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More and more people are exploring the uses of alternative therapies to treat a wide range of ailments, while recognising the many benefits that these non-conventional methods may bring in taking a holistic approach to health.

The main reason people turn to alternative therapies to tackle their aches, pains and illnesses is that there are very few side effects associated with these approaches, unlike with some conventional medicines. Since the therapies work at an ‘all-body’ level, they can also help to induce stress relief, relaxation and inner calm, besides relieving the symptoms of the condition.

With so many different options to choose from, if you’re considering taking an alternative approach to healing, it’s important to weigh up how a particular therapy may help you, and choose one that is specifically targeted at treating your symptoms or condition. You may need to have several sessions to notice any results.

Here are some of the most common options to consider:


Reiki is an ancient Tibetan form of healing which involves gently placing the hands over specific parts of the body to channel healing energy. It is widely used to treat a variety of aches and pains, but can also help with stress relief and emotional imbalance. Since reiki doesn’t involve touch, it is appropriate for all people and conditions, such as those with joint problems and inflammation.


Reflexology is based on the theory that we have pressure points in our hands and feet that correspond to different parts of the body. By gently manipulating specific pressure points, it’s believed that healing can occur in affected areas. Experts argue that reflexology can help with a wide range of conditions, such as joint problems, sciatica pain, degenerative illnesses such as MS, circulatory problems and low immunity.


Also known as colour therapy, this form of alternative healing is based on the principle that different colours can affect how we feel. It’s believed that some colours have the power to stimulate certain parts of the body, while others may soothe or calm, such as if there is inflammation or irritation present. By manipulating the use of colours for different ailments, chromotherapy can be tailored to an individual’s need, to help induce healing. It is also often used to treat digestive disorders or nerve problems.

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Acupuncture is centuries old and is one of the most recognised forms of alternative therapies, with some GPs even recommending its use to their patients. It involves inserting fine needles into specific points on the body to stimulate energy balance and healing. Acupuncture is most commonly used for pain relief caused by chronic conditions, but it has been shown to be effective in treating a wide range of disorders, such as circulation problems, or neurological conditions.

The Alexander Technique

This simple and practical therapy involves undoing bad habits related to posture, so that patients are able to move better, and have improved balance and co-ordination. The Alexander Technique is particularly useful for treating musculoskeletal problems, reducing tension and relieving joint pain. It has proved effective in helping sufferers of Parkinson’s disease.


With hydrotherapy, patients carry out a range of gentle and controlled exercises in water set at different temperatures, normally much warmer than a swimming pool. The advantage of this treatment is that the exercises can be tailored to suit your specific condition or strength capabilities. Hydrotherapy is commonly used to ease joint pain and improve mobility in those suffering from arthritis, rheumatic conditions and circulatory disorders.


Aromatherapy is the use of plant essential oils to help treat a number of conditions. It’s often used to ease emotional disorders, such as stress, anxiety or insomnia, but many people with back pain turn to aromatherapy to tackle their symptoms. The essential oils are massaged on to the skin, inhaled or added to a bath. Aromatherapy is often used in combination with other alternative or conventional therapies.


Talking therapies, such as counselling, have become more popular in recent years, as health professionals recognise that many emotional problems can manifest into physical symptoms if they’re not addressed. The benefit of counselling as an alternative therapy is that there are no side effects, and talking to a trained professional can help to release feelings that may be causing stress, anxiety and other health problems. Whether you have experienced bereavement, loneliness, divorce, ill health, relationship difficulties or are struggling to find a new path following retirement, counselling can help you to come to terms with your problems, and find a way forward.