Painkillers not best for headaches

Ironically and not before time NICE (the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence) has reported that one of the most common causes of headaches is overuse of medication.  They advocate (quite surprisingly) that acupuncture is the only proven method to treat tension headaches and migraine and that it should be prescribed by doctors.

Those who take pills such as aspirin, paracetamol or ibuprofen for at least ten days a month over three months are said to be at particular risk of ‘medication  over-use headaches’, as they’re called.

Rhiannon Griffiths, acupuncturist and British Acupuncture Council member says: ‘Acupuncture helps chronic headaches and migraine by treating both the painful and debilitating symptoms at the moment they occur, as well as the underlying root cause in the long term. The root cause may be a deficiency in the body, typically exacerbated by overwork, working long hours, burning the candle at both ends or a lack of proper rest and nourishing food.’

Acupuncture is a great way of dealing with headaches, but not the only one.  Osteopathy, chiropractic and Alexander Technique can be very helpful as the problem often emanates from tension in other parts of the body.

• Regular exercise helps to prevent headaches, particularly yoga, Pilates or T’ai chi which are relaxing and alleviate tension.

• Drink plenty of water (between 6 and 8 glasses a day) as dehydration is a major cause. • Avoid caffeine, chocolate or cheese if they trigger headaches in you.

• Skipping meals induces headaches, so always eat regularly and have healthy snacks in between meals.

• Drink herbal teas, particularly peppermint, when you feel a headache coming on.

• Try coconut water – natural replaces fluids in the body and is very refreshing.

Water, water everywhere

Nutrition consultant and independent consultant to the Natural Hydration Council, Dr Emma Derbyshire, said:  ‘We are at the greatest risk of dehydration when we are too hot or too dry, have limited access to water, or need more water than usual – such as in warm or dry environments. Make sure you always have access to water, even when out and about, and consider bottled water when you are on the move. If in doubt of advice, the Food Standards Agency provides a useful guide of 6 to 8 glasses of fluid a day for the average person.’

Osteopathy and Migraines

Hector Wells an osteopath and member of the British Osteopathic Association runs a daily headache clinic in Banbury, Oxfordshire, ‘Headaches and migraines tend to start due to tension often in one of three areas of the body – tension in the pelvis, in the diaphragm or in the head and neck. Often the tension is greater on one side of the body and very often I’ve found that a migraine begins as a person starts trying to relax – a lot of headaches are associated with the start of relaxation.’

• Pelvic-led headaches can be caused by periods, following childbirth or an injury to the sacrum.

• Diaphragm-led  – food poisoning, abdominal surgery, tension/stress related – quite often accompanied with a tight shoulder more commonly the left – left or right shoulder tension is often symptomatic of  diaphragm tension.

• Head/neck led headaches – left or right imbalance, neck tension, postural problems or following an injury – whiplash or banging your head.

‘Some people never quite relax, and perhaps don’t even realise this. If someone suffers from headaches it’s because tension has built up in a particular area of the body causing an imbalance.’

Although massage can help relieve tension an osteopath actually seeks the cause and will align the body to balance the left and right sides, helping it return to its natural state. Osteopaths work in conjunction with existing healthcare and medication and many patients are able to move away from medication altogether when receiving osteopathic treatment.

Try Migrastick to stop a headache in its tracks – it contains essential oils of lavender and mint. You rub the stick on your head where it hurts and it helps to ease the pain. Click here to purchase. 

Hector Wells’ tips

• When suffering from a headache something as simple as a cold face flannel or using a water spray on the face can make a difference. Cold items on the face encourage the body’s parasympathetic system to release tension

• If you’re suffering from sinus headaches stand in the shower and let water run down your face. Pinch your nose at the bridge and push it from left to right, breathing at the same time, whilst the water runs down. Gradually change the direction and the pressure on bridge of the nose – this should help clear the sinuses

• When headaches are caused by diaphragmatic tension lower in the body, often associated with heart burn or indigestion it helps to put a heat pack on the front and back of the diaphragm and drink a warm drink at the same time to help relieve the tension and get your body to a relaxed state.

To find a registered practitioner in your area, call the British Acupuncture Council on 020 8735 0400 or visit

To find a BOA member near you visit

For more information see the Essential Guide to Hydration factsheet





Complementary therapies A-Z

Photo by kind permission of the Association of Reflexologists

Some complementary therapies are well-established now, having been around for 30 years. Most people are familiar with aromatherapy, acupuncture, reflexology, chiropractic, osteopathy, homeopathy, and herbal medicine, but do not always know what they entail.

Chiropractic and osteopathy are regulated therapies, and they along with acupuncture should in theory be available on the NHS.  This is not always the case though, and it is often necessary to access them privately.

Complementary therapies can be good for your health and wellbeing, relaxing, calming, soothing, and even pampering.  Here we outline over 50 popular therapies and where you can find out more about them.



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Fibre has been used as a form of herbal medicine for centuries because of its ability to help remove toxins from the body while promoting enhanced elimination. The use of fibre as colon cleanse and detoxification remedy has its roots in ancient Ayurvedic medicine; yet becomes ever more relevant today as we struggle to battle the influx of toxins present in our modern world.


  • Nearly six million Britons have had a complementary therapy session in the last year;
  • Chiropractic, osteopathy, acupuncture, homeopathic and herbal medicine are even available on the NHS in some areas;
  • Most private insurance plans cover some therapies
Believe it or not there are over 100 therapies now available in the UK. Some are only practised by one or two people but it’s a pretty sure bet that wherever you are in the western world you could find a homeopath, a reflexologist or a herbalist.

What’s exciting is that traditional therapies that have been practised for years in remote parts of the world have been integrated into our culture:

  • Around 2,000 years ago acupuncture was practised in China with sharp stones;
  • Ayurveda is an ancient Indian system of medicine which comprises yoga, meditation, diet, lifestyle and ethnic herbs;
  • Healing with crystals has been part of the culture for thousands of years in Brazil, which is a rich source of the minerals.


