of breathing exercises to revitalize the physiological components of respiration (breathing). These techniques are recommended to help balance the nervous system and provide the doorway to productive meditation.
Meditation - A vast array of techniques exist within meditation, starting with deep relaxation for beginners (Yoga Nidra). People can then progress to more advanced meditation techniques, depending on their needs and experience. Through Meditation you realize how important a balanced mind is through experiencing deeper aspects of your own personality. Subsequently, you begin to balance your essential needs and desires and develop insights.
Reiki is commonly known as palm healing or hands-on-healing. In this ancient tradition of a healing practice, practitioners channelize the internal energy by placing their hands gently on or above a person. It is believed that this energy balances the body’s innate or natural healing abilities, and thereby facilitates the healing process.The word reiki has originated from two Japanese words: ‘Rei’ means the higher power and ‘Ki’ means life force energy. Japanese believe that there is an unseen “life force energy” that flows through us and it is the reason for our existence. If the life force energy is low then we tend to fall sick or be stressed, whereas if it is high then we are healthy and remain in good spirits.
Tai Chi, which originated in China as a martial art, is a mind-body practice in Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM). It is also known as “moving meditation” as practitioners move their bodies slowly and gently, while breathing deeply.
A popular legend credits its origins to Chang San-Feng, a Taoist monk, who developed a set of 13 exercises that imitate the movements of animals.The term “tai chi” (shortened from “tai chi chuan”) is known by various names, such as “internal martial art” and “supreme ultimate fist.” It is also sometimes known as “taiji” or “taijiquan.”
How is Tai chi performed?
It is an ancient Chinese exercise consisting of slow, relaxed movements, which helps in stress reduction and various other health conditions. For the body, it is an exercise, for the mind, to develop concentration, and for the soul, it is a system of spiritual meditation. There are many styles of tai chi, and each style has its own form. All styles of tai chi are usually done in a standing position and can be performed either as a solo or as a two-person exercise. Each tai chi movement is a series of coordinated sequences. It is often called “meditation in motion,” since it is performed with total concentration and inner stillness. The inner calm within the movement improves the flow of qi, the vital life energy that is known to improve health and balance of life in the Chinese tradition.A tai chi class might include:
Tai Chi is a combination of moving form of yoga and meditation and there are many different styles, but all involve slow, relaxed, graceful movements, each flowing into the next. Many of these movements are originally derived from the martial arts, and perhaps even more ancestrally than that, from the natural movements of animals and birds.People practice tai chi by themselves or in groups. In the Chinese community, people commonly practice tai chi in nearby parks, often during early morning before going to work. Individuals practicing tai chi must also concentrate, putting aside distracting thoughts; and they must breathe in a deep and relaxed, but focused manner.
Tai chi walking
Tai chi walking is probably the most profound and easy meditation and mostly for those who have some trouble walking.In tai chi walking:
According to the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), two basic elements are involved in maintaining the balance of human health.
Tai chi is believed to promote the balance of yin and yang by unblocking the blocked energy channels and encouraging the proper flow of qi.
According to the researchers, if tai chi is practiced rigorously, it improves the physical condition, flexibility, muscle strength, and coordination. It also maintains the balance and reduces the risk of falls in elderly people. Additional benefits include:
Side Effects and Risks
Tai chi is a relatively safe practice. However, there are some cautions:
Training, Licensing, and Certification
Tai chi instructors do not have to be licensed, and the practice is not regulated by the Federal Government or individual states. In traditional tai chi instruction, a student learns from a master teacher. To become an instructor, an experienced student of tai chi must obtain a master teacher’s approval. Some training programs award certificates while others offer weekend workshops.
Acupuncture originated in China more than 2000 years ago and is an important component of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). As per the TCM, health is maintained by keeping the human body in a ‘balanced state’ by maintaining the balance of yin yang. Acupuncture consists of stimulating some special points on the body using fine needles, so as to restore the balance of body. With its growing worldwide popularity, acupuncture is now considered as one of the important complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies.
