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Alternative Cultural Healing

Healing practices from ancient cultures predate traditional Western medicine by thousands of years. Since long before there were modern drugs, these methods have been used to treat physical and mental illness.

Traditional Oriental medicine (such as acupuncture, shiatsu, and reiki), Indian systems of health care (such as Ayurveda and yoga), and Native American healing practices (such as the Sweat Lodge and Talking Circles) all incorporate the beliefs that:

  • Wellness is a state of balance between the spiritual, physical, and mental/emotional “selves.”
  • An imbalance of forces within the body is the cause of illness.
  • Herbal/natural remedies, combined with sound nutrition, exercise, and meditation/prayer, will correct this imbalance.

Acupuncture: The Chinese practice of inserting needles into the body at specific points manipulates the body’s flow of energy to balance the endocrine system. This manipulation regulates functions such as heart rate, body temperature, and respiration, as well as sleep patterns and emotional changes. Acupuncture has been used to relieve stress and anxiety, to reduce symptoms of depression and to help people with physical ailments. Learn more.

Ayurveda: Ayurvedic medicine is described as “knowledge of how to live.” It incorporates an individualized regimen-such as diet, meditation, herbal preparations, or other techniques-to treat a variety of conditions, including depression, to facilitate lifestyle changes, and to teach people how to release stress and tension through yoga or transcendental meditation.

Yoga/meditation: Practitioners of this ancient Indian system of health care use breathing exercises, posture, stretches, and meditation to balance the body’s energy centers. Yoga is used in combination with other treatment for depression, anxiety, and stress-related disorders. Learn more.

Native American traditional practices: Ceremonial dances, chants, and cleansing rituals are part of Indian Health Service programs to heal depression, stress, trauma and substance abuse.

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