Oxford has long been one of the UK's major centres for all things alternative, with many established health food shops, groovy bookshops and alternative health centres. Complementary Medicine is basically that which is used in addition to conventional medicine and therapies - i.e., it complements standard treatments. It is also referred to as Alternative Medicine, usually when used alone. Some of these practices are supported by evidence, legislated and may even be prescribed or recommended by GPs in the UK; others are considered more controversial, or lack peer-reviewed scientific backing. While some of the therapies listed below have their own systems of regulation, such as those for chiropractors, osteopaths, chiropodists/podiatrists and physiotherapists, many are not officially regulated, or are covered by voluntary registers (for instance, the National Institute of Medicinal Herbalists).
For further Oxford medical advice, see our links here.
A Range of Therapies
For lots of info and a directory of practitioners: www.therapy-directory.org.uk
For our review of Yvette Best's mobile service, click here.
Based on the idea that health is dependent on the balance of vital energy forces within the body. Lists of practitioners are available from:
The British Acupuncture Council, 63 Jeddo Rd, London W12 NHQ; The Traditional Acupuncture Society, 1 The Ridgeway, Stratford-on-Avon, Warwick CV37 9JL.
Oxford Acupuncture, 3 Church Cowley Road, Oxford OX4 3JR.
Bonn Square Therapy Room New Road Baptist Church, Bonn Square, OX1 1LQ. Directly opposite the Westgate centre.
Cumnor Clinic - The Old School, 7a High Street, Cumnor OX2 9PE. 01865 863646
The Oxford Women's Acupuncture Clinic, Wednesday mornings at Eau de Vie, 34 Cowley Road, Oxford. 01865 200678
Affordable Acupuncture Oxford, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays at Oxford Health Hub, West Ox Community Centre, Botley Road. Mainly aimed at students, people on low incomes and pensioners, they offer acupuncture at very affordable prices.
Beaumont Street Acupuncture - 28 Beaumont Street, Oxford, OX1 2NP.
Jonathan Bruce at the Iffley Acupuncture Clinic
Doug Chick (MSc, LicAc), 07983 973204, Central Oxford Osteopathy, 23 Park End St
Heather Davidson at Oxford Acupuncture
Joe Jennings Bsc TCM (Hons) at Holistic Health Oxford
Michael McIntyre MRTCM (Midsummer Clinic, Kingham; tel 01993 830419)
Claudia Smith Lic Acc MBAc at Cumnor Clinic and at the WellBeing Clinic
Sandy Steele MA (Oxon), LicAc, MBAcC at Bonn Square Therapy Room, New Road Baptist Church, Bonn Square, OX1 1LQ, 01865 773437. Sandy offers a good concessionary rate for students. She is available Mondays and Thursdays 10am – 8pm
Jenny Tune practicing in Headington, Iffley and Botley. Tuesday-Friday. 07780 938362
Improve your posture in order to improve your general health, well-being and with-it-ness. Oxford's Natural Health Centre is in Iffley, Leah Wright teaches the technique at the WellBeing Clinic and the UK society is a good source of info for beginners/nationwide.
A system of diagnosis and treatment using muscle testing as functional neurological evaluation relating to structural, chemical (food intolerance, allergy etc.) and psychological dysfunction. Contact Clive Lindley-Jones B.Ed. D.O. M.R.O. Registered Osteopath, member of the International College of Applied Kinesiology, 17 Warwick Street, Oxford, tel 01865 243351.
Bach Flower Remedies
A simple and natural method of establishing equilibrium and harmony by means of wild flower extracts. General information from: The Bach Centre, Mount Vernon, Sotwell, Wallingford, Oxon OX0 0PZ (SAE please). Tel 01491 834678.
The Bowen Fascial Release Technique is a remedial, hands-on therapy that is applied using very gentle pressure. Thumbs and fingers are used on precise points of the body to perform Bowen’s unique set of rolling-type moves which stimulate the muscles and soft tissue of the body, alternating with short breaks where the body begins to respond. There is no manipulation or adjustment of hard tissue, and no force is used. The experience of a treatment is gentle, subtle, and relaxing.
It is believed that the Bowen Fascial Release Technique prompts the body to reset, repair and balance itself. Clients report the experience of pain relief, improvement of function, and recovery of energy. The technique is used to treat sports injuries, stiffness, and a whole host of aches and pains. Most of the moves can be performed through light clothing such as T-shirts or leggings. Find out more from the thebowentechnique.com.
