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special feature


Alternative health made easy

Madonna and Sting swear by it, Boy George designs his lifestyle around it, but alternative health still remains a mystery to most. This glossary should sort out your Feng Shui from your Shiatsu.

Words: Gabe Stewart


At the root of the 4000-year-old ancient Chinese system of healing is the energy called chi, which flows through everything and everybody specifically through fourteen channels, or meridians, in the body. Needles inserted into these channels stimulate and balance the flow of chi. (No, it doesn’t hurt, but if the Hel/raiser human pin-cushion image still haunts you, turn to Shiatsu.)

Alexander Technique Popular with actors, dancers, singers and public speakers, this specialised sequence of exercises improves posture, breathing and voice control. It can also help relieve insomnia, asthma, sciatica, lumbago and stress- related conditions.


Another ancient art, rediscovered earlier this century as a treatment for battle wounds, aromatherapy confidently claims to ease over 65 ailments ranging from acne to cancer

Chiropractic therapy and osteopathy

Chiropractors cover similar territory to osteopaths. Both have enviable records in back pain treatment, although they also claim success in general conditions such as asthma and gastric ulcers. Chiropractors take a direct approach, whereas osteopaths rely more on leverage. Both can result in disconcerting Cracking noises.

Colour therapeutics

We all know about seeing red and feeling blue, but colour therapy goes further by maintaining that each colour of the spectrum possesses specific healing properties, which can even stop the growth of tumours.

Cranlosacral therapy With minimal physical manipulation, therapists aim to free up the cerebro- Spinal fluid circulation in the skull and spinal cord areas. The resultant brain drain releases the blocked energy that c0uld otherWise fester and cause disease.

Feet first: illustration from The Complete Illustrated Guide To Aromatherapy by Julia Lawless. published by Element at £18.99

Dream therapy

In ancient Greece, dream analysis formed part of any medical intervention Now, it’s a staple of traditional psychoanalysis, a sort of route map along Freud’s 'rOyai road to the unconscious’.

Feng Shui

Described as aCUpUllClUFG for buildings, Feng ShUi enhances the flow of chi in your home or business. Long- established practitioners disdain the three-Cs brigade (Crystals, chimes,

chants') who have both popularised and impoverished Feng Shui.

Gestalt psychotherapy Less of a treatment and more of a self- awareness programme, Gestalt focuses on the ’here and now’. Doubtless founder German psychoanalyst Fritz Perls (1893—1970) would have approved of the Oasis sequel.


NHS and HM Approved, the principles behind homoeopathic medicine are summarised in 'Similia similibus

curentur' 'like cures like'. Minuscule doses of toxic substances relieve the symptoms of toxicity. Hair of the dog, anyone?

Hypnotherapy Hypnotherapy is now widely accepted for conditions such as tension, phobias, addictions, migraine, ulcers and insomnia. But only use properly qualified practitioners, preferably with medical or clinical psychology training.


Kinesiologists use deceptively simple muscle monitoring to discover what the body needs to bring it into better balance. They assess energy in the body's meridians and then advise on structural, nutritional or electro- magnetic (aura) problems.

Louise Hay Training Based on the Louise Hay positive affirmation books, this treatment will only work if you have faith in it. That's not to say it doesn’t work, only that you must suspend your disbelief at the irksome naive nature of affirmative Californianisms.

Psychotherapy and counselling

One of the more orthodox treatments in the alternative pantheon, especially beneficial for eating disorders, depression and compulsive/obsessive behavioural problems. It has even helped sufferers of irritable bowel syndrome and psoriasis.

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21 Nov-4 Dec 1997 THE lI3T91