An Alternative Approach
Rebekah Kendal looks beyond the conventional forms of medicine
You’re not sick. But you are not exactly healthy either. You’re struggling to get the amount of sleep you need and persistent niggles eat away at your sense of well-being.
You’ve thought about calling the doctor, but why go when you’re not, well, sick? Perhaps it’s time you started taking a more holistic approach to your health.
Allopathic (mainstream or conventional) medicine focuses on fighting your illness. The point of homeopathy,on the other hand, is to stimulate your body’s defence mechanisms so that it can stay healthy. Homeopathic medicines are mostly plant-based and, as they’re given in the lowest possible dose,have fewer undesirable side effects. According to Dr Benjamin Herr, homeopathic medicines have aholistic effect. And because they take every aspect of the patient’s life into account, they can be used to treat not only physical, but also emotional and mental conditions. While homeopathy can treat most conditions on its own, it can also be used in conjunction with allopathic medicine, says Dr Herr. ‘But there are times when the inherent action of the homeopathic medicine and allopathic medicine are in opposition to each other. In cases like that, one method needs to be chosen.’
One of the components of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), acupuncture looks far more frightening than it actually is. The needles used are thin and solid and cause very little pain if inserted correctly.‘There are few risks if acupuncture is done properly,’ says acupuncturist Dr Phil Burnham. ‘A well-trained acupuncturist wouldn’t put a needle into any vital organs or dangerous areas. Needles are made from high-quality flexible steel, so complications from a broken needle are rare.
Along with this, disposable, single-use needles make infection impossible.’So how does becoming a human pincushion make you feel better? TCM holds that bodily functions are regulated by the flow of an energy called ‘chi’, through channels in the body known as meridians. If this flow of energy is blocked or disrupted,the body becomes ill. Acupuncture seeks to correct these imbalances and restore the flow of chi by stimulating acupuncture points that fall along the meridians.‘Albert Einstein said everything is energy,’ says Dr Burnham. ‘Quantum physics is now showing that much of what the East has said about chi is correct. Chi is just energy. We breathe in air and extract chi. We eat food and extract chi. Chinese medicine manipulates the chi running in the meridians to balance the body’s energy so it can heal itself.’
This is based on the principle that a system of zones and reflex areas can be mapped on to your feet and hands. The reflexes in your feet mirror the an atomical arrangement of organs and glands in the body. By applying pressure – using specific thumb, finger and hand techniques– to the reflexes on the hands and feet, it’s possible to affect the corresponding organs, glands and tissues in the body.‘Reflexology is a gentle yet effective therapy for many common ailment sand may be used as a stand alone therapy in some disorders,’ says registered reflexologist Lulu Beyers.
These disorders include headaches, chronic back pain, digestive complaints,insomnia and stress-related illnesses.‘Stress is one of the leading causes of disease in the Western world. More than 70% of disease is linked to stress.With reflexology, a practitioner has direct access to the nervous system through the feet, with its 7 000 nerve endings. By stimulating these through pressure, the communication networking the body gets fine-tuned to support all other systems.’Lulu does say, however, that in the case of more serious pathologies (such as hypertension or diabetes), it can be dangerous to rely solely on reflexology as an intervention.
Power of the mind
‘All illnesses have a “mind factor”,’ says Dr Burnham. ‘We don’t fully understand the extent of the power of the mind. It is not a failing of complementary medicine that we suggest one enlists the strength of the mind to assist in the process of healing. ‘We know that stress lowers the immune system and that germs are everywhere, but if our bodies don’t provide fertile soil for them,we stay healthy. The strength of complementary medicine lies in its role as a preventative modality. ’Dr Herr believes that while the mind does not have the power to decide whether a particular medicine works or not, our understanding of how the mind is affected by certain conditions is important. ‘The mind and emotions can also point toward the cause of a problem more clearly than the physical symptom and this influences how the symptoms should be treated,’ says Dr Herr.
• Dr Benjamin Herr021 674 4476 www.homeopathycapetown.co.za
• Dr Phil Burnham021 422 2962
• Lulu Beyers083 393 4626 www.white-lotus.co.za
Did you know?
The Club has medical professionals available to assist with any medical queries you may have, freeof charge. Call 0861 424 789.Club members outside South Africa should dial+27 11 991 8330.