Using alternative therapies: a guide

Updated on April 15, 2020

Many people have wondered or even tried out alternative therapies to help alleviate a condition they may have. Some have found them to be beneficial, but others less so.

There’s a variety of ways that these therapies may help a patient, depending on what it is and the condition being addressed. These are just some of the reasons someone may want to look into trying an alternative therapy, and what effect it may have on them.

What makes a therapy ‘alternative’?

This usually describes approaches that are generally meant to replace treatments offered by your doctor. You may also hear the term ‘complementary’ used to describe these same treatments, although this is typically associated more with therapies such as yoga and meditation, which can be used alongside those given by your doctor.

Someone may wish to try out an alternative therapy because they don’t want the treatment their doctor has offered, or the treatments they have had haven’t suited them. They may also want more options to try, in addition to current medicines.

If you are looking to start an alternative therapy treatment, then it’s a good idea to talk it through with your doctor. This is especially true if you are already taking medication.

Can it help with mental health problems?

Alternative therapies can be used as a treatment for mental health problems. The problems they can help will depend on the treatment being used. However, many can reduce feelings of anxiety and depression, with some people finding they can also help with sleep issues, relaxation and stress.

Yet different things work for different people. This is the case for medicines and therapies, so it’s hard to say which will work.

Does this include vitamins and minerals?

It can do, as there will be some treatments that will mean a patient might not be able to get all the nutrition they need from their diet. Sites such as offer a variety of vitamins and minerals that might be able to be used in some instances.

For instance, some cancer patients may find they can’t eat or drink properly, or may not be able to absorb some nutrients. Hormone therapy (used for breast and prostate cancer) can weaken bones and may require calcium and vitamin D supplements. Or if the type of cancer experienced stops the patient from easily absorbing nutrients from food and drink, multivitamins and mineral supplements may be needed. 

However, such patients should consult a health professional if they’re thinking of taking nutritional supplements.

What about physical therapies?

People with recurring pain from a musculoskeletal condition may get benefits from physical therapies. These can reduce the pain, help with healing and reduce further damage.

For example, this could include spinal manipulation carried out by a chiropractor or osteopath to relieve lower back pain (which affects about one in four adults). Acupuncture appears to be effective for osteoarthritis joint pain and relieve knee joint pain. Massage therapy is also used to reduce stress and anxiety as well as relieve recurring pain.

The Editorial Team at Healthcare Business Today is made up of skilled healthcare writers and experts, led by our managing editor, Daniel Casciato, who has over 25 years of experience in healthcare writing. Since 1998, we have produced compelling and informative content for numerous publications, establishing ourselves as a trusted resource for health and wellness information. We offer readers access to fresh health, medicine, science, and technology developments and the latest in patient news, emphasizing how these developments affect our lives.