Modern medicine is a marvel, but there are times when we may choose to supplement science with holistic remedies and wellness rituals.
If you’re looking to change up your self-care regimen in 2023, here are some time-tested complementary medicine practices to keep you feeling your best in the coming year. Note: Please check with your healthcare provider before trying any non-traditional therapies. In addition, make sure that your alternative health provider is well-trained and experienced.
1. Adapted Yoga
When we think about yoga, we might imagine someone balancing on their head, performing a back bend, or twisted into a pretzel. But poses such as these are just the tip of the iceberg. As Carol Krucoff, a certified yoga therapist at Duke Integrative Medicine to WebMD, “You don’t have to be athletic, or even very mobile, to benefit. ‘If you can breathe, you can practice yoga.’”
In adapted yoga, the practice is adapted for the individual, whether a person is blind, developmentally disabled or unable to move their limbs. “Yoga is a journey inward to connect with your deepest, truest self,” says Krucoff. “Poses are a very important part of the practice, but they’re only one piece of the practice. It’s not just what you do in a yoga practice, but how you do it that matters.”
Massage sounds luxurious, but when one suffers from pain, stiffness and spasticity as a result of a disability such as cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s syndrome or multiple sclerosis, it may be a necessity. According to Integrative Health.org, “Massage can significantly improve the pliability of muscle tissue, which results in less spasticity and improved muscle function, as well as improved flexibility and range of motion. This can often be the difference between being able to walk or not for someone who is suffering with one of these debilitating conditions.”
Likewise, people who spend most of their time in their wheelchairs may experience symptoms of atrophied muscle tone, skin rashes, muscle spasms and reduced circulation that can lead to cardiovascular illness. “Massage has been shown to increase circulation and improve lymphatic return, which is of great benefit for those who are unable to move all or part of the muscle tissue in their extremities. Those suffering from edema because of some condition or as a result of being wheelchair bound may see significant improvement after receiving lymphatic massage.”
Massage is also a valuable treatment for individuals with developmental disabilities such as Autism, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, Attention-Deficit or ADHD. These individuals may find that massage relieves the anxiety, stress and depression that often accompanies these disabilities.
3. Craniosacral Therapy (a massage for your head)
In craniosacral therapy, a trained practitioner massages the scalp in a way that calms the craniosacral system, which safeguards the brain and spinal cord. According to the Cleveland Clinic, craniosacral therapists claim the treatment “promotes a feeling of well-being by eliminating pain and boosting health and immunity.”
Though it’s been around for thousands of years, it’s only relatively recently that aromatherapy has been used in the west.
According to healthline.com, “Aromatherapy is a holistic healing treatment that uses natural plant extracts to promote health and well-being.” Though more research is needed, practitioners and proponents say that aromatherapy oils taken through the nose (by diffuser, inhalers, bath salts, etc.) or through skin the (in the form of lotions, balms or clay masks) reduces joint pain, inflammation, peripheral neuropathy, anxiety and stress.
Unlike some other alternative health treatments, acupuncture, which uses thin needles to stimulate specific particular points on the skin to reduce pain, is widely accepted by western medical professionals and insurance providers. Indeed, Ameridisability reports that acupuncture helps in the treatment of respiratory diseases; eye disorders; orthopedic disorders; gastrointestinal disorders; and neurologic disorders. Afraid of needles? Don’t worry; acupuncture rarely hurts.