Acupuncture is believed to have originated in China. Some documents that were found in the Ma-Wang-Dui tomb in China, which was sealed in 198 BCE, contain some reference to a system of meridians. The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine, dating from about 100 BCE, was the first document that described ‘acupuncture’ as a treatment option. Acupuncture was passed in codified text over centuries to evolve as one of the standard therapies used in China.The practice of acupuncture declined in the seventeenth century as it was regarded as superstitious and irrational. However, after the installation of the Communist Government in 1949, practice of acupuncture was restored, and included in a consensus known as TCM. Acupuncture became famous in America and Britain in the first half of the nineteenth century, when it also appeared in some of the scientific publications including a Lancet editorial article entitled ‘Acupuncturation.’
How is Acupuncture Performed?
Acupuncture involves insertion of fine needles (32–36 gauge) through some specific points, known as acupoints, located on the meridians or the channels of energy flow. As per the classic texts, there are 12 main meridians, and eight secondary meridians. It is believed that there are more than 2000 acupoints in the human body that connect with the meridians.A skilled practitioner known as “acupuncturist” performs acupuncture. The needles are inserted to a depth of 4 to 25 mm. The sensation of needle insertion is felt as a tingling or dull ache at the entry point. The number of needles inserted, and the time for which they are held in place varies from few seconds to few minutes. This is determined by the acupuncturist, and mainly depends upon the disease state of a patient. Many patients are hesitant to receive acupuncture treatment due to needle phobia, or occurrence of adverse events, such as bleeding, infection, etc. However, evidence suggests that serious adverse events occur rarely, and skilled practitioner knows how to reduce these risks.Electro acupuncture (EA) is a type of acupuncture that uses a tiny focused electric current applied to the needle, or directly to the skin at the acupoints. Similarly, in laser acupuncture, a fine low-energy laser beam is directed onto the acupoint.
As per the TCM, the human health is achieved by maintaining the balance of yin yang. Any imbalance in the body causes blockage in flow of Qi (vital energy), leading to a diseased state. Acupuncture is thought to show its pain relieving effects based on several theories.
Gate Control Theory: According to the Gate Control Theory, effect of painful stimulus can be suppressed with another stimulant (pricking a needle).
Release of Chemicals: Another theory explains that acupuncture stimulates the production of chemicals, such as endorphin, serotonin, and acetylcholine, which relieves the pain.
Raising Pain Threshold Theory: According to this theory, acupuncture stimulates the analgesia (pain reduction) mechanism of the body by causing pain in the area that needs to be treated for pain.
Reduction of pain
The use of acupuncture has been proven clinically in treatment of various painful conditions, such as post-traumatic somatic pain, knee pain, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Acupuncture promotes physical and emotional wellbeing in depressed people. It can also help resolve physical ailments, such as chronic pain, which may be a contributing cause of depression. Acupuncture can be safely combined with conventional medical treatments, such as anti-depressants, helping to reduce their side effects and enhance their beneficial effects.
Acupuncture is believed to stimulate the nervous system, which produces certain biochemical changes in the body. This can address the emotional and physical discomforts of eating disorders. Acupuncture is known to improve the quality of life and decrease anxiety in people suffering eating disorders.
Acupuncture can contribute to a marked clinical improvement in hot flashes and menopause-related symptoms in women. The results of few studies suggest that acupuncture can be effective in treating anxiety and depression related to menopause.
Acupuncture lowers hyperglycemia, attenuating symptoms like polyphagia (increased appetite), polydipsia (increased thirst), and polyuria (increased frequency of urination). The therapeutic effects of acupuncture in diabetes are thought to occur due to release of variety of neurotransmitters (hormones) that produce various anti-inflammatory signals.
High Blood Pressure
Clinical studies indicate that acupuncture when combined with anti-hypertensive drugs, shows significant reduction in both, systolic and diastolic blood pressure. However, since the mechanism by which acupuncture lowers blood pressure is not clear yet, it is not recommended in clinical practice.
Homeopathy is an alternative medical practice that aims to trigger the body’s natural system of healing. Homeopathy is mainly based on the principle of "like cures like." According to homeopathy theory, a substance that produces similar symptoms in healthy people can cure a disease. The homeopath prescribes highly diluted substances mainly in the tablet form, as homeopathy follows "law of minimum dose." This means the lower the dose of the medication, the greater its effectiveness.