This Therapies A-Z gives a brief explanation of each therapy and details of how to find a practitioner, and some have articles and case studies attached to them.


What? Acupuncture works on the Chinese meridian system by stimulating points along the channels or lines of energy or ‘chi’ which flow throughout the body. It has been used in China for 2,500 years and is a respected branch of Chinese medicine, now widely recognised and available on the NHS.

How? The chi which flows through the meridians becomes blocked causing pain and discomfort so the aim of acupuncture is to stimulate blood flow and release blocked energy. This is achieved by placing needles at specific acupressure points along the meridians. Needles aren’t pushed in very far and usually the patient only feels a slight prick, but some needle-free therapies are now practised.

It helps: Pain relief including tennis elbow, back pain, muscle strain, childbirth, giving up smoking and other addictions.

Where? The British Acupuncture Council is on: 0208 735 0400



What? The Alexander Technique is taught so that participants learn how to apply the principle themselves to release tension, improve posture and breathing and create better balance. The release of tension prevents unnecessary strain and pain – in the back, legs, arms, and all over.

How? About 10 sessions are recommended so that the client can learn how and when they are putting undue strain on their bodies and how to improve. The Alexander Technique teacher uses verbal and physical guidance and gentle hands-on manipulation through clothes.

It helps: Back pain, headaches, any muscular discomfort and tension, strains, poor posture, shallow breathing.

Where? The Society of Teachers of the Alexander Technique (STAT) registered teachers have to undergo a three year full time training course before being allowed to practise. To find out how to locate a teacher in your area contact: Society of Teachers of the Alexander Technique, 1st Floor Linton House, 39-51 Highgate Road, London NW5 1RS, 020 7482 5135;



What? Since the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans essential oils have been used for embalming, massage and bathing. Now aromatherapy massage is one of the most popular therapies with a variety of oils which can soothe, refresh, relax and revitalise us.

How? Aromatherapy oils can be used in a carrier oil such as grapeseed, almond or olive oil and massaged on the body. They are absorbed through the pores of the skin and have all kinds of effects on us, sometimes healing us physically or helping us to deal with emotions. Oils can be used in vaporisers for inhaling, in oil burners to create a sensual atmosphere, and a few drops can be put in the bath.

It helps: Stress, anxiety, depression, stomach problems, period pain and PMT, muscular tension, back pain.

Where? To find a practitioner contact: The International Federation of Professional Aromatherapists, 01455 637987,


What? Increasingly Art Therapy is used to rehabilitate people who have suffered serious trauma or illness or who are having mental health problems. It started when the TV artist of the 50s, Adrian Hill, worked with patients in sanatoriums and was also used previously with soldiers recovering from shock and injury in the Second World War. Any form of art is used to enable someone to express their creativity, and trained art therapists may lead someone in a particular direction if they think it will be helpful. It isn’t necessary to be good at art to do this therapy.

How? The freedom to explore their creativity enables people to express feelings that may not be brought out into the open such as anger, fear and grief. It offers people the opportunity to delve into themselves and art therapists may help them to interpret their feelings once the piece of art has been finished.

It helps: Art therapy can be helpful for anyone with addictions or who has experienced serious trauma, bereavement or periods of anxiety. It is helpful for all kinds of mental problems such as stress, psychosis and depression, and can be particularly useful in helping people of all ages with learning difficulties. People with dementia or serious illness can benefit by expressing feelings in an indirect way.

Where? For details of Art Therapists contact: The British Association of Art Therapies, 020 7686 4216, email:,


What? The Ayurvedic medical system has been used for thousands of years in India and consists of:

  • Nutrition
  • Breathing
  • Yoga
  • Relaxation – meditation
  • Herbal medicine with Ayurvedic herbs
  • Massage with oils

How? The practitioner looks at the person holistically and prescribes lifestyle and diet changes while offering specific herbs to help conditions and massage where appropriate. Breathing, yoga and meditation are encouraged as part of the whole treatment.

It works on the basis that we are predominantly one of three types or ‘doshas’: either ‘vata’ – a creative and active type who may suffer from rheumatic pains and high blood pressure; pitta which rules the metabolism and digestion; or kapha which relates to the fluid in the body, particularly the phlegm. See Herbal Medicine, Ancient Healing.

It helps: As a complete medical system Ayurveda helps with everything and is well respected in the east and growing in the west too.

Where? Ayurvedic Medical Association for names of practitioners: 0208 682 3876,


What? A natural way to improve eyesight that includes a series of exercises and tips that can be adopted during daily life. The Bates Method is taught and then it is up to the individual to practise it themselves. Teachers run courses, one to one sessions for children and adults.

How? Vision activities include exercises that encourage the part of the brain responsible for eyesight to be stimulated. The exercises are simple and are usually carried out while using the eyes to the maximum and blinking. One of the exercises is palming where palms are rubbed together until they become warm and placed over the eyes, which is easy to do anywhere any time.

It helps: The aim is to improve eyesight, and not to treat disease, diagnose eye problems or prescribe glasses.

Where? The Bates Association, 0870 241 7458,


Based on the theory that we have energy or chi flowing throughout our bodies, bio-energy healing aims to clear blockages, release stagnant energy and introduce positive energy to the body.

The healer passes their hands over the client and is able to identify which parts of the body have energy blocks because they feel hot or the healer may even feel pain.

Bio-energy healing is particularly suitable for people who have been unwell for a long time with M.E. or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and helps migraine, stress, asthma, pain and injuries as well as digestive problems.

Contact: The Hale Clinic, London, 0870 167 6667,  or


What? A relaxing technique that involves gentle manipulation with the fingers and thumbs along the muscles and tendons. The aim is to stimulate the flow of energy or chi throughout the body enabling it to better heal itself.

How? A session involves lying down in loose clothing while the therapist makes the light movements to encourage circulation of blood and lymph, increase mobility and release blocked energy. Bowen is a holistic therapy so that whatever the health problems the sessions are the same aimed at treating the whole body.

