Alternative medicine is an interesting and often controversial subject. It appeals to many people who feel conventional medicine is limited and over dependant on routinely prescribing drugs as a solution to most every problem. There are many forms of alternative medicine and I admit that I am not an expert on any of them. I believe many of these practices are beneficial, but I also think alternative medicine is a slippery slope that can easily snowball to absurdity. I'd like to separate some of these practices into four phases.
Phase One is made up of commonly accepted practices that calm and rejuvenate the body like stretching, breathing exercises, yoga, meditating, fasting, and massage therapy. I've noticed that those who participate in these are usually more receptive to alternative medicine than the general public. These activities seem to be how many people get introduced to additional practices.
Phase two is characterized by vegetarians, herb enthusiasts, chiropractors, biofeedback, aromatherapy, and cleansing. In this phase a masseuse would probably use essential oils and focus on energy centers and chi more during a massage. Some may question these activities, but they are generally accepted by most people.
The third phase has fewer followers and even more critics. It features acupuncture, homeopathy, reflexology, hypnosis, magnet therapy, muscle testing, and hair analysis. This is where things can start to get strange and questionable but it is nothing like the next phase.
The fourth phase is full blown weirdness and features colonic irrigation, iridology, and eventually seeing a full blown witch doctor. I had a friend who went to a woman who had a bowl of small bones she would shake and dump out like she was playing Yahtzee. She would tell her clients what nutrients they were deficient in by analyzing how the bones landed. Now that's good science! The "touchy/feely" factor also increases as you move towards more extreme practices.
I feel that most alternative medicine practices are beneficial and can help people so please don't take offense if something you believe in is on the list. I know many people swear by some of these controversial practices and feel they have benefited from them. I'm more open minded and accepting than the general public but I have my limits. Some people claim to be healers. Do some people really have the art or gift to heal? Probably so, but be careful. There are many desperate people who are exploited by fraudulent practitioners. You should use discernment and don't be afraid to ask for references when working with a new practitioner.
So the next time you are enjoying a massage and your masseuse introduces you to some kind of Eastern/New Age/Alternative therapy just remember it could lead you to additional health benefits or it could escalate to some serious insanity down the road if you are not careful. As critical as I may be of some of these practices, it is hard to argue with results and I find alternative medicine a very fascinating subject.