Living with a Life Threatening Illness

Complementary Therapies

Complementary therapies are types of healing that have not been traditionally accepted by practitioners of conventional western medicine until recently. In eastern cultures complementary medicine has always been a significant strand of treatment.

More recently the rise in the use of complementary therapies and acceptance of some treatments by some of the medical profession has made them more accessible. Complementary therapies can be used to either exclusively treat an illness or are used alongside conventional medicine.

People often turn to complementary therapies because they aren’t happy with conventional medicine or they feel they want to ‘add’ something to the treatment they are receiving. In line with the palliative care approach within the NHS, complementary therapies are now increasingly recommended by healthcare professionals to support other treatments. This is known as integrated medicine. The NHS now has a directory of complementary and alternative practitioners . They are working to provide listings of accredited professionals recommended to doctors and the public.

Complementary therapies can:

  • Often be used alongside conventional treatments without interference.
  • Improve your quality of life both through mental wellbeing and also treating conditions such as muscle problems, pain and nausea.
  • Provide natural relaxants to help with tension and anxiety.

Common therapies being used in the treatment of terminal illness include hypnotherapy, acupuncture, aromatherapy, massage, reflexology and homeopathy.

You must seek out a qualified practitioner and if you are undergoing any conventional treatment then let your doctor know exactly what treatments you are receiving and any medicine an alternative practitioner has prescribed. There are certain treatments and natural remedies that have negative interactions with conventional drugs and it is important that everyone treating you is fully aware of any other treatment you are receiving.

When looking for a alternative therapist check their qualifications and if they have a governing body then check they are accredited by that organisation - any qualified therapist will have no problem providing references, proof of qualifications and other patients you can talk to.

Unfortunately, there are people out there who will pray on the vulnerable. There are so called "faith healers" and other charlatans who may try to provide false hope and to take your money with fake promises and unrealistic expectations. Be wary of anyone who makes promises which seem too good to be true and ask a friend or family member their opinion when researching alternative therapists.