Why are GPs Increasingly Using Complementary Therapies?

Studies show that around half of the GPs in the UK are now providing access to different forms of therapy to their patients outside of the conventional routes of medicine and it seems that complementary therapies have soared in popularity in the past 10 years. The terms ‘alternative’ and ‘complementary’ medicine have long been associated with different forms of treatment, but the two offer varying methods – complementary treatments are used alongside conventional medicines, whereas alternative therapies refer to such treatments as Chinese medicine, and these replace conventional medicine.

GPs are now opting to include complementary therapies as part of their treatment for a variety of ailments. It seems that as many as one in three patients request these types of therapies when speaking to their GP. When used properly, these therapies can heighten the effectiveness of traditional methods – these include hypnotherapy, aromatherapy, acupuncture and osteotherapy. Many people don’t realise that there is a difference though, or the effect these methods can have.

GPs claim that there has been a high demand for therapies such as osteotherapy, chiropractors and acupuncture, but now nutritional therapies are also increasing in popularity. More GPs are also training in some of these therapies so that they can be offered within the surgery – for breast cancer patients, for example, nutrition, aromatherapy and shiatsu therapies are popular forms of treatment when used alongside more conventional medicines. Studies show that integrative medicines do bring a more positive effect to those using them, with the Haven Breast Cancer charity claiming that as many as 89 percent of patients said they felt better after receiving complementary therapies alongside their regular treatment. And because of the efficiency they offer, GPs are increasingly recommending them more and more.

The NHS and medical centres may begin offering more varied complementary therapies to patients. The Royal London Hospital for Integrated Medicine, which is the leading centre for complementary medicine in the NHS, offers treatments which include acupuncture, aromatherapy, chiropractic, homeopathy, massage, clinical hypnotherapy and osteotherapy to help deal with the symptoms of a host of ailments and diseases. Your GP will only be able to recommend certain therapies depending on the area you live in though. Speak to your GP for advice on the therapies you’re able to receive, depending on your postcode and budget.

The five integrated therapies which are most popular amongst GPs include osteopathy, chiropractic care, acupuncture, hypnotherapy and art therapy. Osteopathy is ideal for back pain and can be use to detect, treat and prevent health problems. Chiropractic care is also used for back problems and can help alleviate issues with the spine and joints. Acupuncture has been used for thousands of years, particularly in Chinese medicine, and uses fine needles which are inserted into pressure points in the body to help treat a variety of health concerns, from migraines to assisting with childbirth. Hypnotherapy involves putting patients into a trance-like state which can improve their well-being and control various symptoms. It is often associated with phobias, anxiety, fear, panic attacks and sleep problems. Finally, art therapy can help patients with mental health problems, as creating paintings and music can help people deal with their inner conflict and emotional turmoil.


Your GP will be able to advise you of the best treatments for your condition as there are many more besides these which could help you. Depending on what your budget and location is, as well as your symptoms, your GP can offer a selection of possible therapies which could help to work with your medicine for quicker or more effective treatments.

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