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Alternative therapies

Alternative therapies are also known as complementary and alternative medicine (CAM).

These treatments may be used with conventional medical treatments, and should always be discussed with your treating doctor.

Remember, alternative therapists are not doctors—they may not be required to have any specific qualifications, training or registration.

Therapy types

  • Acupuncture—involves inserting fine needles into specific points on the skin to stimulate body systems
  • Alexander technique—deals with bad habits of posture and movement through verbal instructions and gentle physical guidance to relieve tension
  • Aromatherapy—uses essential oils to relieve the symptoms of headaches, insomnia, stress and digestive problems
  • Chiropractic—involves physical realignment of joints, lower back, neck, knees and shoulders by a practitioner
  • Herbal medicine—uses herbal plants to treat disease and enhance wellbeing
  • Homeopathy—is based on the idea that the body can heal itself. It involves taking highly diluted substances to trigger the body’s healing response
  • Naturopathy—uses natural and gentle therapeutic techniques, such as diet, exercise, herbal supplements and lifestyle changes, to promote improved health
  • Osteopathy—involves soft tissue work in the body to promote mobility and restore the body’s balance
  • Reiki—is a natural form of healing that uses non-invasive, gentle touch
  • Yoga—is a physical practice that combines gentle exercise with breath control and meditation

Finding a therapist

You may find a complementary therapist through:

Your first visit

Things to consider on your first visit:

  • Cleanliness and hygiene—are the building and grounds well-kept? Are the waiting room and treatment area hygienic?
  • Professionalism—the therapist should note your health and medical history before treatment, and ask about your current treatments, illnesses or injuries
  • Qualifications—check if the practitioner has any qualification, or is registered with a professional body
  • Personal manner—you should feel comfortable and safe with the practitioner.

Questions you may ask during your initial consultation.

  • How does the treatment work? 
  • Is there any proof that the treatment works?
  • Will it interfere with any type of conventional medical treatment, such as prescription medicines?
  • What side effects can I expect?
  • How long will I need the treatment?
  • What are the costs?
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia (CC BY 3.0)
Last updated
25 March 2015
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