Holistic medicine and alternative therapies

Holistic medicine is an umbrella term for therapies which do not use traditional medical treatments; there are several forms of alternative therapy, with the most common being homeopathy, osteopathy and chiropractic.

Holistic medicine is a controversial subject and causes great debate amongst health professionals; the following paragraphs will profile some of the more well-known methods and offer advice on how to go about arranging a treatment if you are interested in exploring the avenue of alternative medicine.


What is homeopathy?

Homeopathy involves treatments using natural and organic products and substances, as opposed to traditional medications prescribed by doctors. Homeopathy is designed to stimulate the body’s natural defence system in order to fight infections or heal wounds; this mainly involves the use of herbal remedies which are usually taken in tablet form.

Does homeopathy work?

Many experts argue that there is no scientific proof that homeopathy works, while others argue that homeopathy is extremely successful in treating some cases; for some people they may work, while others may feel no different after having a homeopathic treatment.

Is homeopathy safe?

Homeopathic treatments are derived from natural sources and are given to patients in extremely diluted doses; most experts agree that homeopathy is wholly safe.

How to go about getting homeopathic treatment?

If you want to see a homeopath, you can consult the Society of Homeopaths either via the telephone or online or alternatively you can search online or in the telephone directory; you should always consult a professionally trained homeopath; the Society of Homeopaths has a list of these.


What is osteopathy?

Osteopathy is primarily concerned with treating the muscular and skeletal systems and can be used to treat a range of different conditions. Osteopathy is increasingly used as a preventive measure as well as a means of healing and recovery.

Types of treatment

Osteopathy may involve a number of different activities which may include massage, stretching and exercises.

Who can benefit from osteopathy?

Osteopathy can benefit a whole range of people; older people who suffer with joint pain or arthritis may find that osteopathy improves the flexibility of the joint and eases pain and swelling. Professional sports players use osteopathy increasingly as a means of keeping the muscles tort and the joints loose; many sports players use massage as an integral part of recovery after a match or game.

Cost of osteopathy

Commonly osteopaths charge between £30 and £60 for a half hour session; this will usually depend on the area where you live and the experience and qualifications of the osteopath.

If you want to see an osteopath

All osteopaths should be registered with the General Osteopathic Council; you can consult their website for details of qualified osteopaths in your area; your GP will also be able to offer you advice and you may be able to use an online search engine to help you locate a local practitioner. Most osteopaths work privately, although there are some that work for the NHS.


What is chiropractic?

Chiropractic is concerned with the treatment of conditions which relate to the skeletal system, joints and muscles. Chiropractic is primarily focused on the spine.

Who can benefit?

Chiropractors treat a range of conditions which may affect a diversity of people. Chiropractic can be used to improve joint movement, improve posture, treat muscle aches and pains and increase flexibility. Chiropractors also treat illnesses, which are brought about by poor alignment of the spine such as headaches, neck and back pains.

What does treatment involve?

Treatment usually involves hand movements and massage in the affected area; often the movements are small and discreet but can make a big difference to the alignment of the spine and the subsequent functioning of the surrounding muscles and joints. Chiropractors may also encourage you to do specific stretches and they may use heat or ice to treat your condition.

How much will it cost?

Usually chiropractors charge between £30 and £45 per half hour session.

Does chiropractic work?

Most experts agree that chiropractic is an effective means of treatment; research has shown that it is particularly beneficial for those suffering from lower back pain.

Finding a chiropractor

If you want to arrange to see a chiropractor, you can use an online search engine, ask your local GP or look in the telephone directory; you may also wish to consult the General Chiropractic Council’s website where you can enter your postcode and it will bring up details of local chiropractors (GCC); all practising chiropractors should be registered with the GCC.