Alternative Medicine - 

the Spiritual side effects

In this article I want to give a Christian perspective on alternative medicine, but it’s also based on personal experience, as I practiced yoga, spiritism, divination and psychic healing for seven years, before I became a Christian.

Have you noticed that every box of pharmaceutical drugs comes with a list of all the possible side-effects and contra-indications? It's true, even though the print on the accompanying leaflet is sometimes so small it's difficult to read!

What about the hidden dangers of alternative medicine? There are very few restrictions on these practitioners with regard to the fabulous claims they can make for their products and treatments, and there are no obligations to disclose any potential or actual dangers. That does not mean that these therapies have any real benefits, nor does it mean that they are harmless.

The vast majority of alternative therapies have no scientific basis for their claims. Many of them derive from traditional folk medicine and this 'ethnic' tag is appealing for some, but their main popularity is due to their claims to be 'holistic', in other words, having a power to heal the whole person: body, mind and spirit.

It is these latter 'spiritual' techniques that are particularly dangerous and can have lasting consequences for us as Christians, as they effectively use modern day magic under the guise of 'natural’ or ‘holistic’ medicine.

Are any alternative medicines safe?

So, we should be asking not only whether ANY alternative medicines work but also whether ANY of them are safe. How can we distinguish between them? They can't ALL be bad, or can they?

Some people say there are no two ways about it, ALL such therapies are suspect, don't touch any of them with a barge pole. There are others who think a few of them could be useful.

There’s one very important proviso, as long as the therapies make no claim to work on a spiritual level, they are more likely to be spiritually safe! Even so there is still a need for care, as in some cases spiritual effects are present, even if they are well hidden or denied, as is the case with certain forms of Yoga.

In the event of minor illnesses or conditions, or when trying to manage chronic pain, some of the relatively safe alternatives to conventional pharmaceutical treatments might include soothing herbal teas that help you sleep better, massage with essential oils, and changing to a healthier more plant based diet, including eating organic produce where possible. Who really needs a diet containing even small amounts of neurotoxic pesticides and herbicides, growth hormones and secondary antibiotics? Increasing our level of physical activity is also vital for maintaining or improving health. All of these changes can have a direct and beneficial physical effect when used sensibly.

However, it's important to remember that herbs and essential oils contain active bio-chemicals,  these plant products are frequently extracted or synthesised in the production of common pharmaceutical drugs. As a result, herbs and essential oils can interact with prescription drugs and with each other, and can even aggravate underlying medical conditions. Using essential oils in a concentrated form can also cause skin irritation. Advice should always be sought and a pharmacist is a good person to ask. If you are searching for information on the internet, always take note of the contraindications as well as the benefits.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

So, whether we are looking for an alternative to addictive painkillers and antidepressants, or something milder than the current range of anti-inflammatory drugs, wisdom is needed.

Start with prayer

To get back to basics, when we are unwell, the very first thing we need to do as Christians is pray. Ask God for healing, in the name of Jesus.

As we pray and perhaps seek Godly counsel, we may be shown issues in our lives that need to be addressed. I’ll never forget the testimony of a young Pastor who was in a state of exhaustion. He went to an older colleague, who said to him: ‘show me your diary’. The answer to the younger man’s problem was abundantly clear. He was simply doing too much.

At the same time it’s really important to get a proper medical diagnosis. So much sleep is lost through worrying about illness, and worry definitely amplifies pain. We can even quite literally worry ourselves sick. Having an accurate diagnosis can not only be reassuring, but it can also prevent a serious condition getting worse and even becoming life threatening, while we mess around trying this, that or the other alternative therapy.

Prayer will also help us make choices about any conventional medication or treatment that's recommended, and it’s important to remember we do have a choice, there's often more than one medical option available. The main problem here is whether or not your doctor has the time or inclination to explore these with you.

Even in the very ‘worst case’ scenario of a diagnosis of terminal cancer, we still have choices. In certain cases we could actually choose not to have chemo therapy. This is a serious point, we do need to be informed. It is possible to ask an oncologist what the statistics are on patient survival with a particular treatment? What are the statistics on survival without it? How will it affect the quality of what remains of my life? We can even ask the doctor, would you take this yourself? What other treatments are available?

