Alternative healing therapies: Everything you need to know

Also known as Complementary and Additional Medicine (CAM), alternative therapies can be used alongside, in addition to, or instead of traditional medical treatments.

From mobile applications helping to curate personalised playlists for dementia patients to herbal remedies, complementary therapies span a wide range of applications. In this guide, we’ll outline some of those used most often and discuss everything that you need to know about the benefits and risks involved.

What are the different types of alternative therapy?

There are multiple different kinds of alternative therapies and treatments, and many fall into different categories of practical application. A few popular types include:

  • Acupuncture
  • Cannabis-based solutions and medicines
  • Massage therapy
  • Meditation
  • Mindfulness
  • Homeopathy
  • Hypnotherapy
  • Vitamin and mineral supplements
  • Buddhist Psychotherapy

What are the benefits?

Perhaps the biggest benefit of complementary therapies is their ability to lessen the emotional effects and pain caused by other intensive treatment methods used in hospitals. For instance, calming herbal medicines might soothe cancer patients receiving chemotherapy.

Are there any risks?

Even though CAMs might be presented as natural, non-toxic healing methods, a lack of research into the long-term effects of these methods often prevents them from being recommended by medical professionals. Plus, any alternative healthcare provider must obtain insurance for therapists in case things go wrong.

As a result, these treatments aren’t readily available on the NHS, leading patients to seek expensive private providers. Furthermore, certain treatments can only be recommended for certain types of conditions, and it’s crucial to take the right dose – which can be difficult if it’s not a regulated medicine.

Alternative treatment for degenerative illness

Some illnesses have no cure. For example, a degenerative illness is one that progressively gets worse over time, and usually affects tissues in a certain area of the body. In recent years, medical experts have been exploring alternative treatments for degenerative illnesses, like Alzheimer’s disease.

  • Alzheimer’s disease

In Alzheimer’s disease, brain cells slowly die, causing a decline in social skills, behaviour, movement and, eventually, a loss of independence.

The Alzheimer’s Society has argued for further evaluation of the safety and effectiveness of alternative therapy treatments, including herbal medicine, dance, aromatherapy and other supplements.

However, despite a lack of dedicated research into the topic, there are several ways in which alternative therapies for dementia are surfacing in the mainstream. From music to artificial living environments simulating a previous decade, there are many ways to help patients feel more secure.

The bottom line

More research is needed to truly determine the safety and effectiveness of certain alternative therapies. However, used alongside conventional treatments, they’re certainly appear to be making life more comfortable for many patients.

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