Home > Uncategorized > Alternative & Complementary Therapies

Alternative & Complementary Therapies

Like most people I’ve experimented with alternative and complementary health therapies over the years.

Attracted by the phrases “natural”, “not addictive” and “no side effects”, I was seeking to avoid having to use drugs and doctors to maintain good health. I used reflexology, massage therapy, aromatherapy, homeopathy, herbal medicine, naturopathy and reiki. I’ve also used meditation and yoga.

I used these modalities to treat everyday ailments. I even have qualifications in some of them.

But how many of these therapies do I continue to use regularly because I actually feel them doing me good?

Aromatherapy

I use 3 essential oils – lavender (antiseptic, burns), aniseed (mucolytic – GORD, nausea), peppermint (GORD – nausea or bloating).

Occasionally I’ll heat an essential oil in a tea light vaporiser, this is because I like the smell. Nothing more.

Homeopathy

Arnica ointment or oil (not the pilules prescribed in homeopathy), for bruises as part of first aid treatment.

The scientific part of my brain screamed that there is no way homeopathic pilules could possibly work. But, sometimes, I don’t know, they did seem to do their alleged job. But not always and not enough to keep me using the therapy long term. I didn’t like the fact that homeopathy treats the symptom picture, nor the fact that as the symptoms change during the course of a disease process, you needed to change the prescription. Costly, and hard work if self-treating. Very costly if seeing a practitioner.

However, I must say that my experiences with classically trained homeopaths in the UK (on the NHS!) and in Australia has always been conservative and honest, with an insistence that you also consult a medical doctor. In recent years I have noticed the trend to the “I can cure everything!” style of homeopath, the ones that charge hefty fees. Alas, most people do not have the skills to research & critically analyse their illness and treatments adequately and hence get taken for a ride by some very dodgy practitioners.

But I am happy with my arnica ointment.

Massage Therapy

Occasional massage for relaxation of tight, stressed muscles. I prefer to see a physiotherapist for muscle & skeletal injuries. Cheaper. I don’t like chiropractors. Sorry.

Herbal Medicine & Vitamins and Minerals

When my oesophagitis flares up, or when my vocal cords are damaged from GORD, I will drink the powdered bark of the Slippery elm tree.

Smells like tree bark. Tastes like tree bark. Even when mixed with apple juice. But it does give immediate, short term pain relief for the mucus linings of the upper digestive tract. Slippery elm is also used to treat the symptoms of stomach ulcers.

When you research slippery elm and study how it works in the human body, you will see that popping the pill variety will do you little good at all. It is the powder, mixed with water or juice, that coats the inside of your oesophagus and stomach, that will mask the pain for a while.

I take vitamin & mineral supplements IF and only IF I have a demonstrated deficiency. There is no point to do otherwise. Far easier and tastier, not to mention healthier, to eat a nutritionally balanced diet containing a whole pile of fresh fruit and vegetables.

Propolis tablets or tincture are made from bee pollen. I stick with the original New Zealand sourced product for when I have a serious chest cold. Gives a bit of relief to the congestion, that’s all. If I don’t have any in the cupboard when I catch that cold, doesn’t matter. If I do, I use it.

Yoga & Meditation

I enjoy doing the yoga asanas, for exercise & relaxation. And meditation I also do for relaxation.

Accupressure & puncture

Together with shiatsu massage, I’ve used acupressure to treat odd, mild symptoms. Travel sickness, an upset stomach, period pain, those sorts of things.

I’ve resorted to applying pressure on the designated points usually because the pain killing drugs are not quite enough to give relief, or because I can’t find any panadol or panadeine in the house.

Accupressure sort of works for me, and it’s not a bother to try it out, but I wouldn’t want to depend upon it as my only treatment.

The only times I’ve used acupuncture, it didn’t do anything apart from making me feel quite relaxed for a short time. Then I reached for the panadol when I got home. J

Naturopathy

Initially I thought naturopathy was quite a sound therapy. Appears to focus on vitamins, minerals and basic nutrition. But it seemed to me that where a dietician or nutritionist will give you a list of foods, recipes and a diet plan, the naturopath will hand you a very expensive bottle of their own specially prescribed pills.

Western Medicine

I came to terms with having to use a lot of western medicine after I developed GORD & oesophagitis. The above complementary therapies didn’t relieve my symptoms at all (with the exception of the slippery elm, and that only worked on one of my symptoms). I got to the stage where, after having yet another relapse, I was so tired of trying so many alternative therapies that were obviously not working. I don’t care, but it’s not right for the patient to have to go on experiencing high levels of pain and other uncomfortable symptoms for months on end just because the complementary therapist says “oh but you need to give it about 3 or 4 months to work properly”.

I began researching the journals for evidence based best practice with treating GORD. My doctors have prescribed the optimum treatment protocol for me. And whilst I may experience constant breakthrough pain and other GORD symptoms, the medications are working and they are safe. I consult a nutritionist for help with diet.

Since I stopped playing around with the complementary therapies, and been content to pop my prescription drugs at the required times and just use those adjunctives that work for me, I’ve been a lot more relaxed. Not cured. But I’ve stopped searching too wide for answers. I’m happy restricting my research to the narrow field of medical science. It’s given me more time to spend on myself, on coping with the constant pain and nausea. And still manage to have some energy left over at the end of the day to smile and take pleasure with my partner and family.

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  1. seantheblogonaut
    June 20, 2009 at 4:51 am

    My understanding of Arnica is that it is not Homeopathic. Usually creams are 10% Arnica Montana, so essentially its a very lightly processed natural medicine. Its production doesn’t conform to the tenets of homeopathy mind you, you won’t find homeopathic companies like Brauer admitting this 🙂

    I would go to a suitably trained Masseur, I tend to stay away from chiropractors as they hurt 😦 – outside of Australia they have also been caught claiming they can treat ailments outside their field of expertise)

    Where’s your aloe vera 🙂

    • June 20, 2009 at 8:05 am

      You’re quite right about Arnica cream not being strictly homeopathic. It’s more herbal medicine & aromatherapy, mixed with other essential oils – arnica flower tincture, arnica infused oil, wintergreen oil, tea tree oil and cayenne. In a lanolin base. So it’s a good, warming ointment. Just dragged out my very old Materia Medica but can’t find my old Battaglia’s guide to aromatherapy which has info on which part of the plant is used, why and how. I think the use of the herbal creams by homeopaths came about in Australia simply because most natural therapists specialize in more than one modality – it’s the only way they can make money.

      Aloe vera? I always forget to mention this one. I quite happily snap off a stalk of aloe which grows wildly in my garden. But I won’t buy aloe juice, and rarely use aloe creams or lotions (although my daughter left some after-sun care aloe vera spray which is quite soothing after a hot day in the sun).

      Paw paw ointment! I forgot to mention the humble fermented papaya ointment which my family has used for years. Small wounds (after cleansing with water of course), burns, chapped lips, chaffing, insect bites etc etc. A lot of hospitals in this country also use it, including Alice Springs Hospital. Good stuff.

      Chiropractors not only hurt, they cost a lot more. And I’m a bit suss of a treatment modality that requires you to have regular, constant, costly visits. I also have a couple of horror stories. But other people swear by them.

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