Other Proposed Treatments
It is one of the cardinal principles of natural medicine that treatment should aim not only to treat illness but also to enhance wellness. According to this ideal, a proper course of treatment should improve your sense of general well-being, enhance your immunity to illness, raise your physical stamina, and increase mental alertness, as well as resolve the specific condition you took it for.
Unfortunately, while there can be little doubt that this is a laudable goal, it is easier to laud it than to achieve it. Conventional medicine tends to focus on treating diseases rather than increasing wellness, not as a matter of philosophical principle, but because it is easier to accomplish.
Probably the strongest force affecting wellness is genetics. Beyond that, common sense steps endorsed by all physicians include increasing exercise, reducing stress, improving diet, getting enough sleep, and living a life of moderation without bad habits, such as smoking or overeating.
Beyond this, however, it is difficult to make strong affirmations, and the optimum forms of diet and exercise and other aspects of lifestyle remain unclear. In fact, they may always remain unclear, as it is impossible to perform double-blind, placebo-controlled studies on most lifestyle habits. (For information on why such studies are irreplaceable see "Why Does This Database Depend on Double-blind Studies?" )
Principal Proposed Natural Treatments
In order to function at our best, we need good nutrition. However, the modern diet often fails to provide people with sufficient amounts of all the necessary nutrients. For this reason, use of a multivitamin/multimineral supplement might be expected to enhance overall health and well-being, and preliminary double-blind trials generally support this view.
For more information, see the article on General Nutritional Support .
The herb Panax ginseng has an ancient reputation as a healthful “tonic.” According to a more modern concept developed in the former USSR, ginseng functions as an “adaptogen.”
This term is defined as follows: An adaptogen helps the body adapt to stresses of various kinds, whether heat, cold, exertion, trauma, sleep deprivation, toxic exposure, radiation, infection, or psychologic stress. In addition, an adaptogen causes no side effects, is effective in treating a wide variety of illnesses, and helps return an organism toward balance no matter what may have gone wrong.
From a modern scientific perspective, it is not truly clear that such things as adaptogens actually exist. However, there is some evidence that ginseng may satisfy some of the definition’s requirements.
In addition, ginseng has also shown some potential for enhancing immunity , mental function , and sports performance , all effects consistent with the adaptogen concept. For more information on these possibilities, as well as dosage and safety issues, see the full Ginseng article .
Other Proposed Natural Treatments
Numerous other alternative therapies are claimed by their proponents to improve overall wellness, including acupuncture , Ayurveda , chiropractic , detoxification , homeopathy , massage , naturopathy , osteopathic manipulation , Reiki , Tai Chi , Therapeutic Touch , traditional Chinese herbal medicine , and yoga . However, there is as yet little meaningful evidence to support these claims.
For a discussion of homeopathic approaches to general wellness, see the Homeopathy database .
- Reviewer: EBSCO CAM Review Board
- Review Date: 07/2012 -
- Update Date: 07/25/2012 -