Hiking Mt Kilimanjaro, skydiving from 15,000 feet, and driving a Lamborghini at 220mph are all obvious choices for your Bucket List. But why not add to your list some less cliche experiences? “Alternative medicine” is all the rage now. Why not sample a bunch of alternative medicines as well? You can try to check off as many as you can before you kick the bucket! Maybe you’ll even get cured of what ails you.
I put together a very superficially researched list of 100 real life potential therapies.
You may want to be a little careful in which order you sample them- as some of them if used incorrectly could accidentally lead to your death. Then you wouldn’t get to try the rest of them!
Here are the first 50 therapies on my list. Sometimes the therapy is paired to a link with useful information and other times it is paired to link so useless it’s actually impressive.
We can pretend these are ranked in their definitive order of importance to humanity:
- Acupuncture– The traditional Chinese medical treatment of poking folks with needles in order to direct the flow of Qi (energy) throughout the body, leading to treatments and cures. Actually it may help you with a whole host of stuff from anxiety and nausea to chronic pain and headaches. Not good if you’re afraid of needles. Good if you’ve always dreamed of dressing up like a pin cushion.
- Hypnotherapy– cure smoking, phobias and chronic pain by allowing someone to plant suggestions in your mind. Just don’t let them put you in a trance and secretly infiltrate a foreign government.
- External Qi Gong– this is basically a Jedi who can move the energy in your body by moving his hands around.The Force is with these guys.
- Massage– many different kinds from Shiatsu to Swedish, to Thai and Balinese. Can be really relaxing, painful or with an untrained masseuse-injurious. Some apparently even come with happy endings.
- Ayurvedic medicine– a whole system of traditional medicine originally from India. It blends the five of elements fire, air, water, earth and space creating the Doshas of Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Make sense? Hey 1 billion Indians use it and they also made Bollywood and chicken tikka masala.
- Reiki– It’s like massage, if your masseuse was a Jedi. The therapist channels healing energy from her palms to activate the patient’s natural healing process. The Japanese guy who invented it in the 1920’s descended from a family of Samurai- so that’s cool.
- Shamanism– A medicine man goes into a trance during a ritual, communicates with spirits and channels the energy into this world to heal you. It’s basically supernatural healing. You can find shamans in almost every culture around the world.
- Acupressure– like acupuncture except with no needles. Don’t let your ex-girlfriend angrily ram her thumb in your back and call herself an accupressurist.
- Moxibustion-burning dried mugwort (Mona) on or near the skin over acupuncture points to increase the flow of Qi. Among others, it claims to be able to reorient a breech presentation fetus. Also just fun to randomly yell out: “Moxibustion!”
- Traditional Chinese Medicine– 2500 years of evolved medical knowledge derived from a rich culture of over a billion people. I guess you could dumb it down to herbs, needles, energy and ancient Chinese secrets. Got it?
- Chelation– administration of chelating agents that bind and remove heavy metals like mercury, iron and arsenic in the body. It’s great if you somehow get poisoned by heavy metals- like after accidentally chugging a bottle of arsenic. Some people use it to treat autism, alzheimers and heart disease without good evidence that it works. Oh yeah, if it’s done wrong it could kill you and be the last alternative medicine you get to try on this list.
- Homeopathy– based on the idea that a substance that causes the symptoms of a disease in healthy people can cure that disease in sick people. In homeopathy that substance is diluted over and over and over again to the point where no molecules of the original substance remain in the final homeopathic solution. Umm… On the plus side, it’s probably really safe because it’s basically giving water.
- Transcendental Meditation– In “TM” you sit and repeat a silent mantra for 15-20 minutes twice a day for relaxation and stress reduction. In the 1950’s an Indian guy named Maharishi Mahesh Yogi started the whole TM movement. He was not related to Yogi Bear,.
- Faith Healing– Asking God to heal you through prayers. Also utilizes the technique of “laying on of hands.” Maybe if God likes you, he’ll think about helping you. Maybe not…
- Aromatherapy– Uses “essential oils” which smell good to improve well being. I would imagine the opposite scenario is true as well: bad smells that make you feel awful (e.g. the mystery farter in a plane). Not a great therapy to cure blocked nasal passages.
- Art therapy– a form of psychotherapy that utilizes making art as healing and life enhancing. One of the few effects of therapy you could theoretically sell to a museum.
- Apitherapy– the use of honey bee products (honey, pollen, propolis, royal jelly and bee venom) to treat various health problems. The buzz on this alternative medicine is that it isn’t good for people allergic to bees.
