Monday, June 14, 2010
ROCHESTER, Minn. — Integrative medicine focuses on mind, body and spirit, combining today's cutting- edge treatments with nontraditional techniques and approaches. The June issue of Mayo Clinic Health Letter features an in-depth Special Report on this rapidly growing area of medicine, covering mind-body, energy and hands-on therapies. Here's a snapshot of some of the many integrative health topics covered and how they are used.
Guided imagery — This mind-body therapy can be described as a form of directed daydreaming. Guided by a practitioner, patients are invited to shift mental attention to a safe, relaxed place or image. All senses are brought into awareness — seeing, hearing and feeling what would be associated with image.
This technique is used for pain management, headaches and stress relief. Patients may partake in guided imagery sessions from several times a day to several times a week. They can be guided by a practitioner or via a CD or audiotape.
Qi gong (CHEE-gung) — This ancient Chinese energy therapy uses physical postures, breathing techniques and mental focus to maintain health, promote healing and increase vitality. Many forms of qi gong exist and range from internal and meditative to more external and physical. Movements in qi gong are rhythmic and gentle, making them easily adaptable for all age groups. For example, tai chi is one type of qi gong.
Feldenkrais method — This hands-on therapy takes two forms. In the first, patients are verbally guided through gentle movements, usually done while lying on the floor or sitting in a chair. The second form uses hands-on contact to address individual needs. The teacher may move the patient's arms, legs, head or trunk in ways that enhance awareness of movement patterns.
Feldenkrais method is based on the theory that, over time, people develop patterns to compensate for pain or injury, but the patterns can become obstacles to healing and optimal functioning. Subtle changes to these habits can improve flexibility, balance, breathing and coordination, easing tension, pain and strain. Feldenkrais method is used for neck, back and joint pain relief, headache, neuromuscular disorders and physical rehabilitation.
There's no need to wait for illness to consider integrative health therapies. The idea is to create a customized plan for health and wellness, with the best of conventional and complementary medicine. When exploring complementary or integrative medicine approaches, open-minded skepticism is a good approach. Those considering new therapies should seek out reliable information, the provider's credentials and any related costs. It's important to keep traditional health care providers apprised. The possibilities that integrative medicine offers are well worth considering.
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