From: Selected Treats,
The medical industry is tangled up in a continuing debate about the effectiveness of so called ‘alternative’ therapies. From acupuncture to visualisation, a multitude of studies are commissioned every year to investigate the effectiveness of the treatments that conventional science can’t quite explain yet, and in many cases, there is mounting evidence that they provide a viable wellness option.
Here at Wahanda, we’re all for anything that can improve your quality of life and so we’ve gathered together five of the treatments that have hit the headlines recently for all the right reasons so you can give them a go and experience any benefits first-hand.
Muscle pain and migraines are just two of the common complaints that acupuncture has been said to help shift.
Studies by York University that were published in medical journal Brain Research earlier this year show that the ancient Chinese treatment deactivates areas within the brain associated with pain processing, helping to dull niggling aches and make chronic conditions more manageable. The results back up previous reports from UCL and The University of Southampton that used positron emission tomography (PET) to measure brain activity during acupuncture. When compared to a placebo faux-acupuncture treatment, the academics found that the pain controlling insular area of the brain was only activated when genuine acupuncture techniques were used.
The effectiveness of acupuncture in treating period pain was also outlined in research involving 3,000 women in South Korea and the treatment could even help with largely psychological complaints such as stress and depression, as a Stanford study involving pregnant women showed that over 60% of participants experienced a significant reduction in symptoms following targeted acupuncture sessions.
The NHS’s decision to recommend acupuncture to patients suffering from lower back pain shows that Western medicine is slowly accepting the treatment as a legitimate alternative and supplement to drug and physical therapies.
If you wish to see if acupuncture can help you to chill out or hold off persistent pain, then check out our offers, including today’s fantastic spotlight offer.
Now respected rather than ridiculed, confidence in the power of meditation has gone from strength to strength in the last decade.
A joint study by the University of Oregon and Dalian University of Technology that is soon to be published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences recently recorded the effects of integrative body-mind training (IBMT), a type of meditation technique formulated in the 1990s from traditional Chinese medicine that is regularly practiced by thousands of people in China. Whereas a control group who received relaxation training showed comparatively little change in brain activity when specialised imaging software was used to monitor neurological function, the group participating in meditation sessions displayed a larger number of connections in their anterior cingulates (the specific part of the brain which regulates emotions and behaviour).
The ability to activate this area of the brain through a non-invasive and simple activity could lead to improvements in the treatment of attention deficit disorder, dementia, depression and schizophrenia- conditions which are all associated with impaired anterior cingulate cortex functionality. Researchers also revealed that during the course of the experiment, those that undertook eleven hours of meditation training exhibited lower levels of depression, anxiety, anger and fatigue when compared to the control group, leading to theories of white matter reorganisation and strengthened brain matter connections (possible improvements in brain malleability) amongst scientists. An earlier study by the same institutions showed that just five twenty-minute sessions of IBMT resulted in a significant reduction in stress related illnesses and blood pressure levels amongst participants.
Other trials have reported that those who practice meditation can concentrate for longer and endure higher levels of pain, with the brain boosting improved focus lasting over five months following a three month meditation retreat.
Some of the more questionable ingredients traditionally used in Chinese medicine have meant that its healing credentials have often been played down. However, some of the herbal remedies that have been used to combat nausea in Asia for centuries have been found to not only help with the side effects of intensive cancer treatment, but also to increase its effectiveness.
An investigation by Yale University found that mice who ingested Huang Qin Tang mixture (a formula that contains peony extract, skullcap flowers, liquorice root and buckthorn tree fruit) not only recovered from chemotherapy-induced intestinal tract damage more quickly than those in a control group, but they also felt the benefits of reduced inflammation, increased gut lining protection and amazingly, a boost in chemotherapy effectiveness against colon and rectal tumours.
Autoimmune diseases and eczema may also be treatable with Chinese herbs. American trials have found that drinking Erka Shizheng Herbal Tea twice a day, soaking in a related herbal bath for 20 minutes daily and applying a similar herbal cream to their skin two or three times a day reduced the severity and frequency of eczema outbreaks in fourteen children over the course of two years.
Another herbal extract that was previous developed as a potential anti-malaria drug was found to target and inhibit a specific type of immune cell known as Th17 cells back in 2006. Th17 cells regulate the body’s inflammatory response; a reaction that automatically spirals out of control in sufferers of diseases such as inflammatory bowel diseases, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, eczema, and psoriasis. Current drug treatments of autoimmune conditions suppress all immune responses, with no option to inhibit individual over-reactions, and this leaves patients’ systems open to infections and cancer. If halofuginone extract can be further isolated, this may no longer be the case.
To try Chinese herbal medicine for yourself, make sure you check out our list of registered practitioners and centres.
Homeopathy has certainly had its share of high profile detractors. The diluted substance approach that the therapy adopts is meant to trigger a form of ‘immune response’ within patients, helping them to build up a tolerance to irritants. Sceptics claim that a lack of scientific backing makes homeopathy treatment no more effective than a placebo, but the results of a long term study in Cuba, where yearly Weil’s disease infection rates dropped significantly in a population treated with homeopathic remedies, have stopped those who dismissed the treatment in their tracks.
Homeopathy’s ‘like cures like’ principle means that there are a wide variety of conditions that can supposedly be treated using tailored preparations in tablet or liquid form and as the aim is to build strength within the patient to prevent further illness (as with vaccination), both chronic and acute illness may be treated. Due to their low concentration of active ingredients, the majority of preparations may also be taken alongside prescribed drugs to help complement existing treatment programmes.
If you have been blighted with recurrent infections (such as tonsillitis or cystitis), long term skin conditions (including psoriasis and eczema), menstrual or menopausal problems, migraines or stress related symptoms such as anxiety, fatigue and insomnia and wish to try a different approach to healing, take a look at our listings for venues offering homeopathy consultation and treatment.
Perhaps the most sedate of the martial arts, tai chi’s gentle movements are tied to the ancient Chinese belief that to stay healthy, a smooth flow of energy (or ‘qi’) must be channelled through the body. Originally based on the principal of exchanging energy during combat, the graceful stances and movements involved in tai chi have been shown to improve the wellbeing of many patients suffering from arthritis. Pain reduction and increased mobility have been reported by class participants following as little as ten to fifteen minutes of tai chi and following a course of sessions, strength levels and balance were also found to be improved.
Further studies have also highlighted symptom relief felt by Fibromyalgia sufferers after a series of tai chi classes and asthma patients have noted that their breathing, peak flow and oxygen consumption improved following tai chi training. Those without longstanding conditions can also benefit from the relaxation derived from lessons, as researchers have stated that participants slept better, had more energy, and had better physical and mental health overall after taking part in studies.
To find the nearest centre or instructor offering tai chi in your town or city, browse our listings.
If you decide to give any of the above treatments a try, why not leave a review on site to help others decide whether to check them out. If you’re on Twitter, give us a post-treatment tweet to Wahanda telling us how things went too!
Alison is a freelance journalist, blogger and life-long Londoner. A subject matter magpie and self-confessed make up junkie, if it's new, a little bit different and promises great things, she'll be onto it in a flash.See my profile »