Health: 34% of Americans Use Common Sense ‘Alternative’ Medical Care
The most recent National Health Statistics Report combined data from nearly 89,000 adults to estimate the use of complementary health approaches in the US.
Overall, 34% of US adults used a complementary health approach in Y 2012 (I am one of them) and 20% used them as their sole source of medical care.
Non-vitamin, non-mineral dietary supplements was the most common alternative approach used, with fish oil ranking top on this list.
Other commonly used approaches include:
1. Deep-breathing exercises
2. Yoga, tai chi and qi gong
Research has found that even more Americans , up to 63%, may use CAM (complementary and alternative medicine), the rate is even higher among healthcare workers than it is among the general population.
In fact, 76% of US healthcare workers use CAM, according to research in the journal Health Services Research. Even more revealing, healthcare providers, including doctors and nurses, were more than 2X as likely to have used practitioner-based CAM, and nearly 3X as likely to use self-treatment with CAM, during the prior year than support workers.
Nearly 6.5-M Americans, or 1 in 30, were even referred for mind-body therapy such as yoga, meditation, or guided imagery by their doctor or other health care practitioner, according to a study in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
Dr. Aditi Nerurkar, 35 anni, an internist and integrative medicine fellow at Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, who co-authored the study, actually did so because of her patients’ requests.
As reported by CommonHealth:
“Dr. Nerurkar, says she was ‘inspired by her patients,’ to pursue the research because so many of them kept telling her how much better they felt, that their insomnia or anxiety had ceased, after taking a meditation or yoga class.”
More than 7% of Americans aged 45 to 64 do yoga, which is up from just over 5% in Y 2002. This is yet another example of a healthy lifestyle choice that many people could benefit from, as is engaging in other forms of exercise, like high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and strength training.
- Flexibility (78%)
- General conditioning (62%)
- Stress relief (60%)
- Overall health (59%)
- Physical fitness (55%)
Originating in ancient Indian philosophy, yoga is often referred to as meditative movement because in addition to offering physical benefits like improved flexibility, core strength, and balance, it also helps with relaxation, breathing, and mental well-being.
So part of what makes yoga so beneficial is that it offers simultaneous benefits to both your mind and your body.
Research suggests yoga can have a similar effect on your mind as antidepressants and psychotherapy, by influencing neurotransmitters and boosting serotonin.
Yoga was also found to reduce levels of inflammation, oxidative stress, blood lipids, and growth factors, as well as have a positive effect on:
- Mild depression
- Sleep problems
- Schizophrenia (among patients using medication)
- ADHD (among patients using medication)
Further, yoga has been shown to have a beneficial impact on leptin, a hormone that plays a Key role in regulating energy intake and energy expenditure, as well as atrial fibrillation. Other research shows that yoga is beneficial for chronic low back pain, anxiety, high blood pressure, and improved function.
Part of what makes these approaches so useful is that they allow you to take control of your health.
If you are feeling stressed, you can try deep-breathing exercises virtually anywhere.
Deep breathing activates your parasympathetic nervous system, which induces the relaxation response.
There are many different breathing practices that you can try, here I will share 2 that are both powerful and easy to perform.
The 1st I learned 16 yrs ago. The Key to this exercise is to remember the numbers 4, 7 and 8. It is not important to focus on how much time you spend in each phase of the breathing activity, but rather that you get the ratio correct.
Here’s how it’s done:
- Sit up straight
- Place the tip of your tongue up against the roof of your mouth. Keep it there through the entire breathing process
- Breathe in silently through your nose to the count of 4
- Hold your breath to the count of 7
- Exhale through your mouth to the count of 8, making an audible sound
- That completes 1 full breath. Repeat the cycle another 3 times, for a total of 4 breaths
You can do this exercise as frequently as you want throughout the day, soon it becomes how you breathe. The health benefits of this simple practice are enormous and work as a natural tranquilizer for your nervous system.
The second is known as the Buteyko Breathing Method which is a powerful approach for reversing health problems associated with improper breathing, the most common of which are over breathing and mouth breathing.
When you stop mouth breathing and learn to bring your breathing volume toward normal, you have better oxygenation of your tissues and organs, including your brain. Factors of modern life, including stress and lack of exercise, all increase your everyday breathing. Typical characteristics of over breathing include mouth breathing, upper chest breathing, sighing, noticeable breathing during rest, and taking large breaths prior to talking.
Again, part of what makes these approaches so useful is that they allow you to take control of your health.
Controlling anxiety and quelling panic attacks is one of the areas where the Buteyko Method can be useful. When experiencing anxiety or panic attacks, or feeling stressed and your mind cannot stop racing, try the following breathing technique.
This sequence helps retain and gently accumulate CO2, leading to calmer breathing and reduced anxiety. In other words, the urge to breathe will decline as you go into a more relaxed state:
- Take a small breath into your nose, followed by a small breath out
- Then hold your nose for 5 secs in order to hold your breath, and then release your nose to resume breathing
- Breathe normally for 10 secs
- Repeat the sequence
Be healthy, Breathe correctly.
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