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Alternative Therapies Dissertation Topics

We have provided the selection of example alternative therapies dissertation topics below to help and inspire you.

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Example alternative therapies dissertation topic 1:

Common High Street Chinese remedies: Healing or hokum?

In recent years the popularity of alternative Chinese medicine has increased within the UK with the number of Chinese medical establishments rising exponentially. This investigation involves 20 students from the University of London who are split into a controlled group and variable group. Each participant chosen will be suffering from influenza and will either be given Chinese herbal remedies or Beecham's Powders dispensed by a shopkeeper rather than a trained practitioner - the participants will thereafter be asked to keep a diary as to their progress in getting better. A small scale sample means that this is very much a pilot study suited for undergraduate level. Nevertheless, it does enable the researcher to address a number of related issues, undertake primary research and become adept at conforming to research ethics.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Chen, X., Wu, T. and Liu, G. (2006). 'Chinese medicinal herbs for influenza: A systematic review'. Journal of Alternative & Complementary Medicine, vol. 12(2), pp. 171-180.
  • Wang, L., Zhang, R. M., Liu, G. Y., Wei, B. L., Wang, Y., Cai, H. Y., ... and Wang, G. (2010). 'Chinese herbs in treatment of influenza: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial'. Respiratory Medicine, vol. 104(9), pp. 1362-1369.
  • Wang, X., Jia, W., Zhao, A. and Wang, X. (2006). 'Anti-influenza agents from plants and traditional Chinese medicine'. Phytotherapy Research, vol. 20(5), pp. 335-341.

Example alternative therapies dissertation topic 2:

Perceptions of ear candles.

Sold as an aid to well-being ear-candles have gained in popularity over the last five years as a means of relaxation. Ideally used with a combination of relaxed quieting music (such as pan pipes or the sounds of whales), the candles emit a gentle heat to the inner ear - relaxing the user as the taper burns. However, critics of the ear candle suggest that the 'effects' of ear candles are illusory. This study involves shoppers in Great Yarmouth who will be questioned before, during and after using ear candles as an aid to their existing relaxation techniques. Charting the changing views of the participants it is hoped that this study will enable a fuller understanding of users' experiences of ear candles to be garnered so that the stated positives can be more quantitatively recorded.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Capon, S. (2006). 'Benefits of treatment with Hopi ear candles'. Nursing & Residential Care, vol. 8(1), pp. 23-25.
  • Ernst, E. (2004). 'Ear candles: A triumph of ignorance over science'. Journal of Laryngology and Otology, vol. 118(1), pp. 1-2.
  • Zackaria, M. and Aymat, A. (2009). 'Ear candling: A case report'. European Journal of General Practice, vol. 15(3), pp. 168-169.

Example alternative therapies dissertation topic 3:

Regulating the claims of alternative medicine - An overview of the present situation.

Noting a need to protect customers from false advertising, whilst still giving them freedom of choice with regard to alternative medicines, this dissertation reviews the present state of complementary medicine regulation within the United Kingdom. Benefitting from a substantial existing literature, this dissertation will build upon the secondary data already available by interviewing alternative medicine practitioners so that their concerns relating to 'over-regulation' can be adjudged. After all, as advocated of alternative medicines note, over-the-counter medicines such as paracetamol can be toxic if overdosed; therefore, why should their industry be more heavily regulated?

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Day, M. (2007). 'Complementary medicine: Mapping the alternative route'. British Medical Journal, vol. 334(7600), 929.
  • Hunt, K.J., Coelho, H.F., Wider, B., Perry, R., Hung, S.K., Terry, R. and Ernst, E. (2010). 'Complementary and alternative medicine use in England: Results from a national survey'. International Journal of Clinical Practice, vol. 64(11), pp. 1496-1502.
  • McGarry, H., Pirotta, M., Hegarty, K. and Gunn, J. (2007). 'General practitioners and St. John's Wort: A question of regulation or knowledge?' Complementary Therapies in Medicine, vol. 15(2), pp. 142-148.

Example alternative therapies dissertation topic 4:

Ayurvedic medicine - A rejoinder of faith and freedom.

