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Here is how Oxford Health Plans Inc. defines the alternative medicine practices it offers:
Acupuncture originated in China more than 5,000 years ago. It is based on the belief that good health depends on a balanced flow of qi-vital life energy. According to acupuncture theory, qi circulates in the body along 12 major pathways, each of which is linked to specific internal organs and organ systems. When special needles are inserted into acupoints just under the skin, they help correct and balance the flow of energy and consequently relieve pain and restore health.
Chiropractic practitioners adjust the spine and joints, often to relieve back pain and other kinds of chronic pain. According to chiropractic theory, these adjustments also can influence the body's nervous system and natural defense mechanisms to improve general health.
Massage therapy seeks to reduce muscle tension, which contributes to muscle fatigue and pain by compressing nerve fibers in the muscle. Prolonged muscle contraction interferes with the elimination of chemical wastes in the muscles and surrounding tissues and can cause frequent nerve and muscle pain.
Naturopathy incorporates a variety of alternative medicine methods based on a patient's individual needs. These alternative medicine methods can include: diet and clinical nutrition; homeopathy, which are remedies based on natural substances from plants, animals and minerals; acupuncture; herbal med-icine; hydrotherapy; therapeutic exercise; spinal and soft-tissue manipulation; physical therapies involving electric current, ultrasound and light therapy; therapeutic counseling; and pharmacology. Naturopathic theory is based on six principles: the healing power of nature; treat the cause rather than the effect; first, do no harm; treat the whole person; the physician is a teacher; prevention is the best cure.
Yoga seeks to integrate physical, mental and spiritual energies through different physical postures, breathing exercises and meditation.