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In the recent past, there has been an unprecedented interest in alternative medicine. This rise can be ascribed to the fact that there exists some certain dissatisfaction or disillusionment with modern medicine. This is because in most cases, modern medicine does not give cure or even reprieve. In addition, it is often very expensive, and such cannot be afforded by many people. Modern medicine is also considered to be hazardous. This essay provides a discussion of the forms of alternate medicine available today.
In simple terms it means the Science of life. It places great emphasis on ethics. All teachers of Ayurveda gave detailed instructions for the proper behavior of the medical student and the practicing doctor. The training of Ayurveda may be of various types: Siddha (pure) Ayurveda, Ayurveda integrated with varying amounts of modern medicine and non-formal training, including apprenticeship to Ayurveda physicians (Patwardhan, 2005).
Unani medicine as practiced today is a hybrid between the Greco Arab and Ayurveda medicine. The Unani physician (Hakim) has his own code of conduct, closely allied to the code propounded by Hippocrates. Unani practice which started with the coming of Arabs continues to be practiced today.
Siddha medicine is practiced mainly in Tamil Nadu. Its origin is probably in the Dravidian culture and then it is absorbed Ayurveda. The treatment is by means of herbal and mineral substances.
This is a system of therapy, first propounded by Dr. Samuel Hahnemann. There is a vital force which is the essence of all life. It is necessary to maintain the vital force in a healthy state. There are certain basic principles of homeotherapy. Some of these basic principles include law of similar which suggests that a “drug capable of producing certain symptoms in health will produce cure of the disease with same set of symptoms.” In addition, homeopathy advocates the use of the minimum dose required to effect cure and to use as far as possible a single remedy which is in close conformance with the disease pattern (Mathie, 2003).
Naturopathy is a promotive and preventive form of therapy. There is natural body resistance and all that is needed is to support it. Even when there is illness, no medicine is given. Disease is considered as the body’s effort to cleanse itself of the impurities which have accumulated in the body. The cure is effected through the elements of nature (air, water, earth and the rays of sun) (Hechtman, 2013).
Water is considered as very important; the ideal intake being four litres per day at midmorning, half an hour before lunch, midafternoon, evening and at bedtime. Other fluids can also be taken. It is important to eat the right kind of food such as fruits and vegetables in season, preferably eaten raw. Diet is important when the person is ill and may be of three types; soothing, eliminative and constructive. Non-vegetarian dishes, pickles, condiments, alcohol, coffee and tea are prohibited in naturopathy (Hechtman, 2013).
Fasting is considered good medicine and is necessary in cleaning the digestive tract. The patient may take water, lime juice or fruit juices, depending on the condition of the patient and nature of the disease. Enema is used to clean the lower bowel using plain water. Cold enema is given for inflammatory conditions of the colon e.g. in dysentery, ulcerative colitis and other diarrheal conditions. Hot enema is used to relieve irritation. Water prepared with neem leaves is recommended in amoebiosis and worm infestations (Hechtman, 2013).
Hot foot bath is also recommended. Feet and legs are kept in a tub filled with water at a temperature of 40-450C and then covered with a blanket for 10-20 minutes. Finally wash with cold water (Hechtman, 2013).
Heliopathy (sun bath) and Mud therapy:
Sun bath may be taken directly between 8am to 11am and 2 pm to 4pmin winter and 7 am to 9am and 3pm to5 pm in summer. In mud therapy soaked mud collected from riverbanks and cleaned of stones and dirty particles in thin muslin cloth are kept above the patient’s abdomen. Mud bath can be applied to the whole body and then exposed to sunlight for 20-30 minutes until the mud gets dry (Eisenberg et al 1998).
Many people turn to herbs such as ginger, garlic, tamarind, clove, asafoetida, etc. However some herbal medicines can be harmful and may produce toxicity, hypotension, liver damage, etc. Thus there is need to differentiate between useful, harmless and harmful remedies. The plants have to be identified carefully as mistakes can easily occur (Barnes, Powell-Griner, McFann & Nahin, 2004).
Alternative medicine such as siddha, ayurveda, heliopathy among others provide a cheaper alternative to modern medication which in most cases is expensive beyond the affordability of many individuals. They individuals who view modern medicine as hazardous to health a chance at preserving their health without necessarily having to use modern medication.
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