Bowen Therapy is available locally from Peter Crabb (at Boweninmotion.co.uk or 07956 892604). Peter is a qualified practitioner, fully insured and a member of the Federation of Holistic Therapies. He has clinics in Aylesbury, Bicester and Arncott.
Chiropody / Podiatry (foot care)
Not a complementary therapy as such, and available free on the NHS (depending on local arrangements), chiropodists / podiatrists treat conditions of the foot and lower limb - from ingrown toenails to arthritis. A quick Google search will reveal several Oxford specialists. Shuropody on New Inn Hall Street is, conveniently, a shoe shop and chiropodist in one. Oxford Foot Clinic on North Hinksey Lane offers treatment for corn/callus removal, verrucas, ingrowing toenails and arthritis; nail surgery; insoles/orthoses; sports injury treatments; diabetic foot health assessments and musculoskeletal assessments, including gait analysis. Contact them on 01865 204311 / [email protected]
...are concerned with the mechanical disorders of the joints, particularly those of the spine, and their effects on the nervous system. Diagnostic methods can include X-ray. Treatment is mainly by specific manipulation, without drugs or surgery. Oxford Chiropractic Clinic: contact Jonathan Howat DC (USA), 14 Holyoake Road, Headington, Oxford (tel 01865 761802) - member of the British Register. Institute of Pure Chiropractic (McTimoney technique - a particularly gentle form of treatment with no cracking and crunching, suitable for all ages and pregnant women): PO Box 126, Oxford OX1 1UF, tel 01865 246687. Olivia Thompson B.Sc (also McTimoney): 36 Chester Street, Oxford OX4 1SN (and also Henley), 07966 436312. The McTimoney Chiropractic Clinic, tel 01865 761272, has a reduced fee for those on a low income. Dawn Akers is the practitioner at the Cumnor Clinic in Cumnor, OX2 9PE.
A type of gentle, non-manipulative osteopathy created in 1899, with therapists laying hands on a patient in order to 'tune in' to rhythms within the body in order to realign them. Find out more from The UK Craniosacral Therapy Association. Available from Oxford Natural Health Centre (01865 715615; review here), Eau de Vie (01865 200678), by Silvie Hylton-Potts at The Well Being Clinic (01865 751111) and Helix House (01865 243351), and the Cumnor Clinic (01865 863646).
Crystal Sound Baths
Crystal Sonics Healing. Crystal singings baths, monthly at the Tara Yoga Centre, plus other services in the Oxford area.
Counselling / Psychotherapy
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) with Kai Thilo at Bonn Square Therapy Room, New Road Baptist Church, Bonn Square, OX1 1LQ. Kai is an approved provider for most private health insurance companies and is also happy to undertake private work.
Oxford Counselling & Psychotherapy service. No waiting list. www.oxfordcounselling.co.uk. 01865 515324 / 01865 865927.
Counselling for anxiety, stress, cultural issues, eating disorders, work problems, relationships available from Dr Anastasia Economou (Counsellor, Member of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy). For more information call 01865 510270.
Counselling & Psychotherapy, Oxford -
Jaimie Cahlil (BACP Accredited Counsellor/Psychotherapist; UKCP Registered Psychotherapist).
Enquiries: 01865 453131 (weekdays 8am-8pm).
Julie Jenner, Integrative Body Psychotherapist. Individuals, Couples and Groups.
UKAHPP, UKCP and EABP registered. USABP associate. Director of Ekgenesis Centre for Body Psychotherapy.
www.ekgenesiscentre-oxford.com, Tel: 07947-279843
Experienced Lifestyle Coach / Counsellor (accredited psychotherapist) specialising in career change, nutrition, fitness; to dealing with anxiety and trauma. Call Memory on 07779 914112.
