Alternative Treatments

"The secret of longevity is to get a chronic disease and take care of it". Sir William Osler

While this concept may seem strange, once you are diagnosed with CRPS/RSD, taking care of yourself is the logical and responsible thing to do. Taking responsibility for helping yourself can be done in many ways. Doctors can provide the medications and treatments but the rest is up to you. Remember, you determine the quality of your life.

Here are some complementary alternative treatments that have been used. We caution you that what helps one, may not necessarily help another person, however you will find a combination that works for you. The best way is to find out through trial and error. To get more help, contact us.

CRPS SELF-MANAGEMENT PROGRAM: To discover how we at PARC manage pain, contact us at PARC. We have 26 years' experience in dealing with CRPS. The program is comprehensive and takes into account that everyone is different. Talk with us! You will be glad you did.

List of Methods Naturopathic Medicine Homeopathy Chronic Disease Chiropractic



Exercise is the most important element and must be done as an ongoing program in order to improve the disease. Exercise will help retain function, strength, muscle mass and flexibility in the affected limb. Exercise builds stamina to fight pain and improves blood flow, one of the main problems of CRPS.

If exercise is not done, function of the affected limb can be lost.

Endorphins, produced by exercise, kill pain in the body. Exercise brings oxygen into the skeletal muscle in CRPS patients, which has been proven through research to be severley lacking.

How can I exercise? Before you exercise, check with your doctor.

A "graded exercise program" starts with small steps; the lowest intensity and frequency gradually increasing it over time and be sure that it is carefully monitored.

  • PHYSIOTHERAPY: helps with balance, flexibility, strength, cardiovascular conditioning and regaining muscle mass.It is the single most important element in treating CRPS and remains "the cornerstone of effective treatment."
  • The "STABILITY BALL" program or "AQUA THERAPY" (in 92-93F water) both avoid weight bearing on the affected limb.


  • Acupuncture/Acupressure: a series of treatments to control pain using wafer thin needles. Please see the Sept. 2002 issue of the PARC PEARL for details. Click here.
  • Antioxidants and Nutritional Supplements: to strengthen the immune system can be given by a qualified naturopath. Please see Naturopathic Medicine
  • Chiropraxy: Please see Alternative Treatment Options for RSD by Dr. David Leprich D.C.
  • Diet: certain foods and substances will increase or decrease pain. An anti-inflammatory diet helps decrease the inflammation present in the body. Contact PARC for details.
  • Herbal Medicines: can be administered and monitored by a qualified naturopath. Please see Naturopathic Medicine
  • MASSAGE: There are many types e.g. Manual Lymph Drainage(MLD) aka Lymphatic Massage. Techniques are designed to stimulate the lymphatics and calm the nervous system without stimulating blood flow. MLD can help lymphedema, a common problem in CRPS.
    For an MLD therapist in Ontario please call the Referral Service 1 800 668 2022 Ontario Massage Therapists Association or visit
    Vodder Massage is MLD plus Decongestive Therapy for lymphedema. Please contact the Vodder School Tel: 250 598 9862 or visit types of massage are Swedish, Esalen, Rolfing and Feldenkrais. For further information please see PARC PEARL Sept. 2002 issue. Click here.
  • MEDICAL MEDITATION: As outlined in his book, Dr Dharma Singh Khalsa, (medical doctor and Yogi), explains how we can meditate to alleviate pain and activate the parasympathetic system in our bodies, the "calm, rest and repair system" which helps us heal. For further details, read his book "Meditation as Medicine" Pocket Books 2001 ISBN # 0-7434-0064-X or see our BOOKS page.
  • MOIST HEAT: Several methods can help: e.g. warm bath, exercising in a whirlpool, and Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate) soaks. The salts reduce swelling and inflammation. Generally, try 2 cups in a warm bath, soaking for 30-45" two or three times a day. For those unable to use a bathtub, soak the extremity in a large pail or make an epsom salt paste for specific areas of the body.
  • Osteopathy: can help with range of motion, posture, body alignment, free trapped nerves and more.
  • Please also see: Osteopathy College
  • Photonic Stimulator: a infrared light device stimulates acupuncture points in the body. Please see our Photon and Dr Pollett files. For more detailed laser information contact us.
  • Podiatry: e.g.. orthotics for better walking and posture.
  • Naturopathic Medicine: Using herbs, nutrition, homeopathy, acupuncture, physical medicine and Oriental Medicine can be helpful.
  • QI GONG: Recent studies with chronic CRPS patients show Qi Gong can play an effective role in pain management by calming, relieving stress and engaging the parasympathetic system.
  • RELAXATION TECHNIQUES : These techniques help calm the body, reduce anxiety, anger and depression. Using specific training methods e.g. progressive muscle relaxation, or guided imagery. Biofeedback, learned from a psychologist, can be effective in pain control without drugs.
  • YOGA: Restorative or gentle rehabilitative yoga can be very effective for chronic pain by activating the parasympathetic system ("resting, digesting and healing" system). Restorative poses can also be very calming. To find a practitioner near you please contact us. Other forms of yoga, e.g. Hatha, Ashtanga, Kundalini, also can be helpful but may be too difficult for beginners. In our experience it is best to start with a gentle yoga and a knowledgeable practitioner. In recent years Yoga Nidra has also become a therapy for pain. For more information please see Kripalu.

