Alternative health care is a generic term that refers to a number of non-traditional, or at least non-Western, forms of medical treatment. Holistic medicine and naturopathic medicine are umbrella terms for philosophies that encompass some of these forms of treatment. A little research results in an astonishing list of alternative health treatments. By way of example, here is a partial list: acupuncture, acupressure, aromatherapy, bioenergetics, biofeedback, energy healing, herbal treatments, integrative medicine, neuromuscular treatment, polarity therapy, shiatsu, tui na, and structural integration.
Some of these are close to mainstream use today, such as acupuncture and the use of herbs for certain common afflictions. Others on that list are in the realm of radical psychology and still others are Eastern forms of treatment that remain obscure in this country. There are schools that provide an educational background on these treatment forms as well as the philosophical underpinnings that have been critical to the introduction of alternative health care in this country.
There is an assortment of massage treatments that are held to have a medical impact, and it is fair to say that some chiropractic practices fall into this category. In the alternative medicine area, there are several types of massage that are practiced and taught. You can find academies that teach massage therapy as a basis for a holistic approach to medicine. Shiatsu is one form of massage therapy brought to us from the East. There is a licensing procedure for these schools in certain states and certification provided for those who complete the course of instruction.
Other schools of natural medicine focus on herbal healing combined with additional holistic tools. There are schools of holistic nursing as well. Some schools provide courses that lead to bachelor of science degrees in alternative medicine, covering a wide gamut of alternative healing methods. You can obtain a certificate in integrative health and wellness from one institution in the midwest: this program is designed for health professionals who wish to explore the non-traditional options available in alternative health care.
Naturopathic medicine is one of those broad terms that encompass a variety of alternative health care treatment forms. Schools that offer degrees in naturopathic health care take the regimen seriously. There are doctoral programs available in this discipline that require four to five years of study.
Integrative health care is a form of alternative medicine that incorporates medical treatments from both traditional and non-traditional fields. One institute describes its program as the integration of acupuncture and Chinese herbal healing methods with “complementary and Western medicines.” One institute called The Polarity Center is dedicated to teaching methods of “energetic studies and energetic bodywork” which is integrated with other holistic practices to round out the curriculum.
The variety of alternative health care disciplines is fascinating. All of them are taught at some type of educational facility, and many of them are taught in alternative health care schools under the aegis of a single course of study, be it called naturopathic health care or holistic (sometimes wholistic) medicine or some other encompassing term. Choosing an educational path in this area may be challenging. It requires an understanding of the many forms of treatment that are available, and then selecting the combination of alternative health care methods that suit you and choosing a school that will teach them.