(This is a version of an excerpt from an article published in the Healthy Hairdresser section of the October 2014 issue of MODERN SALON.)
Perhaps you relieve your sore back with acupuncture, or maybe your grandmother’s secret brew shortened the duration of your cold when you were a kid and you’ve sworn by it ever since. Even many doctors who practice traditional medicine are open to patients’ choices that fall under the increasingly broad “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM) umbrella, especially when the more standard remedies produce adverse side effects, lead to addiction or result in an accidental overdose. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 33,000 deaths were attributed to unintentional overdose of prescription drugs in 2011. Children get access to medication as well, causing an estimated 71,000 emergency room visits each year.
So a lot of people are thinking: if I can adopt alternative therapies or take herbs that help to prevent aches and pains or cure conditions, why not? The latest figures, from a 2008 study released by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) and the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, indicate that nearly four in ten U.S. adults rely on some type of CAM; the most common of these was ingesting non-vitamin, non-mineral natural products. Other therapies with significant increases between 2002 and 2007 were deep breathing, meditation, massage and yoga. Problems with the back/neck, joint pain and arthritis were the most common reasons for CAM use.
“People are so focused on pain that they miss the fact that it is a signal of deeper health problems,” says Frank King, a doctor of naturopathy, president of the natural medicine company King Bio and author of The Healing Revolution. King suggests several strategies to prescription-free pain management:
- Identify the root cause. “Pain is a signal of deeper problems, similar to the warning light on the dashboard of your car,” King explains. “You can mask the light with duct tape, which is what prescription drugs do with pain. You can cut the wires, which might symbolize a surgical approach. Or you can look for the root causes. Address the problem, and the pain will subside.”
- Make good lifestyle choices. Before you ask your doctor for a prescription, try walking more, eating and sleeping better and avoiding stress. When you eliminate bad habits, you’re likely to experience decreased pain and better health. “It’s that simple,” King says.
- Explore natural healing techniques. “You are your best doctor, on call 24/7,” King says. “I developed many self-healing techniques that address the needs of every aspect of mind-body health. These techniques are free and easy to implement at home, on the job and wherever you might be.”
Longtime hairdresser health advocate Ann Mincey Jetton, who conducts rejuvenation retreats, recommends five approaches for salon pros:
- Chiropractic treatment
- Breathing techniques
- Gratitude journaling
Take a deep breath, sit in quietness and listen to your body,” Jetton advises. “The ‘what’ is getting your six-month dental checkup and your mammogram, but we have to address the ‘why’ as well. Listen to your heart, because the body knows what it needs.”