The Rise of Complementary Therapies


At some point in life you might find yourself needing care for your aching back, relief from the pain of arthritis or just a vigorous massage to cope with the strains of daily living. Look no further!

Bahrain is finally poised to offer a range of complementary therapies through the recent licensing of practitioners. This is great news for the island’s residents as they can have more options and reap the benefits of therapies that are important components of preventative healthcare and wellbeing in many countries. WTM speaks to experts of these popular therapies offered in Bahrain to find out what they are and how you can benefit from them.

A hands-on approach
Our expert: Lana Peters
Osteopath, Back on the Move
One of the therapies in demand on the island is osteopathy, a century-old practice dealing with the musculo-skeletal system. Osteopathy, according to Lana Peters, head of the island’s first licensed osteopathic practice, is a system of diagnoses and treatment, which works with the structure and function of the body. She explains it to be a holistic approach to wellbeing, where if the body is not structurally sound then the system is compromised and disease may follow.

Treatment identifies issues and may incorporate soft tissue work, mobilisation, manipulation of the joints, muscles, ligaments, connective tissue and the bone, or refer the patient elsewhere for appropriate treatment. A typical session with Lana includes examination and treatment which is hands on.

“My hands are very much my diagnostic tool,” says Lana, who sees patients for headaches, spinal problems, arthritis, digestive problems, back problems, sports injuries and other postural problems caused by pregnancy, driving or sitting behind a desk. While treating her clients, she also advises what exercises the client can do at home to maximise overall benefits.

“The most important advice is to develop a maintenance programme after the problem is identified and treated,” she says, encouraging people of any age to benefit from osteopathy. “The earlier in life osteopathy is incorporated into an individual’s health and wellbeing,
the better.”

Back in Bahrain
Lana is familiar with the shores of Bahrain after spending many years here before returning to her homeland, Australia, to work as an osteopath. Acknowledging the demand for complementary therapies in Bahrain, she returned to the island and became its staunchest advocate for much needed options to traditional medicine.

Around the world, complementary therapies are integrated within the traditional healthcare system. For example, an osteopath’s practice may be housed within a hospital or another type of multi-disciplinary setting, where he/she works alongside a general practitioner (GP), specialist doctors, chiropractors and massage therapists. The advantage is that a patient can have a holistic approach to their care all under one roof.

“It’s about networking and working in teams to provide the best options for the patient,” says Lana, who eventually would like to see this setup in Bahrain.

She has worked diligently over recent years to have her profession and that of other complementary therapies recognised and protected through ministry licensing. There are plans to educate communities about the benefits of allied health.

Lana’s clinical practice is taking shape in the Seef area, where she already works with physical therapists. Her immediate plans include bringing in more osteopaths, chiropractors, cranial sacral therapists, acupuncturists, massage therapists, Pilates instructors and eventually a GP.

Our Expert: Dr Amy Bowzaylo
Chiropractor, Intouch Integrated Chiropractic Spine Center
The rise of complementary therapies in Bahrain extends to chiropractic care, which has seen its first chiropractor make the leap to the island from a busy practice at Saad Specialist Hospital in Al Khobar. Working for a decade in Saudi Arabia, Dr Amy Bowzaylo saw more than 30 per cent of her patient base crossing the causeway from Bahrain.

After the doors began to open for licensing in Bahrain, it made sense for the Canada-educated chiropractor to open her own clinical practice to meet the growing demand for chiropractic services in addition to promoting complementary therapies on the island.

Dr Amy’s centre will have chiropractic medicine, physical therapy, functional exercise rehabilitation, massage therapy and hydrotherapy. Like Lana, she also believes the best model for patients is an integrated setting where healthcare professionals work together.

To illustrate the effectiveness of this model, Dr Amy says, “I might have a patient who comes to me for a back problem, but after examination, I think he might have a kidney infection, requiring a specialist doctor. In an integrated setting, I could then send the patient to the receptionist, where they can book an appointment with a urologist. This is high quality healthcare at its best.”

