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May 23, 2022 Diet & Nutrition Movement & Exercise Recipes Wellness Tips Hayley Derwent 7,235 views

Every year in late-May, Natural Medicine Week takes place. It is a time when Australians can connect with accredited natural health practitioners and learn bout how natural therapies can support health and wellbeing.

Natural medicine is also known as complementary, alternative, holistic or traditional medicine. Natural medicine comes in a number of different modalities, including (1):

  • Acupuncture
  • Aromatherapy
  • Ayurveda
  • Bowen Therapy
  • Chinese Herbal Medicine
  • Chiropractic
  • Homeopathy
  • Hypnotherapy
  • Kinesiology
  • Naturopathy
  • Nutrition
  • Osteopathy
  • Reflexology
  • Remedial Massage
  • Shiatsu
  • Western Herbal Medicine

There are so many to choose from! How do you know which one is right for you? The Australian Tradition Medicine Society has described each of these modalities on their website. Read on for a brief outline of some of these modalities.

Acupuncture

Derived from five thousand years of traditional practise, Acupuncture involves the careful insertion of very thin solid metal needles at very specific points of the body. As a drug-free alternative, acupuncture is gaining lots of attention, especially in assisting with the treatment of chronic pain.

To practice acupuncture in Australia you need to be qualified with a Bachelor degree in a relevant Chinese Medicine subject, and then be registered with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA).

Acupuncture can assist with:

  • Sleep
  • Stress
  • Mood
  • Stiffness
  • Aches and pains
  • Relaxation
  • Fertility

The World Health Organisation has described acupuncture effective for the treatment of:

  • Hay fever
  • Depression
  • Facial pain
  • Induction of labour
  • Knee pain
  • Lower back pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Neck pain
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Tennis elbow (1)

Ayurveda

Ayurveda is one of the oldest medical systems in the world. It originated in India and predates written records. Practices have been handed down by word of mouth.

Ayurvedic medicine integrates and balances the body, mind and spirit. This balance is believed to lead to health, happiness and the prevention of illness. Every individual has a distinct balance, and our health and well-being depend upon getting the right balance for the ‘Dosha’. When these rhythms are balanced the body is healthy.

Ayurvedic medicine continues to be practised in India, where nearly 80% of the population uses it exclusively, or combined with conventional Western medicine. Ayurvedic medicine can help with:

  • Sleep
  • Stress
  • Metabolic health
  • Pain
  • Preventative health

Chinese Herbal Medicine

Chinese Herbal Medicine falls under the banner of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), along with acupuncture, dietary advice, and massage. In Chinese Herbal Medicine, herbs are prescribed to normalise imbalanced energy, or Qi (pronounced “chee”). Qi is made up of opposing forces of energy called Yin and Yang. Yin and yang imbalances can be cause by stress, pollution, poor diet, emotional stress or infection.

The TCM philosophy proposes that everything including organs of the body – is composed of the five elements: fire, earth, metal, water and wood. The herbs are similarly classified into the five tastes – sweet, salty, bitter, pungent and sour – which correspond to the five elements.

Chinese herbal medicines are mainly plant based, but some include minerals or animal products. They can be powders, pastes, lotions or tablets, depending on the herb and its intended use. Different herbs have different properties and can balance particular parts of the body. Prescribing a particular herb or blend of herbs means the practitioner’s diagnosis has to take into account the state of the patient’s Yin and Yang, and the elements that are governing the affected organs. (2)

Chinese Herbal Medicine can be used to treat a wide range of chronic health issues, including:

  • Digestive issues
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Skin disorders
  • Colds and flu

Chiropractic

“Chiropractic” comes from the Greek word Chiropraktikos which means “done by hand.” (manual therapy).

Chiropractors assess the neuromusculoskeletal system and use specific manual techniques to maintain and restore normal function. Chiropractors may also discuss nutrition, exercise and other lifestyle modifications to help you maintain and improve your health. (1)

Chiropractors use a range of treatment techniques, which could include:

  • Spinal manipulation – where a chiropractor will use their hands to apply a short, fast force to the joints, particularly the spine.
  • Soft tissue techniques – including stretching techniques for muscles and myofascial, joint mobilisation and massage.
  • Drop table technique – which uses gravity and the drop mechanism of the table to apply a short, fast force to the joints of the spine. (1)

Chiropractors must complete 5 years of study in Australia and be registered with the Australian Health Practitioners Regulation Agency (AHPRA).