Plain Talking in Oxford: low cost counselling, psychotherapy, coaching. 07582 542453. www.plaintalking.org.uk
Psychotherapeutic Counsellor: Wendy Isobel McLaughlin (known as Dolly) - Child, adolescent, parenting and university. Humanistic and mindfulness-based. UKCP Reg. Full DBS check. First session free, £55 ph thereafter. Marston.
www.oxfordcounsellingservices.co.uk / 07919 004822 / email Dolly
Mike Sheel (currently finishing Clinical Supervision PGDip) offers counselling supervision at a discount. He offers 90 minutes £45 - Cowley Rd or near Kidlington. BACP Registered: 07918175396
Also available at the WellBeing Clinic
Focusing was developed in the 1960s by psychotherapist Eugene Gendlin after research into what made some Psychotherapy successful. He found it relied less on what the therapist did than on the behaviour of the person in therapy, and he set about analysing and teaching the techniques of those who were able to change. His book gives a thorough outline of these techniques. Sessions normally last an hour, and have a format similar to most forms of psychotherapy. For more info see the British Focusing Association website. The BFA is not a regulatory body, but a co-operative of Focusing teachers who got together to support each other and share ideas.
Uses plant remedies.
Janet Scanlon MNIMH MBTER, Medical Herbalist and Bowen Technique Practitioner. She practises from Summertown Clinic (362 Banbury Road, OX2 7PP) and also has a clinic in Kidlington. Tel. 01865 513388 / 07970 179662 or email [email protected]
Katie Reid MSc MNIMH Medical Herbalist practices from The Herb Shed at 58 Ridgefield Rd, Oxford, OX4 3DA. Tel. 07818 411588 or email [email protected]
Doug Chick MSC, LicAc practices at clinics in Park End Street and St Clements. 07983 973204.
Joe Jennings Bsc TCM (Hons) at Holistic Health Oxford. Tel 07704 769098 or email [email protected]
Dr. Li at the WellBeing Clinic
Joanne Oliver HNH Ir Herbalist & Intuitive Natural Healer: Herbs, iridology, natural healing & therapies at Dovecote, Tackley, Woodstock. 01869 331100. [email protected]
Homeopathy has two central principles. The first is that 'like cures like' - a substance that has a particular effect on the body can also be used to counteract that effect. The second principle involves several rounds of dilution of the substance in question, a process called succussion. Homeopaths believe that the more a substance is diluted, the more powerful it becomes as a treatment. There are several practitioners and one homeopathic vet in the area.
The Oxfordshire Homeopathic Group has monthly meetings. For details, contact: David Morgan, 11 Besselsleigh Avenue, Wootton, Abingdon, tel (01235) 726136.
Lizzie Austin practises at the WellBeing Clinic.
Sue Anello PHSH, homeopath, offers special rates to students seeking treatment for a variety of medical issues, as well as general well being. She also specialises in women's health and children/teens. 0787 191 2207 or [email protected]
...'attempts to address an individual's subconscious mind, using the power of suggestion for beneficial change'. This quote comes from the voluntary registration board for hypnotherapists, The UK Hypnotherapy Directory, which you can visit to seek a hypnotherapist near you, as well as to find out how hypnotherapy might be able to help you with anything from quitting smoking to recovering from trauma. There are several practitioners in Oxford and the surrounding area.
Louise Nonweiler has a practice at The Complementary Healthcare Practice in Ock Street Abingdon and she is also an NLP and Reiki practitioner and life coach. For more information visit her
website or call 07939 481058.
Also available at the WellBeing Clinic.
Insomnia / Sleep Therapy
Insomnia can be treated with traditional medicine, but sometimes a more holistic approach is required. For background info on a vast range of problems which might be affecting sleep, including apnoiea, snoring, bedwetting and narcolepsy, see The Sleep Council's website.
Derek Elliot, a senior yoga teacher, offers six week one to one courses to help set people on the road to better sleep. These incorporate identifying lifestyle areas which may be blocking sleep, and developing strategies to overcome them, combined with yoga or meditative practices to help relax. Treatments are available in Oxford in Summertown at the Practice Rooms or on Osney Island. Contact 07771 707178 or [email protected] or see www.sleepbliss.net.
Massage stimulates circulation of the blood and lymph fluids, fuels the muscles with fresh oxygen and nutrients while flushing away metabolic waste products, releases physical tension and soothes the nerves by lowering the stress hormones cortisol and norepinephrine and by releasing endorphins in the brain.
Cristina Tanasescu is a Professional Holistic and Therapeutic Massage Therapist with more than 12 years experience, ITEC and Oxford School of Massage Diploma 2016, and is fully insured. She runs the Oxford Massage Centre, located at 293 London Road, Oxford, OX3 9EH.
