The term alternative treatment methods brings together numerous different medical techniques which form a counterweight to mainstream medicine based on science. They are generally more gentle and often aim to intensify and activate the body's own self healing powers. Examples of alternative treatment methods are acupuncture, osteopathy, homeopathy or traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). A particular feature of alternative treatment methods is that the doctors or natural health practitioners generally take a lot of time with their patients and their individual problems instead of processing them as quickly as possible.

Overview

Alternative therapy - Further information

Not seeing disease and pain as enemies

Alternative medicine takes a different view of disease and the symptoms of disease. Whereas mainstream medicine sees them as the 'enemies' of health and fights them with medication, operations and other therapies, with the alternative methods a different way of looking prevails. Here, the body and its different parts are regarded as an inner team. Often, the focus of attention is on the connection between body and mind and not on the way the physical is subordinate to the will of the mind.

The model of the inner community bolsters patients - and not only with physical suffering. It is mainly with mental or psychosomatic disorders that an alternative understanding of disease helps the patient cope with suffering better and to improve quality of life in both the short and long terms. This is why alternative medicine is particularly good with chronic sickness where, besides the simple alleviation of discomfort, the main focus is also on the person dealing with their limitations.

No less important is the fact that symptoms are not interpreted in alternative medicine as the simple expression of disease. Instead of that, they are seen as important indications of existing imbalance in the circumstances and facts of life and living. With many diseases and symptoms, it is not enough simply to fight the pain - instead the cause must be traced and eliminated. For example, if pain in overstressed hands or arms keeps recurring, the aim of alternative medicine is not only freedom from pain but to retrieve the lost balance for the long term.

A range of alternatives to mainstream medicine

The main focus of the treatment spectrum in alternative medicine is all the morbid changes affecting body and mind. Even so, the principle applies that the more serious and grave the disorders are, the more important it is to consult a mainstream medical practitioner. A natural health method cannot always be a substitute for medications or surgical procedures, though complementary treatment with alternative medicine is always possible. In this way, patients benefit from the generally effective treatment methods in mainstream medicine and from the positive effects of the close doctor-patient relationship and of alternative medicine's focus on quality of life and integration.

If preparations are prescribed to be taken, natural healing makes use of mainly natural resources such as herbs, certain foods or food supplements. For this, natural medicine makes its own diagnosis, which establishes where exactly the patient is lacking something which triggers the symptoms and how addressing it will allow the symptoms to subside. For example, blood diagnosis or a detailed medical history interview can be carried out or a pendulum or other methods can be used which respond to the feedback from your body to determine what you need.

Manual procedures such as ostheopathy or chirotherapy aim at resolving energy blockades in the body and restoring the natural balance. Other methods, too, such as reiki, use natural human energies to release power and increase vital energy. Not least, procedures which strengthen the unity of body and mind also play an important role in alternative medicine. These include yoga, tai-chi, meditation and other relaxation techniques.

Doctors with additional training and natural health practitioners

Alternative treatment methods can already be selected as a course during study, depending on the interests of the prospective doctor, and so become part of general training. However, to gain all-round knowledge in a particular field, further training and qualifying for certificates is generally necessary. As well as registered doctors, natural health practitioners also often offer various alternative treatment methods. Unlike doctors, these medics do not need state certification but must provide evidence of their qualifications through examination under the Non-Medical Practitioners Act.

Alternative treatment methods are a valuable asset for many ailments. In the main, if these are chronic in nature or if conventional methods only provide inadequate relief, natural health methods provide other means of improving quality of life once again. The person himself or herself as a whole is generally at the center, and disease is not seen as something that must be overcome but as something that can be integrated into life.