Ever seen a treatment advertised and wondered what on earth it was all about? Don’t know your ayurveda from your zero balancing? Well here is your reference list for all things complementary. If you come across something we haven’t included here then please let us know and we’ll add it to the list. Enjoy!
Acupressure Acupuncture for needle phobics. Pressure is applied to key points on the meridian system (energy channels) with implements or thumbs and fingers.
Acupuncture Very fine needles are inserted into key points on the body and left there for up to 20 minutes. It doesn’t hurt at all and can be used for physical and emotional issues. It is a very frequently used method for pain control.
Alexander Technique A treatment designed to teach you to realign the relationship between the head, neck and back specifically to improve posture. The aim is to let the spine reach its maximum length and width. Can be done 1:1 or in classes. The technique has been adapted to equine activities and swimming (see Shaw Method).
Aromatherapy The use of essential plant oils applied via massage, bath and inhalation. Frequently used for relaxation.
Auricular point therapy Acupuncture of the outer ear. Practitioners say the ear acts as a switchboard to the brain to bring about its effects.
Ayurveda Traditional Indian medicine which uses herbal and mineral preparations. It is the world’s oldest medical system. It works on the premise that the body has canals (nadis) which carry energy (prana) and that each personality type requires a different “medicine” (vata, pitta and kapha). Also involves yoga, meditation and diet.
Bach Flower Essences (pronounced Batch) Developed from homeopathy, the essences from 38 different flowers are meant to stimulate the body’s capacity to heal itself by “balancing negative feelings”. The essences are used as drops in water.
Bates Method A way of improving your eyesight without glasses or contact lenses.
Biodanza An integrative dance therapy; it is music, movement and feelings. It makes use of the elements of Earth, Air, Fire and Water as archetypes and is a means of self-exploration.
Biodynamic massage Based on the notion that the psyche also exists in the physical body e.g. that the body’s organs literally digest emotions and that rumblings in the abdomen represent this process going on.
Biorhythms Referring to the cycles in our body that set our physical, mental and emotional status.
Body psychotherapy The combination of physical massage with the talking cure. Other terms include: biodynamics, biosyntesis, bioenergetics, emotional anatomy, Gestalt body psychotherapy and hakomi.
Bowen Technique A corrective treatment for musculo-skeletal as well as other problems such as migraine etc. The practitioner uses key junctures on the body to bring about reprogramming of the affected area. Between moves or sets of moves, the practitioner leaves the client to rest for up to 10 minutes, allowing the boty to assimilate and accommodate the change. The next set of adjustments is then made.
Champissage a combination of traditional Indian head massage (champi) and more general massage fo the shoulders, upper arm and face. Used to relax and balance the energy system of the body.
Chavuti thirumal Indian foot massage where the practitioner slides their feet up and down the spine whilst hanging from a rope.
Chelation therapy A cardiovascular treatment involving injectons of ethylene diamine tetra acid (EDTA) originally developed to treat lead toxicity. It is suggested it is an alternative to bypass surgery.
Chiropractic Manipulation of the spine and bodily extremities to relieve pain and improve mobility. (see also McTimoney)
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) Cognitive therapy is based on the principle that certain ways of thinking can trigger, or ‘fuel’, certain health problems. For example, anxiety, depression, phobias, etc, but there are others including physical problems. The therapist helps you to understand your current thought patterns. In particular, to identify any harmful, unhelpful, and ‘false’ ideas or thoughts which you have that can trigger your health problem, or make it worse. The aim is then to change your ways of thinking to avoid these ideas.
Colonic Irrigation Also known as colonic hydrotherapy, this is similar to an enema. Up to 20 gallons of water are pumped through the colon via a 20-30 inch tube. The claim is that it cleans the colon of toxins, gas, faecal matter and mucus deposits.
Colour Therapy Therapists examine your visible aura either by eye, senses or via a Kilner screen (two sheets of glass with cyanide dye between). Therapy involves focusing sunlight on a particular part of the body, colour breathing and wearing certain colours.
Cranial Osteopathy Gentle manipulation of the head and first few vertebrae. Often used in newborns who have experienced difficult delivery.
