Sunday, February 13, 2011


Whenever I think of alternative medicine I always think of an old ad that used to be on TV in Australia in the 90s. It was for an insurance company, and showed a woman lying down on a table, while a man chanted something and banged two large fish together over her back. The gist of the ad was that the company covered everything.. well, almost everything.

Last year I started trying a few different things I never would have thought I would ever try. I went to acupuncture weekly for almost two months. It was very relaxing, but I am not sure that it was anything more than that.

I also went to a chiropractor/masseur, who took one look at me and said I was in terrible shape. He really went to town on me, especially on my feet and legs. I felt something like bread dough probably feels like when it is being kneaded.

Despite this, (or perhaps because of it – I am something of a masochist!) I’ve been back to see him on a regular basis since then, and despite the fact that the sessions can be quite painful, I do seem better afterwards. While what he does doesn’t seem to address my state of mind directly, it does help my body get into slightly less twisted shape. And that can’t help but benefit anyone’s state of mind.

Late last year a friend recommended that I try yoga, saying that it helped them with running. So I decided to give it a go, and went along. It was hard! I wouldn’t have thought that it was so strenuous to go into simple poses, but apparently it is. I have never been the most well coordinated person, but doing some simple yoga seems to help a bit.

I don’t really buy into the spiritual side of it, and one class I went to about chakras made me feel downright uncomfortable. Not physically, but there was just something that felt wrong somehow. I’m not sure if this is just a hangover from the Christian indoctrination of my youth, my innate skepticism about and disdain for religiosity or what, but whatever it was, I just didn’t feel comfortable.

However, the other class I went to was fine. It was basically a long series of different kinds of stretching exercises. I’ve been to the class a number of times now and it seems good for me on a few levels.

It is physically challenging but not dangerous, and there is qualified supervision. It gives me a different type of exercise to running, and is a more active way of putting my body the way it should be than getting kneaded. In addition, it is a peaceful and relaxing environment, and a group activity.

I don’t have any immediate plans to try any other alternative therapies, but I would be interested to hear about the experiences that others have had with alterative treatments.


  1. I have found yoga and stretching to be particularly helpful. I did Iyengar yoga for a bit, which concentrates more on balance and form. Also tried Ashtanga, but found it pretty hardcore (Madonna is a fan!).
    Did YEARS of acupuncture for my endometriosis, which I think helped - but in my opinion you'll get the full benefit of combining it with other treatments or a change in diet.
    Actually, I suppose most 'alternative' treatments are also called 'holistic' for a reason - they're more about rebalancing you over the long term in conjunction with other healthy life choices rather than just a singular pill-swallowing approach. Oooh, now that's my intelligent thought of the day!

  2. I think it's great that you are trying these different approaches, D.R. I haven't tried accupuncture but have thought about it. I used to go to physical therapy a couple times a week where they would do massage and then I would do exercises for my fibromyalgia and arthritis. It was helpful -physcally- and I'm thinking of going back to it. Having less physical pain can only help your mental pain. So I think I need to do that again. Thanks for bringing up this topic. I think it is something Western medicine does not encourage us to explore enough.

  3. At first I thought this post was about music. LOL.
    I used to do Bikram's Yoga and loved it. You do it in a room set above 100 degrees and it last about 90minutes. It is so freeing. You fight your breath as you hold a pose and inhale the thick hot air. Just finding the right pace to breath at was a success. Also, I am a part time massage therapist and agree with the mental health benefits it provides.

    An hour in a calm environment while your lymphatic and circulatory and muscular systems are manipulated. Come on that in itself can be a workout.

    Also, I have tried Chiropratics for my migraines and it is like a slice of pure joy for me. He cracks the axis of my spine and I feel all the nerves jolt into action and bam, the migraine is gone.

    So, I am a huge activist for alternative medicine but unfortunately in the USA insurance is more prepared to pay for a drug then a massage.

  4. The fact that you're trying things that push past your comfort zone, literally says something about your spirit (even though you probably can't stand that word) and that you've connected the mind/body healing aspect. You're taking what's helpful and throwing away the rest. I think people who have mood disorders get caught in an "either or" mess and they don't have any success with either Western or "alternative" methods. I've practiced Yoga for many years and for me, it's about slowing down and paying attention to my body. I also love massage even though it hurts like hell sometimes, because again it's about paying attention to the body where we most need it. Good for you D.R. to seek out different paths for wellness and then choosing what you feel is of benefit to you. It takes courage and intelligence to follow the less tread path to heal, not "cure" your depression.

  5. Hi Up the Mountain, Jen, In the Pink and Wendy, thank you all for coming by, it was interesting to hear about your experiences with alternative medicine. I don't think there is a magical solution, but I seem to have found things that are partially effective.

    I've tried the "singular pill-swallowing approach" and it just doesn't work, at least for me. What makes a person is not so much of a mystery - food, shelter, company, purpose in life, physical health, and being able to be comfortable with oneself. I think the last is by far the most difficult one, and I'm not sure if I am closer to it than I was before. Sometimes it seems so close that I could reach out and grab it, sometimes it seems miles away. But I'll keep on keeping on. I hope all of us can, and maybe we'll get to a happier place someday.

  6. Depression is usually caused by unhealthy stomach, spleen (pancreas), lung and/or large intestine. Accurate diagnosis of your organs and making them healthy can be accoplished by acupuncture.

  7. Hello Byoung Soon Kim,
    Thanks for posting. I did try acupuncture for almost two months, but it didn't seem to change much within me. It was pretty relaxing however.