For natural health care, consider alternative therapies

Burgeoning alternative therapies have shown benefits for inflammation, pain, arthritis and fibromyalgia.

Researchers have found that Swedish massage, a popular therapy long thought to help athletes recover from strenuous activity, provides benefits over simply resting muscles alone, according to WebMD. The study was published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.

In fact, the study revealed that Swedish massage helped muscles recover significantly more function and strength. Indicators of inflammation and swelling also were decreased for muscles given message therapy.

For the pain associated with chronic headaches, researchers in Germany explored the potential benefits of acupuncture. Published in the journal Cephalalgia, the study revealed that for chronic sufferers, acupuncture helped cut the incidence of headaches nearly in half, according to Reuters.

Over a three-month period, subjects who were provided acupuncture therapy experienced 4.7 headache days on average. That was compared with the previous average of 8.4 days over the same period, Reuters reports.

A 2006 study published in Arthritis and Rheumatism reports a “marked clinical improvement in patients with chronic osteoarthritis-associated pain of the knee or hip” when acupuncture was administered. Another study, published in The Lancet in 2005, revealed that acupuncture provided pain relief and increased joint function.

Alexander Technique
Also for chronic pain, a story from WebMD focused on a newer form of alternative therapy, the Alexander Technique. In a study published in the journal BMJ, researchers asserted that the technique was more effective for back pain than exercise alone or massage.

Patients who took lessons in the Alexander Technique, along with being prescribed an aerobic exercise plan, experienced marked improvements in pain that lasted for a year. In comparison, the benefits attained from massage lasted only three months, WebMD reports.

The Alexander Technique involves assessment of routine movement and overall posture. Practitioners provide verbal and hands-on therapy to help correct use of the musculoskeletal system, according to WebMD.

Emotional Freedom Technique
Another up-and-coming therapeutic approach, the Emotional Freedom Technique (EMT), was profiled in an issue of IMCJ (Integrative Medicine: A Clinician’s Journal).

In the article, Gunilla Brattberg, MD, reported on a study that found self-administered EMT to be a good complement to other therapeutic approaches in relieving pain associated with fibromyalgia. In fact, the author writes that the simple, relatively inexpensive therapy is “well worthwhile for practitioners to recommend” to patients with fibromyalgia.

EFT is described in the journal as “energy tapping.” It involves tapping with the fingers on acupuncture points while patients focus on negative emotions. Dr. Brattberg asserts that a patient’s perception of a problem might be changed through the use of EFT. Through a change in attitude, the technique might help a patient better accept certain circumstances, such as living with the chronic pain of fibromyalgia.


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