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Complementary Therapies

Medical treatments for Parkinson’s are improving all the time. Many people also want to consider complementary therapy to help support the management of Parkinson’s.

Although no complementary therapies have been scientifically proven to slow, stop or reverse the development of Parkinson’s, many people with Parkinson’s are interested in using them alongside their Parkinson’s treatment.

This section covers:

What are complementary therapies?

Complementary therapies are treatments used alongside conventional (mainstream) medicine. 

A wide range of treatments exist under the broad term of complementary therapy. 

Each treatment has its own unique theory and practice. As a general principle, complementary therapies aim to treat the entire person, including mind, body and spirit, rather than just the symptoms.

We would not recommend you replace medication with an alternative treatment.

Types of complementary therapies

Complementary therapies can include the following: 

  • Acupuncture
  • Alexander Technique 
  • Aromatherapy
  • Ayurveda (Ayurvedic Medicine) 
  • Biofeedback
  • Chiropractic Medicine 
  • Diet Therapy
  • Herbalism 
  • Holistic Nursing 
  • Homeopathy 
  • Hypnosis 
  • Massage Therapy 
  • Meditation 
  • Naturopathy 
  • Nutritional Therapy 
  • Osteopathic Manipulative Therapy (OMT) 
  • Qi Gong 
  • Reflexology 
  • Reiki 
  • Spiritual Healing 
  • Tai Chi 
  • Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)
  • Yoga 

Complementary therapies and Parkinson’s

Some people with Parkinson’s and their family and carers have found complementary therapies useful. Although not providing a cure, they can help people to be more active, eat healthier, meet other people, manage anxiety and mood, relax, and take some time out. Everybody is different with different health needs so finding a therapy and a practitioner is an individual choice.

Choosing a therapist

Having a good therapist is essential to safe and successful treatment. However, it is not always straightforward to find someone who is qualified. Many hospitals and GP surgeries now work together with complementary therapists. It makes sense to start by asking your GP, consultant, or other healthcare professionals if they can recommend someone.

Consider the following guidelines when selecting a therapist:

  • Select a therapist who is insured
  • Select a therapist who is a member of a registered professional association
  • Ask your GP for a referral to a therapist
  • Ask trusted friends for a referral

Questions to ask the therapist

  • How will this therapy assist me?
  • What qualifications they hold
  • What experience they have treating people with Parkinson’s
  • How much treatment will cost and if it is eligible for refunds under private health insurance
  • Are there any risks?
  • Is there any evidence of treatment benefits?
  • How long will it be before benefits are seen?

Benefits of complementary therapies

There is no simple answer to this question as there are so many types of therapy, and responses vary for each person. Although no complementary therapies have been scientifically proven to slow, stop or reverse the development of Parkinson’s, many people have experienced benefits from complementary therapies such as better general health, decreased pain and improvements in mood. 

Can I use complementary therapies instead of taking Parkinson’s medication?

No, complementary therapies do not work as a replacement for Parkinson’s medication. Stopping or making changes to your Parkinson’s medication can be dangerous if it is not done under the guidance of your specialist.

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