Understanding Complementary Therapy: Is It Beneficial?

It is becoming a popular occurrence for people to turn away from modern, conventional medicines and turn towards alternative medicines, which include complementary therapies. It is a highly controversial subject, with arguments from both sides about its authenticity and whether it can be used as a solid treatment for any ailment. Before highlighting the advantages and disadvantages of this much debated subject, it is better to understand what complementary therapy is and what it consists of.

What is complementary Therapy?

Complementary therapy is considered to have been in practice during ancient times and was commonly used in civilisations such as the Chinese, Egyptian, Japanese and Native American Indian. Where conventional medicine focuses on treating the ailment and the cause, complementary medicine seeks to treat the person as a whole and to “balance” the energy flow in the body. Reflexology, Hopi Ear Candling and Reiki are some of the holistic complementary therapies that focus on helping the body regain a sense of balance, which will allow for the body to heal and function properly.

In most cases, complementary therapy is not used to treat illnesses directly, but practitioners can use them to help ease someone into a state of relaxation. Reflexology is a technique of massaging the reflex points on the body to relieve tension by stimulating the movement of energy to restore homeostasis.

Now that the meaning of complementary therapy has been covered, we can examine the advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages

As stated above, complementary therapy can help restore the body’s natural equilibrium and balance. When it is in balance and relaxed, it can cope better with everyday stress and strains, thus preventing illnesses from occurring. It can help alleviate specific physical, mental, emotional or “spiritual” problems or help boost a good sense of well-being.

Because of the relaxed state and improved mood it can potentially put you in, it is thought that it can enhance your sleeping pattern.
As it is seen as an ‘Alternative medicine’, some advocates for complementary therapy state that it is better than conventional medicine because of the lack of side effects you may possibly receive from taking prescribed medicine.

Disadvantages

Because there is very little clinical evidence to support complementary therapy, it can be difficult to assess how it can be used to treat ailments. Because of this, it is not offered on the National Health Service. Some experts believe that while holistic medicines such as homeopathy and herbal medicines have no real effect on the treatment, they help the patient through a placebo effect, helping them believe it does work.

Another disadvantage for complementary therapy is that it should not replace conventional medicine, especially for ailments such as cancer or HIV. In these instances, prescribed medicines and treatments should be administered.

While there are both advantages and disadvantages to this, it is not to say that complementary therapy should be written out. As stated with the advantages, it can be used to as a “compliment” to help patients feel better and to improve moods. Some companies teach complementary therapy as a vocational course, focusing on enhancing a sense of well-being. Before starting out on using any of the above mentioned therapy, ensure that advice from a professional health care expert is obtained and you are fully trained in that area.