There?s nothing worse than that dreaded trip to the doctor?s surgery. But however hard we try, we just can?t seem to avoid it. High-tech medicine and wonder-drugs may have brought us a million cures to a million diseases, but perfect health and happiness remains just out of reach.
So when you?re feeling in need of a little medical attention, why not try an alternative approach.
Natural therapies are revolutionising the way we look after our own health. From homeopathy to healing and reflexology to rolfing, there are a whole host of options available to us in the natural world.
You don?t even have to wear rainbow-coloured sweaters or sandals to enjoy its benefits, because natural healthcare is officially cool!
Alternative therapies offer a completely different approach to dealing with illness or discomfort of any kind. Many of the treatments may seem new, but most of them have been around for hundreds, even thousands of years.
Whereas conventional medicine is based on diagnosing symptoms and prescribing specific treatments, natural therapies tend to place a greater emphasis on dealing with the patient as a whole.
So what does that mean? Well instead of just looking at the physical problems, natural health therapists look at everything in the patient?s life, which even includes their spiritual well-being.
The patient is also encouraged to take a more active role in his or her own mental and physical health through discussion and consultation on suitable treatment, and ultimately ? better self-care.
For many people, alternative therapies offer a more gentle approach to healthcare and patients benefit from the more personal treatment they receive. For the average over-worked doctor, spending time discussing a patient?s social and environmental problems may be asking just a little too much.
But the huge growth in the popularity of natural therapies is also due to the fact that many are now considered more ?complementary? than ?alternative?.
Today, more than 40% of GPs in the UK offer complementary medicine within their NHS practices, and over 70 per cent regularly refer their patients to practitioners. Acupuncture, chiropractic, osteopathy and homeopathy are among the most common of these.
Homeopathy is one of the most widely-used natural therapies and is an ancient method for treating illness through blends of essential oils. It is based on the theory that ?like cures like? ? in other words, one man?s poison can become another man?s cure!
The royal family are well-known supporters of such remedies, and the Queen carries homeopathic cures for common ailments like travel sickness and cuts or bruises wherever she goes. It is said that even the beloved royal corgies are given homeopathic care when their noses turn dry!!
Homeopathy is also popular throughout the world as a remedy for asthma or allergies, anxiety or nervous disorders, illness during pregnancy and menstrual or menopausal problems. Like many natural therapies, it has been used to tackle almost every ailment you could hope to avoid.
But if homeopathy is not for you there are many alternatives!
Most therapies are linked to general councils or organisations which maintain professional standards.
Contacting the organisation is a useful way of finding out more about a specific therapy, and where to find a good local practitioner.