Aromatherapy is a complementary therapy that uses essential oils from plants and flowers. Aromatherapy and essential oils have a positive effect on the body. They aim to improve well-being and reduce stress.
Aromatherapy is designed to treat the whole body, rather than targeting the symptom or disease. It assists the body’s natural abilities, helping to maintain balance, repair and recover.
Essential oils are used with the hope of treating and preventing disease or illness, as well as enhancing the body and mind. For example, if ignored, stress can worsen. This can increase the risk of suffering headaches and anxiety later on. An aroma therapist will target the cause of the stress. They will create a personal plan and a concoction of essential oils for the individual. Instead of targeting the headache, the oils would work to improve the person’s ability to cope with stress.
Autogenic training provides a drug free approach to a whole host of stress related conditions, both physical and emotional. The technique teaches individuals simple relaxation techniques which increase body awareness and reverse automatic stress response. Once the 'fight or flight' response to stress has been shut down, the body's relaxation response can cut in.
The relaxation response is a state of extreme rest that encourages the body to repair and recuperate. This 'self-healing process' will naturally boost the immune system, help to restore emotional balance and forms the basis of what is known as Autogenic training.
Autogenic training is often referred to as the western world's form of meditation, appealing to those who are less interested in the religious and cultural aspects of traditional meditation but still wish to obtain the benefits.
The six autogenic 'formulas' or states
As mentioned previously, Schulz developed six standard 'formulas' which are now the basis of most Autogenic training techniques around the world. The 'formulas' or 'states' are as follows:
- focus on heaviness in the arms and legs
- focus on warmth in the arms and legs
- focus on warmth and heaviness in the heart area
- focus on breathing
- focus on warmth in the abdomen
- focus on coolness in the forehead.
Ayurveda, meaning “the science of life” is a healing system. Your practitioner will create a programme personally suited to your problems. The programme will consist of a range of treatments they believe will be most effective. These may include massage, diet, herbal remedies, panchakarma and sweat treatments.
The main three doshas are bio-energies, which run throughout the body. Each of them has a specific site and function. The treatment is based on the principle that ill health is caused by an imbalance of forces in the body. The main objective of Ayurveda is to restore the body’s dosha equilibriums.
The difference between Ayurveda and conventional western medicine is that conventional medicine devotes most of its efforts to isolating the differences in disease. Ayurveda focuses on the qualities of each individual and how disease can affect a person differently.
The focus of Ayurveda is to prevent illness, rather than cure the body.
Ayurveda is an entire healthcare system; because of this it incorporates many Ayurvedic treatments. The practitioner will select and build what they believe is most beneficial into the treatment plan tailored to your symptoms. You may find that your personal plan is made up of mostly physical treatments, or a combination of different kinds. Your treatment plan really is at the hands of your practitioner and what Ayurvedic treatment they believe will best relieve your issue.
The human body is able to function as a result of numerous complex systems that are part of our make up. The system that is relevant to craniosacral therapy is aptly named the 'craniosacral system' and it is composed primarily of membranes and cerebrospinal fluid, whose job it is to surround and cushion the brain and the spinal cord.
During a craniosacral therapy session your therapist will tune into this system by placing their hands on specific body points allowing them to then evaluate and enhance its functioning by using very light touches to the body.
The aim is that your practitioner works with the spine, the skull and its cranial structures and fascia in order to ease the restrictions of the nerve passages and stimulate the movement of cerebrospinal fluid through the spinal cord.
Craniosacral therapy is most commonly sought by individuals with acute or chronic conditions, though successful treatment has been reported for a huge range of additional problems.
Post treatment, some patients also report feeling a greater sense of relaxation in their everyday lives as well as an improved sense of overall well-being.
Crystal therapy is an ancient healing system concerned with treating patients holistically through the precise placement of crystals on the body and the surrounding room.
This means that, unlike Western healthcare (which tends to focus on treating one symptom/ailment at a time) crystal therapy addresses the patient as a whole - paying as much attention to his or her spiritual and emotional well-being as to their physical health.
There is very little scientific evidence to support the effectiveness of crystal healing on a medical level. However, crystals have been used, revered and enjoyed for many thousands of years - both for their aesthetic beauty and for the peace, relaxation and harmony they seem to invoke.
Many crystal therapists train and practice right here in the UK, bringing a refreshing new way of thinking to people dissatisfied with conventional medical treatment.
Crystal therapy is a non-invasive, relaxing, natural and enjoyable process. Whether you believe in the physical healing properties of crystals or not, the therapy itself will offer you a chance to lie back, relax and get in touch with your body's energies so you can leave feeling refreshed, restored and de-stressed - a perfect platform for improved physical health.
