Alternative Treatments That Meet the Test
What you need to know to choose wisely
For these alternative methods, it’s the best of both worlds: They’re backed not just by generations of wisdom but by modern-day scientific studies. Most are offered at integrative centers in the nation’s top hospitals. Goes without saying you need a good practitioner, and you should check with your doctor before embarking on any alternative treatment.
Acupuncture: The grand-daddy of proven treatments, backed by a number of medical studies, this traditional Chinese remedy, which presses tiny needles into the energy meridians of the body has been shown to reduce pain – back pain, headaches and migraines and fibromyalgia. As-yet-unproven uses include weight loss and removing sags and lines from your face. This is a case where once isn’t enough. Plan on a dozen visits to your practitioner.
Hypnosis: The classic magician’s trick is no illusion. Its medical benefits include easing the symptoms of asthma and kicking bad habits like overeating and smoking. It’s been approved by an NIH panel for relief of chronic pain. Adherents say it can even help in turning a breech baby. The number of sessions you’ll need varies; could even be just one.
Magnets: The ancient Greeks said magnets heal, and now researchers at the biomedical engineering lab at the University of Virginia say they may be right. Their study shows magnets (the ones they used were about 10 times as strong as a refrigerator magnet) can reduce swelling after an injury, like a bump or bruise, when applied immediately.
Fasting: A new study from the University of Southern California finds that fasting prior to treatment may help chemotherapy patients in two ways: by increasing the effectiveness of cancer-killing drugs and protecting healthy cells from damage. Researchers theorize that fasting increases the normal cells’ resistance to stress, so doctors can use higher doses of chemo.
Massage: Yes, massage. One of the world’s great treats can also be just what the doctor ordered. Studies suggest the laying on of hands can be beneficial in a variety of ways: easing labor pain, reducing anxiety, minimizing migraines and boosting immune-system function.