Building upon the need for spiritual balance found in both Hindu and Buddhism, Ayurvedic medicine advocates the use of natural herbs and spices (in conjunction with spiritual balance) as a means of healing. However, toxic levels of lead, mercury, and arsenic have, in recent years, been found in some samples of Ayurvedic medicine within the United States. Noting the need for religious toleration and acceptance of cultural diversity, this dissertation questions whether, given the requirements not to discriminate on the grounds of culture, ethnicity, or religion, whether users of Ayurvedic medicine within the UK should be left to practise and dispense their medicines unhindered by the state, for to do otherwise might infringe their protected rights. A dissertation that combines alternative therapy, with issues of ethnicity and legal equality.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Newcombe, S. (2008). 'Ayurvedic medicine in Britain and the epistemology of practising medicine in "good faith"'. In, Wujastyk, D. and Smith, F.M. (eds), Modern and global Ayurveda: Pluralism and paradigms. Albany, NY: SUNY Press, pp. 257-284.
  • Saper, R.B., Phillips, R.S., Sehgal, A., Khouri, N., Davis, R.B., Paquin, J., ... and Kales, S.N. (2008). 'Lead, mercury, and arsenic in US-and Indian-manufactured Ayurvedic medicines sold via the Internet'. Journal of the American Medical Association, vol. 300(8), pp. 915-923.
  • Sarmukaddam, S., Chopra, A. and Tillu, G. (2010). 'Efficacy and safety of Ayurvedic medicines: Recommending equivalence trial design and proposing safety index'. International Journal of Ayurveda Research, vol. 1(3), pp. 175-180.

Example alternative therapies dissertation topic 5:

Naturopathy and homeopathy: A defence against multinational capitalism.

Variously described as 'quackery' (Wahlberg, 2007) and lambasted as a consequence of 'scientific evidence not support[ing] claims that naturopathic medicine can cure cancer or any other disease' (American Cancer Society, 2008), this dissertation presents a vigorous defence. Using first hand evidence, it questions the validity of quantitative studies within main-stream health studies that have criticised alternative therapies, noting that the latter have a rich literature of qualitative data pertaining to the success that they can bring. In further suggesting that the debasing of alternative medicine is part of a wider pharmaceutical-inspired conspiracy against natural remedies, this dissertation looks specifically at natural healing techniques used in late 19th century Germany.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • American Cancer Society (2008). 'Naturopathic medicine'. American Cancer Society. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/complementaryandalternativemedicine/mindbodyandspirit/naturopathic-medicine.
  • Myers, S.P., Bensoussan, A., O'Connor, J., Paul-Brent, P.A., Baker, D.G., Wohlmuth, H. and Cheras, P.A. (2005). 'A review of reviews of the benefits of naturopathy and Western herbal medicine'. In, Lin, V., Bensoussan, A., Myers, S.P., McCabe, P.J., Cohen, M., Hill, S. and Howse, G. (eds), The practice and regulatory requirements of naturopathy and Western herbal medicine. Bundoora, Vic: School of Public Health, La Trobe University, pp. 68-96.
  • Wahlberg, A. (2007). 'A quackery with a difference - New medical pluralism and the problem of 'dangerous practitioners' in the United Kingdom'. Social Science & Medicine, vol. 65(11), pp. 2307-2316.

Example alternative therapies dissertation topic 6:

Mao Zedong and traditional Chinese medicine - A cultural and ideological alternative to Western medical practices?

Focusing on traditional Chinese medicines, this dissertation looks at the role of Mao Zedong in the presentation of Chinese medicine as an alternative to western medical practices. Using contemporaneous archival material as well as secondary sources noting, for instance, the visit of President Nixon to China and the 'patient operated upon with acupuncture rather than anaesthetic' (later shown to be a hoax), this dissertation combines the theory and practice of Chinese traditional medicine with the socio-political and cultural legacy of Mao. A working knowledge of Mandarin would be advantageous - but not essential - for the completion of this dissertation.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Hesketh, T. and Zhu Wei, X. (1997). Health in China: From Mao to market reform. BMJ, vol. 314(7093), p. 1543.
  • Keji, C. and Hao, X. (2003). 'The integration of traditional Chinese medicine and Western medicine'. European Review, vol. 11(2), pp. 225-235.
  • Stone, R. (2008). 'Lifting the veil on traditional Chinese medicine'. Science, vol. 319(5864), pp. 709-710.

Example alternative therapies dissertation topic 7:

Anger management and yoga: Towards a more holistic approach to offender managing.

Yoga has been shown, through numerous studies, to calm and relax the body. Soothing the spirit it involves a serenity that is antithesis to anger. However, despite this, yoga is not presently used in the offender treatment programmes advanced by the Probation Service with regards to the reconfiguring of its clients attitudes who suffer from anger management issues. This dissertation initially evaluates the present 12 week anger management course offered by Northamptonshire Probation services and interviews both professionals and clients with regards to the effects that role playing and spider-diagrams (both used in present treatment) have upon the behaviour patterns. With the co-operation of the clients and the service, the dissertation then, at the end of that course, introduces the offenders to a four-week intensive programme of yoga. During this, their attitudes are noted and thereafter evaluated. Hoping that the dissertation study will show that there is a positive correlation between the embracing of yoga and the reduction of violence (above that achieved through the present course) this study aims to make a valuable contribution to the future shaping of probation services dealing with anger management throughout the UK.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Derezotes, D. (2000). 'Evaluation of yoga and meditation trainings with adolescent sex offenders'. Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal, vol. 17(2), pp. 97-113.
  • Granath, J., Ingvarsson, S., von Thiele, U. and Lundberg, U. (2006). 'Stress management: A randomized study of cognitive behavioural therapy and yoga'. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, vol. 35(1), pp. 3-10.
  • Harris, D.A. and Fitton, M.L. (2010). 'The art of yoga project: A gender-responsive yoga and creative arts curriculum for girls in the California juvenile justice system'. International Journal of Yoga Therapy, vol. 1(1), pp. 110-118.

