Top Modalities Explained


This traditional healing system originated in India over 5 000 years ago. ‘Ayurveda’ is a Sanskrit word which derives from two roots: ‘vid’ which means knowledge and ‘ayus’ which means life cycle. This modality is often referred to as the science of life and longevity. According to Ayurveda all beings come from nature and are an integral part of the whole creation.

The aim of Ayurveda is to maintain health and heal the ill by encompassing the broadest spectrum of healing modalities: herbal medicine, surgery, psychology, detoxification, rejuvenation, lifestyle counselling, dietetics, yoga, spirituality, meditation, breathing, relaxation, sound therapy, aromatherapy, climatology, astrology, and gem and colour therapy.

Ayurveda teaches that health is the balanced and dynamic integration between our environment, body, mind and spirit. It empowers all aspects of our being, and this ancient healing tradition is easily adapted to modern day life in the Western world. It supports personal and humanitarian development. We are able to be in touch with our innate intelligence, wisdom and spirit when we have achieved glowing health with the help of Ayurveda.

Note: It is not possible to study for Ayurveda in South Africa: one must study in India to become a BAMS doctor (Bachelor of Ayurveda, Medicine and Surgery).


Chinese medicine is a complete medical system that focuses on strengthening and balancing the body’s basic energy (Qi), so that the body can remember how to heal itself.


Acupuncture is a primary health care modality that has flourished in China for thousands of years. Because of its proven effectiveness, acupuncture has been embraced throughout the world and has gained popularity as an alternative health care option. Far more than a technique of inserting needles in specific points, it is a method of dealing with Qi – the energy of the human body. When energy circulates freely through pathways in the body called meridians, health is maintained. When energy is blocked, the result is pain and illness. By stimulating acupuncture points along the meridians, energy is released and regulated and health is restored.

Chinese herbal medicine

In recent years, the use of Chinese herbs has become a popular option for the many pa- tients searching for alternatives to prescription drugs. Although herbs are classified by the US Food and Drug Administration as ‘dietary supplements’, they possess strong medicinal properties. Chinese herbs are not necessarily therapeutically equivalent to or substitutes for Western prescription medications, but can serve as alternatives when used correctly. Western medicine’s use of synthetic and chemical pharmacology complements Eastern medicine’s use of natural herbal remedies.

Often Western medicine relieves symptoms more quickly, while Eastern medicine is more effective in balancing deep-seated and underlying causes of the disease process with minimal or no side-effects. The use of herbal medicine should never be undertaken lightly. An acupuncturist receives extensive training in the use of the over 300 herbs in the Chinese pharmacopoeia and is required to pass rigorous examinations before obtaining a licence to practise oriental medicine.

To study Chinese medicine and acupuncture contact The University of the Western Cape


Chiropractic is a health profession specialising in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mechanical disorders of the musculoskeletal system and the effects of these disorders on the function of the nervous system and general health.

Chiropractic practitioners essentially rely on non-invasive treatment methods and will refer patients to medical practitioners should medication or surgery be indicated. This approach is further reinforced by promotion of healthy lifestyles such as avoidance of smoking and excess stress, together with a proper diet and exercise.

The Chiropractic Association of South Africa (CASA) is the professional body representing chiropractic in South Africa. Members of the Association all comply with the mini- mum standards of registration as stipulated by the Allied Health Professions Council of South Africa.

In South Africa training is of an exceptionally high standard, and chiropractic practitioners graduate after six years of training and education with a Master’s Degree in Chiropractic.

CASA aims to promote, encourage and maintain high standards of education, training, conduct and practice within the profession in South Africa. The body represents in excess of 90% of all registered chiropractic practitioners in the country.

To study chiropractic, contact:

  1. The Durban University of Technology:
  2. The University of Johannesburg:

For more info, contact the Chiropractic Association of SA

Tel & Fax 058-303 4571 Email:


Homeopathy is a therapeutic medical system, the concept of which must be considered to have been part of medical sciences throughout the history of medicine. It is originally based on the observation that substances that are capable of causing diseases of the mind or body in healthy people can be used in the dilute form as remedies to treat the similar disorder in someone who is ill. This is the homoeopathic Law of Similars also expressed as ‘Let Likes be Cured by Likes’.

Dr Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843) developed and introduced the use of the therapeutic principle of similars by 1796. Hahnemann postulated that successful treatment takes place when identifying the similarity between the effects of the original substance in healthy people and the pattern of illness in the individual who is sick and may involve a complete description of the patient, the illness and its evolution.

Homeopathy has evolved into various forms of application of this practice or remedy preparation resulting in diverse therapies including: tissue salts, homotoxicology, complex homeopathy, mesotherapy, gemmotherapy and spagyric homeopathics amongst others; all of which form part of the scope of practice of the registered, professional homeopathic practitioner.

