A complete approach to wellness is at the core of Body & Soul’s philosophy. One part of this is achieved through the provision of complementary therapies. Although doctors do not all agree to their effectiveness for treating people who are living with HIV, they have historically been used by many people in managing the impact of HIV.
It is important to remember that complementary therapies should never be used as an alternative to medical HIV treatment. Treatments such as massage, relaxation and reflexology should be used alongside treatment (to “complement” it). These therapies can help with the symptoms and side effects of living with HIV and help to promote an increased feeling of all-round wellbeing.
With the high pressured lives that many of us lead, it is no wonder that we often feel stressed out or out of control of our lives. Stress, however, doesn’t just arise
from unpleasant events. Positive happenings like a new relationship, starting a new job, moving home or being pregnant can also make us tense. We all have to live with stress, but if not managed, it can profoundly affect both the mind and body.
When you are living with HIV, these issues may be exacerbated by the extra health concerns, emotional vulnerabilities and social challenges often faced.
Chronic and long-term exposure to stress hormones can damage the body as they can lower immunity and make people more susceptible to infections. This is why stress reduction strategies, relaxation, breathing and exercise, which have been shown to help reverse this effect (by increasing the number of infection-fighting T cells and feel-good endorphins in the body, and help prevent disease), is so very important.
Body & Soul can offer the following complementary therapies through its team of qualified and experienced volunteer therapists:
Therapeutic massage relieves muscle tension and promotes a feeling of well-being, calm and relaxation. A single treatment will improve skin tone and colour, relieve soreness and stiffness in the joints and muscles, and increase energy by invigorating all body systems and reducing fatigue.
In the long term massage will improve skin elasticity and muscle suppleness, boost immunity, lower blood pressure, relieve insomnia, and enable sustained relaxation of body and mind. This kind of massage can also help reduce side effects from medication and helps to promote relaxation and wellbeing.
Hypnotherapy is completely natural and safe, with no harmful side effects. It is used to treat a variety of medical, emotional, habitual and psychological problems. Hypnosis is a focused state of attention, experienced naturally throughout the day, like daydreaming. It may be experienced as a state of physical and mental relaxation. Hypnotherapy is an intervention for:
- Helping facilitate change i.e. smoking, insomnia, anxiety, stress
- Increasing health and well being i.e. fatigue, blood pressure, stomach disorders, pain
- Breaking negative thought patterns and behaviour i.e. phobias, fears, procrastination
- Increasing motivation, performance and confidence i.e. low self esteem, creativity, sports performance
- Processing and healing traumas i.e. abuse, post traumatic stress disorder and grief
Shiatsu is a hands-on therapy originating in Japan. The thumbs, palms, and fingers are used to apply pressure to designated areas of the body.
Shiatsu uses hand pressure and manipulative techniques to adjust the body’s physical structure and its natural inner energies, to help ward off illness, and maintain good health.
The application of pressure and stretching techniques works to relieve muscle tension, ease joint stiffness and re-align the structure of the body. Treatment is deeply relaxing and has an overall calming effect. It has had particular benefits for people living with HIV as it can relieve joint pains often associated with the side-effects of medication and it can also help to balance a person’s sleeping patterns.
Yoga aims to improve both physical and spiritual well-being and is one of the most widely-used alternative therapies. It is an ideal way to maintain muscle tone and strength, as well as to focus relaxation and reduce stress.
Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicinal practice dating back over 2,000 years. During treatment, fine needles are inserted into the skin in order to enhance and balance the flow of Qi (pronounced Chee), or energy. Acupuncture is used as a complementary treatment for lots of different physical and mental conditions; headaches, migraines, digestive and menstrual problems, aches and pains, asthma, hayfever, stress, tiredness, depression and anxiety. It can also be used to treat chronic conditions; arthritis, back pain, ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, eczema, high blood pressure and repetitive strain injuries.
Acupuncture can be effective with specific conditions, but the treatment focuses on the person rather than the illness, and aims to achieve a restoration of general health and wellbeing. Acupuncture helps reinstate our own innate healing capabilities which often become exhausted.
The treatment involves an initial consultation and we will take a medical history. During treatment, needles will be inserted into specific points on the body, and will either be removed immediately or left in for a short period. The needle may initially cause a dull ache or sting, but this doesn’t last for long. At Body & Soul we only use sterilized disposable needles.
Acupuncture aims to establish energetic harmony in the whole person and thereby not only treat illness but also promote active health and vitality and thereby increase resistance to disease.
Osteopathy is a form of manual therapy and uses practical techniques to manipulate the body and improve its health. Osteopaths are regulated professionals and can diagnose and treat a wide range of conditions. Osteopathy is particularly effective in treating musculoskeletal pain associated with HIV and HIV medication side effects as well as common muscle and joint complaints.
Osteopathy works by looking at the body in a global sense and will treat more than just the area in pain, as many pains or complaints can arise from a physical imbalance elsewhere in the body. Typical techniques used in treatment are forms of stretching, soft tissue mobilisation and in some cases joint manipulation. Patients are often given exercise prescription to complement the effects of treatment.
Reiki is a Japanese healing therapy that balances the body’s natural energy. This is particularly helpful with opportunistic infections from a low immune system, as well as stress-related conditions. Many people fall asleep and report a state of clarity and deep relaxation after treatment. Reiki can also work on a deeper level and some people may experience emotional release from past trauma. Symptoms of toxin release may follow sessions, but Reiki is non-intrusive and can work alongside other therapies and medication.
During a Reiki session you will lie on your back and close your eyes, while the Reiki practitioner will hold their hands above your body and may move around. Direct contact can happen depending on the practitioner, but often the hands will not be in contact with the body to allow the person to fall into a deep state of relaxation without being disturbed. People often report tingling sensations and may experience local temperature changes.
Tai Chi practice reaches body, mind and spirit. It can improve your general body condition, balance and co-ordination, helps reduce stress and increases body and mind relaxation. As an exercise it is gentle and energetic at the same time.
Learning Tai Chi can be a lifetime process: although you can feel the benefits as a beginner there are always new areas to explore and improve upon. Tai Chi originated as a martial art but its practice is now more focused on health.
In a session we always start with a general warm up, then we may practice some of the movements of the form or basic steps. We learn to focus on co-ordination and balance when moving slowly.
Cranio-sacral therapy is a hands-on therapy which assists the body’s natural capacity for self-repair. It uses a gentle and non-invasive approach to notice and respond to areas of restriction by listening to subtle rhythms in your body.
People may come for Cranio-sacral therapy because they have acute physical problems or long-standing problems both physical and emotional. It can also help in reducing stress and increasing wellbeing. In a session you will lie fully clothed on a treatment table. The practitioner makes light contact with your head, the base of your spine or other areas, encouraging your body to relax and begin to make the changes it needs. Because the body functions as a whole, your practitioner may focus on areas other than where your symptoms occur.
Reflexology is a safe, non-invasive therapy that treats the underlying causes of health problems. Blocked energy and imbalances are released; activating the body’s natural healing process. Reflex points on the feet which correspond to the body’s anatomy are stimulated by pressure massage.