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Back behind the wheel: Alternative health care

Over the last couple of years, I have noticed that more and more people are trying alternative types of therapy/medicine to treat their health problems....

Over the last couple of years, I have noticed that more and more people are trying alternative types of therapy/medicine to treat their health problems.

There are literally hundreds of different types of therapies that can help you, but choosing the right one can be exhausting and confusing.

It is always a good idea that you do some research before using any type of health care (i.e. medical, chiropractic, naturopathic). Being informed about the various types of health care will allow you to make a better decision, as to which type of care is best for you.

So here is some general information about acupuncture, chiropractic and naturopathy to get the ball rolling!

Acupuncture is not new. It has been around for thousands of years and is still being used today throughout the world. It is very popular in Asia and has recently become widely used in North America.

Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese form of therapy that is used to promote health and manage various health conditions. It is based on the fundamental belief that the body contains “vital energy” that circulates within the body, which is able to heal itself (without medications, etc…If there is any type of imbalance or blockage of this energy, sickness, disease and pain is the end result. An acupuncturist will assess the flow of this energy, in its pathways (known as “meridians”) and will determine if there is any interference. The use of needles specifically placed in along these meridians will stimulate the body to release various chemicals, which will help the body heal and restore balance. By balancing this energy, it restores the normal flow of energy, which results in optimal health.

A typical acupuncture treatment lasts for 30 minutes to an hour. It is not painful, but some people may experience a warm and tingling sensation throughout their body. It is safe and effective and free from any side effects. The World Health Organization recognizes acupuncture and traditional oriental medicine for the treatment of 43 common disorders including gastrointestinal, urogenital, gynecological, respiratory, musculoskeletal, circulatory, emotional, addictions and eye, ear, nose throat disorders. Basically everything!

The word “naturopathy” was first used in the U.S. approximately 100 years ago. Like acupuncture, naturopathy has been around for a long time. Hippocrates, a physician who lived 2,400 years ago, is often considered the earliest naturopathic physician.

Naturopathic doctors treat various health conditions with the exclusive use of natural remedies (light, heat, cold, water, vegetables and fruits). They have extensive education, which is comparable to all doctorate programs (medical doctor, chiropractor) primarily focusing on nutrition and biochemistry.

You can think of a naturopath as the GP of alternative/natural therapies. As health professionals they treat/prevent disease and promote wellness. They specialize in nutrition and use it as a modality to treat disease. A naturopathic doctor has many tools under his or her belt (manual therapy, prescribed exercise and use electrical modalities etc…) which he or she can use to help the body heal itself.

On your first visit, the naturopathic doctor will ask about your general health history and do a physical examination. If naturopathic medicine can help you, your doctor may then give you a treatment or make some recommendations.

Chiropractic focuses on the relationship between the spinal column, the nervous system and the musculoskeletal system. If there is any dysfunction or imbalance between any of the above, disease/pain will occur. The chiropractor specializes in manual manipulation (adjustment) and it is his or her primary mode of treatment. By adjusting the spine or any other joint in the body, it removes any restrictions and improves mobility/range of motion. A typical treatment involves soft tissue therapy, spinal manipulation, electro therapy, nutritional advice and exercises to prevent injuries from reoccurring.

Although chiropractic is considered to be an alternative therapy, it is the second most utilized type of health care, next to medicine. Approximately 12 million adjustments are performed annually. It is safe and effective for back pain, headaches, sciatica, joint pain and many other musculoskeletal conditions. Chiropractors are highly trained doctors with an average of eight years of university/ college education. In school they study all the basic sciences but specialize in anatomy and the biomechanics of the body.

Now that you have a general idea of these three types of therapy you may be able to choose the one that you feel may benefit you the most.

A shift in the health paradigm is happening and more people are becoming aware of the benefits of alternative health care. So the next time you are in pain, consider seeing an acupuncturist, a naturopath or chiropractor. You may be pleasantly surprised at the benefits each of them can provide you. Until next month drive safely and take care!

– Dr. Jerry Singh, B. Kin., D.C., runs Trans Canada Chiropractic at 230 Truck Stop in Woodstock, Ont. He can be reached at 1 888 252-7327, or e-mail

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