There is no condition that should be excluded from the range of treatment of homeopathy. It is safe and undoubtedly effective, which is proven by the world-wide support and continued interest of patients and health professionals, but also by scientific research and clinical trials. Homeopathy is a powerful, proven therapeutic system that can employ the body’s own healing potential to the benefit of the patient’s overall health and well-being.

The Homoeopathic Association of South Africa (HSA) represents and promotes the homeopathic profession, its education standards and interests, for the better health and well-being of all South Africans. The HSA represents only registered practitioners with the AHPCSA, where a minimum requirement for registration is a five-year fulltime master’s degree or a four-year diploma for registered medical practitioners.

To study Homeopathy, contact:

  1. The Durban University of Technology
  2. The University of Johannesburg

For more info, contact the Homoeopathic Association of SA

Tel: 086114547

Fax: 086672847



Naturopathy (also known as naturopathic medicine or natural medicine) is an alternative medical system that focuses on natural remedies and the body’s vital ability to heal and maintain itself. The term ‘naturopathy’ is derived from Greek and Latin words translated as ‘nature disease’. Naturopathic philosophy favours a holistic approach and minimal use of surgery and drugs.

Modern naturopathy grew out of the Natural Cure movement in Europe. The term was coined in 1895 by John Scheel and popularised by Benedict Lust, the ‘father of US naturopathy’. Beginning in the 1970s, there has been a revival of interest in the USA and Canada in conjunction with the holistic health movement.

Naturopathic practitioners are split into two groups, traditional naturopaths and naturopathic physicians. Naturopathy comprises many different treatment modalities of varying degrees of acceptance by the medical community. These treatments range from standard evidence-based diet and lifestyle advice to homeopathy and other practices often characterised as pseudo-science or quackery.

Naturopathy is practised in many countries, primarily the USA and Canada, and is subject to different standards of regulation and levels of acceptance. The scope of practice varies widely between jurisdictions, and naturopaths in unregulated jurisdictions may use the Naturopathic Doctor designation or other titles regardless of level of education.

The philosophical and methodological underpinnings of naturopathy are sometimes in conflict with the paradigm of evidence-based medicine (EBM). Naturopaths have opposed vaccination, based in part on the early philosophies that shaped the profession.

To study naturopathy, contact The University of the Western Cape:

For more info, contact the South African Naturopathy Association


Osteopathy is an established system of complete medical practice, diagnosis and treatment, as recognised by the Allied Health Professions Council of South Africa and the British Medical Association. It is a ‘hands-on’ therapy (no surgery, medication, tablets or gimmicks) that restores the normal structure of the musculoskeletal system, which in turn improves the function of the nervous, circulatory and immune systems and allows faster healing, reducing pain, congestion and restriction within the body. A diagnosis including an explanation of why dysfunction has occurred will always be made before treatment. Hands-on treatment ranges from very subtle techniques used for babies through to more robust techniques used for athletes.

For more info, contact the Osteopathic Association of South Africa

Tel: 021 671 4338 Email:


Phytotherapy today is the combination of a long history of using plants for healing with modern scientific research and thorough medical training. In South Africa a phytotherapist must have completed a five-year post- graduate BSc degree in phytotherapy. This training is similar to medical students’ training and includes full courses in anatomy, physiology, pathology, internal medicine, differential diagnosis, clinical methods, etc. Instead of the pharmacology of drugs used in conventional medicine, herbs and their pharmacology are studied. This includes possible herb/drug interactions and herbal pharmacy, and the phytotherapist is skilled in compounding and dispensing medicines specifically formulated to treat and/or prevent disease. Emphasis is placed on prevention of disease and includes nutrition and lifestyle management.

To study phytotherapy, contact The University of the Western Cape

For more info, contact the South African Association for Herbal Practitioners



Aromatherapy is a multifaceted, non-invasive therapeutic treatment modality that uses volatile aromatic plant materials, known as essential oils, and other fragrant compounds, via a range of application methods, in order to facilitate the restoration of health.

All essential oils are antiseptic and many have demonstrated significant anti-microbial effects, and consequent benefit in combating a range of infectious diseases. They also have numerous other demonstrable medicinal actions. Formal medical research into the clinical properties and ascribed actions of certain essential oils, like those from the Labiatae and Myrtaceae families, is regularly reported on in international scientific publications. The plants most frequently involved in this research are origanum, the thymes, rosemary, peppermint and lavender, as well as tea tree and the eucalypti, respectively. Ginger oil, from the Zingiberaceae family, also has a long history of empirical, as well as modern clinical research behind it. Essential oil research, relative to the use of these substances in the food and drink industry, has been going on for a considerable time, and is extensive.

To study aromatherapy, contact:

  1. Camelot International Pty Ltd
  2. Potchefstroom Akademie

For more info, contact The Aromatherapy Association of South Africa (AromaSA):

Sharon Petzer, Cell: 082 667 7746 Email:


Therapeutic massage is the manipulation of superficial and deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue to enhance the function and promote relaxation and well-being.