- Alexander therapy– Frederick Mattias Alexander’s educational process of getting rid of tension in your body by getting rid of bad habits of movement. I once strained my neck brushing my teeth so I may look into this.
- Ultraviolet Blood Irradiation– blood is exposed to low level red laser light to “heighten the body’s immune response and kill infections.” It must be good because it uses LASERS!!!
- Chiropractic Medicine– diagnoses and treats mechanical disease of the spine with “spinal manipulation”- the back crackers. I’ve seen a vertebral artery dissection causing a stroke after a chiropractor cracked a neck twice in my career. Whoops- not without risk I guess…
- Colon hydrotherapy– so this is where you stick a tube in your butt and inject a bunch of water multiple time to flush out all the “toxin filled poop” from the colon. Might be smart to pair this one with aromatherapy.
- Crystal healing– placing special rocks with “healing power energy” on or near your body. All I know is if you put a large diamond on my chest, it might actually make me feel better.
- Dietary supplements– vitamins, minerals, fiber, fatty acids, and amino acids. In other forms these are known to the world as “food”. It is a 40 billion dollar a year industry- so research on it’s effectiveness is probably without bias I’m sure…
- Dance therapy– the psychotherapeutic use of movement and dance to help connect the mind and body, enhance wellness, and support the intellectual, emotional, and motor functions of the body. I know I always felt better after my breakdancing class when I was in fifth grade.
- Ear candling– lighting one end of a hollow candle and putting the other end in the ear canal. Sound like a good idea to you? Proponents claim the flame creates a negative pressure and draws wax and debris out of the ear canal…. and hopefully does not burn you terribly. I guess this was invented by a guy who hadn’t heard of Q-tips or had a tremendous fear of soap and water.
- Electromagnetic therapy– Utilizing electromagnetic fields to disrupt the body’s chemistry which is causing disease. Hmm… Electromagnetic fields? This treatment is primarily geared towards those who failed high school physics.
- Stem Cell Treatment– Undifferentiated stem cells can differentiate into many types of specialized cells. Now commonly used and with proven benefit in bone marrow transplants for patients with leukemia. Clinics have expanded that use for other conditions. It sounds super scientific and cutting edge-as do the terms “robotic” or “laser activated”. Buyer beware.
- Fasting– Intermittently eating nothing or very little calories in a safe way to help improve health and decrease aging. It may actually have some benefits. Side effects include hunger and becoming a jerk.
- Feldenkrais Method– an exercise therapy claimed to reorganize the connections between the brain and the body to improve body movement and psychological state. Invented by the Israeli judo practicing engineer Moshe Feldenkrais who injured his knee on a slippery submarine deck during World War 2 and didn’t want to get surgery to fix it. So he invented this rehab therapy instead. Makes me feel very lazy.
- Hyperbaric oxygen– using 100% oxygen in a chamber with a pressure higher than normal atmospheric pressure. Often used in decompression sickness from scuba diving, carbon monoxide poisoning, and gas gangrene. Used in for other conditions with less supporting evidence (autism, cancer, cerebral palsy, sports injuries). At least you get to go in a chamber.
- Can goo (coining)– traditional medical treatment popular in Vietnam where the skin is scraped off, releasing unhealthy bodily matter built up from blood stasis and stimulating new blood flow to those areas. Sometimes you scrape the skin off with coins. It is often confused with child abuse. I will never look at a dirty quarter the same way again.
- Hair analysis– analyzing a person’s hair for trace minerals and toxins. Then extrapolating that any discovered toxins in the hair are potentially causing systemic disease. Of course this assumes your hair isn’t picking toxins up from your cheap shampoo.
- Yoga– ancient Indian physical, mental, and spiritual practice useful for exercise and improving relaxation. Also, a good place meet attractive, fit, young women.
- Havening– the therapist prompts the client to bring up an uncomfortable emotion which causes distress. Then they perform a “havening touch.” The therapist gently strokes the clients shoulders and arms and psychologically distracts them by talking about something pleasant- placing them in a mentally “safe place.” These acts are repeated until the distress its gone. Proponents claim in the future when the bad memory is recalled, the anguish previously associated with it will be gone. It’s kinda like a medicinal hug.
- Holistic medicine– A form of healing that considers the whole person including body, mind, spirit and emotions focusing on creating a balanced life for the person. I also refer to it as “good medicine.”