Can’t fix everything with a pill
Greek for ‘done by hand’, chiropractic is a popular therapy around the world involving the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of problems related to bones, joints, muscles and nerves, particularly those of the spine. It is currently established in over 70 countries. With a strong research base, it is becoming widely accepted into mainstream healthcare, from hospitals through to full Olympic recognition in sports medicine.

“Chiropractic is all about maintaining symmetry and alignment so we can go about our daily activities and play sports using repeated motions without hurting ourselves,” Dr Amy explains.

In response to the demand for chiropractic on the island, she says the Middle East is catching up to Europe and North America in realising that not everything can be fixed with a pill. She stresses that just as we take care of our teeth by brushing daily and visiting the dentist regularly, maintaining good spinal health will prevent things from going wrong later in life.

Common problems she sees in the region in adolescents is scoliosis, a curved spine, while in adults problems are related to sitting, sports injuries and headaches.

“Sitting reverses the curve of the way our natural spine is supposed to be,” she explains. If caught in the early stages then it’s just an imbalance or a strain. Left untreated, problems can manifest themselves as a herniated disc, which is degenerative in nature because the spine is positioned incorrectly for so long. This is common and range in severity from many people walking around not knowing they have it to those suffering from excruciating pain.

Dr Amy treats many women for issues related to menstrual cramps and premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and hopes to develop a pre- and post-natal programme at her recently opened clinic in Janabiya.

“Fortunately, most problems are treatable. Prevention is key,” she says, who is passionate about educating patients and the public about the benefits of alternative healthcare.

Visit or call 34 102-553.

The body is an amazing machine
Our Expert: Lucia Lloyd
Massage therapist, Massage Solutions
If prevention is the key to wellness, then how can you argue with a weekly massage? Lucia Lloyd, massage therapist, says that anyone can benefit from this therapy, from seasoned athletes to individuals who don’t exercise. Your muscles apparently can be tricked into thinking they have had a workout from just a 30-minute vigorous massage.

“If you are stuck behind a desk or commute to work, then go for massage therapy. It stimulates the blood circulation and induces relaxation,” says Lucia, who will soon be joining Lana’s practice.

She practises trigger point therapy, where pressure is applied to tight spots in the muscles to provide relief in that area or another area of the body affected by tightness. This is effective for repetitive injuries such as those caused while playing sports or direct ones like a fall.

As Lucia describes, our muscles act like a memory. So if you sustained a fall as a youngster and injured a muscle, later in life you may find yourself re-injuring the same muscle again.

“With trigger point you press an area in the muscle for seven seconds to create a relative vacuum,” she says. “When you release the pressure, oxygen and nutrients rush in to ease the pain, thus relaxing the muscle.”

Additionally, Lucia is trained in reflexology, which is a subtle massage dealing with pressure points on the foot. We have over 7,200 nerve endings in the foot together with all the pressure points. Reflexology is particularly helpful for women going through hormonal changes such as menopause, PMS and pregnancy. It is a great stress buster.

In general, she recommends massage therapy for anyone and has taught baby massage to mothers of infants starting from one month of age.
“It’s never too late,” declares Lucia, “the body is an amazing machine, which we take for granted.”

Top tips from experts:

  • Exercise regularly and eat a sensible diet.
  • Stretch before and after exercise. Practice yoga or Pilates to really stretch muscles.
  • If you sprain or pull a muscle, apply ice for 10 minutes – not heat. If you apply heat, you will be adding to an already inflamed area. Follow with a massage and cold creams.
  • If you are active, get a weekly massage with a qualified therapist. Your muscles will thank you.
  • Recovering from sore or strained muscles through massage therapy occurs immediately with young people. Those over the age of 25 can take one to two days to repair or longer, depending on the damage and individual muscle tone and structure.
  • Prevention is key. Start by seeing an osteopath or a chiropractor.