Natural therapy encompasses a wide variety of modalities, from aromatherapy to herbal medicine. ANTA represents practitioners from 12 common natural therapies, which you can explore in detail.
Natural therapy covers a broad range of medical disciplines that treat a person physically, psychologically, and spiritually, by stimulating their natural self-healing and self-regulating abilities. By considering the interconnected systems of our bodies, natural therapies tend to take a holistic approach to treatment, and focus on a patient’s overall health rather than individual complaints or conditions. When visiting a natural therapist, they will typically ask broader, more numerous questions than a conventional doctor, in order to gain a comprehensive understanding of your health.
Natural health therapists do not prescribe conventional medicine, preferring to use techniques such as massage, mobilisation, acupuncture, and diet, as well as plants and herbs to treat patients. The majority of therapies focus on stress relief and relaxation, but there are many more benefits such as pain relief, a stronger immune system, and improved overall health.
The natural health industry is huge in Australia—worth around $2.5 billion a year. This includes alternative medicine, complementary medicine, and holistic medicine, which more and more Australians are benefiting from.
Natural therapy is diverse, encompassing a variety of modalities that have scientifically proven health benefits. You can visit an acupuncturist to reduce inflammation, a myotherapist to relieve lower back pain, or a nutritionist to strengthen your immune system. You might be feeling particularly anxious lately, and want to visit a herbalist or a Chinese masseuse to help you de-stress. Whatever your issue, the modalities of natural therapy are large enough, comprehensive enough, and various enough to treat a wide range of issues, without the need for pharmacological chemicals.
ANTA represents natural therapists from a number of modalities, which are used to treat a huge variety of health conditions. The following sections have a list of natural therapies explored breifly.
Acupuncture is a natural therapy performed by inserting tiny, flexible needles into a patient’s body, which alleviate pain and treat a number of different symptoms. The needles used in acupuncture are made of stainless steel, roughly 0.2mm thick (about the width of a human hair), and used to stimulate meridians (lines that run through the body), acupuncture points, and neural zones that sit under the skin.
Aromatherapy is a natural therapy that uses medicinal plant oil to treat physiological, psychological, and emotional conditions. It’s a treatment renowned for its ability to balance, harmonise and promote the health of our minds, bodies, and spirits. Aromatherapy has been used as a medical treatment for thousands of years and is being validated with clinical evidence.
Ayurveda as a natural therapy is grounded in the idea of balance between the mind, body, and spirit. The practice was created in India in the 4th century BCE, and in Sanskrit, translates to “knowledge of life and longevity”.
Ayurveda aims to promote good health through practices such as diet, herbal remedies, massage, meditation, and yoga. It is a holistic approach which treats the body and mind as a collective, with both being taken into account when treating physical complaints, and general health.
Chinese Herbal Medicine is a component of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), which aims to restore a patient’s balance and harmony. In Chinese herbal medicine, this balance is achieved through the use of herbs, which are ingested by the patient, and help to treat issues such as pain, IBS, colitis, infertility, neuropathy, arthritis, insomnia, stress, depression, and more.
Homeopathy is a natural therapy based on the concept of treating “like with like,” to activate the body’s natural defenses. These substances are mixed into a light alcohol or water solution, which weakens them drastically, and transfers the healing essence of the substance into the solution.
Myotherapy is a natural therapy designed to treat the muscles and skeletal system using various soft tissue and mobilisation techniques. A myotherapist is able to critically assess and evaluate musculoskeletal conditions, by identifying the causes and factors that contribute to imbalance and pain.
Used in the treatment and the rehabilitation of back pain, neck pain, joint pain, muscular dysfunction and/or injuries, myotherapy techniques incorporate a varied amount of “hands on” remedial and mobilisation techniques as well as home stretching and strengthening exercises. This assists in alleviating pain, enhancing movement, and improving the functional alignment of the skeletal system. Myotherapists are trained to treat and prevent injuries, as well as rehabilitate from them.
Myotherapists are healthcare professionals who treat and rehabilitate joint and muscle-related pain, injuries, and dysfunction. Treatments are sometimes offered alongside osteopathy, physiotherapy, and chiropractic therapies. Myotherapists are also trained in a wide range of neurologic, orthopaedic, and functional testing. This allows them to gain a holistic picture of a client’s physical capabilities.
Naturopathy is a natural therapy that emphasises a holistic approach to disease prevention, and the treatment and promotion of optimal health through natural, therapeutic means. These may include homeopathy, nutritional medicine, herbal medicine, massage therapy and lifestyle and dietary advice.
Inherent to naturopathy is the principle that the body has an intrinsic ability to heal itself. Using the healing power of nature and gentle therapeutic techniques, the mind, body and emotions are supported during this healing process.
Clinical Nutrition is the study of nutrition in food, to determine the right foods to eat for good health. Clinical Nutritionists have a deep understanding of how food can impact our health, and are able to provide sound advice on how to improve it.
A clinical nutritionist’s main goal is to provide you with dietary recommendations that will improve your health. These recommendations are usually tailored to your particular health circumstances. For example, if your family has a history of high cholesterol, they may suggest avoiding fatty cuts of meat and full fat dairy, and eating more legumes, avocados, and nuts. A nutritionist will ask you a list of health-related questions during your initial appointment, to provide the most effective dietary advice.
Traditional Chinese Massage (also known as An Mo Tui Na massage, or Oriental massage therapy) is a form of deep tissue massage that treats a range of issues, including chronic pain, arthritis, musculoskeletal problems, digestion, and more. The massage therapist uses a range of techniques to complete the massage, including twisting, pulling, pushing, turning, and kneading. As with all Traditional Chinese Medicine techniques, it uses the philosophical concept of Yin and Yang to achieve balance in the patient.
Remedial massage therapists are professionals who are trained to identify physical and bio-mechanical issues within the body. By using their thumbs, knuckles, and elbows, remedial massage therapists apply differing amounts of pressure to muscles and other connective tissue, to realign, release, and relax the patient’s body. Remedial Massage therapists have extensive training in multiple areas, such as anatomy, physiology, and pathophysiology, in order to understand the way the human body works and connects.
Shiatsu is a therapeutic bodywork that originated in Japan and combines Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and contemporary physiological theory. Modern Shiatsu combines TCM with other forms of therapy, and aims the amplify the body’s ability to heal itself. Shiatsu translate to ‘finger pressure’, and therapists use fingers, thumbs, elbows and palms to apply pressure to different areas of the body.
Western Herbal Medicine (also known as herbalism) uses plants to create medicines for disease, to improve health, and to enhance wellbeing. The plants used in herbalism are typically sourced from Australia or abroad that include (but not limited to) North America, Europe and Asia.
Clinical herbalists are trained to create unique herbal prescriptions for patients. As with many natural therapies, herbalism is a holistic approach to healthcare, and often used in conjunction with conventional medicine. Herbalists understand and incorporate biomedical science and research into their prescriptions—an evidence-based approach that helps with treatment. Many have thorough knowledge of health science, clinical assessment, pharmacology, and herbal synergy, and can also provide basic dietary and lifestyle advice to clients.