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INVESTIGATION INTO POSSIBLE MECHANISMS OF ACTION OF VARIOUS COMPLEMENTARY AND ALTERNATIVE THERAPIES (2003)

Study aim

General method

Individual studies on the selected therapies

(infections, injury or mechanical failure, unhealthy lifestyle, pain relief)

General conclusions

Appendix 1 - individual therapy details

Appendix 2 - control group sources

Appendix 3 - CAM popularity reasons

(Back to the top, back to homepage)
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Study aim

General method

Individual studies on the selected therapies

(infections, injury or mechanical failure, unhealthy lifestyle, pain relief)

General conclusions

Appendix 1 - individual therapy details

Appendix 2 - control group sources

Appendix 3 - CAM popularity reasons 

(Back to the top, back to homepage)

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Study aim

General method

Individual studies on the selected therapies

(infections, injury or mechanical failure, unhealthy lifestyle, pain relief)

General conclusions

Appendix 1 - individual therapy details

Appendix 2 - control group sources

Appendix 3 - CAM popularity reasons

(Back to the top, back to homepage)

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Study aim

General method

Individual studies on the selected therapies

(infections, injury or mechanical failure, unhealthy lifestyle, pain relief)

General conclusions

Appendix 1 - individual therapy details

Appendix 2 - control group sources

Appendix 3 - CAM popularity reasons 

(Back to the top, back to homepage)

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Study aim

General method

Individual studies on the selected therapies

(infections, injury or mechanical failure, unhealthy lifestyle, pain relief)

General conclusions

Appendix 1 - individual therapy details

Appendix 2 - control group sources

Appendix 3 - CAM popularity reasons

(Back to the top, back to homepage)

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Study aim

General method

Individual studies on the selected therapies

(infections, injury or mechanical failure, unhealthy lifestyle, pain relief)

General conclusions

Appendix 1 - individual therapy details

Appendix 2 - control group sources

Appendix 3 - CAM popularity reasons

(Back to the top, back to homepage)

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Study aim

General method

Individual studies on the selected therapies

(infections, injury or mechanical failure, unhealthy lifestyle, pain relief)

General conclusions

Appendix 1 - individual therapy details

Appendix 2 - control group sources

Appendix 3 - CAM popularity reasons

(Back to the top, back to homepage)

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Study aim

General method

Individual studies on the selected therapies

(infections, injury or mechanical failure, unhealthy lifestyle, pain relief)

General conclusions

Appendix 1 - individual therapy details

Appendix 2 - control group sources

Appendix 3 - CAM popularity reasons

(Back to the top, back to homepage)

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Study aim

General method

Individual studies on the selected therapies

(infections, injury or mechanical failure, unhealthy lifestyle, pain relief)

General conclusions

Appendix 1 - individual therapy details

Appendix 2 - control group sources

Appendix 3 - CAM popularity reasons

(Back to the top, back to homepage)

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Study aim

General method

Individual studies on the selected therapies

(infections, injury or mechanical failure, unhealthy lifestyle, pain relief)

General conclusions

Appendix 1 - individual therapy details

Appendix 2 - control group sources

Appendix 3 - CAM popularity reasons

(Back to the top, back to homepage)

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Study aim

General method

Individual studies on the selected therapies

(infections, injury or mechanical failure, unhealthy lifestyle, pain relief)

General conclusions

Appendix 1 - individual therapy details

Appendix 2 - control group sources

Appendix 3 - CAM popularity reasons

(Back to the top, back to homepage)

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Study aim

General method

Individual studies on the selected therapies

(infections, injury or mechanical failure, unhealthy lifestyle, pain relief)

General conclusions

Appendix 1 - individual therapy details

Appendix 2 - control group sources

Appendix 3 - CAM popularity reasons

(Back to the top, back to homepage)

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Study aim

General method

Individual studies on the selected therapies

(infections, injury or mechanical failure, unhealthy lifestyle, pain relief)

General conclusions

Appendix 1 - individual therapy details

Appendix 2 - control group sources

Appendix 3 - CAM popularity reasons

(Back to the top, back to homepage)

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Study aim

General method

Individual studies on the selected therapies

(infections, injury or mechanical failure, unhealthy lifestyle, pain relief)

General conclusions

Appendix 1 - individual therapy details

Appendix 2 - control group sources

Appendix 3 - CAM popularity reasons

(Back to the top, back to homepage)

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Study aim

General method

Individual studies on the selected therapies

(infections, injury or mechanical failure, unhealthy lifestyle, pain relief)

General conclusions

Appendix 1 - individual therapy details

Appendix 2 - control group sources

Appendix 3 - CAM popularity reasons

(Back to the top, back to homepage)

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Study aim

General method

Individual studies on the selected therapies

(infections, injury or mechanical failure, unhealthy lifestyle, pain relief)

General conclusions

Appendix 1 - individual therapy details

Appendix 2 - control group sources

Appendix 3 - CAM popularity reasons

(Back to the top, back to homepage)

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Study aim

General method

Individual studies on the selected therapies

(infections, injury or mechanical failure, unhealthy lifestyle, pain relief)

General conclusions

Appendix 1 - individual therapy details

Appendix 2 - control group sources

Appendix 3 - CAM popularity reasons

(Back to the top, back to homepage)

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Study aim

General method

Individual studies on the selected therapies

(infections, injury or mechanical failure, unhealthy lifestyle, pain relief)

General conclusions

Appendix 1 - individual therapy details

Appendix 2 - control group sources

Appendix 3 - CAM popularity reasons

(Back to the top, back to homepage)

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Study aim

General method

Individual studies on the selected therapies

(infections, injury or mechanical failure, unhealthy lifestyle, pain relief)

General conclusions

Appendix 1 - individual therapy details

Appendix 2 - control group sources

Appendix 3 - CAM popularity reasons

(Back to the top, back to homepage)

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Study aim

General method

Individual studies on the selected therapies

(infections, injury or mechanical failure, unhealthy lifestyle, pain relief)

General conclusions

Appendix 1 - individual therapy details

Appendix 2 - control group sources

Appendix 3 - CAM popularity reasons

(Back to the top, back to homepage)

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Study aim

General method

Individual studies on the selected therapies

(infections, injury or mechanical failure, unhealthy lifestyle, pain relief)

General conclusions

Appendix 1 - individual therapy details

Appendix 2 - control group sources

Appendix 3 - CAM popularity reasons

(Back to the top, back to homepage)

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Study aim

General method

Individual studies on the selected therapies

(infections, injury or mechanical failure, unhealthy lifestyle, pain relief)

General conclusions

Appendix 1 - individual therapy details

Appendix 2 - control group sources

Appendix 3 - CAM popularity reasons

(Back to the top, back to homepage)

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Study aim

General method

Individual studies on the selected therapies

(infections, injury or mechanical failure, unhealthy lifestyle, pain relief)

General conclusions

Appendix 1 - individual therapy details

Appendix 2 - control group sources

Appendix 3 - CAM popularity reasons

(Back to the top, back to homepage)

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Study aim

General method

Individual studies on the selected therapies

(infections, injury or mechanical failure, unhealthy lifestyle, pain relief)

General conclusions

Appendix 1 - individual therapy details

Appendix 2 - control group sources

Appendix 3 - CAM popularity reasons

(Back to the top, back to homepage)

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Study aim

General method

Individual studies on the selected therapies

(infections, injury or mechanical failure, unhealthy lifestyle, pain relief)

General conclusions

Appendix 1 - individual therapy details

Appendix 2 - control group sources

Appendix 3 - CAM popularity reasons

(Back to the top, back to homepage)

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Study aim

General method

Individual studies on the selected therapies

(infections, injury or mechanical failure, unhealthy lifestyle, pain relief)