Sue Evans has been trained in lymphatic drainage, trigger therapy, Indian head massage, pregnancy massage, reflexology, acupressure, shiatsu and hot stones. Receive 15% off in the shop if you have a treatment with Sue Evans at Neal's Yard Remedies, 56 High St, Oxford OX1 4AS. Visit her website Or to book call 07799 411994.
Also available at the WellBeing Clinic.
Paola Bisicchia is a certified Indian Head Massage practitioner, who offers Indian Head Massage as well as other alternative therapies. For more information visit her website.
Sophia Argyris and Macarena Ortuzar trained at the Mudita School of Thai Yoga Massage and practise at Bonn Square Therapy Room, New Road Baptist Church, Bonn Square, OX1 1LQ. Thai Yoga Massage is practised fully clothed on a firm mat or futon and involves gentle rocking and twisting, joint and spine mobilisations and assisted yoga stretches. You can read a review of the experience here.
Ruth Emsley, a healer trained in a variety of different practices, provides services including massage. She also provides services in shamanic healing and in Focusing. Shamanic healing uses techniques from a variety of different cultural traditions and focuses on many different spiritual areas, from energy patterns to soul or ancestral healing. Focusing, in the alternative medicine sense, differs from the term used for everyday concentration. According to the website of the British Focusing Association, it is 'based on your natural ability to sense your body from the inside and your ability to create metaphors...Positive change occurs spontaneously as you symbolise the essence of your experience'. Ruth Emsley is based at Florence Park, and can be contacted through her website.
Naturopathy uses various pseudoscientific practices including homeopathy, herbalism, and acupuncture, as well as lifestyle counseling. Local practitioners include Sarah Couchman at The Wellbeing Clinic, 1 Windmill Road, Headington, Oxford, Ox37BL. To contact the clinic, call 01865 751111, and Sarah can be contacted on 07810 354407.
Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP)
NLP is an alternative therapy that works by analysing and managing your stream of semi-conscious thoughts and attitudes. It has elements in common with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, but uses a more holistic approach - working with visualisation as well as mental patterns caused by your personal history. It has been reported to provide effective help with a range of problems, and people have used it to manage anxiety, stress, weight loss, phobias etc, as well as to improve performance in music, sport or other activities.
Chris Grimshaw of Turning Point uses NLP, hypnosis and related disciplines to help rewrite your mental programming in productive ways. 01865 251116 or 07765 633798.
Nutritional Therapy aims to tackle the underlying cause of any health concern whilst alleviating any symptoms through dietary and lifestyle adjustments. By supporting the bodyÆs natural healing mechanisms it helps prevent disease and illness, and achieve long-term sustained health.
Local practitioner: Emma Maitland-Carew dip.ION, mBANT, NTC and NHS registered practitioner, 28 Beaumont Street, Oxford Tel: 07850 117802
Local practitioner: Isabelle Drayton dip. CNM, mBANT at Oxford Natural Health Centre, 3 Church Cowley Road, Iffley, Oxford, OX4 3JR Tel: 07775 425326
Osteopathy is a way of detecting and treating damaged parts of the body such as muscles, ligaments, nerves and joints. Osteopaths treat a variety of common conditions, including changes to posture in pregnancy; repetitive strain injury; postural problems caused by driving or work strain; the pain of arthritis and sports injuries.
The Statutory Register of the General Osteopathic Council (GOsC) opened on 9 May 1998. The title "osteopath" became protected by law from 9 May 2000 when the transitional registration period ended. As a result it is a criminal offence, liable to prosecution, to describe oneself as an osteopath in the UK unless registered with the GOsC. The above summary, and much more information, is from www.osteopathy.org.uk
For an index of Oxford Osteopaths, click here.
Registered Osteopath, Kuno van der Post, BSc(Hons), BOst, can help many different health problems including digestive and muscular pain and sporting injuries. Student rates available. Horspath, Oxford, OX33 1RG; tel 07970 657696.
Anita Watson is a registered Osteopath and Iyengar Yoga teacher. She can treat pain in joints and nerves all over the body, including sports injuries, and stress, anxiety and fatigue; and can suggest personalised exercise programmes to help specific musculo-skeletal and postural issues. Private yoga sessions also available. Based in Yarnton, Oxford, OX5 1LR. Tel: 07970 527733.
Angela Power at Bonn Square Therapy Room (New Road Baptist Church, Bonn Square, OX1 1LQ) is a registered osteopath whose training includes visceral and cranial work. Her skill is in blending different techniques to develop individual treatment plans. This is especially effective for complex cases which have been hard to resolve for some time.
