Science may have not always agreed, but Indians have long believed in the power of various therapies other than medicines as a mode of treatment for ailments. Yoga or ayurveda are cases in point. The power of prayer is universally believed to make miracles happen. With ‘treatment’ getting a more holistic approach, more and more doctors these days are recommending alternative therapies, like spirituality or music therapy, to their patients along with allopathic medications.

Eminent cardiologist Ashok Seth of the Fortis Escorts hospital, for instance, says that holistic treatments like music therapy have been found to be effective in cases of cardiovascular problems. “Music helps relieve stress, and therefore works wonders for the cardiovascular system. I tell my patients that while it may not always be possible to ward off stress, taking regular breaks and pursuing a hobby, like music, helps manage it.” Dr. Seth himself takes time out of his hectic schedule to pursue his hobby of singing.

Spirituality is another therapy that has been recognised and recommended by doctors in a big way. When hope seems bleak, when fear strikes, when everything seems suddenly unpredictable, it’s God we usually turn to; doctors feel that this act of praying in distress renews belief, and in turn makes a patient’s will to get better stronger. This is one of the reasons why a lot of big hospitals these days have prayer rooms for people of all faith.

“When my mother was detected with cancer, the family was shattered. We took her to the best medical facility, and as she was undergoing treatment, the doctor told us to pray. He said that faith in a higher power makes us believe that all will be well, and in turn makes our will to get better stronger,” said Suryavijay Singh, a marketing executive. “Today my mother’s cancer is under control and I really believe that spirituality, apart from medicines, had a big role to play.”

Home maker Salma Parveen said that the head of ENT department of a prominent hospital she visited recently seconded her decision to go for homeopathy to treat her nasal problem.

Although more supportive now than before, doctors, however, opine that alternative therapies can only be add-ons to allopathic treatment. Sameer Malhotra, mental health expert at Max hospital, said: “Music can definitely heal and we use music therapy in the treatment process in our department. Having said that, I have to say that holistic therapy cannot be a replacement for allopathic treatment as allopathy is based on scientific documentation. They can only be add-ons.”

Cardiac surgeon and chairman of Medanta, Naresh Trehan, highlighted the benefits of integrative medical system. Medanta has a department of Integrative Medicine and Holistic Therapies that uses ayurveda, yoga, panchakarma to manage diseases like Parkinsons disorder.

“Integrative Medicine is the more evidence-based approach of complementary medicine and denotes ongoing progression in the co-existential relationship. Medical facilities in India should adopt this strategy and implement it so as to provide the Indian population with the benefit of ancient medical systems,” Dr. Trehan said.

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