Complementary Medicine For Dummies (UK Edition)
Interested in complementary medicine and wanting to find out more? Use this Cheat Sheet to get to grips with the different varieties of complementary therapies and how to pick the right one for you. Ensure you’re prepared for practising complementary medicine in your home by reading these practical tips on therapy technique and healthy living.
Choosing the Right Complementary Therapy for You
Wondering which complementary therapy is the one for you? Here’s a handy guide to the sorts of therapies that are particularly appropriate for certain conditions:
Painful joints, or sports injury: Consider one of the manipulation or massage therapies or acupuncture.
Tired, menstrual or menopausal problems, problems with memory or concentration: Nutritional therapy.
Sluggish, bowel or urinary problems, skin problems: Naturopathy or herbal medicine.
Respiratory problems, migraines, or headaches: Homeopathy, herbal remedies, Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Stressed out, anxious, irritable, not sleeping well: Relaxation, breathing, and healing therapies, and aromatherapy.
Digestive problems, blood sugar imbalance, Type II diabetes, gall bladder problems: Ayurveda, Japanese, or Tibetan medicine or nutritional therapy.
Relaxing with Breathing Techniques
One of the many benefits of complementary therapies is that you can use them at home. Here’s a breathing technique from the yoga tradition that you may find useful for relaxation:
Sit in a comfortable position.
Raise your right hand and place the thumb against the right nostril to close it.
Inhale through your left nostril to the count of eight.
Close your left nostril by pressing your ring finger against it.
Release your thumb and exhale through your right nostril to the count of eight.
Repeat the process, this time inhaling through the open right nostril to a count of eight, then close this nostril with the thumb and release the ring finger, exhaling though your left nostril to a count of eight again.
Repeat this sequence seven times slowly and gently.
Your Health in Your Hands
Even if you get the best therapist and therapy in the world, your health and healing still rest to some extent in your own hands. Help yourself by practising the following:
Start each day in a positive frame of mind.
Eat healthily and sensibly, with lots of fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and other healthy proteins, and avoid junk foods, saturated fats, and excess sugars and salt.
Drink plenty of fresh water; eight glasses sipped during the course of the day is a good amount to aim for.
Get regular exercise of both the vigorous (aerobic) and gentle, stretching (such as yoga, pilates, and t’ai chi) varieties. Two to three sessions a week of at least 20 minutes – enough to build up a bit of a sweat – is a good goal.
B-r-e-a-t-h-e well! Lots of people simply stop breathing when they are concentrating, or they breathe very shallowly. Focus on your breath at regular intervals during the day and ensure even, free breaths.
Limit your vices! Moderate alcohol intake and stop or at least cut down on the cigarettes.
De-stress. Practise stress management and aim for a good work-rest-play life balance with time for socialising, creativity, and enjoyment.
Get plenty of good quality sleep.
End each day with gratitude for everything in your life.
Complementary Medicine Safety Tips
Practising complementary medicine at home requires some planning and preparation. If you decide to try out any form of complementary therapy for yourself, first consider the following:
Find out as much as you can about the therapy. Research what a therapy involves, what it may be good for, what evidence supports its use, and what the safety warnings or possible side effects are.
Check out the qualifications and experience of any practitioner you’re thinking of consulting. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and to ask for an explanation of letters after the practitioner’s name, their membership of a professional and/or regulatory body, and their years of experience – particularly with your specific type of health problem. Don’t use unqualified, unregistered practitioners that aren’t members of a reputable professional body.
Check that the practitioner is fully insured and follows standards for safe practice. This may include using disposable needles for acupuncture and disposing of them properly.
Ask about and consider the number of treatments that you’re likely to need, what sort of improvements you may expect, and the likely costs. Investigate whether the therapy is available on the NHS or covered by health insurance if you have any.
Consider consulting or informing your doctor about having complementary medicine. Many doctors are well informed and open to complementary medicine, and most complementary practitioners are happy to communicate with general practitioners (GPs) too.