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Alternative Practices

The following is a brief overview of some of the more popular and many forms of alternative medicine:

A relative of acupuncture, acupressure involves pressing specific points on the body with the fingers or hands to alter the internal flow of chi (pronounced “chee”), our vital life force or energy. It is among the treatment methods regularly used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM).

Acupuncture is a component of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), a medical system that originated in China thousands of years ago and still is widely practiced there. Scientific evidence strongly supports claims that the practice may help relieve pain. It's commonly used to treat a number of other conditions as well -- from
arthritis and allergies to infertility and depression. The practice of acupuncture centers on inserting very thin needles into the skin at key points to help regulate energy flow in the body.

Aromatherapy is the use of pure essential oils from fragrant plants to help relieve health problems and improve the quality of life in general. It is part of a larger science called phytotherapy -- the use of whole plants or parts of plants for medicinal purposes.

Relatively new to the North America, aromatherapy has been used for thousands of years in other parts of the world. Ancient Egyptians, for instance, used essential oils in cosmetics and in embalming. The modern practice of aromatherapy developed primarily in 20th-century Europe.

Ayurvedic medicine
Ayurvedic medicine, also called ayurveda, is an ancient system of health promotion and healing that began in India thousands of years ago. It is part of a complex science that includes physical, psychological and spiritual components. The word ayurveda comes from the Sanskrit language and means "knowledge of life." So it makes sense that ayurveda is primarily a system of health promotion, disease prevention and personal growth. However, ayurvedic practices are used to treat specific health problems as well.

Body work
Body work is an umbrella term that refers to the many techniques that promote relaxation and treat ailments (especially those of the musculoskeletal system) using motion, massage or other manipulation of soft tissue. Some types of body work -- including massage, qigong, reflexology, shiatsu and tai chi -- can be practiced at home. Others may require the guidance of a trained professional.

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