Almost everyone in the western world has taken onto herbal and natural therapies, here’s a look at some of the top treatment methods.
Currently top of the pops in the West, Ayurveda is an ancient Indian medicine in which people are diagnosed according to one of three constitutions or “Doshas”: Vata (flat-chested, dry-skinned, creative and restless), Pitta (silky hair tending to baldness, intelligent and prone to jealousy) or Kapha (have a tendency to pork out, slow, forgiving and loving). Ayurvedic medicine includes foods, herbs and cosmetics which tend to cost a lot of dosha.
Not woof bark, tree bark or even Brandenberg Bach. Bach flowers are named after DrBach who in the 1930s was one of the first to suggest that emotions affect our health. The most famous Bach flower potion is Rescue Remedy, a combination of five remedies used to deal with day-to-day emergencies from stubbing a toe to sitting an exam.
Everyone’s in therapy nowadays. Why not your colon? Colonic irrigation is by all accounts a pleasant experience whereby warm water is whooshed up your large intestine. It is a means of detoxification.
Furry creatures are medicinal. A purring cat can reduce your blood pressure. Walkies with your dog is an excellent workout. Give your furry one a good life and they will return the favour a hundredfold.
We’re not talking candelabras here, but dinky little hollow candles that you stick in your lughole. The other end is set alight and the vacuum is meant to clear blockages and remove all sorts of gunk. The crackling sound is unnerving.
Don’t be fooled by the amount of time you spend lying on your back, Feldenkrais is a subtle but extremely effective method of improving posture and treating sore backs, necks and other bits.
Formerly known as imagination, guided imagery directs the mind to particular images that may be healing or relaxing. You’re lying on a white sandy beach, the warm sun releases all tension from your muscles. A gentle breeze brings the scent of frangipani. As you look up, a gorgeous (insert gender here) is approaching you wearing nothing but a smile and bearing a pina colada. Relaxed yet?
Homeopathic remedies can be anything from chalk dust to spider legs. Don’t worry, they are diluted, very diluted. Uncurl your top lip. It works. Common remedies include arnica for bruising and nux vomica for hangovers. A well-chosen homeopathic remedy takes into account the whole person, neuroses and all. A good choice for children because it doesn’t taste bad and just a few drops are needed.
In iridology, the eyes are not only the windows to the soul but also your bowels and lungs. Viewing the iris (the coloured part of the eye) is a diagnostic technique in which you can tell what a particular body system is up to.
Juicing is a way of obtaining concentrated amounts of vitamins, minerals and enzymes, unless you are juicing a chocolate cake. Raw beetroot, carrot, celery, parsley and wheatgrass are popular choices.
Kinesiology is a method of pressing on muscles (usually the arm) to test for certain things such as allergies. Sounds a bit like Yuri Geller bending a spoon, but it yields surprising results.
Plants have been used as medicine by every culture throughout history. However, it’s only recently that herbal medicine has come out of witchy-poo’s cauldron and been validated by scientists’ test tubes. St John’s wort helps relieve symptoms of depression, valerian assists sleep.
Massaging a sore muscle is instinctive. Different styles of massage (for example, swedish, remedial) do different things but basically massage increases circulation to the skin and joints as well as improving lymph flow and waste removal in the body.
US health cranks in the early 1900s promoted the benefits of fresh air, exercise and unprocessed grains, calling their movement Nature Cure. Nowadays naturopathy refers to the whole kit and caboodle of natural health. A naturopath may specialise in one or a few different modalities; eg, herbalism, homoeopathy or nutrition.
Not just bone crackers, osteopaths can also relax muscles, enhance flexibility, stimulate nerves and increase the range of motion and mobility. The couch on which to be seen when you have neck or back pain.
Positive Thinking / Meditation
Grasshopper, the aim is to still the busy mind. Easier said than done. But once achieved meditation makes a hectic life more manageable. There are many ways to meditate from staring at a candle flame, chanting or repeating a mantra.
Pronounced “chee gung”, Qigong is an ancient Chinese discipline that uses breathing, meditation, visualisation, and repetitive physical exercises to cleanse and strengthen the body. Power Tai Chi!
If you have a foot fetish, reflexology is for you. The surface of the foot is meant to reflect the health of the entire body and prodding different parts of the foot encourages healthiness in the corresponding part of the body. And you thought that sore bit was just a corn.
Certain smells activate nerve cells in the schnoz which then send impulses to the limbic system, the part of the brain associated with emotions and memory. The essential oil of lavender will calm and soothe, the zest of lemon is stimulating and the scent of the exotic flower ylang ylang stirs the loins.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)
Any system of medicine still in use 3,000 years later has to have something going for it. TCM includes acupuncture and herbs. Chinese herbs are an acquired taste. Be prepared to boil up cicada shells and less identifiable objects. Acupuncture accesses a series of points located along meridians throughout the body. Needlephobes can still apply as no blood is drawn.
Ah! Nothing like a glass of warm wee to start off your day. One of the less known yoga techniques, amaroli or drinking of one’s own urine is used as a purification technique. Fresh urine contains no germs and if you’re not game to swallow, it’s a terrific treatment for sunburn.
Vitamins and minerals
Vitamins and minerals are found in food, particularly vegetables, fruits and all that good stuff. Vitamin C was discovered when scurvy was causing more deaths for the British navy than war. It was found that the sailors who added lime juice to their rum rations did not get scurvy (hence the name limeys). The active constituent in limes was later identified as vitamin C.
Drinking the stuff is all very fine, but cold water dips are very stimulating for the circulation and steam baths help detoxification.
Yoga means “union” in Sanskrit, and it’s all about achieving a state of balance and harmony between mind and body. If this means flinging your foot over your ear, so be it. Yoga styles differ from the Madonnesque Ashtanga to the ropes-and-pulleys Iyengar and the soaked-in-sweat Bikram. There are calmer varieties also available.
This Japanese version of Buddhism aims for enlightenment through meditation and pondering unanswerables called koans that will dement or enlighten you. Tell me. What is the sound of one hand clapping?