5 Holistic Therapy Myths (And Some Truths)


Holistic therapy, natural healing and alternative remedies seem foreign to some. Scary even. With this fear comes objections and eventually, the creation of myths. 

We asked people what put them off trying holistic therapy and found out what we always suspected to be true. Complete myths about the practice have been turning people away from trying anything not officially prescribed by a medical professional. 

This misinformation has blocked those concerned from benefiting from holistic routes, even if this type of therapy could greatly lessen pain, increase their quality of life and improve mental health and wellbeing. In this blog, we tackle these concerns head-on, talking about popular worries and reminding you of some important truths to arm you with plenty of knowledge and comfort before you try holistic therapy for the first time. 

Science Doesn’t Back Holistic Therapy

Although we don’t often associate holistic therapy with scientific practice — for example, you’ll rarely see holistic routes recommended as the first port of call in a hospital or GP’s practice — this doesn’t mean alternative remedies are automatically rendered useless. 

Over a quarter of our survey’s audience (26.1% of people) said they were put off trying holistic therapy because of its lack of scientific rigour. 

Well, perhaps they should have scanned academic journals that claim alternative healthcare is somewhat evidence-based, taught in medical schools across the US and is backed by the majority of doctors if used in conjunction with other conventional forms of medicine. This prominent journal was published in 2008 and claimed then that holistic therapy was increasing in popularity in both the UK and US. 

Since then, we’ve seen national providers such as the NHS backing alternative medicine by including a whole host of information about natural practices on its website. The same goes for Cancer Research that takes a very levelled approach to holistic therapy. They admit 30-40% of people with cancer use complementary therapies, although they don’t give an opinion as to whether they think this is proof these therapies are effective. 

What’s the truth? You should never substitute holistic therapy in place of professional medical advice. Most medical professionals in favour of evidence-based holistic therapy advise patients to use both conventional and alternative practice simultaneously for best results. 

Holistic Therapy Has a Strange Culture

Those new to holistic therapy often think they aren’t part of the “right crowd” to join in. From voodoo masters to crazed hippies and mysterious witches, people imagine that to engage in alternative medicine, you must, in turn, be alternative. At least 4.9% of our audience is creeped out by the holistic therapy community. 

That 5% shouldn’t worry. Why? As a practice, holistic therapy is very inclusive (not niche), allowing people to relieve pain and reduce symptoms regardless of their socio-economic status or location. For example, holistic therapy is a viable strategy to care for people in third-world countries who can’t afford access to traditional medicine. As such, the World Health Organization has long used alternative remedies in a framework for protecting the health of such countries, using this alongside expensive medical treatments.  

Despite this, people shouldn’t get the impression that holistic therapy is only an affordable version of medical care when the more desirable option isn’t available. Affluent European countries and pockets of the US are some of the areas where holistic therapy appears the most. Just look at the yoga boom in LA or London’s latest obsession with holistic massages

In truth, holistic therapy is for everyone and takes many different forms. It’s a mother drinking herbal tea in her modest home or a young sister visiting her local yoga barn decked out in Sweaty Betty gym gear. 

What’s the truth? If you want to try holistic therapy, don’t let your preconceptions stop you. Holistic therapy is an open book but be sensible. Obviously, you may need to take some precautions if you have allergies, pre-existing conditions or are currently pregnant to find out if the holistic practice you’re considering is safe and effective for you.

Holistic Therapy is Dangerous

According to the internet, everything is dangerous. Even drinking water — a health tip that both doctors and holistic therapy enthusiasts agree on — seriously, overhydration is a thing. That explains why 3.4% of our audience believe alternative medicine is dangerous, vowing they’ll never go near a herbal tea, a yoga mat or an acupuncture clinic. 

Alternative medicines have indeed gained a bad reputation in the media. Especially amongst children, alternative medicine —when used instead of conventional treatment — has proved fatal.

It’s important that people use their common sense when experiencing holistic therapy and don’t resort to extremes — for example, only prescribing natural remedies when more effective medical help is available. Self-diagnosis and online misinformation have been to blame for many medical mishaps. This misinformation isn’t solely the fault of alternative medicine, but rather the people who spread false opinion and influence others to engage in dangerous behaviour. Consider the anti-vaccine movement that’s led more parents to steer away from vaccination and has increased the risk of measles.

So while holistic therapy itself isn’t dangerous, disregarding sound medical advice definitely is. 

What’s the truth? Holistic therapy should be used as a complementary therapy to enhance your existing treatment. Individuals looking to engage in holistic therapy should always do their research — on trusted government websites or with a medical professional — and avoid believing word-of-mouth accounts, sensational news stories and information spread on social sharing platforms like Facebook.

Holistic Therapy is Painful

The fear of pain is greater than the pain itself. Or so Julie Reed says in her famous quote about irrational fear. Where there is fear, there must also be a seed of reason and when it comes to holistic therapy the fear of pain may have manifested from practices like acupuncture. Ironically, acupuncture is used to cure chronic pain, joint pain, dental pain and postoperative pain. However, the patient may feel some initial pain where the needles have come into contact with the body. 

The thought of this is enough to put 2.4% of people off. 

If you’re scared about the unknown and the possibility of pain, you should know that there are much gentler techniques that require little physical exertion like mindfulness, meditation and slow-paced yin yoga. 

Most holistic therapy has been formed to combat pain, whether it be mental or physical and hopes to eventually reduce pain, rather than increase it. 

What’s the truth? Holistic therapy is a broad term defined by its origin. The word holistic comes from the Greek ‘holos’ meaning “whole”, as in wholesome, entire or complete. There’s nothing painful about this sentiment and almost nothing painful about holistic therapy, depending on the practice you pick. 

Holistic Therapy Requires Too Many Lifestyle Changes

Unattainable images of holistic health and wellbeing often make us feel like we aren’t aligned with holistic therapy’s values. Don’t have a beach within a minute’s walk to sit down and meditate? Lacking those fresh white sheets and silk pyjamas to curl up in and enjoy a chamomile tea? Don’t worry. 

Although 4.7% of our survey’s audience think transitioning to holistic therapy requires too many lifestyle changes, this is a myth. 

Holistic therapy can be slowly introduced into your life and you should welcome it with excitement rather than dread. If you’re feeling at capacity, you’re probably a great candidate for holistic therapy rather than someone too busy to get involved. Take the pressure off your high workload by using a five-minute meditation app. It can be that simple. 

What’s the truth? Holistic therapy is like any practice where you can stride in as an expert or peer in as a beginner. If you only want to experience a taster of holistic therapy and its benefits, there are plenty of self-led courses such as meditation and mindfulness materials available online. 

Our survey certainly revealed some common objections to holistic therapy that are largely a myth. However, we were pleasantly surprised to find that the majority of our national audience — 58.5% — stated nothing puts them off holistic therapy. 

Over half of people now recognise the benefits of natural healing and alternative medicine. Want to join them? Use our Holistic Therapy Search to browse a wide variety of treatments. We house specialists in addiction treatment, aromatherapy, pilates and reiki, to name a few.