General conclusions

Appendix 1 - individual therapy details

Appendix 2 - control group sources

Appendix 3 - CAM popularity reasons

(Back to the top, back to homepage)

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Study aim

General method

Individual studies on the selected therapies

(infections, injury or mechanical failure, unhealthy lifestyle, pain relief)

General conclusions

Appendix 1 - individual therapy details

Appendix 2 - control group sources

Appendix 3 - CAM popularity reasons

(Back to the top, back to homepage)

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Study aim

General method

Individual studies on the selected therapies

(infections, injury or mechanical failure, unhealthy lifestyle, pain relief)

General conclusions

Appendix 1 - individual therapy details

Appendix 2 - control group sources

Appendix 3 - CAM popularity reasons

(Back to the top, back to homepage)

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Study aim

General method

Individual studies on the selected therapies

(infections, injury or mechanical failure, unhealthy lifestyle, pain relief)

General conclusions

Appendix 1 - individual therapy details

Appendix 2 - control group sources

Appendix 3 - CAM popularity reasons

(Back to the top, back to homepage)

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Study aim

General method

Individual studies on the selected therapies

(infections, injury or mechanical failure, unhealthy lifestyle, pain relief)

General conclusions

Appendix 1 - individual therapy details

Appendix 2 - control group sources

Appendix 3 - CAM popularity reasons

(Back to the top, back to homepage)

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Study aim

General method

Individual studies on the selected therapies

(infections, injury or mechanical failure, unhealthy lifestyle, pain relief)

General conclusions

Appendix 1 - individual therapy details

Appendix 2 - control group sources

Appendix 3 - CAM popularity reasons

(Back to the top, back to homepage)

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Study aim

General method

Individual studies on the selected therapies

(infections, injury or mechanical failure, unhealthy lifestyle, pain relief)

General conclusions

Appendix 1 - individual therapy details

Appendix 2 - control group sources

Appendix 3 - CAM popularity reasons

(Back to the top, back to homepage)

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Study aim

General method

Individual studies on the selected therapies

(infections, injury or mechanical failure, unhealthy lifestyle, pain relief)

General conclusions

Appendix 1 - individual therapy details

Appendix 2 - control group sources

Appendix 3 - CAM popularity reasons

(Back to the top, back to homepage)

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Study aim

General method

Individual studies on the selected therapies

(infections, injury or mechanical failure, unhealthy lifestyle, pain relief)

General conclusions

Appendix 1 - individual therapy details

Appendix 2 - control group sources

Appendix 3 - CAM popularity reasons

(Back to the top, back to homepage)

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Study aim

General method

Individual studies on the selected therapies

(infections, injury or mechanical failure, unhealthy lifestyle, pain relief)

General conclusions

Appendix 1 - individual therapy details

Appendix 2 - control group sources

Appendix 3 - CAM popularity reasons

(Back to the top, back to homepage)

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STUDY AIM

This study was made because CAM (complementary and alternative medicines) is playing an increasing role in health care and little is known definitively about their various mechanisms of action. It was decided to look into the possible mechanisms of action of some CAM using information available on the internet. The CAM studied were

The premise used was that if a therapy shows success in helping a particular type of medical condition, indicated by favouritism or selectivity towards that type of condition, then it is likely it works by activation of particular physiological systems. The conditions said to be helped by each therapy were compared to a control sample, in this case 550 conditions diagnosed and treated by traditional western medicine. Conditions were grouped into those caused by:

An investigation into whether CAM therapies favour conditions whose traditional treatment includes pain relief was also included.  

 

GENERAL METHOD

The control group (550 conditions traditionally diagnosed and treated) was compared with lists of specific conditions said to be helped by the various therapies according to different internet sources. Although complementary therapists refrain from advocating help for particular conditions, preferring the ´wholistic`  explanation, it was not difficult to find sources on the internet, which quoted success in treating specific conditions. It was assumed that in naming the conditions, the therapists had personal experience of success in the treatment of this type of condition or had obtained evidence for its success from other sources.

Each condition was assessed for its general cause according to traditional westernised medical research and percentage values for this type of condition against the total number investigated (i.e. 550) were calculated. For example out of the 550 conditions, 39% or 215 are caused by infections of some type. In the same way, percentage values of the conditions said to be treated by the various therapies were then compared with the control. Favouritism (or selectivity) for a particular type of condition was said to have occurred when the percentage value was greater than the control by at least 10% of the control value: avoidance when the value was at least 10% less than the control.

INDIVIDUAL STUDIES ON THE SELECTED THERAPIES

Do the selected therapies favour conditions caused by infections?  

Results

The favouritism of the CAM for conditions, which would be traditionally diagnosed as caused by infections in general, or specifically by bacterial infections, viral infections, fungal or parasitic infections or irritants was investigated.  

The results for general infections showed that 39% of conditions traditionally diagnosed and treated are caused by infections. Favouritism demonstrated by the various CAM for this type of condition was:

(Figures in brackets indicate the percentage of the total.)

Tai Chi (18)

Ayurveda (31)

CONTROL (39)

Shiatsu (44)

Homoeopathy (52)

Hypnotherapy (20)

Osteopathy (34)

Aromatherapy (38)

Acupressure (46)

 

Alexander technique (22)

Reflexology (34)

Acupuncture (40)

 

 

Colour therapy (26)

Herbalism (34)

 

 

 

Biofeedback (27)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Avoidance Avoidance

 

Favouritism Favouritism

 

Results of the study on only bacterial infections were:

Tai Chi (0)

CONTROL (25)

Reflexology (30)

Homoeopathy (35)

Hypnotherapy (13)

Biofeedback (25)

Acupuncture (32)

Shiatsu (35)

Colour therapy (16)

Herbalism (25)

Acupressure (32)

 

Ayurveda (19)

Osteopathy (27)

 

 

Alexander technique (20)

Aromatherapy (28)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Avoidance

 

Favouritism

Favouritism

(Figures in brackets indicate the percentage of the total.)

Results of the study on only viral infections were:

Hypnotherapy (16)

CONTROL (21)

Osteopathy (25)

Acupuncture (33)

Homoeopathy (44)

Tai Chi (18)

Alexander technique (20)

Colour therapy (26)

Shiatsu (38)

Acupressure (44)

 

Biofeedback (23)

Reflexology (27)

Aromatherapy (38)

 

 

 

Herbalism (27)

 

 

 

 

Ayurveda (28)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Avoidance

 

Favouritism Favouritism Favouritism

(Figures in brackets indicate the percentage of the total showing favouritism or avoidance for this type of condition.)

Results of the study on only fungal infections and parasitic infections were:

  • The control sample showed 3% of conditions caused by fungal infections and 5% by parasitic or other (eg prions) infections.

  • The therapies show no significance for fungal infections.

  • Acupuncture, acupressure, biofeedback all show slight significance for conditions traditionally said to be caused by parasitic infections.  

  • Colour therapy, Alexander technique, Tai Chi, Ayurveda, osteopathy and reflexology show avoidance for this type of condition.

Results of the study on only irritants were:

CONTROL (8)

Acupressure (16)

Aromatherapy (24)

Tai Chi (0)

Reflexology (18)

Acupuncture (26)

Ayurveda (0)

Shiatsu (18)

 

Alexander technique (10)

Herbalism (19)

 

Colour therapy (10)

Homoeopathy (19)

 

Osteopathy (11)

 

 

Biofeedback (11)

 

 

Hypnotherapy (11)

 

 

 

Favouritism Favouritism

(Figures in brackets indicate the percentage of the total.)

