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Alternative medicine is a means of treating a symptom or illness outside of conventional Western medicine. Often, alternative treatments are from Eastern cultures and use more natural methods, like herbal remedies.

Some alternative medicine practices have been used for thousands of years. For example, the Ayurvedic medicine system started in India over 3,000 years ago. Ayurvedic medicine uses herbs, special diets, and other natural practices as treatment for a variety of conditions.

Although there isn’t always clinical research behind it, alternative medicine can be effective. In some cases, you can also combine it with conventional medicine. These books offer a closer look at alternative medicine techniques, how to use them, and when.

When you think about alternative medicine and home remedies, you may have lots of questions: Are these treatments effective? How do they work? “Mayo Clinic Book of Alternative Medicine and Home Remedies” aims to answer them. It explains how to treat common health problems at home and when to use certain remedies. You’ll also find information on how to tell if your symptoms are a sign of a medical emergency and when it’s time to get your doctor involved.

Two naturopathic doctors, Michael Murray and Joseph Pizzorno, explain how natural therapies are used to treat common health conditions. In “The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine,” they provide tips for living a healthy lifestyle and using supplements and botanical medicines. The doctors give examples of how holistic medicine can be effective, using information from scientific studies.

People have been practicing Ayurvedic medicine for 3,000 years. In “The Complete Book of Ayurvedic Home Remedies,” Dr. Vasant Lad introduces the modern reader to this complex, ancient form of medicine. He includes simple instructions for how to use Ayurvedic formulas for different conditions, like cold and flu symptoms, anxiety, depression, headaches, high cholesterol, and more. The ingredients from Dr. Lad’s formulas can be found at most health stores or easily ordered.

Modern life can leave us feeling unhealthy and disconnected. Many of our habits, like poor diet and lack of movement, lead to chronic disease. Through “Ayurveda Lifestyle Wisdom,” author Acharya Shunya teaches readers about the ancient medicine technique and how to apply its teaching to a modern lifestyle. Her tips include wellness practices, like yoga, meditation, and healthy recipes. Shunya has unique experience with the ancient medicine. She first learned Ayurveda from her grandfather, who was a healer in northern India.

The principles of Ayurveda can be applied in lots of different ways. In “Balance Your Hormones, Balance Your Life,” Dr. Claudia Welch uses them to help women restore balance to hormones. She explains that high stress levels, lack of sleep, and an unhealthy diet can cause hormones to get off balance. Dr. Welch provides tools from the ancient medicine practice and explains how you can use them.

For many generations, Eastern and Western medicines were at odds. Few practitioners used both. That’s not the case so much today, with many healers and doctors combining both approaches. “Between Heaven and Earth” is a guide to help you understand why ancient Chinese medicine can still be valuable today and how it can be used with more modern Western practices.

If you’re only familiar with Western medicine, this book is a great place to start. “The Web That Has No Weaver” serves as a guide to explain Chinese medicine. It examines Chinese medicine both from the perspective of ancient sources and modern research. Use it to introduce yourself to Eastern practices and learn more.

What you put into your body can have a big impact on your health. We now know the connection between poor diet and chronic health conditions. “Healing with Whole Foods” focuses on changing your diet with guidance from Chinese medicine. Learn about nutrient-dense greens, like spirulina and blue-green algae. The book also offers over 300 nutritious recipes.

Eastern and Western medicine come from two very different schools of thought. When used together, they can offer even more benefits. In “The New Chinese Medicine Handbook,” Dr. Misha Ruth Cohen, a doctor of Chinese medicine and licensed acupuncturist, outlines how Chinese medicine can be used alongside modern medicine to treat a variety of conditions. Learn how to combine Chinese dietary guidelines with Western ones. Dr. Cohen also outlines how to practice healing therapies, like acupuncture, qi gong, and Chinese herbal therapy.

Preventive health means practicing healthy lifestyle behaviors that help protect you against diseases, like diabetes, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s. “Natural Health, Natural Medicine” is a combination of preventive health tips and alternative medicine techniques. The book offers healthy, simple recipes and tips for using alternative healing. It also provides research about the link between diet and certain chronic conditions.