It helps: It is particularly suitable for muscle and joint stiffness and pain, back pain, sports injuries, chronic conditions such as arthritis and asthma, digestive problems, and stress.

Where? The Bowen Association UK,  01205 319100, for details of practitioners.



What? The Buteyko method is a drug free breathing technique which was developed in Russia by Dr Konstantin Buteyko, who discovered that all asthmatics overbreathe. This causes a reduction in the amount of carbon dioxide retained in the lungs which makes the airways automatically narrow to prevent any more loss of carbon dioxide. Therefore asthmatics find it easier to breathe in than out.

How? The breathing exercises are designed to raise carbon dioxide levels to normal, and attacks tend to lessen and then completely stop. Participants learn how to overcome symptoms without using inhalers, so that they start to use them much less, but preventative medicine is not reduced until CO2 levels are back to normal and the patient has consulted their GP.

It helps: Asthma and other breathing difficulties.

Where? Buteyko Breathing Association,  gives a list of practitioners throughout the UK.



What? One of the most established ‘alternatives’ in the UK is Chinese Herbal Medicine, with practitioners springing up all over the country. The principles of Chinese medicine are based on the meridians or channels running through the body that carry qi or chi or energy. It is along these meridians that practitioners put acupuncture needles and use acupressure (like Shiatsu) and herbs are prescribed to unblock stagnant energy.

How? A session starts with the doctor looking at the patient’s tongue and taking their pulse –there are 12 pulses in Chinese medicine and these indicate where energy is weak. Herbs are chosen according to whether or not a particular symptom indicates damp, heat, or cold in the body. The herbs usually have to be boiled up daily to make a tea and drunk twice a day, and can taste quite unpleasant.

It helps: Chinese herbal medicine has good results with skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis, cystitis, irritable bowel syndrome and other digestive problems, respiratory conditions, muscular discomfort, infertility, hormonal problems, period pain, PMT and menopause.

A list of practitioners can be obtained from the Register of Chinese Herbal Medicine, 01603 623994,


What? As the name suggests Chirokinetics has evolved from chiropractic and kinesiology but has different aims – the aim is to kick start the immune system and overcome allergies and food intolerances. Developed by chiropractor, David Stevens, it uses muscle testing techniques to identify allergies.

How? What is different about chirokinetics is that people don’t have to give up what they are allergic to. The small amount of manipulation given changes the body’s response and enables it to tolerate foods, chemicals and other allergens.

It helps: Any kind of allergies such as hay fever, eczema, dermatitis, allergic rhinitis.

Where? Chirokinetics is available at the Vital Body Clinic, 8 The Crescent, Leatherhead, Surrey, 01372 370043,


What? People are often confused about the difference between chiropractors and osteopaths because they both manipulate with their hands. In theory chiropractors concentrate on the joints of the spine and the nervous system, and osteopaths work on joints, tissues, ligaments and tendons. Chiropractic is now a regulated profession in the UK and some doctors will refer patients on the NHS.

How? The chiropractor needs to have access to the spine so stripping down to underclothes and sitting or lying on the couch is necessary. To correct misalignments the chiropractor physically manipulates the vertebrae, pelvis or other joints to free them and release tension. This usually results in a click as gas bubbles built up in the joints burst. McTimoney Chiropractic is slightly different in that the manipulations are so fast and light that hardly anything is felt and there are no clicks.

It helps: Most obvious symptoms are back and neck pain, but often headaches, dizziness, digestive problems, period pain, tennis elbow, are helped too.

Where? General Chiropractic Council, 020 7713 5155,

British Chiropractic Association, 0118 950 5950, 

McTimoney Chiropractic Association,  01491 829211,



What? We often talk about being green with envy, or seeing red when we’re angry, or feeling blue when we’re down, without any thought about why we say it. The colours we see in a rainbow or through a prism (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet) all vibrate, and colour therapists believe that each one has a unique vibration.

How? Our bodies absorb the electromagnetic waves which they send back out to create the aura – the kind of halo which is believed to surround the body. The aura is filled with constantly changing colours and these colours are determined by our mental, emotion, physical and spiritual state.

Treatments vary from one practitioner to another, but colour therapy is a form of healing. The practioner may hold their hands just above the body or gently touch and they use or focus on particular colours while they are doing this. The person having the treatment may also see vivid colours as the therapist moves around the body.

It helps: Each colour is said to have a healing power. For example, blue can relieve stress, make us feel relaxed and can help with sleep problems, high blood pressure, and asthma; yellow is helpful for arthritis; orange can lift depression; green is good for cancer and inflammatory diseases; while turquoise helps to strengthen the immune system; violet is for hopelessness and lack of self-respect.

Where? International Association of Colour, 0208 349 3299,


What? The power of crystals to heal goes back many thousands of years and was particularly recognised in South America which is an abundant source of the mineral. Crystal healing is based on ancient belief that crystals have healing properties and that their energy works with the body’s own energies to bring about healing of physical and emotional problems.

How? After the crystal healer has taken a detailed medical history specific crystals are chosen and placed on particular parts of the body or on the meridians or held in the hand. All the recipient has to do is lie on the couch fully clothed and relax. Although the treatment is holistic specific crystals are suitable for different health issues. The session is extremely relaxing and can have an almost hypnotic effect.

It helps: All kinds of health problems can be helped with crystal healing as it is a holistic treatment, but anyone who is stressed would find it very relaxing.

Where? To find a practitioner: International Association of Crystal Healing Therapists, 01200 426061,


What? In the last few years counselling has become more common in the UK and after most tragedies or traumas counsellors are usually on hand to help those affected. However, people do not necessarily have to have a tragedy to feel that they need counselling. Everyone has issues and problems which may stem from their childhood or their present circumstances. Talking it out with a trained counsellor or psychotherapist or discovering patterns of behaviour that can help often makes the difference between serious depression, loneliness and anxiety and feeling more positive about life.

