I’m a firm believer in the power of alternative medicine. Acupuncture, chiropractic, ayurveda, oriental medicine, homeopathy and naturopathy are just a few of the many forms that CAM, or Complementary and Alternative Medicine, takes.
Other forms include yoga, tai chi, qi gong, nutrition and electromagnetic therapies. As far as the numbers go, about 38 percent of American adults use CAMs regularly. Worldwide, those numbers are significantly higher.
Way back when I was working as a nurse, I became involved with herbal remedies as a form of alternative healing. I used clove essential oils to help alleviate gum and tooth pain, oregano and eucalyptus essential oils in my vaporizer for inhalation therapy during upper respiratory infections, and turmeric powder to ease inflammation throughout my body. Once I became chronically ill, I realized that it was time to employ that old adage, “Physician, heal thyself.” Yoga, acupuncture, dietary changes and meditation proved incredibly effective for dealing with stress and pain. Thirsty for more knowledge, I began to read more about the ayurvedic practice for healing. I also discussed my plans with my physicians.
Ayurveda is a holistic approach to healing. While Western medicine focuses on treating the illness based on a list of symptoms, ayurveda uses eight different branches to appropriately diagnose and treat the whole patient. These branches include evaluation of urine, tongue, appearance, pulse, speech, touch, vision and stool. Once an assessment is complete, practitioners prescribe a diet that focuses on achieving a healthier metabolism and excreting toxins. Yoga, herbal remedies, and meditation are also employed to assist the patient in returning to optimal health. Some essential oils can also be prescribed to assist in effective healing.
As a child, I always found the aroma of cinnamon to be soothing. Mom’s frequent use of the spice encouraged me to use it often in my own baking. Cinnamon has antioxidant properties and can also help with decreasing inflammation in the body. Its truest form is Ceylon cinnamon, although most of us purchase cassia cinnamon in supermarkets. Cinnamaldehyde, the oil responsible for the high fragrance of this herb, is what enables cinnamon to have its positive effects on human health. Cinnamon can lower blood sugar levels, guard against heart diseases, and protect neurons in degenerative neuromuscular diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Cinnamon oil is incredibly potent; just one drop of the essential oil on the skin can cause a burning sensation. It must be diluted properly in a carrier oil, such as coconut or jojoba oil. A word of caution: Before you begin any CAM, you must be followed by a qualified practitioner. Sometimes, herbal remedies and oils can do more harm than good, so it pays to go to someone who is “in the know.”
Last week, I made a visit to the Hicksville Post Office to pick up a parcel. The postal worker who assisted me inquired of the contents, and I responded that the small box contained a vial of neroli oil. We began to chat about the benefits of neroli, which bears a strong resemblance in fragrance to jasmine oil. Citrusy neroli oil is beneficial for those with depression, as it has been proven to lift moods. It also contains antiseptic properties and can help to protect against cough and cold, which makes it ideal for asthmatics. Neroli oil can be used within a carrier oil as a perfume or a room freshener. After my conversation with the postal worker, I drove over to TJ Maxx for a jar of neroli oil. I’ve been wearing it every day since. It has such an uplifting scent!
CAM can be a more natural way for the body to heal itself. If you’re presently taking medication, please remember to discuss alternate therapies with your physician, to make sure that they will be a safe way to supplement your plan of care.