Our guide to complementary medicine
Hotcourses Editor

Our guide to complementary medicine

First published date May 19 2016 Amended date May 19 2016

What is complementary medicine we hear you cry? Well, actually, it doesn’t really have a dictionary definition. Complementary and alternative medicines (sometimes referred to in the medical world as CAMs), are medicines or treatments that can be used with or alongside more traditional medicines. For example, a doctor might suggest an herbal remedy alongside a course of drugs they have prescribed. It all sounds pretty medical doesn’t it, but don’t worry, you won’t be expected to spend seven years in university if you are interested in learning more!


Can complementary medicine actually help?

This is a tricky one to answer, some studies say yes, others say no. Although complementary medicines may not be based on scientific evidence, their popularity in the world today surely shows they have some benefit. Our best advice with this one would be to do your research and maybe talk to someone who is qualified to give you a medical answer. If, however, you are interested in finding out more, taking a short course definitely won’t hurt.


I’m not a doctor, what kind of courses can I take?

Good news, you don’t need to be a doctor to do any of these courses. Whether you want to find out more about the history of herbal medicine, or have the urge to learn more about aromatherapy, there will be a number of beginners courses on offer. We’ve tried to make things a little simpler by giving you a brief overview of some of the most popular complementary medicine courses.

Herbal medicine – Why do plants have medicinal properties? A herbal medicine course will take a look back at the historical use of plants in alternative and mainstream medicine, and then translate this to our modern day use of them.

Aromatherapy – Aromatherapy uses essential oils to try and improve a patients wellbeing. Often used as an alternative therapy in the treatment of stress, depression, insomnia and relaxation, research suggests it can help. If you are interested in learning more about the power of smell, a beginner’s course could be what you are looking for.

Reiki healing – One of the more spiritual categories on this list, Reiki is a Japanese technique for stress reduction that is also believed to promote healing in the body. It is based on the idea that an unseen energy flows within us and can be manipulated through touch.


What can I do after my course?

Although we cannot promise you won’t leave your beginner’s course with the skills needed to become a freelance practitioner, you might catch the bug and go on to learn more. Apart from the likes of osteopathy and chiropractic, there is no professional regulation of alternative therapies in the UK. This means, if you do feel like you have the skills and experience, you can freely practise he treatment, however we recommend you join a voluntary register or association first.


Interesting facts you might like to know

  • The World Health Organisation estimates that over four billion people rely on alternative medicine as their primary form of health care
  • In aromatherapy, lemon is used to calm and heal wounds, lavender is used to care for skin and help you relax and Ylang Ylang is thought to release muscle tension and give you an instant mood boost.
  • The word drug comes from the Dutch word ‘droog’ meaning ‘dried plant’. 

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