How? There are various types of counselling:

  • Psychotherapy involves analysis, looking back at the influences of the past and releasing them.
  • Bereavement counselling concentrates on how the person is feeling now and often involves a lot of listening on the part of the counsellor.
  • Relationship counselling is usually for couples but individuals can attend. The counsellor acts as a negotiator between two partners, helping them to see things from each other’s point of view and finding ways of managing problems that frequently arise.
  • Cognitive behavioural therapy looks at techniques aimed at changing behaviour and ridding people of negative beliefs and thoughts. Although it is understood that these negative thoughts and behaviour patterns come from the past there is not necessarily much delving into early life.

Some counsellors combine types of counselling or use methods such as guided meditation, visualisation, affirmations and other techniques.

It helps: Counselling can help any form of mental stress or illness, anxiety, depression, grief or despair. It can also have a knock-on effect on physical symptoms because stress adversely affects our bodies.

Where? British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy,  01455 883300,

The Westminster Pastoral Foundation,020 7378 2000 ,

Cruse Bereavement Care Helpline, Daytime helpline: 0844 477 9400, 020 8939 9530 ,  email:,

Relate, 0300 100 1234,

British Association of Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies, 01254 875277,


What? The difference between cranio-sacral therapy and cranial osteopathy is that trained osteopaths carry out the latter. Both involve cranial manipulation on the bones of the skull, pelvis and back which is extremely gentle and relaxing. It is becoming increasingly popular for young babies as many suffer from birth traumas which can last all their lives.

How? The gentle manipulation corrects subtle disturbances in the body through the flow of craniosacral fluid which runs up and down the body and reflects damage or disturbances in the body. Only skilled hands can detect these disturbances and the session is usually carried out in silence.

It helps: Headaches, knocks to the head or body, stomach problems, period pains, depression, stress.

Where? For practitioners contact Craniosacral Therapy Association, 07000 784735; email:; or look on the website:

Osteopathic Care for Children, 109 Harley Street, London W1N 1DG, Tel: 0171 486 6160

The Sutherland Society provides information on practitioners of cranial osteopathy, 01483 504508;email:; website:



What? Working on the premise that negative emotions disrupt the body’s energy system, EFT involves tapping the ends of meridians to send a vibration through the energy system. As the energy system is activated by electrical impulses it is claimed that the vibration frees the body from emotional and physical discomfort.

How? The practitioner talks to the client about emotional issues and health problems and then taps on the ends of meridians in a specific sequence. At the same time the issue is vocalised in a particular way, e.g. ‘Even though I hate my boss I still completely and deeply love and accept myself.’

It helps: Phobias, fears, addictions, emotional traumas, obsessive disorders, and all kinds of physical symptoms including back pain, cystitis, herpes, migraines, and insomnia.

Where? The Association for the Advancement of Meridian Therapies provides a list of EFT practitioners: 07857 369619,



What? The practitioner puts a selection of precious gems into a chamber at the front of the EGT lamp and directs it on to the heart, lungs, liver, soles of the feet, abdomen or head – usually on bare skin. All the client has to do is lie back on the couch and relax with the warmth of the lamp on their body.

How? Precious gems radiate on their own frequency and are said to have the power to influence the vibrations of cells in the body. The ray from the gems changes the biological action of cells.

It helps: Children who have eczema and asthma particularly, depression, stress, cystitis, diabetes, CFS, Alzheimer’s, IBS and PMT.

Where? For details of practitioners:,  0843 208 5500



What? Essences of flowers are prepared to treat emotional states such as loneliness, guilt, grief, fear or feeling overwhelmed. The thinking behind flower remedies is that our state of mind affects our health and therefore if mental state is improved so do physical symptoms. Dr Edward Bach was an originator of flower remedies in the UK with his Bach Flower Remedies and now there are essences and remedies from all over the world including Bush Flower Remedies from Australia.

How? Different flowers relate to different emotions as discovered by Edward Bach and there are remedies for all kinds of states with subtleties attached to each. Flowers are gathered from wild plants, bushes and trees and are soaked in spring water and made into a tincture. The remedies can be taken as drops on the tongue or in water – several times a day according to how serious the problem is. Bach Flowers Rescue Remedy is a combination of five flower remedies used to calm people down when they experience stress or trauma.

It helps: Any kind of stress, anxiety, or unhappiness can be alleviated with flower remedies and this may affect associated physical symptoms.

Where? Flower remedies are available over the counter in chemists, health food stores, some supermarkets, and direct from the Nutri Centre.



Medical herbalists use nature to heal with remedies made from plants collected from all over the world. Many pharmaceutical drugs are derived from plants but they are processed in the laboratory and the active ingredients extracted. There are several types of herbal medicine including western herbal medicine, Ayurvedic Medicine, Chinese Herbal Medicine.


Although anyone can buy herbal remedies now for minor health problems such as colds, it is preferable to visit a medical herbalist for in-depth diagnosis and treatment. Herbal medicines can induce side-effects and may contra-indicate pharmaceutical drugs.

Herbal medicine uses seeds, flowers, leaves, or bark and has traditionally been used in cultures throughout the world for thousands of years. Herbalists ask a lot of questions about the individual, their medical history and symptoms and treat the whole person. They often make up their own tinctures or teas and may combine different herbs and plants to provide an appropriate remedy.

It helps:

Many ailments benefit from herbal medicine including skin problems like eczema and psoriasis, hormonal and menstrual problems, menopause, irritable bowel syndrome, arthritis, high blood pressure, flu, sore throats, colds, headaches, hay fever and allergies.


For registered medical herbalists consult: The National Institute of Medical Herbalists, 01392 426022,



Homeopathy is a medical system which uses tiny doses of active natural substances from plants, minerals, animals, metals, and diseased human tissue to stimulate the body’s own healing powers to overcome illnesses.


It works on the basis of curing like with like – for instance a sting from a bee is treated with Apis, made from bee sting. Homeopaths spend a long time at a session asking questions about the personality and symptoms of an individual so that they can find out if problems are emotional, physical or psychological. The aim is to give them a remedy which specifically applies to them.

