Table 1

Examples of complementary and alternative medicine

Name of therapyBrief description
AcupunctureStimulation of acupuncture points by inserting a needle, electrical current (electroacupuncture), heat (moxibustion), laser (laser acupuncture), or pressure (acupressure)
Alexander techniquePsychophysical re-education for improving posture and coordination
AromatherapyApplication of “essential” oils from plants, usually through gentle massage
Autogenic trainingAutosuggestive, self hypnotic technique for relaxation
ChelationIntravenous infusion of EDTA for arteriosclerotic diseases
ChiropracticA system of healthcare which is based on the belief that the nervous system is the most important determinant of health and that most diseases are caused by spinal subluxations which respond to spinal manipulation.
Enzyme therapyOral administration of proteolytic enzymes aimed at increasing wellbeing
Flower remedies (Bach)Highly dilute plant infusions to balance physical and emotional disturbances
HerbalismThe medicinal use of preparations that contain exclusively plant material
HomoeopathySystem of medicine developed about 200 years ago by S Hahnemann based on the “like cures like” principle, often using extremely high dilutions
HypnotherapyForm of cognitive information processing using suspension of peripheral awareness aimed at apparently involving changes in perception, memory, mood, and psychology
MassageManual techniques of rubbing, stroking, tapping, or kneading the body with a view to treating physical or emotional conditions
OsteopathyForm of manual therapy involving massage, mobilisation, and manipulation
ReflexologyUse of manual pressure to specific areas (typically on the sole of the foot) thought to be related to inner organs
RelaxationEliciting a relaxation response (release of physical and mental tension); often included in broader therapeutic programmes
Spiritual healingChannelling of “healing energy” from an external source (for example, God) through the healer to the patient with a view to enhancing health and wellbeing
Tai chiA system of movements and postures used to enhance mental and physical health
YogaStretching exercises for breathing control and meditation