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Complementary/Alternative.  These two words are used interchangeably for therapies outside the ‘conventional’ medical model.  But they are not the same.  Complementary means ‘to complement’ – to add to, to support.   Alternative means just that – ‘to replace’, ‘instead of.’  Which do you prefer? 

There is a narrow view that says we should only rely on chemical pharmaceuticals, hospitals and surgery, and that anything herbal, homeopathic, energetic or not conventional, is rubbish, doesn’t work and the people who believe in it are flaky and ignorant.

There is an equally extreme view that we don’t need conventional medicines at all, that no-one should ever take a paracetamol, have chemotherapy or radiotherapy, and so on.  That doctors are bullies, in the thrall of ‘big pharma’, etc. 

These views are polar opposites, and I have learned that real life is not that simple.  There is (usually) a middle road.  Perhaps my background in the conventional medical world, and my current work in energy healing helps me to see the advantages of both natural therapies and what conventional medicine has to offer.   My preference is COMPLEMENTARY.   I offer a simple example to illustrate:

I developed a painful knee in 2019.  Rest and ice (conventional) only helped temporarily.  I saw a physiotherapist (conventional).  He thought perhaps a slight tear in a meniscus or ligament.  I had some treatment from him (conventional) and remedies from my homeopath (complementary).  I also did my own energy healing (complementary).  Hmm, not much improvement.

MRI scan – at my request - came next (conventional), and that brought a clearer diagnosis.  Bone oedema in the knee cap (bruise in the bone, rather than soft tissue injury).  To be fair to my physio, it could not have been diagnosed without MRI, because people don’t have x-ray vision and accurate diagnosis makes a difference.   In my view diagnosis is one of the best tools conventional medicine has to offer, with its excellent equipment and tests.  Once you know what you are dealing with, you can make clear decisions.

The only thing conventional medicine can offer for bone oedema is rest, ice and elevation, and a long recovery period (4-12 months or longer).  It is a deep-seated condition and not quick to heal.   This is what I love to hear – nothing deadly serious, a clear diagnosis, and I can add complementary therapies to optimise healing.  This is what I did for my knee:

Rest, ice and elevation (conventional) as much as reasonably possible.

Ibuleve gel once a day (conventional)

Chamomile anti-inflammatory/healing cream daily (complementary).

Arnica gel once a day (complementary)

Patella strap from Argos (conventional/practical) for walking or working.

Homeopathic remedies (complementary)

Glucosamine, chondroitin and MSM liquid, once a day (complementary)

Hypercal and White Willow Bark herbal tinctures (complementary)

Energy healing from me, as often as appropriate (complementary)

Finally, a suggestion from my homeopath, fresh comfrey poultices (complementary).

I made these from the leaves of the comfrey plants growing in my garden. Comfrey, aka Symphytum, or Knit-bone, has been used for centuries for wound healing and fractures, hence its nickname.

I take a very pro-active attitude towards my health and I wanted my knee to heal as well as possible, so I could kneel again, walk distances and work in the garden.   I also wanted to avoid any long-term limitation.  Most of the treatments took only seconds to apply or swallow, or were done over lunch time, or sitting watching TV in the evening.  Fortunately, I was able to carry on working and when you are self-employed, that is very important!

I’ve used this kind of mixed stance with illness and injuries for myself and family members many times over the years and it works well.  The comfrey poultices were a new venture, and I loved them.  Easy to make, smelling amazingly fresh, and when I took each one off after about an hour, all the pain in my knee was gone, and stayed gone for several hours.  After just 2 weeks of all this the constant ache in my knee definitely reduced and my walking improved.

This is how I live – using natural therapies which complement conventional medicine.  It’s very easy to use the two together safely, for the optimum benefit of the patient/client.  All it requires is a willingness to research and experiment – comfrey poultices for instance - which now have a permanent place among my natural medicines. 

Anyone who fractures their leg, for instance, certainly wants an x-ray and hospital treatment to get it properly set.  Then complementary therapies can come in, for optimal healing, as well as clearing any emotional stress.  It doesn’t matter to me whether its ‘flu, a sprained ankle, a back injury with sciatica, vertigo, menopausal symptoms, etc, there are always complementary therapies that can help with healing.  They are effective, cost-effective and generally have no side effects, unlike conventional medicines.  


It may have taken a year or so, but finally I was able to kneel on my knee again, very gently.  And recovery continued.  After 2-3 years I was able to kneel to exercise, to weed and work in the garden again.  THIS is what we so often miss or dismiss in the modern world – that healing can take TIME.  We need a certain amount of patience as well as the willingness to work at it. The body can do amazing things, if we give it enough support and enough time.


DISCLAIMER (The Small Print)       

These are my current thoughts. 

Thoughts can change as we learn and grow.

You may disagree with me, but I am nevertheless entitled to my thoughts.

You don’t have to like my blog or take notice of anything I say.

It is important you always make up your own mind - about everything.

I am not you, and don’t know you or the details of your life. 

Therefore, you are responsible for any decisions or changes you make as a result of reading my thoughts. 

Finally, nothing in any of my blogs is intended nor should be taken as medical or health advice.  Always research for yourself and talk to doctors or therapists you trust (conventional or complementary).