It helps:

irritable bowel syndrome, travel sickness, strains, mild stomach upsets, allergies, period problems, childhood illnesses, colds, anxiety and depression, asthma, arthritis, skin conditions, cystitis, thrush, period pain, PMS, and much more.


To find a homeopath: The British Homeopathic Association, 08707 443950,

The Society of Homeopaths, 11 Brookfield, Duncan Close, Moulton Park, Northampton NN3 6WL Tel: 0845 450 6611, Fax: 0845 450 6622, E-mail:,



Hypnotherapy is when someone is taken into a hypnotic state of deep relaxation but they are not asleep and are able to hear what is being said to them and respond. While they are in this deep relaxed state the hypnotherapist makes suggestions to help them to lose weight, give up smoking or resolve other issues including health complaints. Under hypnosis the emotional reasons for addictions, mental or physical illness may become obvious and the therapist can suggest ways of resolving them. For instance, if someone is trying to give up smoking the hypnotherapist may suggest that they no longer enjoy cigarettes.


The therapist talks to the client before hypnotising them to find out what problems they have and to find out about their lifestyle and background. Hypnotherapists may use different methods to get someone into a relaxed state such as talking them into, playing music or asking them to look at something specific. Once they are in a hypnotic state they are able to respond to suggestions and answer questions and may provide an insight into their state of mind. When the session is over the hypnotherapist brings them back into a conscious state.

It helps:

Often people have hypnotherapy because of fears and phobias such as flying in planes, fear of dogs, or public speaking. It is also widely used to help people with addictions such as alcohol and smoking and for losing weight. Dealing with emotional issues can also help to relieve physical problems such as irritable bowel syndrome, asthma, skin conditions, stress and anxiety, insomnia, and chronic fatigue syndrome. It may also help people to cope with cancer treatments.


General Hypnotherapy Register, Lymington, Hampshire, 01590 683770,




What? For anyone who likes having their hair touched this is a perfect therapy. The idea of head massage is to stimulate and improve the circulation in the scalp, improving the texture and strength of hair. So that the practitioner can reach the head, neck and shoulders this therapy is carried out with the client sitting up and fully clothed.

How? Initial massage on the shoulders and neck is very relaxing and then using fingers and thumbs the masseur works on the head rubbing and stimulating the scalp. The recipient may see a series of colours while the massage is taking place. It has the effect of dispersing toxins, loosening the scalp, and improving circulation.

It helps: It is helpful for back and neck problems, headaches, stress, anxiety, eye strain, tiredness and induces a sense of calm.

Where: Academy of On-Site Massage:



What? Iridologists diagnose weaknesses in the body through the iris of the eye – the coloured part – in which each part of represents specific organs or systems in the body. Iridologists usually combine the therapy with others, such as nutrition, reflexology, or homeopathy so that they can help to support the weaknesses with vitamin and mineral supplements, dietary advice and other treatments.

How? The iris is made up of different layers so practitioners look at the depth of the layers, how much redness there is in the white of the eye and the shapes of the markings. Different eye colours and mixes of colours can indicate predispositions to specific weaknesses.

It helps: Any physical ailment.

Where? The Guild of Naturopathic Iridologists, 020 7821 0255;



What? Kinesiology is both a diagnostic therapy because it identifies weaknesses, and one which eases conditions as well. Often used in conjunction with other therapies kinesiology involves testing muscles to find out where weaknesses lie.

How? Lying on the couch the client is asked to lift their arm and to resist the pressure put on by the kinesiologist while with the other hand the practitioner touches specific parts of the body. Similarly the client may hold a substance – food or tablets – to see what their reaction is to these. If there is a weakness or allergy the arm cannot resist the pressure, but when this is corrected or taken away it is able to resist.

It helps: All kinds of health problems both minor and major including allergies.

Where? Kinesiology Federation – umbrella organisation, P O Box 17153

Edinburgh EH11 3WQ, Tel: 08700 113545,

The Association of Systematic Kinesiology, Tel: 020 8391 5988,

Classical Kinesiology, for anyone interested in training :



What? Lomi Lomi is a massage that was originally practised by the ancient Kahunas on the island of Hawaii. It is believed to harmonise mind body and soul and is meant to be carried out with uncondtitional love, so that the focus is completely on the client and their needs and problems.. The effect is physically and emotionally healing and can bring about positive change as it clears emotional blocks and physical health problems.

How? Also known as ‘loving hands massage’ it works gently and deeply into the muscles using continuous flowing strokes by using the arms, fingers, heel and palm of the hand in different ways. The aim is to bring fresh energy and oxygen to every part of the body through loving touch. It is said to be an especially powerful kind of massage stimulating all the organs and systems of the body, and tuning the senses too.

It helps: It is suitable for anyone with physical ailments, particularly aches and pains, emotional stress and emotional blocks about the past and present.

Where? The Hale Clinic, London, 0870 167 6667,




What? Magnet therapy or magnotherapy dates back thousands of years to ancient Chinese, Greek and Egyptian civilisations. With the renewed interest in complementary medicine it has regained popularity in the west. It is mainly used as a self-help therapy with people applying small discs to areas of pain or discomfort on the skin, wearing magnetic bracelets and corsets and using mattresses, pillows and even magnetic insoles in shoes.

How? Magnotherapy works on the principle that every organ and cell is influenced by magnetic fields to enable the body to heal naturally. Electromagnetic currents control every function of the body and when a magnet is applied tissues lengthen and ligaments and muscles relax. This allows free flow of blood and oxygen to the area, or in eastern medicine it would be described as the free flow of ‘chi’ or energy.

It helps: Magnets can be used to treat a wide range of problems such as back pain, frozen shoulder, tennis elbow and any kind of sports or other injury as well as being helpful for digestive and bladder problems and many other ailments.

Where? Contact the British Biomagnetic Association for more information: 01803 293346.



