A-Z of Alternative Therapies Part 1

Accupressure

Therapists use finger-tip pressure on specific acupuncture points on the body in order to remove blockages or pain and enhance the flow of energy, or chi. Knuckles, elbows and knees may be used to apply stronger pressure when it is required. This gentle form of acupuncture can be a good alternative for people who are frightened of needles. It can also be a safe and effective self-help technique. Pressure must be even and applied in the direction of the energy flow. Used to treat a wide range of conditions including pain problems, asthma, constipation, mental and emotional problems and childhood illnesses.

British Acupuncture Council: 0208 735 0400 or visit www.acupuncture.org.uk

 

Alexander Technique

The Alexander Technique is probably the best-known body alignment method, designed to improve posture, release tension and promote ease of movement. Self-awareness is a fundamental part of the process, and therapists help people to understand the workings of their body. The technique involves a lot of hands-on guidance. In a session lasting between 30-60 minutes, the therapist will ask a client to repeat a simple task and learn the correct way of doing it. 15-20 lessons should be enough to master the technique. Used to treat stress-related disorders, insomnia, circulatory disorders and chronic muscle tension.

Society of Teachers of the Alexander Technique: 0208 885 6524 or visit www.stat.org.uk

 

Aromatherapy

Essential oils from plants have long been used to enhance general health. Each oil has its own properties. Lavender is soothing and is used to treat insomnia. Rosemary is a mild stimulant and marjoram can ease menstrual pain and headache. A few drops of the right essential oil can be placed in a bowl of steaming hot water and inhaled, or diluted and rubbed directly onto the skin. Aromatherapy is used to treat a wide range of problems, including anxiety and depression, acne and even cellulite.

International Federation of Aromatherapists: 0208 567 2243 or visit www.ifaroma.org/

 

Aqua Detox

This recently developed treatment is a whole body detoxification therapy. Both feet are immersed in a bowl of warm salty water, which has been ionised using an electrolytic flow. According to practitioners, the water has a bio-energetic field, which corresponds to the user’s own bio-energetic frequency. Electric dialysis draws out toxins and even fat through the sweat glands on the feet. After a 30-minute session, the water can be rust coloured, or even black, with fat globules floating on top. Five sessions are recommended for a full detox. Used to treat fatigue, ME, circulatory disorders and stress.

To find nearest therapist log on to www.thedetoxshop.com

 

Bi-Aura therapy

This new-age therapy was developed in the 1980s but stems from a fusion of Indian and Chinese philosophy. Practitioners work on the body’s subtle energy, called aura. Bare-footed patients start by performing some gentle exercises designed to balance the body. Then the practitioner uses a variety of graceful flowing hand movements to clear stuck energy. Finally, negative energy is flushed through the system and positive energy is channelled into the crown chakra on the head.  Used to treat a dwide variety of conditions, including imbalance of the organs, insomnia, and stress-related disorders.

Bi-Aura Foundation: 01661 844899 or visit www.bi-aura.com

 

Body Stress Release

Devised in South Africa in the 1980s, Body Stress Release is a gentle method to de-stress. The therapist first locates stress stored in the body by applying light pressure to certain points, usually on the back and neck. The therapist observes muscle reactions in the client’s feet to indicate which areas need treating. The treatment takes half an hour. More than one session may be needed to work through long-standing problems. Used to relieve muscular pain caused by mechanical, emotional or chemical stress.

Neal’s Yard Remedies Therapy Rooms, London: 0207 379 7662 or visit www.bodystressrelease.org.uk

 

Cranial Osteopathy

This is a specialist technique used to manipulate the bones of the skull. The therapy involves using fine touch applied to the skull. Many patients can barely even feel it. Practitioners say that many health problems are caused by compression or distortion of the cranial bones. Although skull bones fuse in childhood, bones in the skull retain some capacity for movement throughout life. This distortion can effect the cranial rhythm, which can in turn affect functions in other parts of the body. Used to treat painful sinuses, headache, tinnitus, and digestive disorders.

Craniosacral Therapy Association: 0844 700 2358 or visit www.craniosacral.co.uk

 

Crystal Healing

Healers believe that gems and crystals vibrate with life energy. When they are placed on or around the patient, the crystals can focus and enhance healing. Crystals in the home can absorb negative energy, but they have to be regularly purified under cold running water and recharged in sunlight. There are many crystals to choose from and all have different properties. Healers believe that uncut gems stones have more energy than the polished variety. Used to treat cancer, depression and a wide range of other problems.

