Types of traditional therapies

The new-found interest in natural therapies in the West was focused on six healing techniques during the late 1960s. Homoeopathy and hypnotherapy already had a history of practice within the medical profession, but acupuncture, chiropractic, osteopathy. Herbalism and healing were, and still are, practised largely by lay people. Meditation has always been used by groups practising prayer or healing but the introduction of Transcendental Meditation at this time (particularly with the visit to the West of the Indian religious teacher, the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, and his conversion of the Beatles and other well-known personalities) brought a sudden wide awareness of the role that might be played by the mind in health.

The therapies mentioned deal with three levels of consciousness – physical, mental and emotional, and spiritual; and there are many other therapies all having their part to play in helping to reduce suffering and to regain health. The reason why there are so many therapies probably stems from the complexity of the body-mind-spirit relationship and the interaction between the three. A small disturbance in any one can bring about changes in the others so that healers find it necessary to use therapies to counter each problem as it is revealed. However, although the therapies fall into these three definable areas it should not be thought that a purely physical treatment cannot promote an emotional release, or that spiritual healing is incapable of bringing about a physical response. The way in which each therapy works is still barely understood. Neither is the way in which practitioners diagnose the problem and the way in which it should be treated. For the chiropractor and osteopath, matters are easier and they can also rely on X-rays to help them identify the problem. For other practitioners, however, diagnosis is a lengthy business which requires much experience, patience and questioning. The acupuncturist will take the twelve pulses (six on each wrist), others may use foot reflexology to discover which organs are disordered, iridology uses the iris of the eye to do the same, while dowsing with a pendulum can pinpoint irregularities of health and the v means whereby they can be corrected. Each of these is a study in itself and adequate training is essential. Traditional therapies maintain that each person is different and the cause of each problem is also different although the symptoms may appear to be the same. Consequently, the variations in treatments are enormous and individual practitioners have developed their own ideas on the best combination of techniques to employ.