Conclusions  

Acupressure, shiatsu and homoeopathy are likely to work by mechanisms that include immune system activation since they favour conditions traditionally said to be caused by infections. The highest level of favouritism was shown by homoeopathy (52%). They also showed favouritism when each specific cause was investigated. It is likely that acupressure and shiatsu activate the immune system through massage/physical manipulation. Sensory nerve endings are stimulated, messages sent to the brain and activation of the immune system and endocrine systems follows. Homoeopathy involves the taking of substances and these substances are possibly recognised as foreign bodies/foreign chemicals and so the immune system is activated to fight them. Acupuncture and reflexology may also possibly include in their mechanisms of action the activation of the immune system. They produced conflicting results – control values when general infections were considered, but favouritism for individual types of infections.  An explanation for this discrepancy could be the multiple causal nature of the conditions helped, masking the true effects. Both therapies are said to stimulate the flow of life energy according to oriental medicine, but again evidence for the effect of acupuncture from western science shows increases in red and white blood cells and stimulation of endocrine systems for example. In the case of reflexology, stimulation of sensory endings in the feet or hands may cause the same effect as in the other manipulation therapies. In the case of herbalism and aromatherapy favouritism is only shown for viral infections and irritants and in the case of osteopathy, colour therapy and ayurveda only for viral infections. Common treatment for viral infections in traditional medicine is rest, allowing the patient time for the body`s own immune system to fight the infection. The selection for this type of infection, albeit at a low level, may indicate the ´whole body` approach of these therapies. Although herbalism  involves the taking of substances that may directly influence the immune system as in homoeopathy, the others (aromatherapy massage, osteopathy and ayurveda) may through stimulation of nerve endings activate the endocrine system, immune system and promote a feeling of well-being which may help the body to fight the infection.

Biofeedback, hypnotherapy, Alexander technique, and Tai Chi  are unlikely to work by mechanisms that include immune system activation since they avoid or show no favouritism towards conditions traditionally diagnosed as caused by infections. Alexander technique and Tai Chi are both ´movement-orientated´ therapies, useful in helping correct posture, strengthen muscles etc. so this result was expected. Biofeedback and hypnotherapy both involve the ´mind´; one consciously controlling physiological signs, the other involving the subconscious. It is unlikely that symptoms like high temperature, tiredness common in infections could be helped by such therapies.

A note of caution

39% of all conditions in the control sample diagnosed and treated traditionally were caused by infections. The highest value obtained by any CAM was only 52% (homoeopathy). This means that although the specific CAM may work by activating the immune system, there must be other factors involved. If a therapy produced definitive immune system activation, then surely higher levels of selectivity would be seen?

Do the selected therapies favour conditions caused by injury or mechanical failure?

Results

The favouritism of the CAM for conditions, which would be traditionally diagnosed as caused by injury or mechanical failure was investigated.

 

Results of the injury study were:

 

Ayurveda (3)

CONTROL (15)

Reflexology (20)

Shiatsu (30)

Herbalism (4)

Homoeopathy (15)

Acupressure(25)

Alexander treatment (32)

Colour therapy (5)

Aromatherapy (14)

Acupuncture (27)

 

Tai Chi (6)

Biofeedback (18)

Osteopathy (27)

 

Hypnotherapy (7)

 

Reflexology (20)

 

 

 

 

 

Avoidance

 

Favouritism Favouritism
       

(Figures in brackets indicate the percentage of the total.)

Results of the mechanical failure study were:

CONTROL (43)

Hypnotherapy (53)

Ayurveda (60)

Biofeedback (73)

Colour therapy (37)

Acupuncture (54)

Osteopathy (61)

 

Homoeopathy (46)

Shiatsu (55)

Reflexology (64)

 

Aromatherapy (48)

Acupressure (57)

Alexander treatment (66)

 

 

Herbalism (58)

 

 

 

Tai Chi (59)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Favouritism Favouritism Favouritism

(Figures in brackets indicate the percentage of the total. )

Conclusions

It is likely that activation of repair mechanisms and compensatory systems occurs in acupressure, acupuncture, osteopathy, reflexology, shiatsu and Alexander treatment. All of these CAM are ´manipulation` therapies and it is likely that sensory nerve endings are stimulated by the ´manipulation`, messages sent to the brain and the appropriate repair or compensatory systems activated. Although selectivity was shown by all of these CAM for conditions caused by injury, usually therapists are reluctant to work on such patients for fear of the therapy causing further damage. In the case of therapies, homoeopathy, biofeedback and aromatherapy, no selectivity towards treating injuries was shown and for herbalism, hypnotherapy, colour therapy, Tai Chi and ayurveda actual avoidance for this type of condition occurred. This result could be explained by the type of CAM they are: biofeedback, colour therapy and hypnotherapy are ´mind` therapies; herbalism, homoeopathy, and ayurveda involving the taking of substances. Since Tai Chi requires considerable stretching and movement it is unlikely that any injury would be helped by such a therapy and so this therapy would not normally be suggested. Activation of compensatory systems may also be a part of how these therapies work.  

It is also possible that activation of compensatory mechanisms occurs in the therapies ayurveda, hypnotherapy, herbalism, biofeedback and Tai Chi. Although no selectivity for injuries was observed, the above control values seen with conditions caused by mechanical failure indicate that the mechanism by which these therapies work may include stimulation of systems that help the body cope with challenges on its physiological balance. A possible explanation is the ´whole body` effect of the therapies.  

It is unlikely that activation of repair systems or compensatory systems occurs in aromatherapy, homoeopathy and colour therapy. In the cases of homoeopathy and colour therapy this is a likely result: homoeopathy involving the taking of substances which have been shown to activate the immune system (previous section); colour therapy involving the ´mind` and expression of innermost thoughts. A suitable explanation for why aromatherapy does not appear to select these types of conditions is not so clear. Aromatherapy involves the manipulation of the body, like shiatsu, acupressure etc. using oils or inhalation of oils but in these other cases the therapies seem to select both types of condition. This is not seen with aromatherapy.

Do the selected therapies favour conditions caused by an unhealthy lifestyle?

Results

The favouritism of the CAM for conditions, which would be traditionally diagnosed as caused by an unhealthy lifestyle in general and also individual factors such as stress or other mental imbalance, smoking, alcohol and diet was investigated. Also studied was the relationship between prevention of this type of condition and the advice given about lifestyle in therapy sessions.  

Results of the study on unhealthy lifestyle in general were:

CONTROL (20)

Alexander technique (24)

Aromatherapy (34)

Biofeedback (45)

 

Acupressure (24)

Tai Chi (35)

Colour therapy (58)

 

Hypnotherapy (27)

Ayurveda (35)

 

 

Homoeopathy (28)

Acupuncture (36)

 

 

Shiatsu (29)

Reflexology (39)

 

 

Osteopathy (30)

Herbalism (40)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Favouritism Favouritism Favouritism

(Figures in brackets indicate the percentage of the total showing favouritism or avoidance for this type of condition. )

Results of studies on individual factors – alcohol, smoking and diet:

 

Alcohol Smoking Diet

Dietary advice in CAM session

 

 

 

 

Osteopathy (7)

 

 

 

CONTROL (9)

CONTROL (7)

CONTROL (8)

 

 

Homoeopathy (9)

 

 

Alexander (10)

Alexander (10)

Alexander (15)

 

Aromatherapy (10)

 

 

 

Colour therapy (11)

Colour therapy (11)

 

 

Ayurveda (9)

 

Ayurveda (16)

Ayurveda

 

 

Homoeopathy (15)

 

 

 

Hypnotherapy (16)

 

 

Osteopathy (11)

Osteopathy (16)

Osteopathy

Shiatsu (13)

Shiatsu (12)

Shiatsu (17)

Shiatsu

 

 

Tai Chi (18)

 

 

Aromatherapy (14)

Aromatherapy (21)

 

Homoeopathy (14)

 

 

 

Acupressure (15)

Acupressure (17)

Acupressure (21)

Acupressure

Acupuncture (15)

Acupuncture (16)

Acupuncture (22)

 

Reflexology (16)

Reflexology (16)

 

Reflexology

Hypnotherapy (16)

Hypnotherapy (16)

 

 

Herbalism (17)

Herbalism (19)

Herbalism (21)

Herbalism

 

Ayurveda (19)

 

 

Biofeedback (25)

Biofeedback (23)

Biofeedback (25)

 

Tai Chi (23)

Tai Chi (29)

 

 

 

 

Reflexology (27)

 

 

 

Colour therapy (32)

 

(Figures in brackets indicate the percentage of the total showing favouritism or avoidance for this type of condition.  )

Results of the study on having a mental role in the cause of the condition:

Where there is a mental role in the cause included conditions caused by stress and those caused by other factors eg. anorexia nervosa.