Crystal Healing Utilising the idea that crystals absorb and transmit energy that tunes the body’s fluctuating vibrations. Practitioners stress the importance of cleaning and preparing the crystals. Each type is said to have different properties.
Cupping An acupressure variant used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM).
Dance Movement Therapy The idea is that through our distinct individual set and modes of movement, we give physical embodiment to our psyche, which can therefore be addressed, and helped or mended, via movement.
Dis-ease A play on words, indicating the subclinical complaints which it specialises in addressing.
Dolphin Therapy the idea is that touching dolphins results in an energy transfer from aquatic mammal to patient.
Ear candling (see Hopi) Also known as auricular candling or coning. A cone- or candle-device is put into the ear canal. Once lit a partial vacuum sucks out the wax. It can also help with imbalance problems and relaxation.
Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) An energy medicine using the meridian system of the body to treat emotional problems by tapping or stimulating specific points mainly on the face, chest and hands. Now taught as a self-help technique. Similar to Thought Field Therapy.
Energy / energies In CAM it is believed that we are made up of energy and that this energy flows in pathways. Called qi in Traditional Chinese Medicine and prana in Ayurveda. In Kinesiology and Shiatsu energy is believed to be in meridians that map the body. In Zero Balancing, these energy pathways are detected and readjusted in the skeletal system.
Equine Therapy Working with horses can be used in a range of conditions from cerebral palsy and autism to anorexia. It is thought that close contact and stroking the animal brings about a sense of trust and helps restore a healthy body image or size.
Feldenkrais Method Movement sequences make you notice different parts of the body in new ways, leading to the breakdown of th old movement patterns which were the apparent cause of the problem.
Feng shui The belief that arranging your home or office in a particular way will bring about good energy flow thereby fixing problems and pre-empting future ones.
Flotation Originally developed from sense deprivation, the person lies in Epsom salt solution in a dark room to rest injuries and balance the left and right sides of the brain.
Geopathic Stress The theory is that the environment (both natural and man made) can indirectly affect your health e.g. power cables and pylons as well as underground streams. Crystal therapists often test for it.
Gerson Therapy Developed by Dr Max Gerson, a leading naturopath in the treatment of cancer, it is a spiritually based therapy to engage the body’s own healing mechanisms. Treatment involves a high anti-oxidant organic diet, coffee enemas and enzyme therapy.
Healing The laying on of hands. Healers believe they can channel energy from an external source. Also spiritual healing.
Healing Love Non-ejaculatory sexual intercourse designed to “cultivate” and “transform” sexual energy. Also known as Seminal and Ovarian Kung Fu.
Heller Work It aims to imrove posture by mixing deep massage with psychotherapy and body realignment. Similar to Rolfing which omits the verbal therapy.
Herbal Medicine The use of traditional herbal medicines many of which have been adopted in modern pharmaceutical practice: aspirin, digitalis etc.
Holistic The idea that effective treatment needs to look at the individual to be healed from all aspects: physical, psychological and emotional.
Homeopathy The core notion is that “the patient needs the treatment not the disease”. The idea is that a little of what you don’t like makes you better so remedies are diluted many times before being administered.
Horticultural Therapy The principle is that plants and horticultural activities are used as therapy. Often used for the elderly, disabled, mentally ill and substance abusers.
Hot Stone Therapy A relaxing, oil massage supplemented by the placing of hot volcanic stones on the body.
Hydrotherapy The use of water to heal. It uses aerated baths with both warm and cold water. It is used to help with relaxation, pain relief, varicose veins, swollen ankles and wound healing.
Hypnotherapy Unlike hypnosis where the patient interacts with the therapist, it is used for anything that is considered to be phychosomatic and is akin to having a deep relaxation done for you.
Iridology This involves making a diagnosis from the irises of the eyes (the exposed nerve endings in the coloured part).
Journey Usually referring to the more spiritual “journey” e.g. that experienced by Reiki novices. It also refers to a technique of self-healing developed by American former cancer sufferer, Brandon Bays (The Journey).
Kinesiology The use of magnets, massage, nutrition and contact points to find “imbalances” in the body. It is also concerned with energy imbalances.
