How to Choose a Complementary or Alternative Medicine Practitioner

Many of our members consider complementary or alternative treatment. If you do wish to explore this route, there are many different options and it’s very important to try and choose the right practitioner to suit your needs.

Most types of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) practitioners are not regulated by the Government. Instead different therapies have their own registering bodies, who ensure that people are fully trained and insured.

Please don’t make the mistake of thinking that CAM therapies are natural and therefore cannot do any harm. The wrong treatment, or even the right treatment given at the wrong time can damage your health and your chances of recovery.

Start by deciding what type of practitioner you would like to help you and then check the registers listed below to find someone in your area who is fully qualified. You can also join LDUK’s Online Community to ask fellow patients about their experiences with Lyme literate practitioners.

When you have identified a practitioner that you like the sound of, it’s worth contacting them and asking them the following questions:

  1. What qualifications do you have and are you registered with any official bodies. Please see below for a list of the main CAM practises and their requirements.
  2. Are you experienced in treating Lyme? If they say “no, but that doesn’t matter with the way that I work” then unfortunately they do not understand the complex nature of treating chronic Lyme. You may also wish to ask how many patients they have treated with chronic Lyme and how the patients are now.
  3. What CPD have you done recently that is relevant to my situation? Have they read books about Lyme or attended training or conferences? If not, they are unlikely to be aware of new developments and treatment options.
  4. What support do you offer if I have problems tolerating your treatment or have a Herxheimer reaction? Do they offer support or understand that treatment can aggravate symptoms? If not, you will need other support options in place.
  5. How long would you expect me to need treatment for? Any estimate of less than 6-12 months probably shows a lack of knowledge about treating chronic Lyme.

If you are not happy with any of the answers to the above questions, then the practitioner may still be useful as part of your practitioner team, but it may not be wise to rely on them as your only source of treatment and support.

Complementary and Alternative Medicine Requirements

Here is a guide to the different types of Complementary and Alternative medicine and how to choose a practitioner who is more likely to have the necessary skills to help you.

Acupuncture: minimum 3 years study to registration

Acupuncturists use subtle diagnostic techniques and treatment involves the insertion of very fine needles into specific points on the body to affect the flow of your body’s qi, or vital energy.

Acupuncturists should be registered with either the British Acupuncture Council (BAcC) or the BMAS (this register is mainly for GP’s and Chiropractors that have done acupuncture as additional training).

Bio-resonance practitioner: currently no register or minimum study requirement

Bio-resonance technology is often used by Homeopaths / Naturopaths / Nutritional therapists as an additional therapy, but many Bio-resonance practitioners have not done any medical studies and do not qualify for any professional register. If you are considering bio-resonance treatment, it is recommended that you choose a practitioner who is also on a professional register that requires a minimum of 3 years medical study in some form.

Chiropractor: minimum 4 years study to registration

Chiropractors diagnose and treat mechanical disorders of the bones, joints and muscles, and the effects of these disorders on the function of the nervous system and general health.  There is an emphasis on manual treatments including spinal adjustment and other joint and soft-tissue manipulation. All Chiropractors are registered with the GCC.

Herbalist: minimum 3 years study to registration

Medical Herbalists are trained in orthodox medicine and diagnostic skills like a GP but they look at illness with a holistic approach (looking for the underlying causes of chronic illness) and prescribe herbal remedies. Herbalists register with the NIMH or AMH.

Homeopath: minimum 3 years study to registration

Homeopaths are trained in orthodox medicine and diagnostic skills like a GP but they look at illness with a holistic approach (looking for the underlying causes of chronic illness) and prescribe homeopathic remedies.

Homeopaths register with the ARH, SOH or HMA. The faculty of Homeopaths is for medical professionals like GPs, who have done additional training in Homeopathy.

Naturopath: minimum 3 years study to registration

Naturopaths are often Homeopaths, Osteopaths or Nutritional therapists that have done additional training. Naturopathy is a holistic approach and promotes self-healing as a way to eradicate disease. Naturopaths register with the GNC, GCRN and the ANP.

Nutritional therapist: minimum 3 years study to registration

Nutritional therapists use nutritional science to promote health. They assess nutritional imbalances and recommend nutrition and lifestyle changes individualized to the patient.

Nutritional therapists register with BANT

Osteopath: minimum 4 years study to registration

Osteopathy is a system of diagnosis and treatment that works with the structure and function of the body. It is based on the principle that the well-being of the individual depends on good function of the skeleton, muscles, ligaments and connective tissue.

Osteopaths register with the GOC.

Reflexologist: 9 months study to registration

Reflexology is a holistic treatment working with reflex points on the feet and hands and their connections to organs in the body.

Fully qualified reflexologists register with the AOR.

Thank you to Sonia O’Donnell LCPH MARH from NTA Clinics for her input into this article.

LDUK does not recommend or endorse any particular clinic or treatment. We aim to highlight all options available so that people can make informed choices.