How Do you know Alternative Therapies really work?


As a Pharmacist with a Wellness clinic this is an interesting perhaps controversial topic to discuss. My pharmacy education has taught me the importance of scientific facts and supporting evidence. However alternative or as we now prefer to call them complementary therapies don’t have as many research studies.

NICE the government’s evidence body gives its seal of approval to quite a number of complementary therapies including Acupuncture for chronic back pain and headache, hypnotherapy for IBS, short-term treatments for rheumatoid arthritis and symptom treatment for Chronic Fatigue. It also advises against complementary therapies for urinary incontinence.

Best evidence is used in the NHS as funding is limited and we want to make the best of it. However, I’m also aware that evidence changes over time- remember the concern about eating only 1-2 eggs per week? Now (for lovers of Saturday Kitchen or James Martin, or both!) its ok to do your own omelette challenge virtually every day of the week.

My time served in the NHS and on many professional advisory bodies has shown there are many who believe we need a more holistic preventative view of health. Even the most sceptic of medics would agree that anything that enhances a person’s sense of wellbeing and self-efficacy must be a good thing.

From my personal perspective I know that complementary therapies have helped hugely where western medicine has fallen short. I now have a much greater awareness of how my body works and firmly believe in an integrated holistic view to health using the best of Modern science and Traditional knowledge.

As with western medicine, having a good relationship with your practitioner is key. I’d check your practitioner has the proper qualifications, insurance and that you have a good level of trust. A good practitioner should see that physical symptoms are mostly a result of lifestyle and often just the tip of the iceberg.

If you think about it, not many people question their Doctor as to why a particular medicine works, we take a leap of faith and swallow the pill or have the surgery. In a lot of cases western medicine works but in some it doesn’t. Is complementary medicine very different?

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Categories: Wellness