Alternative Therapy: Meaning & Types

Alternative Therapies is a general term with multiple definitions. In one sense, it designates the play of alternative and conventional medicine. This definition involves characteristics such as the individual human being's biurgical system (e.g., emotional, psychological, physical) and its relation to other individuals in social groups (family). However, in the historical context of modern science, it has been used to refer to a collection of practices that diverge from procedures in mainstream biological sciences.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, this group has expanded beyond esoteric philosophies such as homeopathy and various forms of naturopathy and into more mainstream methods such as herbalism, acupuncture, osteopathy, faith healing, biofeedback technologies like EEG and PET scans, as well as numerous sects within general medicine – from chiropractic and massage therapy to schools of nutritional therapy that promote foods like juice or raw foods (like macrobiotic diets or vegan diets).

What are Alternative Therapies?

Alternative therapies are knowledge, practices, and methods for influencing the course of health and illness that deviate from the tenets of contemporary Western medicine. When we acknowledge their historical relationship to the counterculture movements of the 1960s and 1970s, this broad description becomes more specific. Alternative therapies are a manifestation of these movements, and despite their diversity, they all share the following traits: (a) acceptance of the idea that the body is fundamentally connected to the rest of the world and the universe; (b) a holistic view of the body; and (c) opposition to the use of extremely sophisticated technologies in treatment.

One can define alternative therapies as the manifestation of health-related ideas put forth in a New Age setting. The most popular examples of these practices in Latin American nations are Reiki, crystal healing, reflexology, acupuncture, kinesiology, craniosacral therapy, massage, visualization, meditation, yoga, homeopathy, nutritional and dietary therapies, iridology, color therapy, dance and music therapy, hydrotherapy, osteopathy, chiropractic, biodanza, PO.

There is a distinction between complementary and alternative medicine according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). They contend that it is complementary when used in conjunction with traditional medicine, but alternative when used in place of the latter. However, the majority of patients probably combine these treatments with conventional therapy.

Types of Alternative Therapies

Alternative remedies come in a wide variety of forms. Many of these treatments have become part of orthodox medicine over time. Numerous categories can be used to group alternative treatments.

Ayurveda − Ayurveda focuses on treating ailments with certain medicines, therapies, and dietary regimens. It is a centuries-old Indian custom that has been in use for a very long time.

Typical Ayurvedic therapies include cleansing procedures, herbal medicines, specific diets, yoga, massage, and meditation. According to research, Ayurveda can treat illnesses including osteoarthritis, type 2 diabetes, and colitis (an inflamed colon).

Meditation − For many ages, people have employed meditation as a kind of therapy. Despite the fact that there are many different kinds of meditation, the main goals of meditation practice are to help you concentrate and reach a state of peace and relaxation. This can then assist you in managing certain diseases and enhancing your general health and well-being.

High blood pressure, anxiety, and depression are just a few examples of mental health disorders that can be effectively treated with meditation.

Yoga − Yoga has been used as a therapeutic method for thousands of years, despite the fact that some people may just view it as a type of exercise. It has been demonstrated that this traditional Indian practice enhances both the physical and mental health of those who engage in it.

Additionally, yoga has demonstrated benefits for managing pain, anxiety, and tension. Yoga is generally risk-free, but if you're new to yoga, it's best to practice with a trained professional to prevent any sprains or strains.

Massage − The primary goal of massages is to alleviate physical symptoms like discomfort in certain body areas. They are carried out by massaging your body's sensitive tissues till you get alleviation. There are several massages, and the type you receive usually relies on the outcome you hope to attain.

Herbal Medicine − In herbal medicine, a plant's leaves, seeds, or roots are used as a cure for ailments including allergies and chronic pain. Herbal medication can be found in a variety of forms, including tea, lotions, tablets, and powders.

Homeopathy − Homeopathy includes treating a variety of illnesses, such as asthma and high blood pressure, with extremely diluted medications. Its foundation is the idea that a chemical may both cause and alleviate symptoms.

Homeopaths, or those who practice homeopathy, think that the more diluted a chemical is, the more ability it has to alleviate a condition's symptoms.

Acupuncture − Acupuncture is a form of traditional Chinese treatment that involves inserting tiny needles into specific spots on your body called acupuncture sites. This procedure has long been employed as a natural pain-relieving method. It is thought that the needles trigger particular muscles and nerves, causing your body to naturally produce hormones that reduce pain.

Reiki − Reiki is a traditional alternative therapy from Japan. It is predicated on the idea that your body is filled with "life force energy." You get unwell when this energy is depleted.

By using hands-on pressure on various bodily areas, reiki tries to replenish this energy. Any physical or psychological issues you may have been helped by doing this. It resembles energy treatment.

Benefits of Alternative Therapies

Following are the major benefits of alternative therapies −

  • Alternative therapy is less expensive than traditional forms of treatment.

  • Compared to other traditional procedures, which can occasionally cause serious drug side effects, it has almost no negative effects.

  • As it promotes the health of the body, this therapeutic technique has broad use. As healing affects both the mind and the body, it reduces stress. It helps us let go of our firmly suppressed emotions while also reducing and relieving the symptoms of depression.

  • Aids in socializing since group counselling therapy may lead to the formation of self-help groups.

  • The nicest thing about alternative medicine is that its practitioners currently put more of an emphasis on prevention than on curing illnesses, which helps to ensure improved health all around without having to deal with many issues.


The field of alternative therapy is always expanding and growing to include a larger number of useful preventative and curative exercises for the human body. Alternative therapies which were until recently only known in the West are being used more often by healthy and sick individuals.