Natural Therapies. The good, the bad, the ugly and the downright amazing...

By Philippa Ellis Founder of Clinic HQ

To us a natural therapy is a practice or treatment that allows you to naturally harness your body’s own ability to heal. A treatment or practice that helps you move more, move better and ideally move pain free.

For me my amazing natural therapies are delivered in the form of my talented Yoga teacher who knows exactly which postures will strengthen my back whilst gently unravelling the stiffness from a long day at work. My Chiropractor who eased my neck and upper back pain meaning I could continue breastfeeding my new-born, discomfort free. For you it could be acupuncture that you turn to with the instinctively placed needles dissolving your headache or Osteopathy providing gentle manipulations that soothe your raging back pain.


Navigating your pain maze

There are people who swear by natural therapies just like the ones mentioned above to treat their aches and pains. Now understand that this is not ignorance or an act of turning their back on the medical treatments that have helped our generations thrive. Instead it is important to acknowledge that these patients have actively sought out the most organic approach that suits them, taking the responsibility to find out what works for their bodies and choosing to heal them in the kindest way possible.

For you the conundrum begins when you decide you want to use natural therapies or products to treat your aches and pains. Where do you start? How do you figure out what therapy or product to choose from? And what therapist do you entrust with your body in its currently fragile and pained state? Choosing the right treatment, product or therapist can be like running the gauntlet. In fact, I would liken it to being in a pain maze, plenty of routes to choose from some of which are dead ends. Not that you know that until you get there which, costs you a lot of time & money and worst of all you’re potentially still in pain.

This is where Clinic HQ would like to step in. By tapping into the patients that have paved the way before you and identifying their success stories we hope to provide you with a shortcut to your solution, a map to help you navigate your very own pain maze.


Why is natural healthcare considered the alternative option? 

The seeds of modern medical care began their lives germinating in many ancient lands including Ayurvedic India, Traditional China, Egypt and the great Greek and Roman empires. The distinction of these ancient medical practices is greatly documented, however broken down they were all essentially a culmination of physical, spiritual and herbal therapeutics, used to diminish the symptoms of disease and restore the body & mind to its original health. 

Fast forward to the 21st century and you'll find that western medical practice has evolved from these ancient therapeutics with a scientific focus on medicinal & surgical interventions, to a point where we can almost provide a pill for every ill. It is only thanks to this methodical and diligent use of science that we are able to accurately classify symptomatology, diagnose physical findings, carry out complex surgeries and develop life changing medicines. 

The scientific research used to shape our medical care today has been directly motivated by our nation’s needs. The early 19th century saw the main focus on the treatment and eradication of infectious diseases, treating the wounded and then more recently with the main conditions and illnesses that are placing an inordinate amount of pressure on our healthcare service. 

This scientific progression has left manual & natural therapies on the periphery, where once they were deemed as part of the normal medical practice they are now very much classified as alternative healthcare. Should naturally harnessing your body’s own ability to heal and strengthen be considered our alternative option?


Is natural therapy quackery?

Rewind to the beginning of the 19th Century to a time where the western medical profession was in its infancy. Doctors & scientists where exploring microorganisms and germ theory, attempting to tackle huge bacterial diseases such as cholera and tuberculosis whilst trying to understand the mechanisms of many other conditions. It was also during this period of time that a lot of the natural therapies as we know them today were forming. Traditional manipulative therapies and herbal therapeutics were being refined and their practices defined into set professions such as Osteopathy, Chiropractic & Homeopathy to name but a few. The creation of these professions was driven by patient demand, picking up the slack on the conditions that medicine couldn't quite satisfy.  The availability of these therapies alongside the developing medical profession almost harks back to the equilibrium of the ancient medical practices, or so you would think.

These newly formed fractions of natural therapies although successful and very popular with patients faced an enormous amount of scrutiny from the medical profession. The fledgling therapies possessed an inferior level of scientific research which fuelled the disdain and lead to mocking from the medical industry and the branding of quackery.

Fast forward to today and despite the medical professions best attempts to limit and restrict their practice, those very natural therapies are still here and thriving. I believe the only reason they have survived is that they add value to you and me, let it be clear we are no fools if they didn't work we wouldn't continue to lighten our pockets for them.

