Alternative and natural health guide

Alternative medicine is so confusing – one minute everyone is talking about an alternative therapy that cures-all – the next the experts are saying it’s all rubbish and doesn’t work. So what are the facts about alternative remedies and how can they help with common conditions?

What is alternative therapy

Traditional medicine is what the NHS use to treat illnesses and diseases. Alternative medicine is anything that claims to help medical or health conditions with something that isn’t traditionally used by the NHS. For example, the traditional way to treat a headache would be with a painkiller, an alternative remedy might be to use an aromatherapy oil.

Sometimes people refer to alternative health as complementary health, meaning alongside (complementary) traditional medicine.

There are lots of rules that cover doctors, prescriptions, drugs and other sorts of medical treatment but the rules for alternative or complementary therapy are a bit vague. Chiropractors and osteopaths are regulated but there is no legislation governing other alternative health pracitioners. Many will have insurance and some may belong to an official body. The government are considering setting up a governing organisation for alternative health businesses, training and treatments.

There is not enough scientific or medical evidence to prove or disprove how well alternative therapies work. Anyone can set themselves up as a therapist, so always check their training and qualifications and whether they are part of a national body, although this still doesn’t guarantee that the treatment will work or that if something goes wrong you have legal protection.

Here we look at the eleven most common alternative therapies.