LaStone Massage A relaxing therapy that can include massage and be given with or without the use of oils, supplemented by the placing of hot / warm volcanic and cool marble stones on the body.
Laughter Therapy A treatment based on the premise that laughter heals.
Light Therapy The use of both natural sunlight and artificial light to fight general complaints like colds, tiredness and depression and more specific ones such as jetlag, sleeping problems and SAD (seasonal affective disorder).
Listening Therapy Asserting that the middle ear has active rather than passive muscles, it emphasises listening (an active process) rather than hearing (a passive one). The therapy is a kind of training for the ear which generates a variety of sounds (Mozart mostly but also Gregorian chants) to which one listens. Said to be effective in autism, vertigo, tinnitus and Menieres disease.
Lomi Lomi A traditional Hawaiian massage which translates as “loving hands”. The practitioner uses long, continuous, flowing strokes, often with the heel and palm of the hand.
McTimoney Chiropractic A gentler version of chiropractic especially recommended for pregnant women and young children.
Manipulative Medicine An all embracing term for the various versions of osteopathy and chiropractic.
Manual Lymphatic Drainage Essentially a very light massage, MLD helps the body to boost the healthy lymph node areas, while encouraging new pathways to develop from affected areas.
Metamorphic Technique The therapist uses light touch on points on the feet, head and hands called “spinal reflexes”.
Moxabustion/Moxibustion The herb burning done by TCM acupuncturists using dried leaves from either the common mugwort or the wormwood tree. Practitioners attach moxa sticks to the needles of place them directly on the patient’s skin.
Music Therapy The client and therapist both play, sing and listen. Often used in those who find verbal communication an inadequate form of self-expression. Used in those who are looking for insight into themselves.
Naturopathy Based on the idea that the body can heal itself. It focuses on lifestyle: fresh air, diet, water, exercise, rest and emotional balance. Practitioners combine dietary, psychological and physical therapies.
Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) A behavioural technique which helps one attain goals and overcome bad habits by tapping into the cycle of negative thoughts.
Nutritional Therapy Based on the observation “you are what you eat” practitioners assess or test for nutritional shortfalls or imbalances and advise or treat accordingly with healthy food with or without supplementation.
Orthomolecular Therapy Based on the idea that if you alter the level of various substances in the body you can improve health e.g. increased vitamin C prevents colds.
Osteopathy A regulated, manipulative technique focusing on the vertebrae. Treatment focuses on manipulation of the skeletal system and massage. It works on the muscles and ligaments primarily.
Oxygen therapy Based on the premise that bacteria and viruses can only survive in a low-oxygen environment. Treatment aims to increase oxygenation of the body and the food put into it to combat disease.
Panchakarma Indian detoxification involving massage, purges, emetics, inhalations and oil enemas plus purvakarma treatments (see below).
Pilates A set of exercises that concentrate on the back and abdominal muscles in a very precise and conscious way for a limited number of repetitions, sometimes using equipment. The idea is to strengthen the anatomical core and correct posture.
Polarity Therapy A healing therapy developed from ayurveda based on the notion that the top and right side of the body have a positive charge while the bottom and left side of the body have a negative charge. It involves a mix of various elements including counselling, cranial work, bodywork, hydrotherapy, yoga and nutrition.
Pranic Healing By examining and treating the energy field around the body.
Purvakarma Therapy A traditional Indian therapy. Oils are administered via the mouth, rectum and the skin, or in steam baths and oil drips.
Qigong part of TCM – qi means energy, gong means practice – it combines soft, loose stretches with breathing. Often described as the relaxing part of t’ai chi. External qigong is performed as a healing by qigong masters.
Radionics A distant healing technique using the principle that each disease produces a different “energy vibration”.
Reflexology Nerve endings in the feet are stimulated to change things in other parts of the body. It is believed the architecture of the body is reflected on the soles of the feet and by treating the foot changes are effected in the organ or body part represented.
Reiki A Japanes touch therapy developed from Buddhist beliefs and Sanskrit teachings. Hands are placed on the body in a special sequence and practitioners act as channels for qi or the “universal life energy”. The first principle is to exist in the present.
Rescue Remedy A Bach combination of five flower essences having a wide range of applications from stress to bereavement.