Naturopathy

Naturopathy is a unique system of holistic healthcare with a deep history of traditional philosophies and diverse treatment options. The home of modern Naturopathy is considered to be the United States, with naturopathic principles believed to have originated in Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries. (3)

Naturopaths seek to treat each patient individually and to address the underlying cause of disease as well as its symptoms. Your practitioner will enquire in detail about your health concern and all aspects of your health, including diet, sleep, lifestyle, stress and environmental factors. Diagnostic testing may be considered appropriate, and treatments may include:

  • Nutrition and dietary advice. A poor diet stops the body from functioning well and a build-up of toxins can lead to a range of illnesses. Whole, fresh and unprocessed foods are recommended.
  • Herbal medicine – herbs can support the body.
  • Homeopathy – homeopathic treatments are used to stimulate the body.
  • Hydrotherapy (water therapy). For instance, the use of hot and cold compresses might be used for certain conditions to influence the flow of blood and body heat.
  • Physical therapies – such as massage, Bowen, acupressure, bio-puncture or mechanotherapy.
  • Kinesiology and integrated bio-dynamics (IBD).
  • Counselling techniques – emotional problems and stress can interfere with the healing process. Counselling techniques can include stress management strategies and life coaching. (4)

Nutrition

Nutrition is the science of food and its nutrients, and how the body can use those nutrients to maximise health and wellbeing.

Nutrition is a comprehensive approach to your diet and the quality of your diet. It considers the full process of digestion and absorption as well as any underlying deficiencies.

It also includes the environmental, psychological and behavioural aspects of food and eating. Nutritionists review both macro nutrients in the form of carbohydrates, fats, proteins as well as micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals.

A nutritional consultation provides you with personalised dietary advice to help you manage your health and wellbeing.

A consultation may include:

  • Taking a detailed case study and health history
  • Analysis of your eating habits and lifestyle
  • Assessing and defining your health goals
  • Prescribing personalised nutrition plans
  • Assessing vitamin and mineral deficiencies
  • Prescribing vitamins, mineral and amino acid supplements
  • Providing advice on cooking methods and recipes (1)

Holistic nutritionists take into account additional lifestyle factors such as sleep, stress and environmental factors to provide the best possible outcome for their patient’s health concern.

Remedial Massage

Remedial massage is the systematic assessment and treatment of the muscles, tendons, ligaments and connective tissues of the body to assist in rehabilitation, pain and injury management.

Remedial massage treatment is designed to optimise muscle and/or soft tissue function. Massage also promotes the flow of blood and lymph, particularly to injured areas and may reduce scar tissue and adhesions.

Remedial massage is a highly effective technique for numerous muscular conditions and may assist with the reduction of pain and discomfort. Regular massage assists in maintaining health and wellbeing.

Massage therapists may use their hands or forearms to manually affect tendons, ligaments and connective tissue.

Remedial massage can be used to assist in the treatment of a variety of conditions including:

  • Anxiety and depression
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Jaw and head pain
  • Neck and shoulder pain
  • Tendinopathy
  • Insomnia
  • Soft tissue injuries
  • Upper limb and back pain
  • Sciatica
  • Lower limb and foot pain (Plantar fasciitis)

Conclusion

There are a wide variety of effective natural health options to treat a given health state. AMC has naturopaths and nutritionists on staff to assist with any queries you may have. Get in touch with us to book an appointment.

If you are choosing a natural health practitioner, always make sure that they are suitably qualified and (if required) are registered with APHRA.

References

  1. ATMS, ‘Natural Therapies’, viewed on 9 May 2022, https://naturalmedicineweek.com.au/natural-therapies/
  2. Better Health Channel, 2021, ‘Chinese Herbal Medicine’, Victoria State Government, viewed on 12 May 2022, https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/chinese-herbal-medicine
  3. NHAA, 2022, ‘Naturopathy and Herbal Medicine’, Naturopaths and Herbalists Association of Australia, viewed on 15 May 2022, https://nhaa.org.au/news/naturopathy-herbalism/
  4. Better Health Channel, 2021, ‘Naturopathy’, Victoria State Government, viewed on 15 May 2022, https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/naturopathy

 

About The Author - Hayley Derwent

Hayley is a holistic nutritionist whose vision is to inspire and educate patients about food and lifestyle to positively enhance their health and wellbeing. She provides a safe and caring environment by listening, teaching and supporting people and working in partnership with them to strive towards good health and happiness.

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