Alternative medicine refers to various practices intended for healing or wellness, but which have relatively little scientific support. Yet, with soaring medical costs, more people are looking at alternative medicines as a way to deal with health issues. Here are four approaches that many people, and some researchers, maintain will provide you definite health benefits:

Natural Supplements

There any many dietary supplements taken to support bodily processes or even treat certain conditions. Glucosamine chondroitin, for instance, is said to help with joint pain and inflammation, while omega-3 fish oils are taken for heart health. While there are some studies to support such claims, the effectiveness of many of these supplements is unsupported by any clinical trials. Excessive use of some substances may even lead to side effects. Before taking any supplement as a regular part of your diet, it’s important to do your research and discuss the particular substance with your doctor.

Mind-Body Therapy

Mind-body therapies like hypnosis, meditation, and yoga are growing in popularity. The idea is that boosting the mind’s capacity and focus can have a positive impact on physical health. There is no evidence that these disciplines have any direct medical effect, yet there is little doubt that they can help improve general wellness. Mind-body techniques can help you to reduce stress, counter depression and insomnia, and even reduce chronic pain. They can also be beneficial in weight loss or quitting tobacco. While mind-body therapies won’t cure real medical issues, they do provide ongoing health benefits.

Energy Healing

These techniques are based on the idea that the human body contains a network of energy pathways that support proper metabolic function. Illness can be corrected by stimulating energy flow at key points. Acupressure, reiki, qigong, and similar techniques have developed from this philosophy. While the idea of “energy meridians” and their manipulation is disparaged by most scientists, many people claim to benefit from energy sessions. Massage therapy can also be beneficial. It’s been showing that therapeutic massages can reduce anxiety and stimulate the flow of serotonin and other feel-good hormones. This helps to reduce your stress, ease discomfort, and lower blood pressure.

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Medical Marijuana

Many states have legalized medical marijuana despite a federal ban. Even where it’s legal, you may have to register and obtain a card in order to purchase it. There are many studies to support marijuana’s potency in treating chronic symptoms such as headaches, muscle spasms, or nausea. It’s long been used as a treatment for glaucoma or epilepsy. A 2006 study found that 86 percent of patients using marijuana as part of their Hepatitis C treatment successfully completed therapy, vs only 29 percent of non-smokers.

If you have existing medical conditions or take special medications, you should always discuss your options with your physician. The right alternative therapy, however, can ease your symptoms and improve your quality of life.

Hannah Whittenly is a freelance writer and mother of two from Sacramento, CA. She enjoys kayaking and reading books by the lake. If you’re interested in medical marijuana, Hannah recommends Elevated.

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