What? MLD (Manual Lymph Drainage) is a form of massage that can only be carried out by specially trained therapists. The lymphatic system is a network of vessels that drain most of the body’s tissues and return excess fluid back to the bloodstream. It carries substances which are vital to our defence systems while removing waste products as well. When it is congested people get puffy eyes, sinus problems, fluid retention, rheumatoid arthritis and lymphoedema – the swelling of any limb.

How? Qualified therapists of Manual Lymph Drainage understand the lymph system and use gentle and rhythmic pumping techniques to move the skin in the direction of the lymph flow. This stimulates the lymphatic vessels and helps to clear blockages and get the fluid moving again.

It is a particularly relaxing treatment and is often used to help ease discomfort in cancer patients, especially when they have had lymph nodes removed in, say, breast cancer.

It helps: MLD has the effect of detoxifying the body and boosting the immune system, but is particularly used in cancer clinics when patients have oedema or swollen limbs especially when they have had lymph nodes removed in, say, breast cancer. It can also be used preventatively or to treat frequent colds or acne, heal wounds, burns, old scars, fractures, torn ligaments, and sprains.

Where? MLD UK, 0844 800 1988, is the professional association which provides a list of recognised trained therapists throughout the UK.



What? An Ayurvedic type of massage that works on the ‘Marma’ points of the body which are at the sites where flesh, veins, arteries, tendons, bones and joints meet up. There are over 100 of these points which relate to specific organs in the body and are believed to have their own consciousness.

How? The Marma points are massaged with the fingers to stimulate blood and energy flow and positively affect the parts of the body the points relate to. The treatment dates back to thousands of years B.C. and is used in India for preventative medicine.

It helps: A variety of physical and mental symptoms are helped by Marma including the after-effects of a stroke when communication between muscles, nerves and brain has been damaged. It also helps with nervousness, anxiety, muscular aches and pains, stress and anxiety, lack of energy and sensations in the body such as tingling.

Where? There are very few therapists in the UK – contact The Hale Clinic, London, 0870 167 6667.



What? There are now plenty of different types of massage available – from Swedish to Thai and Indian Head to Marma, but still plenty of people have a straightforward back and neck massage or an all over body massage. Massage involves applying pres

sure to the skin, muscles, and tendons and according to the practitioner or the type of massage it may be gentle or strong.

How? It helps muscles relax and increases blood flow which helps to heal and calm the body. There are a variety of different techniques and while most massages are with the hands some may be with the feet or elbows. Aromatherapy massage involves using specific essential oils depending on the ailments or health issues the client has.

Most massage is carried out with oils or lotions of some kind although some (such as Shiatsu) are done with clothes on.

It helps: Massage is particularly suitable for stiff necks and backs, aches and pains in the muscles, and for releasing stress and tension. It is often given to people suffering from cancer to help them relax and has also been shown to be good for relieving depression and anxiety. For anyone who has no particular health issues you can’t beat a relaxing massage.

Where? The associations listed on the Internet and in books that are supposed to provide lists of practitioners do not appear to be going any more so for specific massages refer to Aromatherapy, Tuina, Thai Massage, Shiatsu, Marma on the Therapies page.  A directory of people who provide massage can be found at:



What? A holistic approach to health care that encompasses nutrition, and other therapies including homeopathy and herbal medicine. The aim of the naturopath is to provide the right conditions for the body to heal itself, and much emphasis is put on lifestyle and diet.

How? Apart from taking a comprehensive medical history the naturopath may want to ascertain where there are areas of conflict and distress in the client’s life – in the workplace, at home, in relationships and so on. In addition to specific therapies and nutrition they may give advice on lifestyle, such as getting enough sleep and exercise, and sorting out the problems that are causing stress and in turn, the illness.

It helps: Any health problem benefits from naturopathy including thrush, cystitis, digestive problems such as irritable bowel, headaches, chronic fatigue, arthritis, bank pain, sports injuries, and menstrual problems.

Where? It is unusual to get naturopathy on the NHS and although practitioners aren’t regulated the General Council and Register of Naturopaths only has qualified naturopaths on its register.

General Council and Register of Naturopaths, British Naturopathic Association, 08707 456984


What? Neurolinguistic Programming or NLP provides people with the tools to change their behaviour and thinking. It does not involve analysis or counselling but enables people to overcome long-held beliefs and fears.

How? People are encouraged to change their responses to specific situations where these have been causing them problems. By using NLP tools they are able to affect the sub-conscious mind so that changed responses eventually become natural.

It helps: NLP helps anyone with addictions, phobias, relationship problems, stress and anxiety, panic attacks, overeating, destructive and negative emotions, chronic fatigue syndrome.

Where?   For a list of NLP practitioners look at


What? Many people confuse dieticians with nutritional therapists or nutritionists, but while a dietician may literally provide a suitable diet for someone who has been ill, a nutritionist uses food and supplements as a treatment for illness or discomfort. The importance of nutrition is becomingly increasingly recognised as people become aware of the need to have adequate vitamins and minerals in the diet and how modern diets do not contain the amount of nutrients we need to be healthy.

How? A visit to a nutritionist can be a lengthy one with a great deal of detail required to give a full picture of someone’s state of health. Often clients are asked to fill in questionnaires to give the nutritionist knowledge of what and how much they eat, what symptoms they have and their general health and wellbeing. Often they test clients for allergies, food intolerances, deficiencies of minerals and vitamins and infections such as candida, a yeast infection. They are likely to suggest a healthy diet and a number of foods and drinks that should not be consumed, or they may give the client a more radical elimination diet that most commonly excludes dairy foods and wheat.

It helps: All kinds of problems can be helped with nutrition including menstrual and menopausal symptoms, headaches, stomach problems, cancer, heart disease, cystitis, irritable bowel, obesity, fatigue, arthritis, asthma, infections, repeated health problems.

