Gone are the days of the single family doctor. Today, Americans seek out multiple experts for their medical care, including practitioners in homeopathy, naturopathy, and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). More than one in three Americans use some form of alternative medicine, according to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, and that number is expected to go up. “People either want alternatives to Western medicine or they’re out of options,” says Harriet Beinfield, L.Ac., coauthor of Between Heaven and Earth: A Guide to Chinese Medicine (Ballantine Books, 1992). “Western medicine can’t always relieve nagging problems like fatigue, bloating, or insomnia, so people seek alternative means.” Here’s what the big three of alternative medicine have to offer. Although they shouldn’t substitute for traditional Western medical care, they can often complement it by filling in any gaps.
THE PRINCIPLE In homeopathy, if your internal energy, or “vital force,” is out of balance, problems arise. Homeopathy aims to regulate vital energy to stimulate the body’s healing powers. Treatment is based on two major principles: the Law of Similars (like cures like) and the Law of the Minimum Dose (less is more). An example of the Law of Similars is the remedy coffee cruda: Derived from coffee (a substance traditionally associated with sleeplessness), it is used in homeopathy to relieve insomnia and hyperactivity. According to the Law of the Minimum Dose, the more diluted a remedy, the more powerful its healing properties. Depending on a problem’s severity, formulas may be diluted multiple degrees, like 1:10 (labeled as 1X). Remedies are derived from plants, animals, minerals, and other sources, and are taken as pellets, tablets, powders, or liquids.
WHAT TO EXPECT Practitioners conduct one- to two-hour consultations to get a detailed picture of your health and symptoms. They ask about your occupation, daily routine, eating habits, dreams, and how you react to changes in weather, temperature, and environment. Based on this information, the homeopath creates the remedy and potency that best match your needs. Homeopathic pharmacists prepare the remedies on-site.
GOOD FOR Sinusitis, bronchitis, vertigo, varicose veins, flu, ADHD, and children’s ear infections.
COST AND RESOURCES $100 to $300 for a first visit; $50 to $100 thereafter. Visit the National Center for Homeopathy site (homeopathic.org) to find a practitioner who has a Certificate in Classical Homeopathy (C.C.H.).
Doctor image via Shutterstock