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What Are The Most Popular Holistic Therapies?

Updated: Dec 20, 2020

Written by Philip Spurgeon

July 25, 2019

Some people believe that it’s lifesaving. Others argue it’s a load of nonsense. Holistic therapy – sometimes referred to as ‘complementary therapy’ or ‘alternative medicine’ – is a controversial topic. But, no matter what people think about it, its popularity is indisputable. According to the Nursing Times, in 2008, approximately 6 million people received some form of holistic therapy in the UK, creating a total spend of £4.5 billion on treatments. By 2017, it was estimated that over 60% of the world’s population used some form of traditional or alternative medicine and the popularity of these therapies is still on the rise. But what has caused this popularity and what are the most popular therapies? And what does holistic therapy involve anyway? What is holistic therapy? ‘Holistic’ originates from the Greek root ‘holos’, which translates as ‘whole’. Therefore, ‘holistic therapy’ is an umbrella term for any healthcare therapies and practices that treat the entire body and the whole person, rather than curing ailments in isolation as modern medicine does. This is because holistic therapists view the human body as one, harmonious system and therefore believe that optimal health can only be achieved if the mind, body and spirit are balanced. This harmony is achieved via natural, non-medical or surgical methods, and treatments are often remedial or involve herbal medicine. Because of this, holistic therapy is set apart from conventional medicine, hence the term ‘alternative medicine’. Unlike mainstream medical care that cures illness as and when they occur, holistic therapy aims to prevent ill health from occurring in the first place, by promoting wellbeing as the key to health and wellness. Why is it popular? Western holistic therapy practices took off in the 1960s in response to anxiety about medicine’s focus on drug-related treatment and its failure to view patients as people, rather than bits of bodies to be prodded and examined. People wanted a more natural and human-focused approach to healthcare, which is exactly what holistic therapy provides. These sentiments are still felt today. And with lengthy waiting lists for traditional medical treatments and NHS cuts creating concern about the future of mainstream healthcare, people are turning to holistic therapy as an alternative. Some choose holistic therapy to manage long-term health conditions alongside the use of conventional medicine (complementary therapy), whilst for others, it’s their sole method of treatment (alternative medicine). However used, holistic therapies can ease and support a range of health issues and help patients to maintain their health and enhance their wellbeing throughout their lives. It can also be tailored to each individual’s needs and requirements, unlike medicine’s ‘one size fits all’ approach, allowing patients to take control of their healthcare. It’s no wonder then that holistic therapy is so popular. What are the most popular holistic therapies? From herbal remedies to vitamin supplements, acupuncture to massage, there are hundreds of types of complementary and alternative therapy to choose from. However, there are some that rise above the rest. A study conducted by the Federation of Holistic Therapists (FHT) last year found that the most popular holistic therapy is reflexology, followed by body massage in 2nd place and aromatherapy in third.

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