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CAM for Migraine and Cluster Headaches (cont.)

Alternative Therapies: Acupuncture, Chinese Medicine, and Bodywork

Acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) are another form of alternative medical approaches that one may seek for the management of headache pain. The provider of such therapies may be a lay acupuncturist or a physician (MD, DO) who has had additional training in medical acupuncture. Again, it is important for the individual seeking such care to choose the practitioner with whom they would be most comfortable.

Acupuncture's basis derives from the theory that health is governed by a balance of one's "chi." Chi, as known within this context, is the life force. It is believed that imbalances within this force may lead to disease. Chi balancing is attempted and maintained by the placement of sterile, disposable needles within regions of the body called meridians. The meridians are a complex network of pathways that circulate the chi throughout the body. Meridian theory is a fundamental concept within TCM, and within acupuncture in particular.

Oriental body manipulations within the scope of TCM take a different approach than the Western-based manipulations of osteopathic medicine and chiropractic. These techniques may be part of a comprehensive TCM approach or may be performed completely on their own. They are based on meridian theory, with the attempt to balance the body's chi through the manipulations being offered. Oriental bodywork may include the following practices:

  • Tui na
  • Jin shin do
  • Thai massage
  • Shiatsu
  • Amma therapy
  • Acupressure

Many other techniques are variants or ongoing developments of earlier systems. As always, one should research the therapy being proposed and ask to know the credentials of the providers involved.

Alternative Therapies: Homeopathy

The practice of homeopathy was developed and founded by German physician Samuel Hahnemann in 1790. The term homeopathy was derived from the Greek homoios, meaning similar, and pathos, meaning suffering. Hahnemann's fundamental principle, the Law of Similars, noted that if a remedy could mimic the symptoms of a particular disease, it would strengthen the healing response. In simple terms, this concept has been referred to as "like cures like." Hahnemann developed homeopathic remedies based upon medicinal herbs, vitamins, minerals, and even bee venom. Current practitioners have even made formulations from drugs such as antibiotics.

In addition to "like cures like," Hahnemann developed two other principles by which his system of healing was guided. The first was called the Law of the Infinitesimal Dose, which stated that the more diluted a remedy, the more powerful its effect on treating an illness. The other principle noted that, in order for an accurate assessment to be made, the patient and the illness must be observed on an individual basis because no two individuals respond to the same remedy in the same way.

Remedies are formulated based on differing potencies. A remedy's potency is based upon the concept that a particular substance, an herb for example, is diluted numerous times to achieve a desired effect. The potencies of a particular remedy are expressed in centesimal (c) and decimal (x) scales. Based upon homeopathic theory, lower potencies are used for physical illness, whereas highest potencies are used for mental or emotional problems.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/3/2016
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