A German doctor called Samuel Hahnemann in 1790s originated the idea of homeopathy. He developed homeopathy on the basis of experimentation, first on himself, and then with others. Initially, Dr. Hahnemann struggled desperately to make a living as a physician. However, one day he made a discovery with intake of regular doses of cinchona bark (i.e. quinine). He realized that consumption of bark produced all the symptoms of intermittent fever (malaria), but to a mild degree. This led to an idea of treating ‘like with like,’ the principle on which homeopathic practice is based.Today homeopathy is widely practiced in various regions of the world. According to the 2007 National Health Interview Survey, an estimated 3.9 million adults, and 910,000 children used homeopathy in the previous year in the US.
Use of Homeopathy
There are two basic principles underlying the working of homeopathy. First principle is 'like cures like.' According to homeopathy theory, an illness can be cured by a medicine if it produces similar, but milder, symptoms in a healthy individual. For example, a medicine that triggers mild nausea in a healthy person may show benefit in a patient suffering from severe nausea. Second principle of homeopathy is dilution of medicinal substances. Homeopathic medicines are prepared using a careful process of dilution and succussion (a specific form of vigorous shaking). As per the homeopathy theory, homeopathic medicines gain greater potency when diluted.
How are Homeopathic Medicines Prepared?
Homeopathic medicines are prepared by dissolving the original substance in water, glycerine, or alcohol by process of dilution and succession (shaking). Homeopathic remedies are mostly formulated as sugar pellets, which are to be placed under the tongue. However, they may also be available in other forms like ointments, gels, and tablets. The original medicinal substances used for preparation can be obtained from plants, minerals, chemicals, animals, bacteria, viruses, human tissue or secretions, and even venoms.
Homeopathy is used to treat an extremely wide range of conditions. However, there is little evidence to support homeopathy as an effective treatment for any specific condition. Following are some condition for which people tend to seek homeopathy treatment
Risk and Side Effects
Laws regulating the practice of homeopathy in the US vary from state to state. Usually, individuals who are licensed to practice medicine or another health care profession can legally practice homeopathy. Some states include homeopathy within the scope of practice of chiropractic, naturopathy, and physical therapy.
Exercise Caution before Using
Naturopathy, also known as naturopathic medicine system, is primarily based on the healing power of nature. It encompasses a wide range of therapies, including nutrition, behavior change, herbal medicine, homeopathy, acupuncture, and more. In the naturopathy practice, the naturopathic professional tries to understand the root cause of a disease by studying the body, mind, and spirit of a person.
The term naturopathy was originated in Greek and Latin, and can be literally translated as “nature disease.” Naturopathy is believed to have started in Germany. The history can be traced back to 18th and 19th century, when some natural healing systems, such as water therapy were practiced in Germany. Around the same time experts in Austria were using herbs, food, and light to cure illnesses. Naturopathy was introduced in the US by a German priest who opened a water cure center. Later, Benedict Lus founded the American School of Naturopathy in New York City, in the year 1902. This is the time when importance of diet came into picture. By early 1900s, interest in naturopathy started to decline, which again resurged in the 1960s.Today, naturopathy is practiced worldwide, including countries such as US, Canada, Germany, Great Britain, Australia, and New Zealand.
Naturopathy is based on a principle that nature has a healing power. The practice of naturopathy believes that human body has an ability to heal on its own, and hence uses methods that are natural. Naturopathy follows a holistic approach of treatment, considering body as a part of the nature. The naturopathic practitioner may use conventional ways of diagnosis, including X-rays, physical examination, or laboratory tests. However, the treatment approach is different than the conventional medicine. Naturopathy does not use drugs, radiations, or surgery for treatment.
What Does Naturopathy Include?
The naturopathic practitioner decides treatment based on your medical history, observation of symptoms, and previous experience. Some common treatments used by a naturopath include:
The naturopathic treatment is offered by three different types of practitioners. The three general categories include naturopathic physicians, traditional naturopaths, and other health care providers who also offer naturopathic services.
These professionals complete a four-year course at one of the North American naturopathic medical schools accredited by the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education, an organization recognized for accreditation purposes by the U.S. Department of Education. The naturopathic physicians study basic sciences, naturopathic therapies and techniques, diagnostic techniques and tests, specialty courses, clinical sciences, and clinical training during their course.
Also known as “naturopaths,” these practitioners focus on one or just a few naturopathic methods. They usually do not prescribe any kind of drugs or even diagnostic tests. Their disease management approach mainly focuses on healthy lifestyle, strengthening and cleansing the body, and noninvasive treatments.
