Editorial Issue 16
There are a staggering array of therapies under the wide umbrella of complementary medicine and it is difficult, if not impossible for any one person to know, understand, or even relate to all of them. In recent issues of Positive Health, we have published the successful treatment of eczema in children by homoeopathy (page 11, Issue 12, May/June 1996), by the movement of electromagnetic assemblage points (page 11, Issue 15, Oct/Nov 1996), with flower essences (page 25, this issue) and by allergy testing (page 51, this issue). Published research has also evaluated the effectiveness of treatment for atopic dermatitis in adults by psychological techniques including relaxation, autogenic training and stress management (page 36, Issue 10, Feb/March 1996) and in children and adults using hypnotherapy (page 44, Issue 8, Oct/Nov 1995).
These techniques are all obviously different; many practitioners with a more orthodox medical training could embrace allergy testing using immune techniques but disparage the use of flower essences or electromagnetic approaches. And certain clinicians today totally rubbish the practice of homoeopathy as defying rationality (see Research Updates this issue); yet few could dispute the results obtained with young children by Dr J, the GP homoeopath writing in Positive Health.
It has become a well-known cliche that we typically use only a small percentage of the capacity of our brain. And, as elegantly described in the articles of this issue regarding memory, learning and mind maps, most of us don't even know how to learn or remember much of the time. This same concept is covered from a totally different point of view in the bodywork section describing Meir Schneider's techniques of breathing, eye and muscle exercises which are designed to educate and re-educate the body and link new connections with our mind.
Most of us have had experiences where something happened to us that we couldn't explain, or we found that we could perform some task without actually understanding how we were able to do it, or that we somehow coped or survived a life-threatening situation of which, looking back, we are unable to believe ourselves capable. There are probably many explanations for these relatively common phenomena, ranging from instinct, reflex actions, latent psychic, telepathic or superhuman powers, or simply a shift in our ordinary state of consciousness. Whatever our explanation, the fact is that we have been capable of doing something without understanding how we were able to do it. This sets up a fascinating dialogue between the two sides of our mind - the rational side throws up scores of sceptical questions, doubting the reality of what has happened, while the intuitive/creative side simply knows that this has happened, regardless.
When I was doing molecular biology research, the logical part of me was actually calculating and measuring out a given number of molecules of DNA or RNA in each test tube of my experiment, while the intuitive part of me was wondering how these microlitre quantities in the test tube could possibly relate to the real DNA or RNA of a plant. Or while doing some massage on my partner, wondering whether this was going to help and feeling gratified when he said that the massage had helped his aching back.
We don't yet have water-tight explanations regarding how many complementary therapies actually work; all of us privately filter many of our attitudes depending upon our bias, training, experience and learning orientation to new ideas. Yet, when it concerns the alleviation of suffering from health problems, whether the treatment road uses psychotherapy for phobias, homoeopathy or allergy testing for eczema or electromagnetic or acupuncture therapy for migraines, in the words of Sabina Pettitt "it is a journey of embracing the Mystery of All That Is".
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