There are very few high-quality studies into the effectiveness of complementary or 'alternative' treatments.

Complementary medicines and treatments include a wide range of treatments that are not usually used by most doctors in the UK. These treatments are sometimes described as alternative medicine. However, complementary is a better description, as they should be used alongside but never replace the treatment offered by your doctor.

Complementary therapy and the NHS

Use of complementary therapies in the NHS is limited. Your GP or practice nurse can tell you more about the availability of NHS complementary therapy services in your area. Most people who use complementary therapies pay for private treatment.

Complementary therapies and pregnancy

In general, you should avoid taking any unnecessary medicines or treatments when you’re pregnant. There are very few high-quality studies into the effectiveness of complementary or 'alternative' treatments and anything you take into your body can affect your unborn baby.

Some complementary therapies, such as acupuncture and massage, can be suitable during pregnancy. However, even for therapies like these, there are still times during pregnancy when they may not be safe. For example, your abdomen should not be massaged during the first three months of pregnancy. It’s also important to attend regular antenatal check-ups throughout your pregnancy.

Get medical advice

If you're considering using a complementary therapy, it’s important to tell your GP (or midwife if your are pregnant) about what treatment you’re considering. If you then decide to use a complementary therapy, you should always consult a qualified practitioner.

You can get more information about qualified or registered practitioners from the organisations below:

Homeopaths do not have to be registered with a regulatory body. The Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council is a voluntary organisation which practitioners can register with, but they do not have to.

Further information





To find local complementary therapy services, please use the Health, Wellbeing & Support search facility, selecting 'Complementary Therapy' from the drop down box.  Here you will find services associated with; Hypnotherapy, Physiotherapy, Pets as Therapy and Reflexology for example.

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The information on this page has been adapted by NHS Wales from original content supplied by NHS UK NHS website nhs.uk
Last Updated: 01/03/2016 14:18:18