CONTROL (17)

Acupressure (24)

Homoeopathy (33)

Acupuncture (46)

Colour therapy (58)

Ayurveda (13)

 

Osteopathy (34)

Herbalism (48)

Aromatherapy (62)

 

 

Shiatsu (34)

Reflexology (50)

Biofeedback (66)

 

 

Tai Chi (35)

Alexander treatment (51)

Hypnotherapy (69)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Favouritism Favouritism Favouritism Favouritism

(Figures in brackets indicate the percentage of the total showing favouritism or avoidance for this type of condition. )

Results of the study of the relationship between treatment of conditions which are preventable by the individual leading a healthy lifestyle and those CAM treatments where advice about healthy living practices are included in the therapy sessions: 

CONTROL (23)

Homoeopathy (33)

Hypnotherapy (44)

Acupressure (52)

Biofeedback (57)

 

Ayurveda (38)

Herbalism (46)

Acupuncture (53)

Reflexology (61)

 

 

Alexander technique (46)

Colour therapy (53)

 

 

 

Aromatherapy (48)

 

 

 

 

Shiatsu (49)

 

 

 

 

Osteopathy (50)

 

 

 

 

Tai Chi (50)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Favouritism

Favouritism

Favouritism

Favouritism

( Figures in brackets indicate the percentage of the total showing favouritism or avoidance for this type of condition,.and underlined therapies indicate those that include advice on healthy living practices in the therapy session.)

General Conclusions

  • All the therapies studied here favoured conditions caused by unhealthy lifestyles. In general the manipulation therapies showed less selectivity towards this type of condition than the others. Biofeedback and colour therapy ( therapies involving the ´mind`) showed the highest values, between two and three times greater selectivity than the control.  

  • The hierarchy of favouritism for conditions caused by individual factors was similar for some therapies (Alexander technique, shiatsu, acupuncture, acupressure, herbalism, biofeedback) and not for others. The pattern of hierarchy was similar for smoking- and alcohol-caused conditions in the cases of colour therapy, reflexology, hypnotherapy and Tai Chi but diet produced different results. These results did not correlate to auxiliary factors such as dietary advice, which may be included in the therapy sessions.   
  • As expected the therapies involving the mind, e.g. hypnotherapy, biofeedback, colour therapy showed greatest favouritism for conditions, where the mind plays a role in the condition`s cause. However aromatherapy also showed a high selectivity for this type of condition. This and aromatherapy`s non-selectivity for conditions caused by injury or mechanical failure suggest that the therapeutic value of aromatherapy involves the mind in contrast to other ´manipulation` therapies. A possible explanation is that the use of the oils stimulate the olfactory senses which directly influence the ´mind`/consciousness/cognitive powers leading to the responses rather than the manipulation.  
  • All the therapies favour conditions, where the condition could be prevented by a change in lifestyle to a healthier one, albeit to varying degrees. It must be remembered that most CAM are primarily a ´whole body` approach to health. This means often that the therapy consists of many factors, e.g. discussion of present lifestyle, exercise, breathing etc. Therefore success of a therapy is likely to include conditions that can be prevented by the patient changing his lifestyle.

Do the selected therapies favour conditions, which traditionally would include pain relief in their treatment?

Results

The favouritism of CAM for conditions, which traditionally would include pain relief as part of the treatment, was investigated and the results showing favouritism or avoidance for this type of condition were:

Hypnotherapy (20)

CONTROL (25)

Homoeopathy (35)

Aromatherapy (45)

Shiatsu (56)

Colour therapy (21)

Tai Chi (23)

Herbalism (37)

Reflexology (45)

Acupressure (62)

 

Ayurveda (25)

Biofeedback (39)

Alexander treatment (46)

Osteopathy (66)

 

 

 

Acupuncture (49)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Avoidance

 

Favouritism Favouritism Favouritism

(Figures in brackets indicate the percentage of the total.)

Conclusions

With the exception of hypnotherapy, colour therapy, Tai Chi and Ayurveda the other therapies all favour conditions, which would traditionally be treated with pain relief. Activation of pain systems is likely to occur in acupressure, osteopathy, shiatsu, acupuncture, reflexology  (highest for the ´manipulation` therapies) and herbalism and homoeopathy (lowest favouritism) and biofeedback. Acupuncture is known to release endorphins, which play a major role in pain systems. It is therefore likely that other ´manipulation` therapies produce the same effect. It is also possible that by manipulation, frozen joints, aching muscles etc. are helped and therefore pain diminishes. Therapies involving the ´mind` are unlikely to produce such a response, although it is known that distraction can lessen the perception of pain. From the results given here, some therapies are not considered suitable for eliciting pain relief. Biofeedback may allow the patient to control his perception of pain and this may explain why the value is higher than the control.

GENERAL CONCLUSIONS  

Over the past years there has been a general increase in the use of CAM in health care in western society. Traditional medicines and medical techniques are under stringent controls and have undergone strict testing before being allowed. For example the metabolism of a drug, its side effects and shelf life are all known before it can be administered in traditional western medical treatment. The same rigorous testing procedure does not seem to apply to CAM therapies. Surprisingly little is known about most therapies and the information that is known is often unsubstantiated, biased or vague.  Some therapies are remedying this by issuing standards of practice, e.g. lists of recognised practitioners and publishing findings in specialised publications. There is a generalised awareness that this is necessary because today`s patients do not accept the ´well, take this tablet three times a day and you`ll feel better in three days`- type of approach to their health care anymore. Patients are better informed, taking an active interest in their condition and treatment, challenging medical opinions and enforcing a right to choose from the options before them. This is one reason why patients are turning towards CAM and away from traditional western medicine. They feel better by being active and even if there is no success from one therapy they are willing to try another.

So, why was this particular study carried out?

It was carried out to help elucidate on which physiological systems some of the CAM work. The premise used was if a particular physiological system is activated by a therapy and a positive effect is seen then that therapy would show selectivity for a particular type of condition. For example, if a therapy activates the immune system then it would show selectivity for conditions caused by infections. To show if a therapy does show selectivity then the therapy has to be compared to a control. In this case, the control sample was 550 conditions diagnosed and treated by western medicine. The conditions had a wide-ranging set of causes and treatments and therefore it showed what the occurrence would be of a particular type of condition if there was no preference. The CAM values were compared to the control and selectivity was said to occur if the value exceeded the control by 10% and avoidance lower than the control by 10%. For example, if the occurrence of infections in western medicine is 39% of the conditions treated, then for any CAM where the conditions treated would be traditionally diagnosed as caused by infections is more than 43%, then it is said that this therapy shows a preference for this type of condition. The assumption was then made, if the therapy shows success in treating this type of condition then specific physiological systems are being activated.

 

A word of caution should be mentioned here. Most CAM practitioners advocate a  ´wholistic` approach. However, it was possible to find information sources where conditions treated where named and this data was often duplicated. The naming of specific conditions is possibly because of patients´ expectations. Patients are used to diagnosis by western standards, being given specific names and even require it for reporting to work, friends and family. It may also influence a patient`s decision when choosing treatment options and therefore although many CAM therapies follow a whole body approach to health, many practitioners do cite specific conditions.

