Today I decided to write a blog post about something that I am very passionate about…Complementary Therapies. I have been very interested and intrigued by the whole holistic approach to health and over a good few years have done lots of research into the different types of Complementary Therapies. I know that alot of you are also interested in this holistic approach too, so I decided to write a brief beginners guide to the six most popular types of Complementary Therapies. Please remember I am not a professional or qualified in this however, I am very passionate and have sourced my information from alot of good researching. I hope you find this a useful read.
ABOUT COMPLEMENTARY THERAPIES
Complementary Therapies are a holistic approach to not only your physical health but your mental health also. They often take all aspects of your physical and emotional wellbeing as a whole rather than just treating specific symptoms on their own. For example; Quite alot of complementary therapies will focus on the body, mind and spirit/flow of energy through the body. Many of the approaches have roots in ancient Eastern philosophies of health and alot of the approaches were used as traditional healing methods in the past before the development of the treatment methods that are currently used by the NHS.
The difference between Modern/Conventional medicine and Complementary therapy is that the Modern/Conventional medicine is largely based on clinical evidence and academic research. As this way often just treats specific symptoms rather than getting down to the full root of the problem itself alot of people like to try out a complementary therapy alongside the treatment that has been offered by the doctor too.
Alot of people ask if complementary therapies really do work. And all I can say to that is that different things work for different people. This is with all medicines and therapies though. Medicines and Therapies are not a ‘one size fits all.’ I think you need to look at your own personal needs and what health benefits you hope to get by trying a therapy out. Then you will be able to choose a complementary therapy that is best suited to you and hopefully is an effective treatment for you. Alot of people do agree that complementary therapies are super helpful in managing or relieving the symptoms of what they are experiencing.
There are alot of reasons why people choose to try complementary therapies and I personally think it’s a wonderful approach to health when looking at your health as a whole and not just for a quick fix symptom treatment.
THE 6 MOST POPULAR COMPLEMENTARY THERAPIES
(These six are not the only Complementary Therapies available out there, there are many more however I just wanted to cover the 6 most popular ones. I have also written each therapy as a short overview, so if your looking for more in depth information definitely check the individual therapies out in more detail.)
1. AROMATHERAPY – Helps with… Stress relief, Better energy, Insomnia. Oils that have been extracted from plants are highly potent and if you didn’t know already, their aromas that they give off can have amazing effects on us when inhaled. The molecules in the oils reach the brain and affect our Limbic System when inhaled. The Limbic System helps to govern emotions and inhaling essential oils can lead to physical changes like; a lowered heart rate, slower breathing rate, lowered blood pressure aswell as a boost in memory. When used alongside a massage some oils have been known to improve circulation too. It is important to look into the safety information with Aromatherapy as alot of the oils should not be used on direct skin and should instead be diluted into a carrier oil for massage. If you are pregnant you should check with a health adviser before using as some essential oils must be avoided!
2. HERBALISM – Helps with… Anxiety, IBS, Menstrual problems.An interesting fact is that around half of all modern drugs were derived originally from the chemicals in herbs. Potent plants are used to treat everything in herbal medicine, from issues like low energy to circulation and joint issues. Herbal medicines are extracted from the flowers, leaves and roots of various parts of the plant. You should always get the advice from a qualified medical herbalist who has a degree or equivalent in science. You should also tell your healthcare provider what you are taking (even if it’s been brought over the counter) to avoid any drug interactions too.
3. REFLEXOLOGY – Helps with… Anxiety, Pain Relief.When people think of Reflexology alot of people think of a foot massage however, it is so much more than just a massage! Therapists are trained to stimulate reflex zones on the feet which correlate with different areas of the body. The treatment releases energy blocks in the body and stimulates healing. Practitioners of reflexology never claim to ‘cure’ people however, it can be a really supportive therapy for people going through Chemotherapy, Looking to calm anxiety and also helpful to Reduce arthritis pain.
4. MASSAGE THERAPY – Helps with… Relaxation, Mental health, overall general wellbeing.Everybody knows the pure bliss feeling after having a super relaxing massage but there are many more benefits to it than just a ‘feel good factor.’ A massage boosts circulation and waste elimination via the Lymphatic System. It can also improve flexibility, reduce inflammation in the body and improve digestion too. It has seriously relaxing effects which gives amazing benefits to mental health also. Time to make a booking with your favourite massage therapist!
5. ACUPUNCTURE – Helps with… Injury, Pain, Emotional Trauma.
If you don’t have a needle phobia then you may consider trying out this one. Acupuncture comes from traditional Chinese Medicine, which says that the body has various forces within it which needs to have balance to be in good health. This is a popular therapy where the therapist inserts tiny needles into the body in various places. It sounds painful but when done correctly it works to reduce pain. The insertion of needles stimulates the flow of qi (which is energy) around the body. This is what allows the body to start healing itself. Acupuncture is about getting qi flowing freely again throughout the body and in Chinese Medicine the disruption of qi flow is thought to be the main cause of disease.
6. HYPNOTHERAPY – Helps with… Phobias, Positive changes in behaviour, IBS.Whenever people hear Hypnotherapy they usually think of hypnosis on various Tv Shows with people being made to do a variety of totally embarrassing things all in the name of entertainment! However it is not like that at all. Therapists say it is a deep state of relaxation in the body combined with a heightened awareness in the mind. A Hypnotherapist will try to ‘tap into’ the clients subconscious to draw out a change in behaviour. This can be anything from curing a phobia to breaking an addictive habit. Hypnosis has also been shown to be an effective treatment for IBS (Irritable bowel syndrome) too, which is super interesting I think. Hypnosis involves soothing visualisations focused around the client’s individual symptoms and progressive relaxation.
REMEMBER TO ALWAYS BE SAFE
Most complementary therapies are considered to be safe. But make sure that they are done by an experienced and trained practitioner. Certain therapies may carry a higher risk for you and would probably not be recommend; If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, Have a Physical or Mental Health problem that maybe made worse by the therapy or Receiving any other treatments that could possibly interfere with the therapy. It is always a good idea to talk to your doctor before you start any new treatment, then you can chat about any safety concerns that you may have about it with them.
I hope that this brief guide to the six most popular complementary therapies has given you a better understanding for what each one is briefly about and what it is beneficial for helping. Like mentioned before there are many more Complementary Therapies out there to discover and these are just a select few. If you are considering trying one or more of these out then definitely do some more in depth research for yourself to get a better understanding of the individual therapy that you are interested in trying. Always remember to stay safe and always ensure the therapy is conducted by an experienced and trained practitioner.
Another little note to remember is; Complementary Therapies can be helpful to most but not everybody does find that it works for them. If this is the case for you then please don’t blame yourself. I promise you that in time when you do end up finding the right combination of treatments, support and self-care for your health need then you will feel better. Treating problems takes time and it is not always a straightforward path. So don’t worry and remember to take ‘One Day At A Time.’