Do Alternative Treatments Work for Essential Tremor?

Many sufferers of essential or benign tremor turn to alternative medicine to find potential relief. Their reasons for doing so range from the cost advantage to the familiarity of the treatment. Health experts have not issued stern warnings regarding the use of non-traditional and unconventional treatments for essential tremor. However, what they recommend is for patients to use scientific and tried-and-tested options.

Alternative medical solutions

There are a number of proposed alternative medicine approaches on how to treat essential tremor. These include hypnotherapy, tai chi, acupuncture and herbal medicine as a few examples.

Hypnotherapists claim that they can help “rewire” the brain to help mitigate the shaking brought about by benign tremor. Accordingly, hypnotherapy helps by guiding the body to relax and achieve intense concentration.

Tai chi is a treatment approach that involves a series of gentle physical exercises and stretching. It makes patients imitate specific poses to boost blood and energy flow. Proponents of this method claim that this helps alleviate the unwanted tremor by connecting the body and the mind.

On the other hand, acupuncturists assert that they can help address essential tremor by stimulating points under the skin to release qi. The claim is that it facilitates improved neurohormonal pathways through the pricking of multiple needles in different parts of the body.

Lastly, some alternative medicine practitioners propose the use of herbal medicine. They don’t have a specific list of herbs though. Most of the time, they only offer concoctions or supplement solutions containing several herbal ingredients.

Effectiveness of alternative medicine

Unfortunately, currently there is no evidence to back the idea that alternative medicine works against essential tremor. Claims of successful treatment are mostly anecdotal. They are not backed by clinical trials and scientific testing of data. It’s difficult to quantify the effects of acupuncture, hypnotherapy, tai chi, and herbal medicine on patients who have tried them. Some may say they are satisfied with the results but putting these claims in scientific and believable terms is quite challenging.

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At present, the approved treatments for the condition include medication, botulinum injection, deep brain stimulation, and ultrasound therapy.

Medications are taken orally and are classified as first-line, second-line, third-line, and fourth-line solutions. First-line oral medications include propranolol and other beta blockers. Second-line medications are the anti-epileptic medicines such as topiramate, gabapentin, and levetiracetam. Third-line medicines are clonazepam and mirtazapine. The fourth-line category refers to those used by medical practitioners.

Botulinum injection is essentially the botox treatment used cosmetically. A toxin taken from the C. botulinum bacterium is injected to the shaking body part to stop the unwanted movements.

Some doctors employ deep brain stimulation along with occupational therapy. They use electrodes to excite parts of the brain, particularly the tremor center.

Ultrasound treatment, on the other hand, entails the use of guided focused ultrasound beams to target specific parts of the brain and introduce physiological changes that may improve the condition.

Alternative medicine may work for some patients, but there is no guarantee that they are safe and effective. To be on the safe side, it’s better to use tried and tested medical solutions.

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