 

What did this study show?

  • This study showed ´real effects` since no therapy claimed 100% treatment of any one type of condition and varying levels of favouritism were seen. Surprisingly, it showed in some cases quite low levels of selectivity so that often significance is suspect. For example if out of 550 conditions, 35% of them are of one type and for a therapy treating only 70 conditions, 40% are of that type is this enough to say that this therapy shows a preference for this type of condition? There were in some cases definite differences but in no case is a 100% selectivity shown. The selectivity towards certain conditions shown in this study may help in recommending particular therapies.
  • It is likely that the therapies work by activation of multiple physiological systems (see Table A), thus supporting therapists claims of ´whole body` effects. The ´manipulation` therapies show the most wide ranging effects, and colour therapy, hypnotherapy, Tai Chi and ayurveda the most specific effects. The role of the mind appears to be important in all of the CAM with the exception of ayurveda whereas activation of the immune system is likely to be brought about by only a few CAM.
  • Conditions with multiple causes, auxiliary factors as part of the therapy sessions, biasness of reporting techniques may mask true effects of the therapies. The placebo effect may also play a role. Patients feel better by being active in their treatment, being given information or simply enjoying it. Further studies are necessary to elucidate the mechanisms but the study may indicate where research efforts could be directed. A multi-prong approach would be ideal although whether a patient can relax if strapped to machines etc. is a question that needs to be answered before complicated and expensive medical studies begin.

Table A – Summary of Possible Mechanisms of Action of the Selected Therapies

 

 

Pain system

involvement

Activation of  immune system (favouritism for conditions with infections as cause)

Increased healing/repair systems or activation of compensatory systems

(favouritism for conditions with mechanical failure as cause or unhealthy lifestyle)

Increased

healing/repair

systems

(favouritism for conditions with injury as cause)

Mental role in therapy

(favouritism for conditions with mental role in cause)

 

 

 

 

 

 

´Manipulation therapies´

 

Acupressure

YES,

high level

YES,

low level

 

YES,

Low or medium level

YES,

low level

YES,

low level

 

Acupuncture

YES, medium level

CONFLICTING

control level in general but favouritism for bacterial and viral infections and irritants

 

YES,

low level

 

YES,

low level

 

YES,

medium level

 

Aromatherapy

YES,

Medium level

CONFLICTING

Avoidance in general but favouritism for viral infections and irritants.

CONFLICTING

Control for mechanical failure, medium level for lifestyle

NO,

control

YES;

High level

Osteopathy

YES,

high level

NO,

avoidance but low level for viral infections

 

YES,

Medium/high level

YES,

low level

 

YES,

low level

 

Reflexology

YES,

medium level

CONFLICTING

Avoidance in general but favouritism for bacterial and viral infections and irritants

 

YES,

medium level

 

NO,

control

 

YES,

medium level

 

Shiatsu

YES,

high level

YES,

low level

YES,

low level

YES,

medium level

 

YES,

low level

 

Therapies involving ´mind´

 (pain)

 (immune)

 (healing mech. failure)

 (healing injury)

(mental role)

Biofeedback

YES,

low level

NO,

strong avoidance

 

YES,

high level

 

NO,

control

 

YES,

high level

 

Colour therapy

NO,

control

NO;

But low level favouritsm for viral infections

CONFLICTING

Control for mechanical failure but high selectivity for unhealthy lifestyle

NO,

avoidance

YES,

High level

Hypnotherapy

NO,

avoidance

NO,

strong avoidance

 

YES,

Low/medium level

 

NO,

avoidance

 

YES,

high level

 

Therapies involving ´substances´

 (pain)

 (immune)

 (healing mech. failure)

 (healing injury)

(mental role) 

Herbalism

YES,

low level

NO,

Avoidance in general but low favouritism for viral infections and irritants

 

YES,

Low level

 

NO,

avoidance

 

YES,

medium level

 

Homoeopathy

YES,

low level

YES,

medium level

 

NO,

control

NO,

control

 

YES,

low level

 

Therapies involving ´movement´

 (pain)

 (immune)

 (healing mech failure)

 (healing injury)

 (mental role)

Alexander technique

YES,

Medium level

NO;

avoidance

YES,

Medium level

YES;

High level

YES,

Medium level

Tai Chi

NO,

control

NO,

avoidance

YES

Medium level

NO,

avoidance

YES,

Low level

Other

 

 

 

 

 

Ayurveda

NO,

control

NO,

But low level favouritism for viral infections

YES,

Medium/low level

NO,

avoidance

NO,

control

APPENDIX 1 - GENERAL DETAILS ABOUT THE SELECTED THERAPIES

ACUPRESSURE

Roots  

  • China
  • Based on life energy with acupressure points lying along meridians.  

Technique/Procedure

  • Pressure placed on points with hand, fingers, sprayed water etc.
  • Self-help possible.
  • Basis of many other CAM – Do-In, Shiatsu, Qiqong.
  • Practitioners enquire about general health, lifestyle etc.  

Explanations

From CAM perspective: Stimulation of points, frees energy flow within meridians.  

From traditional science: The manipulation simulates massage, which promotes psychological and physiological systems. The skin, muscles, blood arteries and veins, lymph glands, nerves and organs are all affected and by more intense pressure the immune system, circulatory system, lymphatic system, digestive system. Sensory nerve endings in the skin react to the pressure and messages are sent to the spine and then passed to brain. It is said that nerve impulses indicating relaxation dominate pain messages so that the brain does not register or experiences a diminished level of pain. It is thought that the nerve impulses release endorphins, which dampen pain system, induce a ´feel-good´ factor, hence lifting mood and increasing confidence.  

List of conditions said to be helped by acupressure

AIDS/HIV

headache

pain

allergy

impotence

palpitations

anxiety

incontinence

period problems

apathy/fatigue

indigestion

piles

asthma

infections

pneumonia

back pain

infertility

pregnancy,diseases of

bronchitis

influenza

premenstrual tension

catarrh

insomnia

rheumatoid arthritis

chicken pox

measles

sciatica

chilblains

menopause

shoulder pain

childbirth pain

migraine

sinusitis

cold sores

motion sickness

stones in the urinary tract

colic

multiple sclerosis

stress/tension

common cold

nausea

tendon, rupture of

constipation

neck pain

toothache

diarrhoea

neuralgia

vertigo

drug abuse/withdrawal

obesity

 

fainting attack

osteoarthritis

 

fever

otitis externa

 

german measles

otitis media

 

List of information sources (2003)

Das Grosse Buch der Alternativen Heilverfahren (Koenemann Verlagsgesellschaft, Germany (2000))

Health.yahoo.com

www.compwellness.com

www.dishant.com/acupressure/cures.html

www.islandnet/~bcata/whatis.html  

                                                                                                             (Back to study aim)

ACUPUNCTURE

Roots

  • China. 300-100BC  
  • Based on life energy with acupuncture points lying along Meridians.

Technique/Procedure

  • Insertion of needles along meridians at specific points.
  • Basis of other therapies – laser-acupuncture, TENS, moxibustion, auriculotherapy.  

Explanations

From CAM perspective: Insertion of needles  leads to release of blockage of Qi flow.  

From traditional science: Specific physiological effects catalogued eg. rise in red/white blood cell counts, change in heart rate. Could stimulate body´s own regenerative powers, increase circulation, release body´s own endorphins and opoids, changes in release of brain neurotransmitters and neurohormones. Naloxone blocks acupuncture response.  