- Hydrotherapy– use of water in various forms for pain relief and treatment. You have ice, liquid and steam. Can be anything from spa-like treatments to physical therapy in a pool. Maybe you can find a way to bill your medical insurance for that weekly trip to the jacuzzi?
- Iridology– claims patterns, colors, and other aspects of the eye’s iris can yield information about a patient’s systemic health. Iris charts divide the iris into 80-90 zones that correspond to specific parts of the human body. That’s why that creepy guy is staring into your eyes…for diagnostic purposes.
- Introspection rundown (scientology)– a Church of Scientology auditing process that is intended to handle a psychotic episode or complete mental breakdown. It claims to help the person look into their own mind, feelings, or reactions. Now why would a person from the Church of Scientology have a mental breakdown? Tom Cruise-any thoughts?
- Kampo– a Japanese traditional medicine consistenting primarily of herbs and herbal formulas. These herbs however are regulated as pharmaceuticals in Japan and the ingredients measured and standardized. Often it seems herbal medicine just comes as an unlabeled zip lock bag of leaves with the instructions- “make tea.” Then you wait around and hope your liver doesn’t fail. Not so with the organized and precise Japanese.
- Macrobiotic Diet– A diet associated with Zen Buddhism which attempts to balance the yin and the yang of food and cookware. It promotes reducing animal products, eating locally grown foods and consuming meals in moderation. The diet includes lots of whole grain cereal, legumes, vegetables, seaweed, fruit, and soy and avoids nightshades (tomatoes, peppers, eggplant). It claims to help with cancer. Not recommended for people who ever eat in restaurants.
- Manual lymphatic drainage– a type of low pressure massage that is hypothesized to aid the natural drainage of lymph- the waste products of tissues. The stagnated lymph built up in the lymph nodes (lymphedema) is rerouted into centrally located lymph nodes. Since most people don’t even know what a lymph node is, it’s a tough sell sometimes.
- Medical intuition– a practitioner uses their self described intuitive or clairvoyant abilities to diagnose the cause of a physical or emotional condition. Some do it with no history, physical, or lab tests. Man, having this gift would have made medical school way easier.
- Vipassana meditation– a nonsectarian technique developed in ancient India by the Buddha that claims to help “see things as they really are.” It focuses on the interconnection between mind and body, practicing self-purification by self-observation. Mental purification may then cure psychosomatic diseases and lead to enlightenment. Sound too good to be true? The downside is it takes a lifetime of discipline.
- Mega vitamin therapy (orthomolecular medicine) –the use of vitamins at doses much greater than the FDA’s recommended daily allowance in an attempt to prevent or treat disease. The Flintstones are heavily invested in this treatment.
- Music therapy– an expressive therapy that uses all the facets of music to help patients improve physical and mental health. It deals with improving cognitive functioning, motor skills, emotional development, social skills, and quality if life. “Yes honey- that’s why I continuously annoyingly tap my foot- I’m in therapy!”
- Ayahuasca– a psychoactive potion made from the Banisteriopsis cap vine and Pyschotria viridian leaf used by Amazonian Shamans as a traditional spiritual medicine. Users claim to have spiritual awakenings regarding their purpose on earth, leading to healing and revelations on a spiritual level. This all happens after they puke and crap their guts out.
- Pilates– a physical fitness system developed by Joseph Pilates utilizing special apparatuses. He called it Contrology. Pilates claims to improve flexibility and build core strength improving coordination and balance. Another a good place to meet attractive chicks.
- Pranic healing– an energy healing system founded by Filipino entrepreneur and philanthropist Choa Kok Sui. He claims prana (energy) can heal ailments in the body by affecting a person’s energy field. Again kinda like a Jedi…invented by a Filipino Yoda…
- Psychic surgery– the practitioner performs surgery with his bare hands. The hands painlessly penetrate the body, blood flows out, and he rips out the disease. No anesthesia? These guys will put me out of business.
- Rebirthing– a form of psychotherapy involving controlled rebreathing intended to stimulate the trauma of being born. Invented by Leonard Orr who claimed to re-live his own birth once while taking a bath. Orr proposed correct breathing can cure disease and relieve pain. Don’t tell your mother you’re doing this- she would probably just smack you as she re-lives her trauma of your birth.
So that’s just a few of the alternative therapies out there. Please note (in case you didn’t figure it out) none of the commentary or links above have been vetted for accuracy, applicability or usefulness. Don’t confuse it for actual medical advice.
More to come…