Many types of complementary therapies are available and these can be grouped into four broad classes:
Natural products, herbs and nutritional products – the most popular of complementary therapies. These include herbal or botanical medicines, certain vitamins, minerals, dietary supplements and probiotics.
‘Hands on’ therapies or body work – based on touch or manipulation of soft tissue, muscles and joints. Includes massage and Bowen therapy. Osteopathy and chiropractic are often spoken of as complementary therapies, but in Australia, these therapies are classed as allied health treatments.
Mind-body therapies – aim to influence physical functioning and promote health using the mind, thoughts and feelings. Work on interactions among the brain, mind, body and behaviour. Includes acupuncture, meditation, yoga, tai chi, deep breathing, guided imagery and support groups.
Energy-based therapies – based on manipulation of ‘energy fields’ in the body. Includes reiki, kinesiology, magnet and light therapies.
Other categories of therapies that are often used in conjunction with conventional medicine include:
Movement therapies – such as Feldenkrais method, Alexander technique, pilates, Rolfing and Trager integration.
Whole (alternative) medical systems – such as ayurvedic, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), naturopathy and homeopathy.