Health & Fitness
TIME Alternative Medicine

TIME Alternative Medicine

TIME Alternative Medicine

Much of what has long been labeled "alternative" medicine is actually viable ancient wisdom common for millennia. In a time of skyrocketing health insurance costs and with prescription drugs that often seem to cause as much harm as good, these natural, time-tested practices have moved into the mainstream. Between 30 and 40 percent of Americans seek out alternative treatments, such as acupuncture and natural remedies, spending more than $30 billion each year. Now, this special edition helps you unpack the sea of choices and navigate the trends for science-backed information. Trace a timeline to the origins of these modern treatments and explore the effective mystery of acupuncture; how to bend and be well with yoga; the healing power of plants, including cannabis; the dietary cleanse and the simple power of mindfulness to reduce stress. You'll even find tips on getting coverage from your insurance company. Reconsider the brutal costs and unnecessary side effects of many modern preventions and treatments with this special edition of alternatives.

United States
Meredith Corporation
Read More

in this issue

7 min.
new roads to wellness

THE HISTORY OF MEDICINE HAS NO BEGINNING. HUMANS HAVE DEVISED healing traditions ever since we became, well, human. But whether the traditions are Indian, Chinese, African, North or South American, or Greco-Roman, they all share, in the words of Claire M. Cassidy, an executive editor at the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, “the goals of alleviating the suffering of the sick, promoting health and protecting the wider society from illness.” Each of these traditional healing systems, explains Cassidy, offers answers to fundamental questions about the body, life, death and the role of the healer. This is as true for healing traditions that are practiced only locally, among a single rain-forest tribe, as it is for traditions that have spread across continents. All of this also applies, of course, to the…

7 min.
healing the whole cancer patient

TUNNEL VISION CAN SET IN WITH A NEW CANCER diagnosis. Everyone–the doctor, the patient, the patient’s loved ones–focuses almost exclusively on treatment: the chemotherapy, surgery and radiation that aim to keep a patient alive for as long as possible. But now some forward-thinking doctors are realizing that a single-minded focus on treatment puts cancer, and not the person with it, at the core of the patient’s care. In an effort to change that, some hospitals across the country are launching innovative programs that aim not just to keep patients alive but also to keep them well. “Medicine alone is not enough,” says Anne Coscarelli, founding director of the Simms/Mann University of California, Los Angeles, Center for Integrative Oncology, one of several cancer centers to adopt a comprehensive view of patient care.…

4 min.
after surgery: supporting the recovery process

An operating room is a monument to the idea of not messing around. When you deliver yourself into the hands of semi-strangers and give them license—indeed, pay them money—to knock you out, open you up and manipulate your very innards, you want to know there is hard, tested science on your side. That’s one reason complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) has had such a rough time gaining purchase in most pre- and post-surgical wards. Even as more than 40% of Americans report receiving some kind of CAM treatment in any given year, the surgical arena has long been off limits. The problem is, surgery isn’t just about repairing or removing sick tissue—it’s about fear, pain, depression and stress, not to mention the deep existential terror that comes from walking into a…

9 min.
the mystery of acupuncture

THE HISTORY OF MEDICINE IS THE HISTORY OF preposterous ideas that turned out to be right. Illness couldn’t be caused by invisible creatures that invade the body. Then Antonie van Leeuwenhoek invented the microscope, and we discovered bacteria. Deliberately infecting people with an extremely mild case of a disease shouldn’t be the best way to protect them from catching a serious case of it. Then Edward Jenner hit upon smallpox immunization, and the era of the vaccine was born. And you shouldn’t be able to treat all manner of afflictions, from headaches to backaches to depression to addiction, by letting someone stick needles into any number of 360 specific spots on your skin. Especially if the best explanation anyone can give you for why the treatment works is that it frees…

2 min.
tackling the opioid crisis

Epidemics both instill fear and demand action. The epidemic of opioid-overdose deaths in the U.S. is a case in point: the country saw a sixfold increase in such deaths from 1999 to 2017. The crisis has driven dire headlines and resolute legislative measures, as well as a deluge of legal and financial action against Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin. What has often been lost in the headlines is the fact that underlying the opioid crisis is an even larger medical crisis. More than 50 million Americans suffer from chronic pain, and far too many of them lack safe and effective options for managing it. In the urgency to address the opioid crisis, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued guidelines for physicians to help patients taper opioid use to…

6 min.
it hurts so good

I’M LYING ON MY STOMACH, HEAD WEDGED INTO a cushioned face rest that leaves just enough space for me to breathe. The position itself should be sufficient to generate no small amount of apprehension, but there’s also this: I’m naked, save for the sheet draped over my posterior. Yet I’m as relaxed as I’ve ever been, the tension in my body—and especially that knot I’ve felt in my right side for years—dissolving in waves. I can even forgive the chanting that’s playing quietly in the background. All thanks to the massage therapist standing over me, her fingers kneading the small of my back, arranging and rearranging my muscles until I feel as soft and pliable as Silly Putty. At the moment, I don’t particularly care about the medical benefits of…