More Kiwis Turning to Alternative Therapies

Increasing numbers of Kiwis are following a global trend towards alternative therapies in recent years, according to new data.

Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is an umbrella term describing a diverse range of health systems, modalities, and practices that are not generally considered part of conventional medicine. In New Zealand, it is estimated that there are around 70 CAM modalities available.[1]

New Google search data shows local searches for alternative medicine information were up as high as 108% last year, compared to 2019 levels. The data also shows there was a corresponding increase in searches related to anxiety over the same period.[2]

A recent study by Otago University researchers found growing acceptance of CAM among NZ’s healthcare professionals with around 25% of GPs practising some form of CAM, and 82% referring patients to CAM practitioners.[3]

Local complementary therapy providers have also reported a surge in interest in CAM modalities from Kiwis struggling – in line with a global trend.

The growth in demand has seen the opening of one of New Zealand’s largest wellbeing centres – with hundreds of CAM patients set to benefit.

The Life Centre will operate from two refurbished inner city Auckland buildings covering 680sqm from later this month. Fifteen CAM practitioners will offer over 20 therapies – ranging from Ayurvedic massage to homeopathy, kinesiology, counselling, naturopathy and Reiki.

Director Adonia Wylie says The Life Centre mission is to empower clients to embrace a vision of whole health and well-being.

“In recent years complementary and alternative medicine has begun to shed its ‘woo-woo’ image and is becoming increasingly more mainstream as the concept of holistic healthcare is better understood.

“We know that people turn to complementary therapies for a range of reasons including; their value of the emphasis on treating the whole person, a belief that complementary therapy will be more effective for their issue, and a belief that complementary treatments will enable them to take a more active part in maintaining their own well-being.

“What we have seen with the pandemic is a global surge in the levels of anxiety and stress related conditions and international studies which have explored the role of CAM in treating various psychological symptoms,” she says.[4]

The centre will be supported by a charitable trust funded by a legacy left by businessman and philanthropist Ashton Wylie. The Life Centre is also an educational facility, with rooms for hire for workshops such as meditation, yoga and breathwork.

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[1] Ministerial Advisory Committee on Complementary and Alternative Health. Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Current Policies and Policy Issues in New Zealand and Selected Countries. A Discussion Document 2003. Wellington: Ministry of Health; 2003.

[2] Google Trends data for NZ. Accessible here.

[3] Liu, L., Tang, Y., Baxter, G.D. et al. Complementary and alternative medicine – practice, attitudes, and knowledge among healthcare professionals in New Zealand: an integrative review. BMC Complement Med Ther 21, 63 (2021). Accessible here.

[4] Badakhsh, Mahin, Dastras, Majid, Sarchahi, Zohreh, Doostkami, Mahboobe, Mir, Adel and Bouya, Salehoddin. “Complementary and alternative medicine therapies and COVID-19: a systematic review” Reviews on Environmental Health, vol. , no. , 2021, pp. 000010151520210012. Accessible here.

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