List of conditions said to be helped by acupuncture

achalaisa of the carda

gastritis

poliomyelitis

acid regurgitation

gingivitis

polyneuropathy

allergy

hayfever

pregnancy,diseases of

anorexia

headache

premenstrual syndrome

anxiety

hiccups

prickly heat

apathy/fatigue

hypertension

rheumatoid arthritis

asthma

incontinence

rhinitis

back pain

indigestion

sciatica

bedwetting

infections

shoulder pain

bowel, irritable

influenza

sinusitis

bronchitis

insomnia

slipped disc

bulimia

itching

smoking, stopping

carpal tunnel syndrome

joint problems

sports injuries

cataract

menieres disease

sprains

catarrh

menopause

stress/tension

chronic fatigue syndrome

migraine

stroke

colitis, ulcerative

mouth ulcers

sweating, excessive

common cold

myopia

tendonitis

conjunctivitis

nausea

tennis elbow

constipation

neck pain

tension headaches

depression

neuralgia

tinnitus

diarrhoea

oesophagus, stricture of

tonsillitis

drug abuse/withdrawal

osteoarthritis

toothache

duodenal ulcer

pain

trigeminal neuralgia

dysentery

palpitations

urticaria

eczema

period problems

weight control

fibrositis/fibromyalgia

pharyngitis

wind

 

 

 

List of information sources (2003) 

Health.yahoo.com

www.acucouncil.org/conditions_treated.htm

www.medicalacupuncture.org  

                                                                                                 (Back to study aim) 

ALEXANDER TECHNIQUE  

Roots

Developed around 1890 by F. Matthias Alexander to cure his own voice affliction.  

Technique/Procedure

  • Movement and posture assessed by therapist and then corrected for all activities.
  • Taught also how to breathe properly.  

Explanations

From CAM perspective: Does not heal but increases body awareness so preventative. Correct movements and posture taught so hindering complications later. Habits corrected with conscious control over every movement. Movement without pain, better coordination, relaxation cited as advantages.  

List of conditions said to be helped by the Alexander technique

Angina

Fibrositis/fibromyalgia

Parkinson´s disease

Ankylosing spondylitis

Hay fever

Period problems

Anorexia nervosa

Headache

Phobias

Anxiety

Hernia

Pregnancy, conditions in

Asthma

Insomnia

Premenstrual syndrome

Back pain

Knee problems

Rheumatoid arthritis

Bowel, irritable

Leg cramps

Sciatica

Bulimia

Migraine

Shoulder pain

Carpal tunnel syndrome

Motion sickness

Sinusitis

Chronic fatigue syndrome

Multiple sclerosis

Slipped disc

Constipation

Neck pain

Speech disorders

Depression

Osteoporosis

Stress/tension

Duodenal ulcer

pain

Temperomandibular joint synd.

 

 

tendinitis

 

 

Uterus, prolapse

 

 

Whiplash injury

 

 

 

List of information sources (2003) 

 Das Grosse Buch der Alternativen Heilverfahren

www.alexanderworks.org.uk

www.alexandertechniqueutah.com

www.internethealthlibrary.com  

                                                                                    (Back to study aim)

 

AROMATHERAPY

Roots

Dates back 5,000 years, earliest writings in China 2000 years ago. Present in many cultures.  

Technique/Procedure

  • Specific essential oils extracted from raw organic material are applied to skin or breathed in.
  • Application may include massage.  

Explanations

From CAM perspective: Particular essential oils have specific effects. Oils can influence mood and emotions and have mild physiological effects, which can bring about relief.

From traditional science: Inhalation of an aroma leads to stimulation of the olfactory nerves at the back of the nose. Messages are sent to the olfactory bulb in the brains limbic system, which then probably leads to the stimulation of the hypothalamus (leads to influence on ANS system and in cooperation with pituitary regulation of female sex hormones and control of appetite) and the pituitary (plays a part in regulation of hormone production by all glands

  • Lachrymal
  • Salivary
  • Thyroid (responsible for sex organ development, T lymphocyte production)
  • Parathyroid (maintains balance of calcium and phosphorous in blood and bone)
  • Adrenal (controls potassium and sodium levels, stimulates storage of glucose and affects production of sex hormones. Produces adrenalin,  an important vasoconstrictor which can increase blood pressure, increases blood sugar. Activated by strong emotions like excitement, fear, anger.)
  • Pancreas (a part produces insulin)
  • Pituitary itself (secretes many hormones including growth-promoting hormone, hormones for male and female gonad activity, hormones in regulation of thyroid and adrenals, uterine muscles, mammary glands, kidneys)  

Absorption of essential oils through skin leads to oil being absorbed into blood stream and circulation is dependent on subject taking 70 minutes to 6hours. There it can trigger immune system by locking onto particular molecules and sending a signal to produce the T cells and B-cells. Or it can increase the level of vitamins, minerals, proteins, acids etc in body and seek out parts of body deficient in these to readdress the balance.  

List of conditions said to be helped by aromatherapy

Acne vulgaris

Chronic fatigue syndrome

Migraine

Allergy

Common cold

Nausea

Alopecia areata

Constipation

Pain

Anorexia nervosa

Depression

Period problems

Anxiety

Eczema

Phobias

Asthma

Headache

Pregnancy. Conditions in

Back pain

Infections

Premenstrual syndrome

Bowel irritable

Influenza

Rheumatoid arthritis

Bronchitis

Insomnia

Sinusitis

bulimia

menopause

Stress/tension

 

 

 

List of information sources (2003)

Das Grosse Buch der Alternativen Heilverfahren

www.healthywaymagazine.com

www.rosemountcentre.com/aromatherapy_info.htm

www.wellbeing-resources.co.uk

www.fertilityfreinds.co.uk

www.wholehealthmd.com  

                                                                                             (Back to study aim)

AYURVEDA

Roots

India, 3000 years old. Possible that Pythagoras and Hippocrates also used therapy.  

Technique/Procedure

Patient assessed and classified according to which characteristics they have. They then follow advice on diet, lifestyle etc particular to their type. Cleansing of body by herb preparations, aromatherapy, massage, movements, breathing and mediation can all be a part of the individual treatment.  

Explanations

From CAM perspective: Treats body and soul. Therapy based on the five elements; fire, water, earth, air and space. Each element has its own characteristics and people follow pattern of own Dosha. Very complex.  

List of conditions said to be helped by ayurveda

Acne vulgaris

Constipation

Influenza

Allergy

Dementia

Insomnia

Alzheimers disease

Depression

Menopause

Anaemia

Diabetes

Obesity

Anxiety

Duodenal ulcer

Pain

Asthma

Dysmenorrhoea

Parkinson´s disease

Bowel, irritable

Fibroids, uterine

Premenstrual syndrome

Bronchitis

Fibrositis/fibromyalgia

Raynaud´s syndrome

Chronic fatigue syndrome

Heart disease, ischaemic

Rheumatoid arthritis

Colitis, ulcerative

Herpes simplex

Stress/tension

Common cold

hypertension

tonsillitis

 

 

 

List of information sources (2003)

Das Grosse Buch der Alternativen Heilverfahren

www.ehendrick.org/healthy/00174.htm

www.medicalayurveda.com/index2.html

www.umm.edu/altmed/consmodalities/Ayurvedacm.html  

 

                                                                                         (Back to study aim) 

 

BIOFEEDBACK

Roots  

Pioneered in 1960s by Dr J. Kamiya.  

Technique/Procedure

Patients learn to control involuntary functions. Initially connected to an instrument that will demonstrate the function he wishes to control. Later patient can sense when he needs biofeedback.  

List of conditions said to be helped by biofeedback

alcoholism

epilepsy

phobia

allergy

fainting attack

Raynaud´s syndrome

anxiety

fibrositis

salpingitis

apathy/fatigue

gastric ulcer

shoulder pain

asthma

hyperactivity

smoking, stopping

atheroma

hypertension

stroke

back pain

hypotension

temperomandibular joint syndrome

bowel, irritable

incontinence

tennis elbow

bruxism (teeth grinding)

insomnia

tension headache

cerebral palsy

knee problems

tinnitus

constipation

migraine

Tourette syndrome

depression

motion sickness

 

diabetes

oesophagitis

 

duodenal ulcer

osteoarthritis

 

dysphagia

pain

 

encopresis

phantom limb pain

 

 

 

 

List of information sources (2003)

Das Grosse Buch der Alternativen Heilverfahren

Health.yahoo.com

www.biofeedback.co.za

www.holisticonline.com/biofeedback.html

www.psychotherapy.com/bio.html  

 

                                                                                        (Back to study aim)

COLOUR THERAPY

Roots

Ancient unproven theory.  