Where?  To find a nutritionist or nutritional therapist contact:

The British Association of Nutritional Therapists, 08706 061284,

The Institute for Optimum Nutrition, 020 8877 9993,


What?  Osteopaths work on the basis that if the musculoskeletal system is out of balance it can affect the body’s vital organs. Most people go to an osteopath when they have back problems but as a holistic treatment it is suitable for many other problems too. Osteopathy is now a regulated profession so in theory it should be possible to see a consultant on the NHS, but in practice it is often quicker and simpler to go privately.

How?  Some of the treatment is similar to that of a chiropractor, such as making short thrusting movements to the spine to realign the vertebrae. This often results in a clicking sound that most people imagine is their bone clicking but in reality is a gas bubble bursting in the synovial fluid of the joint. The osteopath may incorporate other techniques such as manipulation and massage and may give advice on exercise.

It helps: Most commonly neck and back problems are treated by osteopaths, but it can also help migraine, RSI, arthritis, sports injuries, and headaches. Cranial osteopathy is helpful for young babies who may have experienced traumatic birth.

Where? To find an osteopath contact the General Osteopathic Council, 020 7357 6655, or see your GP for a referral.



What? Phytobiophysics – the science of plant energy – has been developed by Professor Diana Mossop. There are flower formulas to suit all types of different health and emotional problems and they are made from different plants and flowers found all over the world.

How? It works on the basis that every cell in the body has its own vibration or resonance, and so do colours in nature. The vibration of healthy cells has been matched to an equivalent plant or flower, from which Flower Formulas are made.

It helps: eczema, menstrual problems, IBS, cystitis, allergies, menopause, migraine, constipation. People with cancer have been helped as have autistic children, and anyone suffering from stress, bereavement or depression

Where? The Institute of Phytobiophysics, 10 St James Street, St Helier, Jersey, JE2 3QZ, Tel: 01534 738737, which has a list of practitioners in the UK. Flower Formulas can be purchased by Direct Mail.



What?   Reflexology is a gentle, non-intrusive complementary health therapy that encourages the body to work naturally to restore and maintain its own healthy balance. A reflexologist works on points on the feet or hands, but it may also be performed on the ears and face.

How?  Reflexologists usually work with feet working on the whole foot and therefore correspondingly on the whole body, so a wide range of conditions can be treated. They can pinpoint toxins, tension and energy blocks and using their fingers and thumb they apply pressure to help clear congested areas and encourage energy flow.

It helps: Reflexology can be used to achieve a sense of wellbeing and y to relax the mind and body. It may also help with the management of a number of health-related matters including: relief of tension, stress and anxiety, pain management and injury recovery, improving mood and as an aid to relaxation and sleep.

Where? The Association of Reflexologists has a directory of fully qualified Members (MAR, FAR, HMAR) who have reached the top of their profession on their website – so consumers can rest assured their therapist has been trained and qualified to the highest standards.  Go to:



What? A Reiki healing session is both relaxing and powerful. Healing energy is channelled through the healer into the person being healed to increase their vitality, clear unblocked energy and allow the free flow of energy throughout the body. It can also have a profound effect on the mind and emotions and make people feel more positive and alive.

How? A session involves lying fully clothed on a couch, or sitting up if there is a particular discomfort. The session is usually carried out without talking as the healer concentrates on sending healing energy to the recipient by holding their hands close to the body. Sometimes there will be a build of heat in particular parts of the body during the healing.

It helps: It is effective for all kinds of health problems including mental illness, stress, anxiety, depression, digestive problems, M.E., insomnia, pain, and sports injuries.

Where? To find a Reiki healer go to:


What? Rolfing is a deep massage technique that aims to free tension and stress from the connective tissues of the body to enable the different parts of the body to interact and move together. The originator of Rolfing, Dr Ida P Rolf, claimed that ‘When the body gets working appropriately, the force of gravity can flow through.’ Advice on movement is also given and the aim is to enable people to move and function more freely and become more upright.

How? A session involves removing clothes down to underwear so that the practitioner can rolf all parts of the body. The massage is strong and can be painful but often makes people feel instantly invigorated.

It helps: Helps with neck and back pain, difficulty with movement, tension, irritable bowel, period pains, anxiety, stress and depression.

Where? To find a practitioner visit:



What? Not a therapy at all but an ancient practice that dates back around 40,000 years throughout all cultures. Currently it is being revived and spreading in the western world.

How? The practice of shamanism is highly spiritual and the practitioner works themselves into an altered state, usually by repetitive drumming, so they can get in touch with the client’s spirits and guide them according to what is revealed about their soul.

It helps: Shamans may help someone whose life has been shattered by extreme trauma as they see their task as reconnecting people to their souls so that they can get back their power and physical vitality. However, many people seek out Shamanism to find a greater spiritual connection or to help them cope with life.

Where? To find a practitioner contact: The Sacred Trust, 01225 852615;



What? Shiatsu is a form of massage which takes place on top of clothes and works on the 12 energy channels or meridians running through the body. The practitioner gently manipulates the acupressure points to release blocked energy or chi in the meridians.

How? It works on the acupuncture principle of unblocking energy and allowing the free flow of chi throughout the meridian therefore improving health and relieving discomfort.

It helps: Most ailments and illnesses, including back pain and muscular discomfort. A relaxing treatment it also helps to alleviate stress.

Where? To find practitioners contact: The Shiatsu Society, 0870 1304560,



What? Healing is becoming increasingly popular and accepted, particularly when people have serious illness. It dates back thousands of years and was particularly brought to the attention of the world through Jesus, about whom there were many stories of healing. The hands are held a short distance away from the body while the recipient lies on the couch or bed with their eyes closed. It is an extremely relaxing experience and afterwards they may feel sleepy.

How? Spiritual healers become quiet and calm as they tune into the universe so that they can channel universal life force through to the person they are healing. While they are doing this both healer and recipient might see colours or images. The effect on the person being healed may be nothing more than relaxation but some can feel energy with tingling through parts of their body.

It helps: It is increasingly used to help people cope with cancer and strong treatments for the disease to help them to relax and promote inner calm. Any health problem with physical or emotional pain can be helped.

