Complimentary Therapies

Broadly speaking complementary medicines and therapies are those which have not been clinically proven by the standards of Western medicine but may have been used in cultures for literally thousands of years.

There continues to be some debate about the ‘value’ of complementary medicine in terms of whether NHS resources should be stretched further to provide these services. However advocates of this more ‘natural’ type of treatment believe that complementary medicines and therapies are a powerful tool in recovery and wellbeing, and that the benefits reported by individuals simply cannot be quantified by medical trails.

An increasing number of people in the UK are using complementary,  or “alternative” medicine to try and alleviate particular illnesses or symptoms, or to improve their overall health. Many people choose to use these therapies in conjunction with conventional medicine.

Following a suggestion submitted by our Patient Reference Group in June 2012 this information has been compiled to provide patients with information relating to some of the most commonly used complimentary therapies. These are not available on the NHS but it was felt that some of our patients may wish to find out more details regarding the benefits.

We recommend that patients who wish to arrange any private complimentary treatment:

  • Ensure that the therapist is fully qualified and an accredited member of the appropriate organisation (for example the British Acupuncture Council).
  • Advise their GP if they are receiving any kind of complimentary therapy treatment.
  • Visit their GP if they have any worries or ongoing concerns about their health.


Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese art in which fine needles are inserted into the skin at certain points on the body.  It is based on the belief that an energy, or ‘life force’ flows through the body in channels called meridians.

Practitioners (called acupuncturists) use acupuncture to treat a wide range of health conditions. It is often used to treat pain conditions such as headache, lower back pain and dental pain, but is also commonly used against conditions ranging from infertility to anxiety and asthma.


The use of essential oils in treatments to improve physical and emotional wellbeing, relieve pain and alleviate tension and fatigue. Each aromatic oil – extracted from different plants – is thought to have unique therapeutic properties. The oils can be added to a bath, massaged through the skin, inhaled directly, used with teas, or scented in a room.

Chinese Medicine

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), or sometimes called Chinese Medicine (CM), is a traditional eastern medical system. It uses an holistic approach to diagnosing, preventing and treating diseases by identifying patterns and then applying the individual combined therapies of acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, tuina (a therapeutic massage) and other techniques.
Its unique characteristics which distinguish it from ‘orthodox’ medicine are rooted in the ‘concept of holism’.


Hypnotherapy has long been recognised to be a very powerful method for personal development. In fact, it is known to have been in use for the last 6,000 years. Today, all around the world, people use the power of hypnosis to help deal with a vast range of problems. Hypnosis is simply a state of heightened relaxation and altered awareness.

When you are relaxed in this way it is possible to make contact with your subconscious mind, in order to effect change in your life. The subconscious is an untapped resource for creativity. The subconscious mind is the seat of all your emotions and therefore directs nearly all your behaviour. Most importantly the subconscious is responsible for maintaining the body in good health and for all the autonomic processes, e.g., breathing, blood circulation, tissue repair and controlling blood sugar level.

Magnetic Therapy

Magnet therapy, magnetic therapy, or magnotherapy is an alternative_medicine practice involving the use of static magnetic fields. Practitioners claim that subjecting certain parts of the body to magnetostatic fields produced by permanent magnets has beneficial health effects.


There are over eighty different recognised massage modalities practiced around the world and it is thought to be one of the oldest therapies practiced today. Massage works on the soft tissue of the body to enhance function, aid in the healing process and promote relaxation and wellbeing. Massage aids in the movement of blood and lymph, helping the body by promoting better blood flow to an area and lymphatic drainage via the lymph nodes.

Reiki Healing

Reiki is a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing. It is administered by “laying on hands” and is based on the idea that an unseen “life force energy” flows through us and is what causes us to be alive. If ones “life force energy” is low, then we are more likely to get sick or feel stress, and if it is high, we are more capable of being happy and healthy.


Reflexology is the practice of applying pressure to the feet and hands utilizing specific thumb, finger and hand techniques without the use of oil, cream or lotion based on a system of zones and reflex areas that reflect an image of the body on the feet and hands with a premise that such work effects a physical change in the body.


Shiatsu means finger, or thumb pressure. Like acupuncture it is based on the theory that meridians or lines of energy run through the body and can be manipulated. Techniques include pounding, stretching and rocking. Pressure may be applied by use of forearms, elbows, palms, feet and knees.


Can help you to improve your general health and manage stress, increase flexibility and build strength. It can help you to rehabilitate yourself after an injury or help you manage a condition. It tones muscles, improves mobility in the joints and circulation. It will encourage you to breathe deeper which will oxygenate your whole body as well as calming and stilling the mind and promoting focus. Whatever your age, ability or experience you can enjoy and benefit from yoga.

A useful association to contact for further information and details of local therapists is:

The Federation of Holistic Therapists

Tel: 023 8062 4350

They are the leading and largest campaigning professional association for therapists. With over 50 years of experience the FHT can put you in touch with qualified, experienced and insured complimentary, holistic beauty and sports therapists.

Many thanks to our Patient Reference Group members for their time spent compiling this information sheet