Massage involves acting on and manipulating the body with pressure, manually or with mechanical aids. Target tissues may include muscles, tendons, ligaments, skin, joints or other connective tissue, as well as lymphatic vessels and organs of the gastro- intestinal system. Massage can be applied with the hands, fingers, elbows, knees, fore- arm and feet. There are over 80 different recognised massage modalities. The most cited reasons for introducing massage as therapy have been client demand and perceived clinical effectiveness.

In professional settings massage involves the client being treated while lying on a massage table, sitting in a massage chair or lying on a mat on the floor. The massage subject may be fully or partly unclothed. Parts of the body may be covered with towels or sheets.

To study massage therapy, contact:

  1. Camelot International Pty Ltd
  2. Potchefstroom Akademie

For more info, contact the Massage Therapy Association of South Africa

Tel: 076 549 7753


Reflexology as a therapy is both old and new. In ancient history, pressure therapies were recognised as preventive and therapeutic. Foot massage has been practised by a variety of cultures and it is generally believed that its roots date as far back as 5 000 years ago in China. Because of the dedication of practitioners worldwide, reflexology has developed into a respected and effective healing therapy.

The therapeutic reflexologist relies on the use of very specific finger, thumb and hand presure techniques that can have therapeutic effects in other parts of the body. Appropriate health care advice is offered regarding conscious lifestyle choices to fa- cilitate the activation of the body’s healing potential. A therapeutic reflexologist identifies imbalances in the health of the patient by observing and feeling a number of things. These are understood as signs of emotional as well as physical wellness (or lack thereof), and include colours of the feet and nails, texture, tone, moisture and shape of the feet, and markings. With the use of specific pressure techniques therapists are able to pick up congestion and imbalances through, for example, tightness, sensitivity and granular areas. The feet and/or hands tell a story about the total wellness of the patient, and the therapist’s observation is always based on the entire context of the person’s emo- tional and physical health.

To study reflexology, contact:

  1. Camelot International Pty Ltd
  2. Potchefstroom Akademie
  3. The International Academy of Reflexology and Meridian Therapy Pty Ltd (Cape Town and Johannesburg)

For more info, contact:

1. The South African Reflexology Society (TSARS) Telephone: 021 558 9868 Email:

2.The National Reflexology Association Tel: 082 463 4094 (Sandy Feinstein) Email:


Unani-Tibb, shortened to Tibb in South Africa, has a rich history. It has journeyed through many teachers, philosophers and countries and was, in fact, the mainstay of medicine until quite recently in world history. Its principles can be traced back to Egyptian, African, Greek, Arabic, Indian and Western medicine. Beginning with the renowned Egyptian, Imhotep (‘the one who comes in peace’), it was later embraced by the most famous medical philosopher of all time, Hippocrates, and then further conceptualised by Galen. Over the centuries it was refined by a number of Arab physicians, especially Ibn Sina (known as Avicenna to the Western world).

Tibb philosophy is largely based on an individual’s inner force for self-healing which Tibb calls your physis. This inner healing force will be boosted and reinforced by a proven combination of herbal remedies, physical ‘hands-on’ therapies and lifestyle changes. Tibb encourages each person to take cognisance of his or her life. Through governing or lifestyle factors such as diet, environment and breathing processes, sleep patterns, simple physical exercises, one is able to maintain good health and promote healing. ‘Treatment comes from outside; healing from within’.

Approaching health maintenance holistically, Tibb recognises the mental, emotional, spiritual and physical causes of illness or health as well as the techniques of modern science and medicine. Rather than handing total responsibility for your health to a doctor, Tibb believes that each individual should take responsibility for his or her well-being.

The South African Tibb Association (SATA) is the umbrella body that oversees the effective implementation of Tibb through support to qualified Tibb doctors as well as the training and education of future Tibb doctors. In South Africa, Tibb is academically supported by leading international universities who together with SATA are committed to the facilitation of tertiary training to Tibb doctors at local universities. Upon qualification, Tibb doctors are registered with the Allied Health Professions Council of South Africa.

Having come so far back in history, Tibb enjoys all the benefits of being tested through the ages and effectively combines ‘the science of medicine with the art of care’!

To study Unani-Tibb contact The University of the Western Cape

For more info, contact the South African Tibb Association.


For other further natural health studies contact the College of Natural Health (CNH):



Please follow and like us:

Top Modalities Explained

| Featured, Modalities |
Daleen Totten
About The Author
- As editor, publisher and founding member of Natural Medicine Magazine, Daleen believes that natural medicine is more than taking a pill for an ill philosophy. It also encompasses nutrition, lifestyle, spiritual health, exercise, and emotional and mental well-being. She is an entrepreneur and director of various companies including Natural Medicine World, Natural Medicine Market, Dreamcatcher Publications, Dreamcatcher Trade and AromAfrique. She has a passion for knowledge and strives to share the work of the brightest minds and biggest hearts in healing. She is the mother of three children.