Consumers all over the world are turning to Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) more and more. There are many reasons why. Some patients have tried traditional medical treatment for chronic illnesses that have not worked and they want to try something new. Some can not afford traditional medical treatment, and CAM is generally less expensive. Some people like the naturalness of CAM, they think it is safer. What ever the reason, in the United States, 36% of adults are using some form of CAM. When megavitamin therapy and prayer specifically for health reasons are included in the definition of CAM, that number rises to 62%.
What is CAM? The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) defines complementary and alternative medicine as "a group of diverse medical and health-care systems, practice and products that are not presently considered to be part of conventional medicine." NCCAM classifies CAM therapies into five categories or domains: 1) alternative medical systems, or complete systems of therapy and practice; 2) mind-body interventions, or techniques designed to facilitate the mind's effect on bodily functions and symptoms; 3) biologically-based systems, including herbalism; 4) manipulative and body-based methods, such as chiropractic and massage therapy; and 5) energy therapies.
Alternative medical systems are as complex as conventional medicine. One example of alternative medical systems is Naturopathy, a system in which the body is encouraged to heal itself through changes in nutrition and lifestyle. Another example is Ayurveda, a system in which the body, mind and spirit are integrated to prevent or treat health problems.
Mind-body medicine includes practices that encourage the mind to positively affect the body. Meditation is an example of mind-body medicine. Meditation is a practice which encourages the patient to clear his mind and focus inward. Creative therapy also falls into this category of treatment and includes art therapy and music therapy. Patients are encouraged to express their feelings and hopes through drawing, painting, singing or playing a musical instrument.
Biologically based systems use natural substances to assist the body fight illness. This includes using herbs to treat various illnesses.
Energy medicine involves the detection and manipulation of energy fields around the human body. It is used in a number of therapies, including Reiki, in which a practitioner is said to transmit energy to the patient through hands placed on or near the body, and Qi Gong, which uses a series of breathing and movement exercises to heal and strengthen the chi, a Chinese interpretation of the body's energy or life force.
Manipulative and body-based methods involve physical manipulation of the body to help the patient relax and to ease various symptoms. Chiropractic and massage therapy are included in this category. Reflexology is also in this category.
What is reflexology? Reflexology (sometimes called zone therapy) is a therapy in which the nerve endings primarily in the feet are stimulated by specific massage techniques to effect changes in another part of the body and thereby create health and help overcome disease. Reflexology therapeutically reduces stress and tension throughout the whole body. Consequently, blood and lymph circulation improves, nerve supply to the cells is improved, and the release of toxins from the body is increased. These physiological benefits facilitate improvement in the body's assimilation of nutrients, elimination of wastes, and the functioning of its immune system. In general, reflexology facilitates optimum functioning of all the systems of the body. It is in these ways that reflexology supports the body in its process of healing itself and maintaining optimum health.
Reflexology can be traced back to the birth of Christ. Its use is documented in Greece, Rome, the Orient, India and by Indians in North...