Affiliation of Crystal Healing Organisations: 0758 3087 516 or visit www.crystal-healing.org

 

Cupping

This therapy has been used in China since the third century BC. More recently, actor Gwyneth Paltrow and model Kate Moss have both become fans of the technique. A match is lit in a small rounded cup made of glass, bamboo, metal or pottery. The match is removed and the upturned cup quickly applied to the skin, usually of the back. The flame creates a vacuum so the cup sticks tightly the skin. Several cups may be applied at the same time. The jars are left in position for 15 minutes, during which time they are said to improve circulation. They often leave dark purple bruises. Cupping is particularly effective for rheumatism and stiff neck and shoulders.

Magdelana Lius at SAKS, Covent Garden: 07940 715 762 or visit www.magdalenaacuherbs.co.uk

 

Feldenkrais Therapy

The Feldenkrais method involves slow exercises designed to help people relearn the free body movements that are naturally found in young children. The therapy is done one on one and each session lasts  from 45-60 minutes. The practitioner uses gentle manipulation to encourage the body into new, easier ways of moving. This is not physically taxing. Used to treat victims of stroke, where there has been a loss of control of movement, spinal disorders, arthritis and chronic pain.

Feldenkrais UK Guild: For more details call07000 785 506 or visit www.feldenkrais.co.uk

 

Flower Essence Therapy

Flower essences are made from a wide variety of blooms, ranging from alpine flowers, to exotic orchids and the blossoms of fruits such as bananas and avocado.  Freshly picked blooms are placed in spring water and then left in sunshine. The water, containing the essence of the flowers, is then mixed with brandy, and bottled. A few drops of the essence is sipped with mineral water. Supporters believe that the remedies encapsulate the flower’s healing energy.

Used to treat nervous disorders, depression, asthma, ME and for first aid, ie. stings and bruises.

Bach Flower Remedies: 01491 834678, or visit www.bachcentre.com

 

Flotation therapy

Weightlessness brings with it many therapeutic effects, including muscle release and profound relaxation. The patient enters an enclosed flotation tank, containing water at body temperature. The water is also highly salted so the patient floats easily without any buoyancy aid. The space above the water is air conditioned. In this safe environment, which is often pitch black, the person can enter a deeply relaxed state. Flotation therapy can help ease the physical symptoms of arthritis and high blood pressure, but it is also an excellent way to alleviate depression and anxiety.

Float Works London: 0207 357 0111 or visit www.floatworks.com/

 

Geopathic Therapy

Practitioners believe that negative energy is all around us. Sometimes the energy comes from the earth itself, or it is created by power stations or electricity pylons. Prolonged exposure to this energy is bad for health. Geopathic therapists track negative energy sources, using dowsing rods, or pendulums.  They can then advise how best to avoid these negative energies. This may involve simply moving a chair, or moving away from an affected area. Bad energies can be deflected by a mirror, or even trapped in crystals which can then be washed clean. Used to treat a wide variety of conditions connected with environmental stress, including headache and migraine, digestive problems, sleep disorders and depression.

Dulwich Health centre: 0208 670 5883, or visit www.dulwichhealth.co.uk

 

Homeopathy

A holistic form of medicine that aims to help the body heal itself.  It works for both acute and long- term illnesses. Homeopathy means treating like with like. This means that a substance that causes symptoms of illness in a well person can also be used to cure similar symptoms when they occur from illness. The minute substances used to treatment are called homeopathic remedies. There are over 3000 homeopathic remedies. Extracts from natural ingredients are dissolved in alcohol and water and then diluted numerous times. The strongest remedies are actually the ones that have been diluted most often. Can treat almost any complaint, including gallstones, allergies, travel sickness and kidney disorders.

British Homeopathic Association: 01582 408 675 or visit www.britishhomeopathic.org

Hopi Ear Candling

This is a Native American purifying and calming candling technique. The patient lies down on her side and the practitioner slides a long thin hollow candle into the ear. The candle, which is made from cotton infused with honey, is then lit and allowed to burn down which takes around 10 minutes. The soothing vapours pass through into the ear and the sinuses. Rising hot air creates a suction effect, drawing out any impurities. The technique is repeated on the other ear. A short facial massage follows. Used to treat tinnitus, hay fever, colds or flu.

 

Hydrotherapy

This is one of the simplest and most effective natural therapies. Through a variety of techniques, water is used to improve circulation, relieve congestion and tone tissues. Jet hydrotherapy involves the use of hot and cold sprays on specific areas of the body. Jets can be directed at the spine to stimulate the central nervous system. Hot water stimulates and relaxes, while cold water invigorates. Natural salts and minerals can be added to the water to relieve conditions such as rheumatism, catarrh and psoriasis.

Champneys Health Resorts: 0843 316 2222 or visit www.champneys.com or London Hydrotherapy 07580 674489 or visit www.londonhydrotherapy.co.uk

 

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The Hippocratic Editorial and VT team. Please send your suggestions to [email protected]
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