There are however patients that have experienced the exception to this, who have been let down by less than ideal experiences with natural therapies. From these experiences have developed the many opposing groups who display a vigilant opposition and deep seated animosity to particular natural therapies. These opposing groups have been known to target individual therapists demanding the scientific backing for every decision made. Although this may at times appear to be harsh, the dogged opposition of individuals over the years has inadvertently strengthened the professions and practices by way of regulation. Regulation has cemented the natural therapies standards meaning that the individuals bringing disrepute to the professions could be investigated and if necessary stripped of their qualification to practice. As it stands a lot of the mistrust of natural therapies is produced from the uncertainty around what they can successfully treat. This uncertainty is gradually being answered by the progression of quality research into conditions and treatments to meet the growing appetite of the general public. It is my hope that this enthusiasm for further research nurtures a greater inter- professional understanding between different natural therapies and their medical counterparts, dispelling the perception of quackery.


Natural therapies the good, the bad, the ugly and the amazing?

When I purposed Natural Therapies the good, the bad & the ugly I was not for a moment suggesting that one natural therapy is better than the other. On the contrary, I have seen too many people with similar conditions respond dramatically to different treatments to suggest that one type of approach is superior to another. From a young child I have been mesmerised with our bodies ability to heal and I have spent most of my adult life equally intrigued with the ability to naturally trigger that healing process. The result of this intrigue is many stories from all sorts of different patients about what natural treatments & products worked, why they worked and how they worked for them. I may have started out looking for one answer… one specific all singing all dancing superior treatment option for all, but I was quickly shown that just one didn't exist. Instead I noticed that it was the patient and their body that was the determining factor for success when matched to a treatment or product. You never know the great Hippocrates may have been on to something when he scripted the following;

There is however a place where the good, the bad & the ugly does exist within natural therapies and this is that unfortunately not all therapists or practitioners are created equal. You see the practice and application of natural therapies isn't strictly a science it’s also an art that depends very much on the skill, compassion and empathy of the therapist dispensing it. Without these additional elements it is a lot harder to reproduce the successful results had by others.

Don't get me wrong an ok natural therapist can get by on what science has taught them but a down right amazing therapist (and I promise you they are out there) has a strong grounding in science but most importantly listens to you and what your body is telling them and integrates the two to form the best possible treatment, this is the true art of natural therapy. The best of those amazing therapists & practitioners who have left a lasting impression on me are the ones that have sent me to someone else! It may sound odd but it takes a skill and wisdom to examine you and suggest that that actually, they know someone who you would benefit going to over them. There is no place for ego or business when the health of a patient is in your hands.

The criteria for an amazing therapist or practitioner will be different for everyone. For me it’s my Yoga teacher showing me that slight variation in Down Dog that is easier on my wrists and weird knuckles that means I can actually enjoy the class! It’s my Chiropractor who takes pictures of the scoliosis in my spine so that I can see why he is focusing on certain areas. It’s my nutritionist who can glance at my food intake for the last three weeks and know exactly what stress levels I've been through, give me the tools to change and still be kind with her gentle advice. These people have had a radical impact on the way I am able to use my body on a day to day basis and for that I am forever grateful.

With our nation’s sedentary lifestyle starting to show itself through the deterioration and strains of our bodies the need for amazing natural therapists is likely to increase. It is important to remember that although they may be teacher, practitioner or therapist lead the success of the treatment or program depends very much on how we as the patient make the most it. A treatment or class may only take 20 to 40 mins of hands on active therapy but it is the tools that we learn within those few minutes that enable us to take our health in our hands and tackle the conditions caused by our modern lifestyle. It is my hope that an equilibrium could be established between the use of western medicine and natural therapies that would not only see us live longer but would also mean that we are able to enjoy healthy, functioning strong bodies for a lot longer.

Clinic HQ was created to help connect you with other patients of these amazing therapies so that they can share their journey. I know as much as anyone else that it’s not always straightforward or the fairy-tale option but by sharing success stories for certain patients, conditions & therapies we hope that all of our pain mazes are made a little easier to navigate.

Help us navigate the pain map by leaving your success story below.