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Complementary and alternative therapies are those forms of disease or disorder treatment and management that do not ascribe to the practices of standard medicine. Methods of complementary and alternative therapy include those involving natural products, mind and body therapy, as well as manipulative and body based practices. Under natural products, there are herbal, medicines, minerals, vitamins and other natural products. Natural products are generally used by people who are looking to supplement their medical care or to just promote general well being (Aakster, 1986). In America, fish oil is one of the commonly used natural products. While some natural products such as omega 3s found in fish oil have been scientifically proven to be beneficial, others such as herbal medicine have not been proven by rigorous scientific research.
Mind and body therapies involve those that focus on interactions between the mind, body, brain, and behaviour with an aim of promoting health. Mind and body therapies such as meditation, yoga, tai chi, deep breathing exercises, hypnotherapy, and progressive relaxation are used by people seeking to relieve themselves from stress and anxiety in order achieve relaxation and calmness, cope with ill health, and promote overall health and well being. These techniques are based on actual health research principles which have found the link between psychological well being and an individual’s general well being (Aakster, 1986). Acupuncture is another technique that is used to treat many conditions such as migraine, headache, and menstrual cramps among others. However, there is no sufficient empirical research explaining the principles behind acupuncture.
Manipulative body based practices include spinal manipulation and message therapy. Spinal manipulation is applied to people with low back pain while message therapy is applied to relieve people from pain, reduce stress, rehabilitate sports injuries, treat anxiety and depression, increase relation, and promote general well being. It is not yet known whether these techniques are based on actual researched health principles.
Generally, CAM should be encouraged because they have been proven to work. This is despite the fact that some of them are not based on actual researched health principles.
Eating disorders have increased over the last decades and are more prevalent in western societies. There are different types of eating disorders and understanding their differences is important in order to prescribe the right forms of treatment. The most common types are bulimia nervosa, anorexia nervosa and binge eating. Some like anorexia are brought about by under eating and obsessive weight loss which can lead to dire health problems and sometimes even lead to death. Bulimia nervosa includes indulging in excessive eating that lead to subsequent purging of food and instituting weight loss programs to rid oneself of the increased weight. Binge eating on the other hand is characterized by excessive feeding without any effort to stop or reduce weight and leads to obesity and weight related conditions (NHS, 2011). The causes for these disorders are diverse and range from social to psychological and most have gender implications. These conditions have certain symptoms which can be evaluated and a diagnosis made to allow for effective treatment.
Some of the symptoms are quite obvious especially to people who have close relations to the patient. It is possible for friends and relatives to note those people who refuse to eat adequately and are obsessed with weight loss. Similarly, it is also possible to identify people who eat excessively. Any medical professional hoping to make an accurate diagnosis must first understand the history of the patients and feedback from relative about the patient’s eating and personality issues. Other symptoms which can point to a possible eating disorder include acne, diarrhea, constipation, scurvy, electrolyte imbalance, edema and obesity. A doctor can then use neuro imaging tests and other tests like the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale to make a more specific prognosis. Some of the treatment options include cognitive behaviour therapy, family therapy, behavioral therapy and medications like orlistat.
Role of gender in Health
Health is an important part of our society and one’s health status has several implications for him/ her and the entire family. There are many factors which affect our health and our abilities to prevent illnesses or treat them when they occur. Most reasons are political or economical and depend on government commitment to health care provision and the ability of an individual to afford quality and comprehensive care. However, there is one area which has been neglected and which has been shown to have a huge impact on the overall health care provision and health promotion. This is the question of how gender affects health care promotion, risk differences based on sex differences and social norms attributed to both genders. The role we assign both genders and the stereotypes society ascribes to them determines preventative efforts to several ailments and the access of health care depending on society and time period.
It is clear that men and women have huge biological differences and different social roles and the way we approach these differences have a huge impact on health care. It goes without saying that there are some health conditions that affect women exclusively and others that affect men. The issue of preventing or dealing with these conditions or ailments must therefore be approached with which type of gender based condition we are dealing with and recognizing that men and women perceive issues differently. Society has conditioned men and women in how they view their role in society and these changes with place and time. Some behaviour attributed to one gender like smoking influences the disparities in disease patterns like lung cancer in relation to both genders. Smoking is seen to reflect masculinity and is heavily frowned in women and this explains how gender stereotypes impacts health. In this regard, any health promotional effort must take into consideration the biological, sociological and psychological of the different sexes if it is to meet any meaningful success.