Example alternative therapies dissertation topic 8:

Evaluating the worth of alternative therapy training - A cost benefit analysis.

That universities such as the University of Derby have been forced to close their Complementary Medicine Department suggests that with the rise of university tuition fees, many who might previously have enrolled in university are instead furthering their education in this field through the undertaking of apprenticeships. Combining the theory and practice of massage (as an alternative therapy) with the costs involved in training as a massage therapist; this dissertation presents a cost-benefit analysis of undertaking such 'on the job' training rather than undertaking a degree in alternative medicines. This is, accordingly, a cross-disciplinary dissertation that not only evaluates core components of the courses offered but also comments on issues of student finance, the graduate job market and public perception as to the relevance of certain degree courses.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Dieckhoff, M. (2008). 'Skills and occupational attainment: a comparative study of Germany, Denmark and the UK'. Work, Employment & Society, vol. 22(1), pp. 89-108.
  • Mauldin, B. (2011). Apprenticeships in the health care industry. Washington, DC: US Department of Health & Human Services.
  • Tait, J. and Cummings, M. (2004). 'Education, training and continuing professional development in medical acupuncture - A contemporary overview'. Acupuncture in Medicine, vol. 22(2), pp. 75-82.

Example alternative therapies dissertation topic 9:

Colonic irrigation: An investigation into a burgeoning movement.

Focusing upon consumers in Colchester, this dissertation first charts the rise in colonic irrigation clinics in the United Kingdom since 2000. In the second part of the dissertation, a review of existing literature is undertaken including a critique of the critics of such alternative medicines. In the third part of the dissertation, 30 customers at two colonic clinics in Colchester are interviewed - a cross sample of repeat users and new clients; to ascertain their personal views as to the health benefits of undertaking a course of treatment. Finally, a series of suggestions are proffered as to how the industry could better market its services so that the benefits it brings to people can be more widely understood.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Acosta, R.D. and Cash, B.D. (2009). 'Clinical effects of colonic cleansing for general health promotion: A systematic review'. American Journal of Gastroenterology, vol. 104(11), pp. 2830-2836.
  • Ernst, E. (2010). 'Colonic irrigation: Therapeutic claims by professional organisations, a review'. International Journal of Clinical Practice, vol. 64(4), pp. 429-431.
  • Richards, D.G., McMillin, D.L., Mein, E.A. and Nelson, C. D. (2006). 'Colonic irrigations: A review of the historical controversy and the potential for adverse effects'. Journal of Alternative & Complementary Medicine, vol. 12(4), pp. 389-393.

Example alternative therapies dissertation topic 10:

Healing waters, for hands that need healing: The Dead Sea and Lourdes, a review of dermatological benefits.

Requiring primary fieldwork to be undertaken in both Israel and France, this dissertation could be used as a 'stepping stone' to further, more advanced, post-graduate research. Involving a thorough review of existing literature as well as the compilation and analysis of personal experiences and those of other users, this dissertation enables the researcher to experience the healing properties of both the Dead Sea and Lourdes first hand, with a specific focus on the skin. Primarily qualitative in its research methodology, it is envisaged that the primary research would be undertaken over a summer vacation so as to enable a wide selection of interviews to be collected. Thereafter presenting the data recorded this dissertation would also benefit from a substantial analysis of historic documents relating to the healing properties related to the waters of both places.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Even-Paz, Z. and Shani, J. (2007). 'The Dead Sea and psoriasis'. International Journal of Dermatology, vol. 28(1), pp. 1-9.
  • Proksch, E., Nissen, H. P., Bremgartner, M. and Urquhart, C. (2005). 'Bathing in a magnesium-rich Dead Sea salt solution improves skin barrier function, enhances skin hydration, and reduces inflammation in atopic dry skin'. International Journal of Dermatology, vol. 44(2), pp. 151-157.
  • Senze, M. and Kowalska-Góralska, M. (2012). 'Presence of metals in waters from sacred springs in Europe'. Ecological Chemistry and Engineering, vol. 19(1-2), pp. 123-128.

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