Daily Info also recommends The Summertown Clinic, on the Banbury Road. They offer Osteopathy (and many other therapies). In particular, Osteopath Clare Cullen was particularly quick and effective at diagnosing and treating mysterious back pain. The clinic don't seem interested in keeping you on as a patient longer than necessary, nor upselling you other therapies while you're there. They have a video to show you what to expect on a first visit.
Physiotherapists use current evidence-based techniques such as manual therapy, massage, postural correction and exercise therapy to help fix common complaints such as neck / back pain, soft tissue injuries, joint / arthritic pain and work-related injuries such as RSI and carpal tunnel syndrome.
OxPhysio - Advanced Physiotherapy Service comprises six experienced physiotherapists whose areas of special interest include: back and neck, orthopaedics, sports injuries, foot and ankle, tendonopathies, rheumatology and osteoporosis, arthritis, hip, knee, ante and post natal conditions, pilates.
They have clinics in Summertown (within Ferry Leisure Centre, Diamond Place, Summertown, OX2 7DP) and Botley (Raleigh Park Clinic, 45 Raleigh Park Road, Oxford. OX2 9AR) and they also do home visits. Tel: 01865 764613. The team also run Pilates classes in Headington and Risinghurst Community Centres.
The Physio Practice is based at Westminster Sports Centre, Botley (part of Oxford Brookes University) and OXSRAD Sport Centre, Marston. They concentrate on musculoskeletal and sports injuries. Contact David on 07765 245505.
The Oxford Physiotherapy Service in Summertown aims to provide an initial appointment within 3 working days of initial contact. They also offer a termtime clinic at Wadham College for Oxford University students. They are Chartered Physiotherapists & Members of the Health Professions Council. Find them at Unit 1, Florence House, 29 Grove Street, Oxford OX2 7JT. Tel: 01865 311686, fax: 01865 558686.
Reflexology is described as a treatment for all health issues that balances your mind and body. It is based on the idea that your feet mirror the rest of your body; treatment occurs through specialist massage that works major organs, glands and chakras. Find out more on the Association of Reflexologists website. Local practitioners include Sue Evans at Neal's Yard Remedies, 56 High St, Oxford. Also available at the WellBeing Clinic.
Japanese for 'Universal Life Energy', 'reiki' aims to strengthen the body's internal energy flow ('ki', 'ch'i' or 'qi' - pronounced 'chee') in order to promote self-healing. Reiki practitioners gently lay hands on a (clothed) patient in a series of strategic locations. Find out more on the UK Reiki Association website. So far no scientific trials have found evidence to support the use of reiki in healing. On the other hand the potential dangers of using it are considered very low, unless reiki were to replace conventional medicine in the treatment of serious medical conditions.
Local practitioners include Doctor Paola Bisicchia at www.lotusenergyhealing.com, Silvie Hylton-Potts at The Wellbeing Clinic (Headington), Helix House (off Iffley Road, east Oxford), Sue Evans at Neal's Yard Remedies, Ruth Emsley (Florence Park), and Airmid Reiki, a practice run by Asia Bochenek, based in Botley.
Named after Ida Rolf, an American biochemist in the 1950s, Rolfing is a deep tissue technique which aims to help body alignment through manipulation of the fascia (a layer of connective tissue). Standard treatment is a course of 10 sessions each with a specific focus. Find out more via the Rolfing UK website, who list certified practitioners. Local practitioners include Florian Thomas's Align In Time practice. Florian's background is in music and the stage, and he offers combined Rolfing sessions and singing lessons as well as Rolfing by itself, and he has particular experience useful to treating musicians and perrformers.
Shamanism involves a practitioner contacting the spirit world while in an altered state of consciousness. As a religious practice it has been part of ancient cultures all over the world, in different forms. There is no recognised regulatory body for modern forms of shamanism, though it is seeing a resurgence particularly as a practice for healing. A treatment might involve talking, drumming, singing, rattling, prayer, the use of incense and energy work on the body.
Japanese for 'finger pressure', shiatsu uses (clothed) massage to relax the patient and relieve many different symptoms. Find out more via the UK Shiatsu Society website. Local practitioners (as under Reiki) include Silvie Hylton-Potts.
www.alternativevet.org is a good source of information on alternative medicine for animals. Its centre is based at Stanford-in-the-Vale, Oxon.