I was thrilled to see that one of the awareness weeks in March is National Complementary Therapy Week. It’s a relatively new addition to the calendar, having first been celebrated in 2020, and aims to shine a light on all forms of natural health and the many therapies carried out by complementary health professionals.
I am a firm believer in taking a more varied approach to traditional health practices – a well-rounded complementary therapy treatment process takes into account a multitude of different factors that can result in a positive outcome, not only to the condition being addressed but also to an individual’s overall health and wellbeing. In my 30+ years of experience as a complementary health practitioner, I have treated many thousands of people and I have seen first-hand how empowered they are, as complementary therapies allow them to take a more active role in their treatment and recovery, in partnership with their therapist.
To some, complementary therapy may conjure up visions of slightly ‘out there, woo-woo’ therapies, alongside the misconception that what we offer is an alternative therapy. Complementary therapy is anything but an alternative or a replacement to conventional modern healthcare treatments; it is actually quite the contrary. Complementary therapy serves as a useful tool to assist people alongside their conventional medical treatment, not instead of.
I liken complementary therapy to a wellness package, be it nutrition, exercise, colon hydrotherapy, acupuncture, aromatherapy, reflexology, herbal medications – it’s about finding the right balance for each individual to not only have their needs met, but exceed them.
As a complementary health professional, my goal is to work alongside conventional medical health practitioners to create solutions for my patients. I will always refer back to a GP or specialist if I think further investigations are required. Similarly, I regularly refer people for complementary therapies as I know how these simple practices can bring life-changing results in improving overall health and wellbeing.
It would take far too much time to detail my complementary health journey to date, but suffice it to say that I have my grandfather, Samuel Brooks, a master herbalist to thank for where I am today. As a girl growing up, I remember visiting my grandparents’ house, where there would often be a pot of nettles or dock leaves bubbling away on the stove or a cast-iron saucepan on the open fire containing goldenrod, a herb used to treat inflammation or skin problems.
My grandfather used these concoctions to make creams, ointments and tinctures. He was passionate about the medicinal power of herbs and plants – and understandably so. During the First World War, he had been sent to fight at Gallipoli, where he was shot in the mouth. The bullet shattered his front teeth, split his tongue in two and splintered inside his mouth, with some of the shrapnel lodging in his spine and some going down the oesophagus into his lungs. He was very lucky not to have died. When he recovered from his injuries, he was shipped out to fight at the Battle of the Somme.
He suffered with lung problems for the rest of his life, but he continued to treat himself, swearing by the use of herbs and rubbing oils and liniments, all of which he crafted in his kitchen. He maintained that if it had not been for his own herbal treatments, he would never have recovered from his injuries or gone on to live a long life. He also always kept a packet of Victory V lozenges in his bedside cabinet and I would often sneak in and take one. They were much stronger in those days.
I attribute these early memories to sparking my own passion for complementary health. Over the course of my twenties and early thirties, I trained in a broad range of disciplines, including remedial massage, acupuncture, therapeutic ultrasound, electro-therapy, naturopathic nutrition, and colon hydrotherapy. I am also one of the very few Mayr-trained practitioners in the UK. I continue to draw upon this extensive knowledge in my role as Founder of Just For Tummies.
Thanks to my training and practice in complementary therapies, as well as my own experience using them to treat my own health issues, I can home in on health issues that may extend beyond digestive and gut disorders, giving advice, guidance, or referring on to either complementary or orthodox healthcare practitioners.
We had some good times at these conferences – Gillian has a very quick wit and it sometimes takes me a while to catch on, which always caused much hilarity. At one time, we both sat on the Committee for the association, Gillian as Chair and me as Vice-Chair and we were both passionate about advancing the aims of the Association, to provide safe, professional, effective colon hydrotherapy treatments to the public.