Cupping therapy is a complementary therapy that involves placing cups on the skin in a way that creates suction. This gentle pressure is believed to help mobilise blood flow and free up energy blockages to promote natural healing.
The cups themselves can be made from various materials, including glass and bamboo. Dating back to ancient cultures, the therapy follows the lines of the meridians (energy channels referred to in traditional Chinese medicine).
On this page we will explain cupping therapy in more detail including the different types and cupping benefits. We will describe what a treatment feels like and answer the question on everyone's lips... does it hurt?
There are different ways to create this suction. The most common method involves using heat. The therapist may apply rubbing alcohol to the bottom of the cup, light it and then apply the heated cup directly on the skin.
This suction causes the skin and superficial muscle to gently lift up into the cup. In this way, the therapy can be considered as an inversion of massage. Instead of applying a pressure downward on the muscles, cupping uses pressure upwards to lift the muscles. For many, this provides a relaxing sensation.
The aim of applying this pressure is to loosen and relax muscles, encourage blood flow, release toxins and relax the nervous system. Cupping therapy has many uses, but it is most commonly used for the following concerns:
- back and neck pain
- skin problems
- high blood pressure
- respiratory problems
There are many cupping benefits, ranging from relaxation and improved well-being to pain relief. The skin is the body's largest organ, reflecting imbalances. It stands to reason therefore that therapies that target the skin reap great rewards.
The following list of cupping benefits is not exhaustive, but highlights how the therapy can affect you both physically and mentally.
Improved flow of energy
In traditional Chinese medicine the flow of energy (or qi) is very important. When blockages occur, it is believed that illness and pain follow. This is why many techniques used in Chinese medicine focus on freeing up energy.
The meridian system is a network of energy channels, each linking to various body parts. Cupping therapy works within this system, with many therapists placing cups on meridian points. Therapists believe by encouraging a good flow of qi, the body becomes more able to heal itself naturally.
The body naturally flushes out toxins we accumulate. This normally happens through the lymph fluids. Cupping is thought to aid this process as it stimulates blood and lymph flow. Increasing the supply of healthy, oxygenated blood to muscles and skin brings nourishment and allows toxins to be carried away by the lymph.
Helps to relieve pain
As this therapy has a similar effect on the muscles as a massage does, it can be useful for relieving muscular pain. This is because it loosens tissues and promotes healing. For those who suffer from chronic conditions like fibromyalgia, cupping therapy can be especially beneficial when used alongside medication and physical therapy.
Eases tense muscles
Tense muscles can have a multitude of side effects. These can range from headaches and stress to neck and back pain. Cupping works to soften underlying muscle tissues and break up knotted areas. This leads to looser and more flexible muscles.
When your body is free from tension, you may find it easier for your mind to follow suit.
One of the best-known cupping benefits is relaxation. The sensation is akin to a massage (especially in moving cupping), making it pleasurable and incredibly relaxing. Many people report a warm tingling sensation that lasts long after the treatment ends.
The therapy also has a sedating effect on the nervous system. This makes it useful when addressing conditions such as high blood pressure, anxiety, fatigue, insomnia and tension headaches.
Some therapists use the therapy in a more cosmetic nature. For example, many say one of the key cupping benefits is its ability to reduce cellulite. The theory behind this is that the suction provides drainage and boosts circulation, which loosens adhesions or 'dimples'.
Herbalism is the ancient tradition of studying and using herbs for their healing properties.
The term 'herb' refers to all plant parts, including the stems, leaves, fruit, flowers, roots, bark and seeds. Human beings have been harnessing the healing properties of herbs for thousands of years.
In the west, traditional herbalism has been superseded by modern healthcare systems, based on scientific research and regulated by a rigid framework of rules. However, statistics from the World Health Organisation (WHO) show that 80% of the third world still use traditional herbalism as their main method of healthcare.
Homeopathy is a holistic therapy that looks at the person as a whole. This means it looks at emotional, physical and mental illness together. This is because homeopaths believe the mind and body are linked, so you cannot address one part of the body without affecting the whole.
Working on the theory that 'like cures like', the treatment involves highly diluted substances. The aim of this is to trigger the body's natural healing system. Looking at every patient as an individual, homeopathy takes a variety of factors into consideration.
On this page we will look at homeopathy in more depth. We'll look at what to expect when you see a homeopath, homeopathic remedies and how to find a qualified homeopath.
Hydrotherapy & colonic hydrotherapy
The term Hydrotherapy ('hydro' meaning water) refers to a process which uses water at any temperature or form to relieve pain and treat illness, and is a practice which has been in use since the 5th century B.C.