Rolfing A technique of working on the connective tissue of the myofascial system to create a better balanced body. It centres around muscle memory and is concerned with the effects of gravity on us and how we deal with it.
St John’s Wort A herbal alternative to Prozac. Derived from the hypericum perforatum plant, the active ingredient is hypericin and it works by monoaming oxidast inhibition. Thought to be safer than regular anti-depressants.
Shamanism A modern update of an old tradition, you enter an altered state of consciousness, often through a repetitive drum beat, to explore the spiritual world.
Shaw Method The Alexander Technique applied to swimming.
Shi’zen no-hands massage Developed by Gerry Pyves, the no hands method is a technique of giving a deep tissue massage by the various aspects of the forearm.
Shiatsu An acupressure treatment relating everything to the five elements of the body. The therapist aims to balance the body’s vital energy, or qi, using elbows, knees, feet and fingers, but rarely the palms of the hands.
Shirodhara Warm oil poured onto your forehead as part of panchakarma.
Spinal Touch By using gentle and precise rubbing techniques along the postural muscles, spinal touch aims to realign the bones and restore the body to optimum health.
Swedish Massage Traditional massage technique developed by Per Henrik Ling a 19th century physiologist, originally performed using talc. Main types of move are stroking, kneading, squeezing and percussion.
T’ai Chi An ancient Oriental art of flowing movement exercises linked to breathing and designed to improve the flow of energy (qi) in the body.
Tea Tree Oil An Australian oil which is said to be naturally antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral.
TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) Electro-acupuncture. Small electrical impulses conducted via small, highly portable band. Often used for pain relief in labour.
Thermal Stone Therapy This is a family of therapies that includes LaStone and Hot Stone Therapy. The therapy can include massage, and involves the use of volcanic and marble stones at varying temperatures. Hot stone therapy, as the name suggests, only uses the hot / warm volcanic stones.
Thai yoga massage A combination of acupressure, gentle stretching and being put in passive yoga positions. The therapist uses their feet, hands and elbows to apply pressure in flowing sequences to stimulate SEN channels (nadis in ayurveda and meridians in acupuncture).
Thought Field Therapy (TFT) The precursor to EFT, TFT uses the meridian system of the body to treat a range of conditions from pain, through to addictions and emotional baggage. TFT uses combinations of acupressure points known as “algorhythms” to address specific problems.
Toxin A potentially damaging substance which is considered harmful to the body.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Based on the fundamental interaction of two forces: Yin and Yang. Yin is about quietness, darkness and femininity. Yang is about loudness, daytime and masculinity. The aim of TCM is to achieve balance. Also, it sees the body as arranged and controlled by qi (energy) flowing through 14 channels or meridians. Medical preparations are specific to the individual and combine plant, mineral and animal sources.
Tragerwork A light, gentle form of massage which involves no oil or rubbing. Instead, the person lies on a padded table while the therapist gets into a focused state called a “hook up” and uses a repetitive combination of stretching, lifting, swinging, flexing and rocking movements designed to reach into the unconscious mind. There are also relaxation exercises to be done between sessions called Mentastics (mental gymnastics0
Tui Na The massage part of TCM (meaning push and grasp). The body is moved around with the view to obtaining similar results to osteopathy.
Urine Therapy The idea that reingesting the toxins in your own urine will stimulate a cleansing reaction.
Vertical Reflexology A Reflexology technique where the dorsal aspect (top) of the foot is briefly treated when is a standing position. It is particularly appropriate for doing treatments in the work evironment.
Vibrations Found in healing crystals.
Wave Therapy Treatment taking in music, magnetic and light therapies.
Yoga An ancient Hindu physical and mental discipline incorporating several “limbs” or aspects including physical stretching exercises of hatha yoga (asanas), breathing (pranayama), meditation etc. There are various types of yoga: bhakti, karma, raj or raja, ashtanga, kundalini, sundaram, sunna, laya, vinniyoga, bikram etc.
Zero balancing A comforting and relaxing light manipulation therapy using finger pressure and held stretches, called fulcrums, stressing the energy that is flowing through the bones and joints.
Zone therapy Another name for reflexology
A – Z of Complementary Therapies by Tricia Blaxill