“These are ways of treating illness that have developed outside the mainstream of modern medicine.”
(The Royal College of Psychiatrists, 2009)
There is growing evidence that Complementary Therapies are being used to good effect within mental health services throughout the UK and Internationally. Many clinicians are expanding the spectrum and variety of services to be offered to patients/clients both in the hospital and in the community.
In recent years complementary therapies have become increasingly popular as a way of treating physical or mental ailments – and maintaining wellbeing. A 2005 survey commissioned by London’s Diagnostic Clinic showed that 68 per cent of people believed in the effectiveness of alternative therapies. It is currently estimated that 1 in 5 Britons use complementary health care – spending £130 million a year in the process – and that there are 50,000 complementary therapy practitioners in the UK. Similar studies from US reported relatively high use of complementary and alternative medicine among patients common mental disorders. Data from the 2007 National Health Interview Survey show that about 40% of US residents integrate 1 or more of these unconventional health practices into their personal health care, spending about $34 billion per year out of pocket.
Several academic institutions have established centers devoted to studying and promoting an integrative approach to physical and behavioral healthcare. Such settings give clients a way to access CAM services in an environment where they can responsibly try alternatives, says David Spiegel, MD, medical director of the California-based Stanford Center for Integrative Medicine, which is part of Stanford University. In addition to psychotherapy, the center’s offerings include hypnosis, acupuncture, biofeedback, and massage.
What is complementary medicine?
‘Complementary’ therapies are exactly that: they are therapies that can complement conventional Western medicine when used in conjunction with it (while not necessarily providing an alternative to conventional medicine, as the term ‘alternative medicine’ tends to imply). The use of alternative approaches to mental health care can be substantially helpful to people living with severe mental illness as they cope with fatigue, insomnia, anxiety, and stressors that are often compounded by the serious symptoms and consequences of mental illness. Alternative Approaches to Mental Health Care, describes complementary approaches to mental health care including self-help, diet and nutrition, expressive therapies, acupuncture, yoga, and relaxation and stress reduction techniques. These services are designed to complement and support the recovery process, maintain the individual’s wellbeing, and offer individuals choice.
Complementary therapies can be independently used to aid relaxation, to provide pain relief and to support health promotion. Complementary therapies can also be used as an alternative to traditional medicine and treatments. The term complementary therapy and alternative therapy are often used interchangeably, however they are based on different principles;
- Complementary therapies are used in conjunction with conventional medicine/therapies as part of the persons overall package of care.
- Alternative therapies are used in place of conventional medicine/therapies for example so could often be the only form of therapy/intervention being offered.
Whats in the Package?
The traditional Hindu system of medicine (incorporated in Atharva Veda, the last of the four Vedas), which is based on the idea of balance in bodily systems and uses diet, herbal treatment, and yogic breathing. Ayurveda also include Massages performing hand movements on the skin of the body, including stroking and applying pressure, to treat a variety of conditions or promote wellbeing.
A branch of traditional Chinese medicine used to manage illness and maintain health, acupuncture involves inserting fine needles into the body to stimulate a healing response.
Essential botanical oils are added to the bath or massaged into the skin, inhaled directly or diffused to scent an entire room for therapeutic effect.
4. Arts therapies
Arts Therapies are forms of psychotherapy which use arts activities/media as their primary mode of communication.
To treat a condition, tiny doses of minerals that would produce the same symptoms in a healthy person are administered.
Involves inducing a relaxed, hypnotic state and accessing the subconscious mind so that memories are more easily retrieved, and healing suggestions can be absorbed.
7. Nutritional therapy
Using diet to treat ailments and prevent illness by rectifying any vitamin, mineral and other nutrient deficiencies or imbalances.
A specialized system of foot massage that sees the whole body mapped out on the sole of the foot: the corresponding points on the foot are massaged to treat ailments throughout the body.
A Japanese system of channelling healing energy into the client. Involves a practitioner placing their hands over the client (but not necessarily touching them).
A Japanese method of massage that applies pressure to specific points in the body to restore the body’s energy balance.
11. T’ai chi
A Chinese martial art based on flowing body movements that induce a relaxed and balanced state.
Originating in India, yoga is a spiritual practice that involves breath control, simple meditation, and the adoption of specific bodily postures, is widely practiced for health and relaxation.
Case Study – TRIMED
A Chennai based India’s first Integrative Healthcare Chain, TriMed offers a seamless blend of modern medicine and traditional medical systems that embody ancient wisdom. TriMed’s efforts made it possible to offer a wide range of medical treatments under one roof, which is process driven, scientific, and replicable, giving patients the opportunity to experience the richness of alternative medical treatments under the safety of the allopathic umbrella.
As explained by Eminent Neuropsychiatrist and Founder Dr. ES Krishnamoorthy,
“the strength of allopathic (modern) medicine lies in its scientific evidence base. On the other hand, the strength of traditional medical systems, lie in their richness and diversity of treatments and the potential to customise these to suit each individual.”
TriMed is bridging the gap between modern medicine and ancient wisdom; scientific rigour with empirical diversity; creating a seamless blend of offerings, that represent the best of east and west.
Dr. Rema Raghu, Clinical Director, TriMed highlighted that, “by combining Ayurveda, Naturopathy, Yoga Therapy, Physiotherapy, Counselling & Psychological Therapy, Nutritional Therapy, Acupressure Therapy with allopathic treatment, helps patients to restore health and regain optimal life quality in a holistic manner.
So, far Team TriMed which consist of highly qualified CAM Practitioners and GPs have treated over 4000 patients across medical specialties ranges from Neurological to Orthopedic conditions. Majority of patients comes with mental health conditions or co-morbid psychiatric symptoms secondary to chronic illness. Based on a systematic patient evaluation process, they have documented that more than 90% of the patients significantly improved their Quality of Life and diseases specific symptoms with the integrative approach followed at their centers. TriMed have many success stories to share with us, which can be found on their blog: Trimed Thoughts
In conclusion, the rapid increase in public interest and use of complementary and alternative therapies is exerting a powerful influence on medical education and medical policy decisions in many countries including US and UK. Complementary and alternative systems offer a vision that considers the human being in his or her bio-psycho-spiritual aspects. They broaden the paradigm of personalized, preventive and predictive medicine. I believe we will see a blooming complementary medicine practices, procedures and practitioners and a true integration of Western scientific medicine with complementary medicine. With it will be a much more holistic approach to care where the patient – and not the disease – is the focus of attention.
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