There are multiple different systems of medicine practiced by various cultures that have grown up independent of conventional Western medicine. The two most commonly used alternative systems are Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and homeopathy, discussed below.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)—This system includes a number of techniques directed towards restoring the balance between the two forces of yin and yang. Yin is the “cold” or passive force or principle, and yang is the “hot” or active force or principle. When symptoms arise or disease exists, there is an imbalance between these two forces. TCM includes acupuncture, herbal medicine utilizing a customized blend of herbs, oriental massage, and qi gong. Some studies have shown benefit for treatment of hot flashes and night sweats by using these techniques. The downside of using acupuncture is that multiple treatments over time may be needed, and these treatments are not usually covered by health insurance plans.
Homeopathy—Homeopathy is a Western system of medicine that is based on the principle that “like cures like”. Whereas a large amount of a substance may cause illness, very small amounts of the same substance are thought to cure illness by stimulating the body’s defense mechanisms and aiding its natural healing processes. Homeopathy takes into consideration the interrelationships between the body, mind, and emotions in determining the best course of treatment.