Technique/procedure

Practitioner studies patient´s aura. Various remedies using light and colour are suggested eg. use of coloured fabrics, sunlight, breathing whilst thinking of certain colours.  

Explanations

From CAM perspective: There is a natural spectrum of 8 colours, which correspond to 24 vertebrae of the spine and 12 bones of sacrum and skull. The energy pattern of the body can be recognised through colour of the aura. Illness, which alters this energy pattern can be corrected using forms and colours such as being bathed in the light, wrapped in coloured material, surrounded by those colours.  

From traditional science: SAD complaint, which is dependent on the lack of natural sunlight and the effects of colour on emotions, eg. red denoting anger are documented. Proven that light or absence of light has effect on hypothalamus, pineal and pituitary glands and subsequently on our physical and mental states.  

List of conditions helped by colour therapy

Acne vulgaris

Asthma

Migraine

AIDS/HIV

Compulsive obsess beh

Multiple sclerosis

Alcoholism

Constipation

Neuralgia

Allergy

Depression

Period problems

Alopecia areata

Hyperactivity

Rheumatoid arthritis

Anaemia

Hypertension

Stress/tension

anxiety

insomnia

 

 

 

 

List of information sources

Das Grosse Buch der Alternativen Heilverfahren

www. Bonasana.com/who/artman/publish/article_48.shtml

www.internethealthlibrary.com  

 

                                                                                            (Back to study aim)

HERBALISM

Roots

Found in many cultures. Oldest form of medicine known. John Parkinson wrote a compendium of 3,800 plants in 1640.  

Technique/Procedure

Patients are assessed by examination and discussion and underlying cause of condition sought and identified. Once identified, remedies are prescribed for specific causes. Remedies are herbal drugs, which are extracts from a part of a whole plant and given as infusions or tinctures.  

Explanations

From CAM perspective: Drugs used in western medicine are often based on single plant constituents. Herbalists believe that active constituents of plants are balanced within the plant and are made more or less powerful by the numerous other substances present.  

List of conditions said to be helped by herbalism

acid regurgitation

ileatis, regional

rhinitis

acne vulgaris

indigestion

stress/tension

allergy

infertility

tension headache

angina pectoris

influenza

tonsillitis

apathy/fatigue

insomnia

varicose ulcers

asthma

menopause

varicose veins

bowel, irritable

migraine

wind

common cold

nausea

 

depression

osteoarthritis

 

diabetes

pain

 

diverticular disease of the colon

period problems

 

eczema

piles

 

gastric ulcer

premenstrual tension

 

hypertension

psoriasis

 

 

 

 

List of information sources (2003)

 www.alternativecomplimentaryhealth.co.uk/herbalmedicine.htm

www.btinternet.com/~nimh/faqs.html

www.homepage.ntworld.com/xenosce/ThelshtaCentre/medicalherbalism.html

www.southernacupuncture.com/herbs.asp  

                                                                               (Back to study aim) 

HOMOEOPATHY

Roots

Law of Similars first reported by Hippocrates in 5th century BC and seen in many cultures but codified later by Dr Samuel Hahnemann in 1796.

Technique/Procedure

Patient is assessed by examination and discussion. Symptoms are matched to compounds using Materia Medica.  

Explanations

From CAM perspective: The body contains a vital, natural force, which drives the human being and integrates the body, soul and mind. Remedies act on this vital force and are selected to produce the same symptoms as the illness. A cure is affected from above downwards, from within outwards, from more important organ to lesser in reverse order of the symptoms. Homoeopathic solutions are extremely dilute solutions.  

From traditional science: The extreme dilution of the compounds is controversial. Beneviste suggested that the molecules maintained a ´memory´ of the chemical and so is not affected by the diluting process. Experiments have not yet proven hypothesis.  

 

List of conditions said to be helped by homoeopathy

acid regurgitation

endometriosis

otitis media

allergy

fibroids, uterine

ovarian cyst

anxiety

fistula in ano

paranoia

appendicitis

gastric ulcer

phobia

asthma

gastroenteritis

piles

back pain

genital herpes

pneumonia

bronchitis

hepatitis

psoriasis

chicken pox

hyperactivity

respiratory infection

cold sores

ileatis, regional

rhinitis

colic

influenza

sinusitis

colitis ulcerative

irritability

stones in the urinary tract

common cold

jaundice

stress/tension

compulsive obsessional behaviour

larynx, growth in

tonsillitis

corns

measles

tuberculosis

cystitis

meningitis

urethritis

depression

migraine

urticaria

diabetes

mumps

vaginitus/vulvitis

dysentery

nasal polyp

warts

eating disorders

nausea

 

eczema

neurosis

 

 

 

 

List of information sources (2003)

www.classicalhomoeopathy.com/lifeforce/which.htm

www.homeopathyindia.org/awar.ill.htm

www.homoeopathyuk.org/homoeo.html

www.radar-uk.co.uk/practice.htm  

                                                                                               (Back to study aim)

 

HYPNOTHERAPY

Roots

Hypnotic trances found in Druid and ancient Greek cultures. Medical hypnosis was introduced in 18th century by the Austrian, Dr FA Mesmer but did not receive recognition until much later.  

Technique/Procedure

Patient is asked to lie down and hypnotherapist leads the patient into relaxed state. The subject has to concentrate and focus on what the therapist says and the therapist must be able to induce a state of deep relaxation through simple suggestion. Material is either placed in the subconscious or taken out. At the end, the hypnotherapist counts backwards 5 to 1 and on the count of 1 the subject resumes the normal state of consciousness.  

Explanations

From CAM perspective: Hypnotherapy allows problems to be helped by suspending conscious mind and allowing subconscious mind, which is more amenable to suggestion to take over.  

List of conditions said to be helped by hypnotherapy

alcoholism

headache

psoriasis

anorexia nervosa

hypertension

Raynaud´s syndrome

anxiety

ileatis, regional

restless legs syndrome

asthma

insomnia

smoking, stopping

bowel, irritable

migraine

stress/tension

bruxism (teeth grinding)

nail biting

tinnitus

childbirth pain

nausea

Tourette syndrome

compulsive obsessional behaviour

obesity

warts

dandruff

osteoarthritis

weight control

depression

pain

 

drug abuse/withdrawal

period problems

 

duodenal ulcer

personality problems

 

eczema

phobia

 

gastric ulcer

premenstrual tension

 

 

 

 

List of information sources (2003)

Das Grosse Buch der Alternativen Heilverfahren

Health.yahoo.com

www.hypno-analysis.co.uk

www.hypnosisdate.com

www.richardparsons.net  

                                                                                        (Back to study aim)

 

OSTEOPATHY

Roots

Developed from chiropractic medicine by Andrew Taylor Still and officially recognised in 1972.  

Technique/Procedure

First sessions will see the therapist talking to the patient about his lifestyle and health. Breathing, muscle tone etc will be looked at while the patient moves and carries out normal tasks. The skeleton will then be manipulated in different ways.

Explanations

From CAM perspective: Practitioners believe that ill health comes from the changes and damage in the skeleton, muscles, tendons etc that is caused by incorrect posture, accidents, operations, infections etc. It is possible to heal and to restore good health through manipulation of the skeletal system.  

From traditional science: Correction of posture, massage and the stimulation of the lymphatic system may bring about the effects seen.  

