As well as seeing a GP or other health professional, some people look for additional help from complementary and alternative medicine, sometimes referred to as CAM. Get help finding information on complementary and alternative medicine, sometimes referred to as CAM. These therapies may also be described as being ‘natural’ and include ancient treatments, such asacupuncture. There’s also integrative medicine, where CAM and conventional medicine work alongside each other.
Some complementary therapies have been claimed to help with symptoms of some illnesses. However, in many cases there’s not enough medical evidence to determine if alternative therapies are effective.
Most alternative therapies are not available on the NHS. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has recommended the use of complementary and alternative medicines in a limited number of circumstances. These include the Alexander Technique for Parkinson’s disease, ginger and acupressure for reducing morning sickness, acupuncture and manual therapy, including spinal manipulation, spinal mobilisation and massage for persistent lower back pain.
A significant number of GPs are trained in and use, certain types of CAM, such as acupuncture, and GPs may sometimes refer to other practitioners, includingchiropractic for back pain. The NHS sometimes covers acupuncture, aromatherapy, chiropractic, massage, osteopathy and clinical hypnotherapy.
Complementary and alternative therapies should not be used to replace the treatment recommended by a doctor. When choosing an alternative therapist, it is safer to select one registered with a government approved body or who is accredited to a voluntary professional body for that therapy.
This list doesn’t cover all organisations in this field, but here is a selection of organisations offering help and further information about alternative and complementary medicine:
Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC)
Complementary medicine is not regulated in the same way as mainstream healthcare. However, many complementary and alternative therapists are registered with the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC) which was set up by the government to give a degree of regulation to the sector.
The British Acupuncture Council
The British Acupuncture Council has a membership of around 3,000 professionally qualified acupuncturists.
The British Medical Acupuncture Society
The British Medical Acupuncture Society is a registered charity established to encourage the use and scientific understanding of acupuncture within medicine. Its members are regulated healthcare professionals who practice acupuncture within the scope of their professional practice.
The Acupuncture Society
The Acupuncture Society is a professional body of acupuncture and oriental therapist practitioners.
The Society of Teachers of the Alexander Technique
The Society of Teachers of the Alexander Technique aims to ensure the highest standards of teacher training and professional practice.
International Federation of Professional Aromatherapists
The International Federation of Professional Aromatherapists is one of the largest professional aromatherapy practitioner organisations in the world.
The Bowen Therapy Professional Association
The Bowen Therapy Professional Association is the largest non-profit making professional organisation of Bowen Technique therapists.
The British Chiropractic Association
The British Chiropractic Association is the largest and longest-standing association for chiropractors in the UK.
The General Chiropractic Council
The General Chiropractic Council operates a statutory regulation scheme for chiropractors.
The British Society of Clinical Hypnosis
The British Society of Clinical Hypnosis is a national professional body with the aim of promoting high standards in the practice of hypnotherapy.
The National Council for Hypnotherapy
The National Council for Hypnotherapy represents over 1,800 hypnotherapy professionals in the UK and encourages high professional standards amongst its members.
The General Council for Massage
The General Council for Massage is the governing body for massage therapies and soft tissue techniques in the UK.
The General Council and register of Naturopaths
The General Council and register of Naturopaths is an independent registering body for naturopaths in the UK.
The Society of Homeopaths
The Society of Homeopaths is a professional body for homeopaths.
The British Herbal Medicine Association
The British Herbal Medicine Association aims to advance the science and practice of herbal medicine in the UK to help ensure consistently high quality and effectiveness for consumers.
The National Institute of Medical Herbalists
The National Institute of Medical Herbalists is a professional body representing herbal practitioners.
Traditional Herbal Registration
Some herbal products such as St John’s wort, echinacea and black cohosh need to be registered with the medicines regulator MHRA and can only be sold for the conditions for which they are registered. Registration doesn’t mean a herbal remedy has been tested and proven to actually work. It does mean the MHRA is satisfied the product is made to good quality standards with appropriate labelling and a product information leaflet. It also means the herb has been used in traditional remedies for many years.
Nutritional Therapy Council
The Nutritional Therapy Council set standards of training and education that meet the National Occupational Standards for nutritional therapy.
The British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy
The British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy acts as a professional body for nutritional therapy practitioners.
Association of Reflexologists
The Association of Reflexologists is a professional body for reflexologists with the aim of promoting high standards in the profession.
The Reiki Council
The Reiki Council is an advisory body for Reiki Practitioners in the UK.
UK Reiki Federation
The UK Reiki Federation is one of the largest professional associations representing Reiki practitioners in the UK.
The Shiatsu Society
The Shiatsu Society represents Shiatsu practitioners in the UK – promoting their work and professionalism.
The British Wheel of Yoga
The British Wheel of Yoga is the Sport England recognised national governing body for yoga.
Iyengar Yoga UK
Iyengar Yoga UK provides a network of information about Iyengar yoga and yoga events.
Source: Finding help: Alternative/complementary help