Complementary medicines like yoga, meditation, massage, and acupuncture are becoming mainstream prescriptions for kids and adults, according to the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), and reported in Time. As a growing number of patients of all ages try complementary medicine, it's also becoming more accepted by health practitioners.
Certain types of alternative medicine like yoga, tai chi, and qi gong are among the most popular. And although these treatments are still relatively new in the U.S., treatments like Chinese Medicine and massage are often ancient practices in their native countries.
“The low cost and the ability to practice in one’s own home may contribute to yoga’s growing popularity,” the authors write, reported in Time. “Furthermore, public school systems are beginning to incorporate yoga into their fitness programs, which may accelerate use by children in the future.”
Highly rated academic hospitals are creating complementary care wings. Cleveland Clinic recently opened a Chinese herbal therapy clinic and Mayo Clinic also opened an integrative medicine facility. Other hospitals have also embraced alternative medicine like Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago, Duke University Medical Center, and the University of California-San Francisco. Even the most hard-nosed skeptics see some benefit in yoga, meditation, and massage for example.
“Acupuncture is a huge practice [here],” says Dr. Brent Baur, director of the Mayo Clinic Complementary and Integrative Medicine Program. “Right now our demand for acupuncture outstrips our ability to meet that demand probably three to one. We can’t even come close to keeping up.”
A number of studies have shown the benefits of acupuncture to treat low-back pain, neck pain, and osteoarthritis/knee pain as well as tension headaches and migraines. According to the National Institutes of Health’s National Center of Complementary and Integrative Health, “[t]he effects of acupuncture on the brain and body and how best to measure them are only beginning to be understood. Current evidence suggests that many factors—like expectation and belief—that are unrelated to acupuncture needling may play important roles in the beneficial effects of acupuncture on pain.”
The same is also true of massage, though research shows the short term health impacts of the practice and finds that you have to continue the practice to see more benefits. There’s also evidence that yoga and meditation may reduce blood pressure, stress, anxiety, improve psychological balance, and improve focus.
Doctors across the nation seem to be embracing the mind/body connection through complementary treatments like those listed above. Specifically focusing on stress reduction, which can cause a number of chronic ailments. Doctors are also focusing on new pain management methods rather than drugs. In an age when abuse of pain management medications runs rampant, this is a step in the right direction. It’s all about thinking of the body as a holistic vessel in an effort to find optimal mind/body health.
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