Alternative Medicine

Nov 032011

The cold and flu season is fast approaching, and you know what that means: time to break out the NyQuilâ„¢, pound the vitamin C and stock up on cough drops and chicken noodle soup.

On the other hand, if you’re tired of these same old tried and trialed immunity boosters, you could take a less common approach such as massage therapy, acupuncture, or even hypnotherapy.

Alternative methods to medicine are becoming increasingly pervasive in our country; the California State Oriental Medical Association (CSOMA) finds that more than 15 million Americans have turned to Oriental medicine (Clements, 2007). While Western medicine is significant and can save lives, many prefer the holistic approach of Eastern medicine. Alternative medicinal methods can be useful in prevention and treatment of not only the common cold, but whatever ails you.

CSU students apply various methods to treat their illnesses, injuries and even stress.

Senior Chemistry and Nutrition student Jessica Egner has been seeing a chiropractor for two years to treat her persistent back pain. “My hips were rotated and my spine was curved so [the chiropractor] readjusts my hips.” She explains that it takes about a month after beginning treatment to notice the effects; your body must get used to the new positioning of the bones.

Egner had mentioned her chronic back discomfort to her physician who apparently did not consider it a major concern. That’s when she turned to chiropractic care and claims that “it’s definitely been helping with the pain.” Chiropractic adjustments can be used to treat various injuries associated with the spine and can help improve posture, relieve neck, back, and knee pain and as Egner explains, can even slake frequent headaches.

Another method to manage your health is acupuncture. Acupuncture is the practice of inserting a small flexible needle in to the patient’s skin, at a depth and location that depends on the condition. Many people are afraid to try this due to fear of needles or other uncertainties, but if a self-proclaimed wuss with “needle phobia” like myself can get used to it, anyone can!

Christina LaCroix of Spring Creek Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine in Fort Collins became an acupuncturist after studying Western and Oriental medicine, ultimately choosing acupuncture because she was “amazed at the results” it yielded. “It’s great because it’s a gentle way of treating somebody so you don’t have to bog them down with different medications.”

LaCroix explains that acupuncture can benefit just about anybody, no matter the condition. “Anywhere from pain to anxiety, insomnia, sinusitis, cold, allergies, OBGYN disorders . . . It just helps your body heal itself.”

While LaCroix focuses on acupuncture to treat her patients, she also employs herbal treatment to boost immunity and supports a combination of methods to maintain mind and body balance. “I love Western medicine . . . it’s great for dealing with emergent-type situations and surgery; both [Western and Oriental medicine] have their benefits and drawbacks.”

Acupuncture treatments can run anywhere from $135 to $60 a treatment, depending on where you go. CSU students can work with practitioners like LaCroix who offer student discounts to make it more affordable.

Some CSU students with foreign roots fuse traditional medicinal remedies with Western practices to get the most out of health care.

Samantha Yung is a Senior Biology major with a minor in Biomedical Science who believes Western medicine works better for her flu and cold symptoms, but utilizes massage therapy for premature osteoarthritis and Chinese medications to ease other ailments. “When it comes to injuries like sprained tendons or ligaments or anything like that then I think Chinese medicine is better.”

Yung explains that Oriental treatments can differ depending on where it is practiced. The acupuncture she receives while in China, for example, involves a more extensive process than that applied here in the U.S. Clearly, health maintenance varies not only by individual need, but by country as well.

I myself have become curious about the advantages of Eastern medicinal practices over the past two years and have experimented with chiropractic care, acupuncture, herbal treatment, as well as the more familiar physical therapy, massage therapy, and good old fashioned doctor’s visits to remedy recurrent headaches, back and knee injuries, weakened immunity and stress. In my experience, not all treatments worked the way I’d hoped; I had to be persistent and open-minded until I found the most effective treatment for me.

As winter weather rolls in students should be prepared for that inevitable first cold of the season; we all know how miserable it is studying for finals with achy muscles, runny noses, and coughing fits! Taking care of our health should be a top priority, despite our numerous other concerns as college students.

So which is better for prevention and remedial treatment of our mind and body woes, Eastern or Western medicine? The only way to know what works for you is to try it. Don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone this winter and take control of your health.

 Posted by at 6:25 am

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