Miracles of alternative therapies

Unravel the healing power of music, aroma, dreams and art, and find which one works best for you

Aroma TherapyIn this new age world, just as diseases and ailments are taking different forms, so are remedies and cures. Health is restored through mediums as interesting and varied as magnets, light, colour, music, art, dance, drama, and even dreams.

If you don't find the solution to your problems here and now - well, the past life is always accessible through hypnotherapy. Levitate to the beyond and it might alleviate your woes right now. If magnets are universaly supposed to attract, for magnet therapists it is used to repel. Diseases, distresses and dilemmas - all are swiftly warded off - with magnetic jewellery, soles and even blankets. Others advocate light therapy. Shine a light on the affected part of your body, and the ailment is banished to the dark. Better still, point a coloured light and they will bestow their healing properties on you. Or, you can also choose to dance your blues away - not at a discotheque but by following certain therapeutic steps that can make the malady beat a hasty retreat.

A large number of people swear by alternative remedies and, they say, it works most effectively, without any adverse side effects. Most alternative therapies address the psyche - a part of a patient that conventional medicine has seldom considered.

So, next time you experience some health problems, you could probably try a dose of some alternative therapy that its practitioners say have yielded miraculous results.

Aroma therapy

Inhale and you shall be cured. Arthritis, insomnia, women's problems [even something as temperamental as pre/post menstrual syndrome] can be smelt away. Essential oils are the vital solutions to all the aches, pains and angst of the body, and especially the mind. The humble nose is the elixir of beauty, health and fitness.

Deepa Bhatia, who has been practicing aromatherapy for the past 13 years says, "Aromatherapy is scientifically proven. Most hospitals in America have realised that people are very stressed out before surgery - they put lavender oil or mild calming oil through the AC ducts - and it calms the patient as much as 80 per cent. In many cases, the patient doesn't even need a tranquiliser. There is proper documented proof for all this."

Aroma therapists use extremely concentrated essential oils - the essence and fragrance that is distilled from fruits, flowers and trees. But, before they are used they are blended since they are very strong and concentrated. "For example, one tonne of rose petals - 1000 kgs will only give you ? litre of rose oil. Because it is so concentrated you cannot use any of them neat [undiluted] on the skin. If you do so, it will burn - you need to blend it with any vegetable oil," says Bhatia. "You can only use a maximum of three per cent essential oil. Other than tea tree and lavender, which are non allergic, you should not put anything neat on the skin."

Music therapy

Inarguably, music has extremely soothing, and revitalising properties. Browse through any prominent music stores and you'll find an array of musical scores to relax, calm, rejuvenate, and energise the body, mind and soul. Music has meditative properties, and so logically - say its practitioners - therapeutic effects too. It has an impact even on unborn children. The strains and notes of music that a pregnant woman listens to, can affect the baby's emotional and physical well-being.

A raga for every ailment, a special rhythm for each discordant disease, and a "sur" for every straying tendon. Will music be the predominant catalyst in hospitals in the new age then?

A UK trained therapist Wyomia Goveya has done stunning work with challenged children with her music therapy. As she says, "I use a creative approach to music therapy that incorporates "active music-making" rather than passive listening to music. In a music therapy session, the client is given the opportunity to express herself using her body, voice or simple percussion instruments, and to create music with me. Over time, the client forms a communicative musical relationship with me, and through this relationship positive changes and developments can be nourished."

Goveya says that music heals a range of problems in radical ways, "Music therapists work in a variety of settings and within different clinical fields " children with special needs including learning difficulties, developmental disorders including autism, emotional/behavioural difficulties, adults with learning difficulties, dementia, neurological problems, mental health issues and also with terminally ill children/adults."

Dream therapy

If you have a medical problem, it is important for you to remember your dreams. Why? Because, dreams unlock your repressed psyche, tap your subconscious dramas, and help an experienced dream therapist to understand the fundamental cause of your ailment. Treatment is then just a matter of prescribing medicines.

Dreams go where a doctor's diagnosis cannot go - into uncharted territories of the mind, the angst of the soul and the trials of the psyche. It is in all these places that illness festers and maladies breed. Says Dr Milind Bhatt, a practicing homoeopath, and dream therapist, "While practising homopoethy, we would get a lot of blocks. Even with the right medicines the patient wasn't getting cured, especially in the irreversible cases. Another hurdle was that the patient would come out with their feelings only to a certain extent - either he was hiding them or wasn't aware of them. So then we thought what is it that would reveal everything? I then started asking them about their dreams - was there any recurrent dream. When we understand the dream we understand the basic nature and then we can do wonders with medicines."

With this therapy, Bhatt says, that he has been able to achieve an 80 per cent success rate for conventionally so-called "irreversible" ailments [TB Spine, psoriasis, juvenile diabetes], and 90 per cent for reversible cases [cough, cold]

Art therapy

Drawing is not just a means of creative expression, but now, a stroke of diagnostic luck. The lines which a pencil etches, the colours which splash across a blank white sheet, have their own story to tell. Once your emotions are vented out, it is a catharsis - therapeutic - leading the way to remedial and rehabilitative measures.

An area that is critical especially with special needs children and disturbed adults. "Art therapy for me has been a medium through which I have been able to unlock feelings of disabled children, adults, kids who are going through problems, adults who are going through sexual issues," says Dr Radhike Khanna, vice-principal of the SP Jain Sadhana School, and an accomplished art therapist. "It is a medium which helps you communicate with your client - every thought is attached with an emotion, and it can't be expressed through words always."

Dr Khanna, who has done some path-breaking work with children, says, "Art therapy is also a very individual process. For my doctorate, I created a certain method of doing work with non-communicative, severely handicapped kids, and that became the basis of my work for the last 25 years. The mark that the pencil creates makes an explanation which words cannot put across. It is important for you to probe into the source of thought. Once you know what the child/human being is caught up in, then you can show alternatives in thought patterns and behaviour.

In creativity there is no failure, everything is an expression of that person. When I work, it is a very personal experience with the child; I can build a rapport and am able to move in with the child and enable him to see his block."

Art therapy, asserts Dr Khanna, empowers children and even adults beautifully. When they come to her, their self esteem is at rock bottom. They work predominantly with black. Slowly, you can see colours creep into their art, and make positive changes. "This is why art therapy is excellent for children with autism."

In addition to the therapies listed above, there are a range of others that you can choose from depending on your particular inclination -

  • Hydrotherapy, which consists of using water for therapeutic purposes.
  • Candle therapy, which uses the cadence of candles to heal not only the body, but the spirit as well.
  • Chinese food therapy [no, don't go rushing to the nearest Chinese takeaway for pain relief], that basically cures by the natural nutritive elements of the yin and yang foods.

What all alternative therapies have in common is an accent on the mind to cure the body. They take the inward route to outward medical indications. The psyche is as real to them as the anatomy, the spirit more compelling than the symptoms. Ultimately, it's mind over matter, and who knows, that may be the truth after all.

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