OTHER TOOLS: Other methods which may help with pain control are Reiki, Therapeutic Touch, and Tai Chi.

The PARC PEARL newsletter contains extensive articles on many of these treatments. Please see our PARC PEARL page for details.



What is Naturopathic Medicine?

Naturopathic medicine is a type of medicine dedicated to improving health and treating illness. Using natural substances and treatments, the naturopathic doctor (ND) treats the person with focus on prevention. The naturopath believes that the body has a vital force which can help heal itself and also defend itself against disease. The main goal of treatment is to find the cause of the illness rather than to treat or suppress the symptoms patient's mental, physical, emotional and spiritual states are carefully considered when diagnosing and treating. The main therapies used are: clinical nutrition, botanical medicine, homeopathic medicine, acupuncture and Oriental medicine, physical therapies and counselling personal treatment plan is developed which helps begin the healing process.

What Treatments are used?

CLINICAL NUTRITION: The relationship between diet and health is carefully administrated may include a special diet, vitamins, minerals enzymes or other supplements.

BOTANICAL (HERBAL MEDICINE): Plant substances from around the world are utilized for their healing effects and nutritional value

HOMEOPATHIC MEDICINE: The concept of like cures like; is used in homeopathic medicine developed by Hahnemann in the early 1800's.Minute amounts of natural substances are used to stimulate the body's self-healing process.

PHYSICAL MEDICINE: Many techniques for the spine, joints and soft tissues are used. This treatment may also include hydrotherapy, and use of heat and cold, light, massage and ultrasound.

ACUPUNCTURE AND ORIENTAL MEDICINE: Oriental medicine uses acupuncture and Oriental herbs. The body's energy (Chi) must be balanced through meridian pathways.

LIFESTYLE COUNSELLING: Physical, emotional,nutritional and environmental factors affect health. Good lifestyle choices are suggested by an ND.

Is naturopathic medicine safe?

Natural remedies and substances are non-toxic and derived from natural sources. They are gentle and non-invasive. Side effects are rare and ND's are aware of contraindications between naturopathic remedies and conventional medicines.In Canada, a naturopath is a person with a university degree in pre-medicine, and four years of specialized training at a recognized college of naturopathic medicine. Courses include basic medical sciences, naturopathic principles and therapeutics, and 1500 hours of supervised clinical experience.

The Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine is located in Toronto and ND's are regulated in Ontario. Graduates must also pass strict exams in order to qualify for practice .Graduates receive a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine(ND) degree.

What does a naturopath do?

The aim of the first visit is to get to know the patient: it usually consists of an in-depth analysis of all the body systems and to get to know your mental, emotional and physical state. A detailed case taking of genetic history, body type, and present status of all mental, physical and emotional symptoms. A return appointment of usually half an hour is for discussing the results of the analysis and recommending various medicines or treatments which are very highly individualized .A single method or combination of approaches may be used. ND's work with other health care professionals for the benefit of the patients. They refer patients to medical doctors,chiropractors, massage therapists and midwives.

How can I find a qualified naturopath?

The Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine has stringent admission requirements. Students must have pre medicine undergraduate course work similar to medical school. The first two years are basic medical science and years three and four are clinical training .

Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine
1255 Sheppard Ave. E.,
North York, Ontario M2K 1E2
Tel: 416-498-1255
Fax: 416-498-3197
Clinic: 416-498-9763
Web site:

The Schad Naturopathic Clinic has fourth year interns who, under the supervision of licensed ND's, provide treatments. The Clinic is open six days a week and fees are reasonable.The College also has a referral service to provide you with a qualified naturopath in your area. Tel: 1 877 628 7284

Ontario Association of Naturopathic Doctors Tel: (416) 233 2001 Hours: 8AM-1PM.


Hart and Sol: Dr Steven Figueroa ND Niagara Falls

http://www.hart and

Jane Lauermeier, B.ArtsSc. ND, 12 Secord Drive, St. Catharines, Ontario L2N 1K8 Tel: (905) 935 6460

Wayne Chindemi ND DC, Bartlett House of Natural Health, Grimsby, Ontario Tel: (905) 309 3636

All are familiar with CRPS.


Is homeopathic medicine different?

Homeopathic medicine is one of the modalities that ND's use in a total treatment program. A homeopathic practitioner only uses Homeopathy, ND's are trained in homeopathy as part of their four year college training and are tested for licensing purposes

Has homeopathy been around long?

"Nature uses as little as possible of anything".(Johannes Kepler)

Homeopathy was founded in the early 1800's by Samuel Hahnemann, a German physician who was dissatisfied with the medical system of his time. When one of his children became very ill, conventional medicine could do nothing for her. While translating a text on quinine, the author claimed that it cured intermittent fever (malaria).

Hahnemann decided to test it on himself. Although he was healthy, he took the quinine and developed the symptoms of malaria and when he discontinued it, the symptoms stopped. He deduced that malaria was not cured by quinine but by the fact that the drug produced the symptoms of malaria in a healthy person. By the end of the 19th century, 600 new medicines had been tested and added to the homeopathic pharmacy.

Why have I never heard of homeopathy?

The development of conventional drugs such as antibiotics and painkillers, overshadowed the popularity of homeopathy. By the 1950's homeopathy had fallen out of vogue. Today, homeopathy is alive and well in Europe, Asia, and India. The Queen of England and Prince Charles are staunch supporters. There area over 100,000 homeopathic doctors in India. In France, it is the leading alternative therapy at 36%.

What is the law of similars?

Homeopathy comes from the Greek word "homoios" (similar) and pathos means suffering or sickness .Homeopathic medicine is based on the law of similars--meaning that "like cures like". The law states that "a remedy can cure a disease if it produces in a healthy person, symptoms similar to that of the disease". What does this mean? The symptoms that a substance causes in large doses, it can heal when given in minute doses. However, wouldn't you think that giving a dose of something that creates symptoms similar to what the person's symptoms are, would make things worse and not heal them?

Think of it as the body having a set of symptoms and the medicine creating the same set of symptoms. Since two identical diseases cannot exist in the body, the body drives them out. Another way to think of it is like a vaccine, which in small doses helps the body's defense system to desensitize the person to larger doses.For example, the flu vaccine is given in a small amount so that the immune system will fight it off. Later if the person gets the flu, the body's immune system will drive it out.

Symptoms in the body are ways that the body adapts and defends against infection or stress. So using small doses of whatever causes symptoms similar to those that sick people have, will help strengthen their defenses.

What symptoms does the body use? One is fever which creates an internal environment so hot that the bacteria and/or virus cannot survive or multiply. The fever tries to defend the body against infection. Using small doses of substances that can cause similar symptoms of fever that the sick person has, will help the fever resolve more quickly. e.g.. Belladonna (deadly nightshade) causes fever in HIGH doses but in SMALL doses helps heal the body.

Why use homeopathy?

How would you like inexpensive, effective, natural remedies that are safe and without side effects? This is possible with homeopathy. It is a system that uses natural remedies made from animal, vegetable and mineral sources. Prepared in minute doses, they are non-toxic.


Think of chronic diseases as earthquakes. An earthquake will occur on a previous underlying fault. They happen as a result of stresses underneath the earth's surface. They can also occur from pressure from stress near or far away.

