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Using Complementary Medicine or Traditional Medicine?

By: Sarah Clark (ILEX) - Updated: 9 Dec 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Complementary Therapy Therapist Benefits

There's a time and a place for everything, and that applies to medicine. There is definitely a place for complementary medicine in some situations, but when should you give it a try, and when is it best to avoid?

Your Doctor Can't Help You!

If you've been to the doctor about your migraines, for example, and all you've come away with is a recommendation that you avoid stress and a prescription for painkillers to take when you've already got one, it can seem frustrating. This is often where an alternative therapist can come into their own. We all complain about the lack of time a GP is able to spend with us when we do manage to get in to see one, so booking a 30 minute session with a reflexologist who actually seems to take the time to find out what's going on with us can seem alluring.

Sometimes complementary therapists have more time to analyse where we could help ourselves, and like to treat the whole person rather than just the symptoms. An osteopath may be able to tell you that it's a problem in your neck that's causing the migraines, and treat that...a GP probably hasn't got the time to consider that it could be your posture that's giving you a headache.

You Just Want to Feel Better

Sometimes people choose complementary therapies to help them cope with long term illnesses - they may be having conventional treatment for a chronic condition but like to have a Reiki session to calm them, or a massage to relax them. If you feel that some extra TLC and treatment from a complementary therapist will really help you to feel a bit better, you should go for it...just be aware that it's unlikely to provide a cure. It's like a sticking plaster or an over the counter headache pill, which soothes the symptoms but isn't always going to cure the cause.

You're Feeling Stressed

A lot of good complementary therapies focus on getting you to relax and reduce your stress. levels, and this in itself can be powerful. Stress can cause many other problems within the body, and sometimes a bit of 'me-time' and advice about techniques to calm your mind can do you no end of good. Even traditional doctors are now coming around to the idea that positive thinking and feelings can be good for your physical as well as emotional health.

When You Should Not Use Complementary Medicine

  • Pregnancy You should definitely avoid taking herbal remedies if you are pregnant, to avoid any unwanted effects on your unborn baby. Some therapies, like acupuncture and homeopathy can be suitable to use during pregnancy, but only with the guidance of a qualified practitioner, because there are some times during pregnancy when they should be avoided. Always tell your therapist if you are, or think you might be, pregnant.
  • If you haven't been to the doctor yet Always seek advice from your GP before you decide that complementary is the way to go. Make sure that there is no serious underlying reason for your symptoms, and have any tests that your doctor thinks are necessary. If, after consulting your GP and finding out there's nothing serious wrong, you still want to try something complementary, go ahead. But make sure you return to the doctor if your symptoms don't improve.

Complementary medicine is intended to be used alongside traditional medicine, not instead of it. Keep that in mind and you will hopefully feel the benefits!

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