Where? Sometimes it is possible to have healing on the NHS and some GPs may have one attached to their practice. Cancer departments of hospitals often have palliative care in the form of therapies including healing and most hospices have voluntary healers who visit. Alternatively there are many spiritual healing groups that ask for a small donation (£5 or more) according to what people can afford.

To find a spiritual healer: The National Federation of Spiritual Healing, 01604 603247,, .



What? Not a massage for the faint-hearted Thai Massage can be painful during the session but rather exhilarating afterwards! Its origins go back some 2,500 years but recently it has become increasingly popular in the West. It combines acupressure, massage, breathing, stretching and reflexology.

How? The masseur puts pressure on acupressure points, stretches muscles and compresses parts of the body with their hands, feet, forearms, knees and elbows. According to where there are weaknesses it can be painful at the time, but leaves most people feeling released from tension and energised.

It helps: It is particularly helpful for any kind of muscle tightness or rigidity, back pain, general aches and pains, headaches and tension.

Where? The London School of Thai Massage,



What? Thalassotherapy comes from the Greek word ‘thalasso’ meaning sea and centres started in the 19th century around the coast of France and eventually in the States and Greece as well. It was a Frenchman, René Quinton, who carried out research on seawater and humans at the turn of the 20th century. He discovered that the skin was a good vehicle for the exchange of warm seawater and blood, allowing the healing minerals from the sea to be absorbed.

How? Now there are all kinds of treatments which go under the thalassotherapy banner and a wealth of products including salts from the Dead Sea and North Atlantic and shampoos, body lotions, exfoliants, masks and body wraps. In the UK spas that offer thalassotherapy use salt water which may be imported to enable people to relax in the warm healing waters.

It helps: It is particularly good for destressing and for any kind of immobility, joint aches and pains, arthritis, disabilities, injuries and skin conditions.

Where? For information on seawater spas in Europe:



What? Tibetan Bon medicine is an ancient system that incorporates herbal medicine, massage with plant and mineral extracts, acupuncture, psychology, advice on diet and moxabustion – a heated bundle of herbs held over areas of weakness in the body.

How? Tibetan medicine is concerned with mind, body and soul so practitioners ask patients 29 specific questions to find out what emotional problems lie behind their illness. They take the pulses on both wrists through which they can find out what is happening throughout the body and in the emotions.

It helps: As it is a whole system of medicine people may go to the Tibetan doctor for any illness or ailment.

Where? Christopher Hansard was chosen to be a Tibetan doctor and practises at the Eden Centre, Chelsea, London, 0207 881 5800.



What? Toyohari is a Japanese style of acupuncture, which can treat a variety of health conditions. The aim is to balance the flow of qi (or energy) in the 12 energy pathways or meridians, to restore and strengthen and individual’s constitution and vitality. It is a subtle, yet dynamic, and effective form of acupuncture that was developed by Kodo Fukishima, a blind practitioner, in 1959.

How? It is less invasive than most other forms of acupuncture, due to the non-insertive needle techniques that are carried out with fine silver needles. The practitioner also takes the pulse and palpates the person using touch and delicate techniques to assist in diagnosis. The pulse is taken regularly to monitor changes in the body and adjust the treatment accordingly.

It helps: It has been shown to help with anxiety, stress, depression and fatigue, respiratory complaints and skin disorders, digestive complaints, headaches, muscle tension, sleep disorders, back, knee, neck and shoulder pain, arthritis, sports injuries and sprains, infertility, gynaecological and menstrual complaints and children’s ailments.

Sessions cost from £45 per hour.  European Branch of the Toyohari Association,



What? There are so many different kinds of massage but Tuina (TOO EENA) is not one for the faint-hearted. Also known as Chinese Massotherapy it involves manipulation of the acupoints in the body with firm pressure to correct imbalances in the ‘chi’ or energy of the body.

How? The treatment can be quite painful but invigorating afterwards as manipulation promotes circulation, restores and treats soft tissue injuries and corrects deformed and abnormally located bones and tendons. It also stimulates the mind and body and is said to be helpful for balancing the emotions.

It helps: It is successful with back pain, pain in the legs and arms such as tennis elbow and frozen shoulder, and other ailments such as migraine, constipation, insomnia, arthritis, irritable bowel.

Where? For details of practitioners contact:



What?Yoga in itself is not a therapy but is an extremely good way of exercising, stretching, breathing and keeping calm. Yoga therapy is when yoga postures are used specifically to deal with health problems under the guidance of a specially trained yoga therapy teacher.

How?All yoga postures are designed to massage internal organs, stretch the body and release tension. In specific illnesses this is even more important, and much yoga work has been carried out with people who have multiple sclerosis to make them more mobile and supple and puts people in the right frame of mind to cope with their illness better.

It helps: Any problems with the back, muscles or joints can be helped by yoga therapy as can headaches, migraines, digestive problems, period pains, anxiety, varicose veins, and stress. Remedial yoga is particularly good for cancer, breathing disorders, arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, ME and multiple sclerosis. Yoga is also being effectively used with autistic children, those who are deaf and blind and have disabilities and learning difficulties.

Where?  Yoga Biomedical Trust,

For yoga teachers contact the British Wheel of Yoga, 01529 303233,

Contact Richard Kravetz for information about yoga with adults and children with learning difficulties, disabilities and autism.



What? Zero balancing aims to harmonise the energy in the body with the structure of the body through gentle touch. Frequently life’s traumas affect both our energy and our physical demeanour – if we are uptight our shoulders go up and if we are depressed we may hunch up.

How? The client is fully clothed while the practitioner uses finger pressure and gentle stretches. They focus on the joints and bones aiming to free up the flow of energy and create areas of relaxation all over the body, which in turn has a holistic effect.

It helps: It is very effective for physical pain and for emotional stress, both of which may be linked. It is a very relaxing treatment but also a powerful one.

Where? The Zero Balancing Association website has details of practitioners throughout the country.