List of conditions said to be helped by osteopathy

acid regurgitation

hernia

sinusitis

allergy

hypertension

slipped disc

asthma

joint problems

sports injuries

back pain

migraine

stress/tension

bowel, irritable

neck pain

tennis elbow

bronchitis

osteoarthritis

tenosynovitis

carpal tunnel syndrome

otitis externa

tension headache

cerebral palsy

otitis media

whiplash injury

chronic fatigue syndrome

period problems

 

colic

pregnancy, conditions in

 

fibrositis

respiratory infection

 

frozen shoulder

sciatica

 

 

 

 

List of information sources (2003)

Das Grosse Buch der Alternativen Heilverfahren

www.healthandage.com

www.martex.co.uk/ostoepath/malvernorchard/condition.htm

www.medformation.com/mf/CAMns/consmodalities/ostoepathy.htm

www.stillpointhealth.com

www.wholisticresearch.com  

                                                                                                (Back to study aim)

REFLEXOLOGY

Roots

Practiced in 3000 BC but attributed to Dr Fitzgerald and Eunice Ingham around 1930.  

Technique/Procedure

Pressure is applied in a systematic way to the feet (or hands).  

Explanations

From CAM perspective: Life energy flows in meridians. Every part of body is mirrored in the feet and the hands and the meridians end there. Each important organ and muscle is connected by a network of nerves to a tiny point on the foot or the hand where the energy terminates. Disruption of the energy flow leads to ill health. Manipulation of the points on the hands or feet leads to freeing of blockages (crystalline deposits formed at the nerve endings) and balance is restored with improved vitality, disappearance of disease symptoms and restoration of health.  

From traditional science: The pressure applied to the nerve endings in the feet or hands sets nerve impulses passing through afferent neurons to a clump of neurons outside the spinal cord called the ganglia. In the ganglia the impulse then contacts intercalated neurons and the message is taken over by efferent neurons and conveyed to the organs, muscles, glands which will then illicit a response. Endorphine release may be stimulated. The relaxation response may open blood vessels and improve circulation. Uric acid deposits in the feet may be broken down by the manipulation and the pain system may also be positively influenced.  

List of conditions said to be helped by reflexology

abdominal pain

eczema

psoriasis

abscess

epilepsy

respiratory infection

acne vulgaris

gastric ulcer

rhinitis

allergy

genital herpes

sciatica

anaemia

hernia

sinusitis

angina pectoris

hypertension

stones in the urinary tract

anxiety

insomnia

stress/tension

appendicitis

limp

stroke

asthma

lymph gland abnormalities

tension headache

back pain

menopause

throat, sore

bowel, irritable

migraine

toothache

bronchitis

multiple sclerosis

vertigo

cancer

nausea

wind

catarrh

neck pain

 

cold sores

neuralgia

 

constipation

osteoarthritis

 

diabetes

parkinson´s disease

 

diarrhoea

piles

 

duodenal ulcer

premenstrual tension

 

 

 

 

List of information sources (2003)

Das Grosse Buch der Alternativen Heilverfahren

Health.yahoo.com

www.familiesonline.co.uk

www.geocities.com/simashealththerapy

www.gloucesterhealth.co.uk

www.ofesite.com/health/reflex/remedy/index.htm  

                                                                                       (Back to study aim)

 

SHIATSU

Roots

6th century Japanese origins. Different forms.  

Technique/Procedure

Patient is assessed through examination of several areas eg stomach, spine and  pressure is placed on points using the palm, fingers or thumbs. The pressure is maintained for 5-6 seconds, 3-4 times during the massage session.  

Explanations

From CAM perspective: Energy, chi,  flows in particular paths and every organ has for 2 hours daily its peak chi flow.  Pressure points on the meridians when stimulated by pressure from palms, fingers or thumbs release blockages, stimulate flow and restore body function.  

From traditional science: The manipulation simulates massage, which promotes psychological and physiological systems. The skin, muscles, blood arteries and veins, lymph glands, nerves and organs are all affected and by more intense pressure the immune system, circulatory system, lymphatic system, digestive system. Sensory nerve endings in the skin react to the pressure and messages are sent to the spine and then passed to brain. It is said that nerve impulses indicating relaxation dominate pain messages so that the brain does not register or experiences a diminished level of pain. It is thought that the nerve impulses release endorphins, which dampen pain system, induce a ´feel-good´ factor, hence lifting mood and increasing confidence.  

List of conditions said to be helped by shiatsu

AIDS/HIV infection

endometriosis

period problems

anaemia

fainting attack

premenstrual tension

angina pectoris

fibroids, uterine

respiratory infection

anxiety

gastric ulcer

sciatica

apathy/fatigue

headache

shoulder pain

asthma

hypertension

sinusitis

back pain

insomnia

sports injuries

bowel, irritable

irritability

sprain

bronchitis

itching

stress/tension

common cold

jaundice

throat, sore

compulsive obsessional behaviour

joint problems

vertigo

constipation

migraine

 

depression

multiple sclerosis

 

diarrhoea

neck pain

 

diverticular disease of the colon

osteoarthritis

 

 

 

 

List of information sources (2003)

Das Grosse Buch der Alternativen Heilverfahren

www.holisticonline.com

www.japaneseacupuncture.ca/shiatsu/

www.shiatsu.org

www.tatzstudio.net/conditions_treated.html  

                                                                                      (Back to study aim)

 

TAI CHI

Roots

Formerly a Chinese fighting sport, now seen as restoring harmony of Yin and Yang.  

Technique/Procedure

Relaxed, specific movements promoting agility, strength and freedom of movement in the individual. Correct breathing also important.  

Explanations

From CAM perspective: Practitioners believe in 3 principles: existence of qi, Taoism and Yin and Yang. Movements restore the flow of qi and maximises its flow.

List of conditions said to be helped by Tai Chi

AIDS/HIV

Falls

Multiple sclerosis

Angina

Heart disease, ischaemic

Osteoporosis

Anxiety

Hypertension

Rheumatoid arthritis

Back pain

Infertility

Shingles

Bowel, irritable

Insomnia

Stress/tension

depression

Menopause

stroke

 

 

 

List of information sources (2003)

Das Grosse Buch der Alternativen Heilverfahren

www.courier-journal.com

www.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/3543907.htm

                                                                            (Back to study aim)

 

APPENDIX 2 - INFORMATION SOURCES FOR CONTROL GROUP 

Readers Digest Family Medical Advisor A-Z ( The Reader´s Digest Association Limited, London (1988)

Health.yahoo.com

www.patient.co.uk  

                                                                         (Back to general method) 

APPENDIX 3 - REASONS FOR CAM POPULARITY

Here are some reasons why people are turning away from traditional western medicine and turning towards CAM:

  • People are more informed about their health and options open to them.
  • People are becoming more interested in spiritual values and more aware of the value of positive thinking.
  • CAM is a natural extension of peoples` interest in the environment and ecology.
  • People want to have more control over their health and health care.
  • Work has become more stressful and CAM is often linked with the relief of stress.
  • People are more aware of the side effects of drugs and conventional treatments.
  • Chronic conditions such as HIV, MS make people more aware of the limitations of conventional treatments.
  • The NHS is seen as no longer caring about the individual with more emphasis on budgets and finances.
  • The ´Uncle Charlie` syndrome - ´Uncle Charlie` who drinks like a fish, chain smoker, never watches his diet and lives to be 90: he who defies all medical opinions.
  • Long queues, long waits for appointments, short consultation times, overnight stays in hospital corridors all giving the impression of a lack of respect for the patient.
  • People are not prepared to accept the doctor`s view of ´take this three times a week and come back if it doesn`t go away`,  ´I haven`t time to explain what is wrong, just take this`,  ´nothing more can be done` etc.

                                                                                (Back to general conclusions)