Explaining Alternative Medicine

The two most common reasons why a patient might suffer a reaction from a medication is either the result of an allergy, which can include minor symptoms such as itchy/irritated skin, a rash and/or hives, to the more severe side of the scale with anaphylaxis – which is considered a life-threatening and requires urgent medical attention. In addition to suffering from an allergic reaction, a patient may also be sensitive to certain medications. Sensitivities (also known as drug intolerance) usually occur as a result of how the medication is metabolized in one’s body and are characterized by the inability to tolerate certain medications when taken at a sub-therapeutic or therapeutic dose, making the patient much more susceptible to the side effects.

Being allergic or sensitive to something can cause a patient to be wary of taking medication and may even make them feel anxious. As a result, it’s not uncommon for a patient with allergies and sensitivities to want to find alternative methods of treatment wherever possible. While medication isn’t always avoidable, there are still different ways in which you can take a semi-holistic approach to your health.

One alternative that is becoming a common practice includes acupuncture, and it is often used not just in place of conventional medicine, but also with it. Originating in China, acupuncture is performed by penetrating the skin with very thin needles. Acupuncture is often used to treat different types of pain – such as back pain, headaches, menstrual cramps, and other joint and chronic pain conditions. While there is some controversy surrounding its effectiveness, it is increasingly recognized in Western medicine. Similar to acupuncture is a practice known as acupressure – the only difference is that needles are not used. Instead, those specialized in this practice use their hands to apply pressure to the affected areas.

When it comes to fighting the common cold, patients often wonder how they can decrease their nasal congestion. The easy answer is by using a nasal decongestant. However, Dr. Ali Ghahary warns against overuse of decongestants – especially if they are in the form of a nasal spray – as overuse can lead to a condition known as rebound congestion. If you are using a nasal decongestant spray, it is important to not use it longer than 3 days. As an alternative, aromatherapy is commonly used to relieve congestion. For example, essential oils such as lavender, eucalyptus, thyme and/or peppermint are often the top choice for cold sufferers as they help to open the nasal passages – and they smell great, too! Common colds aren’t the only thing aromatherapy is good for, however. Find out the history of aromatherapy and the different ways in which it can be used by clicking here.

For individuals with muscle tension, stress, high heart rates, or other involuntary bodily processes, biofeedback techniques may be beneficial. While not much is known about how or why biofeedback works, research has suggested it certainly does. Biofeedback is performed by applying small electrodes to the skin to measure the body’s response as they practice different relaxation techniques.

Just as you would before taking new medication, it’s always a good idea to speak with your family physician prior to starting any of these alternative therapies.