Our local library recently featured an alternative medicine week. Practitioners of many of the healing arts -- massage, acupuncture, yoga and Pilates, chiropractic -- spoke to small audiences of people looking for answers to what ails them.
I attended the talk on acupuncture, a methodology which was new to me. The acupuncturist told us about Qi, the energy that flows through our bodies, and how that sometimes gets blocked. (Envision Qi as a stream, the blockages as logs or leaves that may be lodged there.) If we are having pain, it means that Qi -- our energy -- is not flowing smoothly through our bodies. Inserting the thin acupuncture needles into the meridians or pathways through which Qi flows helps to release the blockages and free our energy. Thus, we feel better.
Fascinating, and if you think about it, it makes perfect sense, if we can get past the concept of someone sticking us with needles. (Acupuncture needles are ultra thin. It would take ten of them put together to equal the width of a typical hypodermic needle. The special needles are designed to be used only once, and then to be disposed of.)
One woman in the library audience asked how such a practice could help her young son who has several physical and emotional problems. Later on, she asked how it could help her, too, as she had been through several treatments for cancer. Because of her personal circumstances, here was someone who clearly was open to alternative treatments, something that could work.
I find it interesting that more and more people are considering the possibility that there are ways for them to become healthier which have nothing to do with taking medications; that conventional Western medicine may not have all the answers; that Eastern medicine has a place in our lives.
About 15 years ago I was having enough back problems that I was undergoing preliminary tests prior to Major Back Surgery. Talking with my neighbors, they suggested that I see their chiropractor first, to see if he could help.
During my first visit to the chiropractor, I was a nervous wreck. Like you, I had heard those horror stories about “quacks’ that hurt people instead of helping them, putting them in a worse state than before the treatment. That didn’t happen to me. I have been seeing Dr. Nick Wisniewski, DC all these years when I need to and I am grateful for his help. I never did have back surgery.
To further illustrate how different things were then, Dr. Wisniewski also suggested that I take certain Bach Flower Essences for what ailed me. Again, it was not a therapy I had heard of, but after my back started to feel better, I was more open to other ideas. I can remember telling a friend about what I was doing. She kidded me for weeks afterwards, asking me how my “flower drops” were working. Ha. Ha Ha. I never mentioned them to anyone again until recently. (By the way, the Bach essences are still around and available now, of course, on the Internet, for all to use.)
I’ve explored other alternative treatments and have many friends who have also done that, visiting chiropractors, massage therapists, reiki practitioners and others when they need to. It wasn’t that much of a shock, then, when a rheumatologist suggested that I look into alternative treatments for help with my arthritis. If even those in the medical field have become more open to these modalities, maybe it’s time more of us embraced them for the good they can do, flower essences and all.
A gentle warning: Just as when choosing a medical doctor, I think it’s important to get recommendations from those who have been to the alternative medicine practitioner. References are also a good idea, as is doing your own research into the person’s credentials.
By Teresa K. Flatley