Other Health Care Providers
This group includes chiropractors, massage therapists, dentists, nurses, nutritionists, or doctors who have pursued additional training in these areas, and include some naturopathic methods in their practice. The training programs vary by country, and states within each country.
Naturopaths tend to combine different therapies to treat an illness. Since naturopathy follows holistic approach, naturopathy is beneficial in maintaining a balanced state of good health. Naturopathy can be useful in various acute as well as chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, obesity, low back pain, migraine, arthritis, and various mental disorders.
1. Naturopathic Medicine. http://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/complementaryandalternativemedicine/ mindbodyandspirit/naturopathic-medicine. Accessed on November 27, 2013.2. Naturopathy: An Introduction. http://nccam.nih.gov/health/naturopathy/naturopathyintro.htm. Accessed on November 27, 2013.
Chiropractic care focuses on the relationship between the body’s structure, mainly the spine and its functioning. Spinal adjustment/manipulation is a core treatment in chiropractic care, and involves application of a controlled force to the joints of the spine. The main goal of this treatment is to bring the spinal joint or joints with restricted movements to the normal range of movement. Professionals, such as chiropractors, osteopathic physicians, naturopathic physicians, physical therapists, and some medical doctors, practice spinal manipulation. This technique is mainly used to relieve pain and improve physical functioning.
Chiropractic care especially the spinal manipulation has its origin of development in different parts of the world, where it was practiced to treat a variety of musculoskeletal conditions, including spinal disorders. Greece is believed to provide the first direct evidence of practice of spinal manipulation. Hippocrates, who is often referred to as the “Father of Medicine,” first described spinal manipulative technique.The Chiropractic Care was developed by Daniel David Palmer, who performed the initial chiropractic adjustment in September 1895 on a janitor who had become deaf. Palmer examined the area in the patients back, and successfully adjusted a misplaced vertebra in the upper back. DD Palmer continued to develop chiropractic practice, and in 1897 established the Palmer School of Cure. Today spinal manipulation technique is practiced widely, and there are more than 60,000 active chiropractic licenses in the United States.
Biological Mechanism of Spinal Manipulation
During spinal manipulation the practitioner applies a controlled rapid force to the spinal joint. The main goal is to improve the mobility of the joint and restore its normal function. The practitioner delivers an impulse to the specific vertebra with controlled magnitude, velocity, and direction. The skill of spinal manipulation is determined through these three factors. Spinal manipulation technique is sometimes characterized by fluid cavitation created due to gapping the joint. The cavitation is often, but not necessarily accompanied by a cracking or popping sound (audible release). Research suggests that such a sound could demonstrate suppression of inflammation causing substances, called as pro-inflammatory cytokines, e.g. tumor necrosis factor α(TNFα) and interleukin 1β (IL-1β).
Chiropractic care is mainly indicated for treatment of low back pain or neck pain. It also can relieve other discomforts of the musculoskeletal system, which includes all joints and muscles. Some evidence suggests that chiropractic can be useful in management of menstrual pain, headaches, and sinus disorder. However, there is no sufficient evidence to support this.
Low Back Pain
Clinical evidence suggests that spinal manipulation is an important treatment option for relief from low back pain. Studies suggest that spinal manipulation is as effective as conventional treatments, such as applying heat or taking pain-relieving medications. In 2007, the American College of Physicians and the American Pain Society guidelines included spinal manipulation as a treatment option to be considered when self-care measures fail.
Neck pain is the second most common reason why people seek chiropractic care. Studies report that spinal manipulation causes reductions in pain and disability due to neck pain.
Chiropractic can also be used in the treatment of tension type of headache. Some studies also suggest that chiropractic is better than massage in relieving headache. However, there is insufficient evidence to support the positive role of chiropractic in treatment of headache.
Use of Chiropractic Care
Risks and Side Effects
What to Expect During your Visit to a Chiropractor?
Chiropractic colleges accredited by the Council on Chiropractic Education (CCE) offer Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) degree programs. Chiropractic training is a 4-year academic program that includes both class work and direct practice with patients. Chiropractors require completion of a Doctor of Chiropractic degree program from a CCE-accredited college, for practice in any state in the US.