It was Greek physician Hippocrates who first cited the use of water for therapeutic purposes, but its medicinal merits did not go unnoticed by ancient Egyptian or Roman civilisations either. Egyptians were said to have bathed in flower essences and aromatic oils and historical evidence proves that public baths were a central feature of Roman colonies.
Post Roman Empire public baths fell out of fashion as a result of Christian culture frowning upon public nudity. However the Middle Ages brought about a revival as physicians began using sulphur rich springs for the treatment of skin complaints and other ailments. Come the 18th century hydrotherapy was recognised as a scientific method and physicians were commonly utilising the healing properties of water for the treatments of illness.
Massage therapy involves the rubbing and kneading of soft tissues and muscles in the human body. This is to promote healing and enhance a person's health and well-being.
It is thought the term 'massage' originates from the Greek word, 'Massein' meaning 'to knead'. It is also linked to the Arabic word, 'mash' which means to 'press softly'. Both aptly describe the treatment, which is now used in healthcare, beauty therapy and sports.
There are more than 250 variations of massage and bodywork therapies used today. Despite the differences between each modality, all of them involve touch and manipulation techniques to move muscles and body tissue. The aim is to relieve stress, tension, pain and a whole host of other ailments.
Physiotherapy aims to improve your mobility by using physical methods such as massage, manipulation and exercise.
There are a number of conditions that physiotherapy is used to relieve or treat. These include conditions affecting the joints, muscles and bones after injury. It can also help with conditions that affect your lungs, heart circulation, nerves and brain. Physiotherapy is often used to improve the range of joint movements and strengthen muscles. It can also help you recover from surgery.
Anyone can have physiotherapy, and it can take place in a number of different settings and locations. This includes hospitals, outpatient clinics, homes, schools, hospices, workplaces and fitness centres.
Reflexology is the practice of applying pressure to, and massaging certain areas of the feet, hands and ears. The aim is to encourage healing and relieve stress and tension. It is also used to improve general health and well-being.
Reflexology treatment is based on the principle that certain areas of the feet - called reflexes - are linked to other areas on the body through the nervous system. The arrangement of the reflexes has a direct relationship to the area of the body they affect. For example, the right side of the foot is linked to the right side of the body. While the tips of the toes correspond to the head. The liver, pancreas and kidneys connect to the arch of the foot, and the lower back and intestines towards the heel.
In a session, a reflexologist will apply pressure to certain reflexes. The aim is to stimulate energy flow and send signals around the body - targeting areas of tension and pain.
Reiki, pronounced 'ray-key', is a system of energy healing originating from Japan. The word Reiki itself translates to 'universal life energy' and is based on the belief that life energy flows through all living things. When this energy becomes disrupted or blocked, it is believed that stress and disease follow.
Reiki practitioners use the universal life energy they have been attuned to, to promote natural healing. On this page we will explore Reiki healing in more depth to establish what it can help with and what you should expect from a Reiki session.
In a similar vein to many traditional eastern therapies, Reiki works on the premise that 'life force energy' flows through all of us. If this energy becomes unbalanced, low or stuck, it is believed that we are more likely to become stressed and unwell.
Reiki is carried out by practitioners who have been attuned to the Reiki energy. This attunement involves a Reiki master who acts as a mirror to help the student adjust to the energy. This creates a channel between the practitioner and the universal life energy so they can access and use the energy to help others.
Using their hands, Reiki practitioners use this energy to help balance clients' energy. The nature of Reiki is holistic, meaning that it addresses the body, mind and spirit. While Reiki is considered spiritual, it is not a religion. There is nothing specific you need to believe in, in order to benefit from Reiki healing.
This method of energy healing promotes relaxation and well-being. Its aim is to help reduce stress and stimulate the body's natural healing abilities. MikaoUsui founded the practice in the early 20th century. Dr Usui described the five principles of Reiki for practitioners to consider, which are:
- Just for today, do not worry.
- Just for today, do not anger.
- Honour your parents, teachers and elders.
- Earn your living honestly.
- Show gratitude for every living thing.
"As running water smoothes the jagged edges of a rock until it is small enough to roll away, Reiki flows to the areas of need, soothing and supporting the body's natural ability to heal itself."
Yoga is an ancient practice that brings movement and breath together to promote physical and mental well-being. The benefits are varied and include increased flexibility, improved strength and reduced stress levels. For dedicated yogis, it is more than just an exercise - it is a way of life. The philosophical side of the practice dates back thousands of years, with roots in ancient India.
Yoga therapy is an adaptation of the practice, catering specifically for those with health problems and/or physical injury. The aim of yoga therapy is to support natural healing while offering other benefits. On this page we'll look at yoga therapy, the different types available (including pregnancy yoga) and answer some frequently asked questions.