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carol@mirror.co.uk: Altern@ive medicines; HUNT THE KEY TO HEALTHY LIVING.



Byline: SHEILA PROPHET

MORE and more of us are taking the alternative route to health and fitness.

It's estimated we now spend pounds 1.6billion a year on pills, potions and a wide range of therapies, while research by the BBC recently found that 20 per cent of us have tried an alternative remedy during the last year.

The Beeb has followed up this research with a special feature at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/425986.stm, which provides a potted guide to the most popular therapies and some interesting discussions on their pros and cons.

Prince Charles is a definite fan, and you can check out what he has to say on the subject at www.prince ofwales.gov.uk/speeches/speeches_index_6.html

If you are new to the world of alternative health, www.cyberspachealth clinic.co.uk is an excellent starting point, with its very user-friendly front page offering all sorts of news, features, and a glossary of more than 80 common conditions and suggestions for treating them.

The Complementary Healthcare Information Service at www. chisuk.org.uk is another very comprehensive site, with all the latest news, lists of upcoming events across Britain, and a busy discussion forum.

Its A-Z of therapies includes some intriguing ones such as the Bates method, which is a technique to improve your vision without glasses.

If you still haven't found the therapy you are looking for, there is another A-Z at www.complementary-healthcare.co.uk which explains the mysteries of everything from auricular therapy - acupuncture concentrating on the ears - to zero balancing, a touch technique which aims to restore your energy flow.

Acupuncture is Britain's most popular alternative therapy, and there is a good basic guide to its history and practice at the British Acupuncture Council's site at www.acupuncture.org.uk

The British Medical Acupuncture Society's www.medical-acupunc ture.co.uk also includes a list of practitioners across the country and patient information leaflets explaining what is involved.

If you really can't face the thought of those needles, acupressure uses fingers and thumbs instead to balance your Yin and Yang, and you can even try it yourself.

www.justtaichi.8k.com/favorite_links.html has a self-help guide to cure a list of common complaints, while www.acupuncture-clinic.co.uk/_private /common_ailments.htm has lots of handy diagrams showing you just where to press to sort out that headache.

Aromatherapy involves the use of essential oils in massage, and www.fragrant.demon.co.uk has a fascinating A-Z of these oils and their properties, from allspice and almond to yang klang and zanthoxylum, plus the symptoms they may help to alleviate.

Reflexology is a form of massage that promotes healing by applying pressure to the feet.

Dr Foot offers a brief explanation of this therapy and a set of footmaps at www.drfoot.co.uk/flex.htm, while the Association of Reflexologists' workmanlike site www. aor.org.uk explains what it can do for you and points you to local practitioners.

Shiatsu is another kind of massage using fingers, hands, knees and elbows to release the Qi, or life energy.

The Shiatsu Society's www.shiatsu.org is a simple but informative site describing what to expect from a session and providing a nationwide list of qualified practitioners.

If that sounds a bit too energetic, reiki is a gentle therapy involving the laying on of hands. www.reikitreat ments.co.uk is a very clear, straightforward guide to the therapy and the five ethical principles behind it, while the UK Reiki Federation offers a list of practitioners at www.reikifed.co.uk

For an overview of all the different types of massage and their positive effects, www.massagetherapy. co.uk/pages/treatment.html covers over 20 therapies, including some unusual ones such as Hellerwork and Rolfing. (No, it's nothing to do with bearded Australians, but a kind of deep massage.)

Yoga has become a way of life for thousands of people, and they will love Yoga Village at www.yogauk.com, which is packed with news and features in its own regularly updated online magazine. There is also a diary of upcoming events, a guide to organisations offering different kinds of yoga and links to informative sites such as www.healthandyoga.com and www.yogasite.com which includes easy-to-follow diagrams of the main postures.

The exercise method Pilates is growing in popularity. You can find local teachers and read the story of its creator Joseph Pilates at www.bodycontrol.co.uk and www.pilates foundation.com

An American site, www.the-method.com even has historical footage of Joseph, who died in 1967, talking about his invention.

When it comes to alternative medicine, many people are still confused about the difference between homeopathy and herbal cures.

The US site www.abchome opathy.com/homeopathy.htm has a simple guide to the three principles of homeopathy, Like Cures Like, Minimal Dose and Single Remedy, plus an online remedy finder. The homegrown www.trusthomeopathy.org from the British Homeopathic Association has downloadable beginners' guides and lists of homeopathic doctors.

Nelsons is probably the most famous name in homeopathic products. It has a busy and informative site at www.nelsonshomoeopathy. co.uk which explains its history, answers common questions and provides links to the rather serious Homeopathy Online at www.lyghtforce.com/Home opathyOnline and to www. bachessences.com, home of Bach Flower Remedies.

Holland and Barrett is one of Britain's best known names in vitamins, minerals and herbal supplements. At www.hollandand bar rett.com you can get the lowdown on all its products and read its very extensive health notes.

NutriCentre's site at www.nutri centre.com is equally informative, with a quickfinder feature to guide you straight to the right products.

CAPTION(S):

FIT FOR ANYTHING: Discover yoga, or clockwise from top left, reflexology, acupuncture, reiki and aromatherapy; STRETCH: Pilates
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Mar 28, 2003
Words:984
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