- Aromatherapy – According to Mary Margaret Chappell in an article in ‘Arthritis Today’, recent studies “corroborate the use of aromatherapy for pain relief”. Apparently “Aromatherapy is effective because it works directly on the amygdala, the brain’s emotional centre,” says Mehmet Oz MD, professor of surgery at Columbia University Medical Centre in New York City. “This has important consequences because the thinking part of the brain can’t inhibit the effects of the scent, meaning you feel them instantaneously”. It is a method of healing using highly concentrated plant oils called ‘essential oils’ that are often highly aromatic and are extracted from plants. Alan Hirsch MD, neurologist at the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago, believes you don’t have to limit yourself to essential oils. Limiting the length of your exposure to certain scents however, will ensure they remain effective. “Short-term exposure is key because people stop responding to scents after a few minutes”.
- Acupuncture – A UK trial showed patients who received ten acupuncture sessions were far more likely to be pain-free after two years than those who didn’t. An American study saw 60% of back pain sufferers experience a significant improvement after acupuncture. The word “acupuncture” means “needle piercing”. It is a traditional Chinese medical treatment using very fine needles, which are inserted into the skin at any of the 800 specially-designated points. It originated from a Dutch physician, William Ten Rhyne, who had been living in Japan during the latter part of the 17th century and it was he who introduced it to Europe. It works by manipulating the body’s energy flow, or Chi, to help the body to balance and heal itself. Legend has it that acupuncture was developed when it was seen that soldiers who recovered from arrow wounds were sometimes also healed of other diseases from which they were suffering.
- Meditation – Many people are turning to meditation as an effective way to relax and bring inner peace. It can also help with stress, improve your general health and help you to think clearly. It’s something you can do wherever you are, by focusing on something else around you instead of your thoughts, worries and obsessions. You can meditate just by focusing on something; anything will do if you are out. But most people still meditate on breathing, a single repeated word, a flower or a mental image. Meditation is much more than just a way of relaxing, it also clears our minds and makes us more alert. If you meditate for a few minutes each day, the results can be deep and long-lasting. There are many places you can learn to meditate; it could be a candle-lit room, with incense and dreamy music, lying on the floor after a yoga class or at an evening’s class at your local school or leisure centre.