Chronic disease can be traced back to a "predisposition" that a person has. Some diseases may have already occurred and some may be due to genetics. Some chronic diseases may be hidden inside the person and only appear under much stress. Other diseases are due to minor stress. Therefore chronic disease does not magically appear but is there due to genetic predisposition or takes many years to develop. This explains why a person with a chronic disease looks healthy but may be on the verge of a serious disease or possibly death. Conversely, a person who looks ill and may have a chronic disease, could take care of it into old age. The chronic symptoms are a way of venting to prevent a larger problem later on.


Acute care refers to finding a remedy for the present symptoms. e.g.. a cold. flu. sprain etc. For someone with a chronic disease, constitutional care can be very effective. Constitutional care is the treatment of the person's symptoms then and now.

After analyzing in great detail, the person's symptoms, genetic history, health history, body type and physical, mental and emotional symptoms, the naturopath finds one remedy that fits the totality of the symptoms.

This process requires a trained professional, skilled at finding just the right remedy from over 500 possibilities. Constitutional care can result in a healing response by the body, and it can strengthen the defense system of the body.

It can help the body continue the healing process over time. There can be a reduction of pain and discomfort. The overall mental, physical and emotional symptoms improve overtime. It is a gentle medicine that requires time to heal however, IT IS NOT AN INSTANT CURE. General improvement happens over time and the longer you have the disease, the longer it takes to recover.


People with RSD have a myriad of symptoms. RSD is a syndrome that affects everyone differently. Some cannot tolerate cold, while others cannot tolerate heat. Others can tolerate vibrations while others are disturbed by noise.

Homeopathy is "designer medicine" which fine tunes itself to the particular and peculiar symptoms of the individual. It helps alleviate those symptoms. For those with chronic RSD, taking care of your body can result in living a longer life. Those with RSD have a difficult time healing even from the smallest cut or bruise. Over time, constitutional care can facilitate the natural healing process in the body.


While it is recognized that this treatment may not help everyone, homeopathy is highly individualized medicine and under the competent, professional care of a naturopath that is willing to work with you, it can help a great deal.

It will certainly make the day to day living with RSD, easier to deal with. Since stress aggravates RSD, reducing stress is a priority.

Easing, then eliminating certain symptoms is the beginning. How we feel and think affects our bodies. Helping ourselves is the first step.

A great deal of training, skill and experience is required to become a competent naturopath. To visit the health food store and buy a remedy is just "cookbook medicine". Since it is very individualized medicine, it requires patience, knowledge and infinite skill to find the correct treatment from over 5,000 remedies. Again, what works for one, does not necessarily work for another. It is similar to RSD: what works for some, does not apply to others.

Does this mean one should abandon conventional medicine? Of course not. One method can complement the other--you can have the best of both worlds. Homeopathy works with most drugs but know that certain substances antidote the remedy e.g.. coffee, camphor products, dental work, antibiotics or steroids.

Like conventional medicine, homeopathy has its limitations. It cannot be everything to everybody. However, it is a safe, effective, natural medicine that deserves consideration by someone with a chronic disease.

For further information, contact the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine.

General Homeopathy

  • Bruning, N.and Weinstein, C. Healing Homeopathic Remedies New York Dell 1995
  • Buegel Dale et al Homeopathic Remedies for Health Professionals and Lay people Honesdale PA Himalayan 1991
  • Castro, Miranda The Complete Homeopathy Book New York: St, Martin's 1990
  • Cook, Trevor Homeopathic Medicine Today Canaan:Keats, 1989.
  • Cummings. S. and Ullman Dana Everybody's Guide to Homeopathic Medicines Los Angeles:Tarcher, 1991.
  • Grossinger R. Homeopathy: An Introduction for Beginners and Skeptics Berkley: North Atlantic. 1993.
  • Kruzel, Thomas, Homeopathic Emergency Guide Berkley: North Atlantic 1992.
  • Lockie, Andrew The Family Guide to Homeopathy New York: Fireside, 1993.
  • Panos M and Heimlich J. Homeopathic Medicine at Home J P Tarcher, Inc. 1980 ISBN 0-87477-195-1
  • Ullman, Dana Discovering Homeopathy Berkley: North Atlantic, 1991.
  • Ullman, Dana. The Complete Guide to Homeopathy New York: Tarcher 1995.
  • Whitmont, Edward C. The Alchemy of Healing Berkley: North Atlantic, 1993.



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