A dangerous mix of alternative and conventional medicine

We also need wisdom, discernment AND protection, because more and more alternative therapies are beginning to be employed in the context of conventional western medicine.

Some well intentioned doctors in general practice routinely prescribe homeopathy as a placebo for patients who demand a treatment even if they don't really need one. Placebo medicines are known to have a 20-40% success rate. This is principally due to the power of ‘positive belief’, which causes the brain to produce a surge of natural painkilling substances called endorphins. These can make us feel better for several weeks, by which time the problem may have resolved naturally. Not surprisingly, people then think they’ve been healed by the homeopathic treatment. They also think that as it was prescribed by the doctor, it must be safe.

Don't be fooled, homeopathy is not safe. It's actually one of the most subtle and widespread forms of occult based magic available today.    

That may seem shocking, especially if you have tried it yourself, but you don't have to dig very deeply to discover that it is based on an ungodly mixture of eastern occult practices, magical alchemy and spiritism. Most Homeopathic products contain no residual molecules of their original materials, which come from a very bizarre range of substances. They end up containing only water or sugar. However, homeopathy claims to work as a result of the healing energy or 'vitalism' that's retained in the 'memory' of the water used in it's successive dilutions.

Many doctors now routinely recommend Yoga for relaxation and as a gentle form of exercise. The origins of Yoga are in Hindu spirituality and its physical exercises, breathing techniques, mantras and meditation are all specifically designed to release energy through a series of what are called 'chakras’ or centres along the spine.

At first sight Yoga can appear to be helpful on a physical and an emotional level. It can be calming as well as providing an increase in energy similar to a massive boost to the libido. However, its spiritual and psychological power is clearly seen in the way it rapidly gains an almost addictive hold on those who practice it. Yoga subtly becomes a religion for many. All forms of Yoga have a negative spiritual effect, even so called Christian Yoga, as even the most basic exercises (asanas) are designed to create a link to various spiritual entities in the Hindu pantheon of gods and demons.

Acupuncture is also prescribed by Medical Doctors and even practiced by some. This is based on the concept of balancing the flow of an individual’s 'yin and yang’ energy by inserting fine needles at specific points along ‘meridians’ or energy lines on the body’s surface. Our body’s energy is then apparently ‘aligned’ with that of the ‘cosmos’. Acupuncture can actually help with mild pain relief or the control of nausea but, as with Yoga, it quickly gains a strong spiritual hold on those who use it.

Some of the most technically advanced hospital oncology departments have now begun prescribing spiritual healing, often called 'Therapeutic Touch' for terminal cancer patients, and psychic healing to reduce burns for patients undergoing radio-therapy. In France these healers are called 'coupeurs de feu’. Just because a doctor recommends it, does not make it right!

Using these and other energy therapies opens a chink in a Christian's spiritual armour, sometimes wide enough to drive a coach and horses through, and it provides an easy way for the enemy to attack us sooner or later.                                                                                                                                                          

Some guidelines for choosing a therapy or therapist

So what do we do if we have a painful muscle or joint problem for example, and we want to avoid potentially corrosive anti-inflammatories or steroid injections that could mess up our immune systems?

Again, don’t underestimate the importance of prayer. We need to first ask God for healing. If, however, we are still thinking about seeing a therapist, the Holy Spirit will often make us feel uneasy if something is not right with a therapy we're considering. Don’t ignore His promptings.

We can also bear in mind some simple questions to ask the therapist.

Firstly we need to ask what their therapy is and where it comes from. Is it simply the massage of muscles and ligaments based on western physical therapy techniques or is it based on acupuncture pressure points and 'energy meridians’, like shiatsu? In other words is it a healing based on taoist or shinto beliefs?

Next we need to ask how it works. Does it release tension and accumulated toxins by deep massage of muscles and ligaments? If so, there shouldn't be a problem. If, however, it works by balancing ‘qi’ or the body's ‘yin and yang’ energy with that of the cosmic energies of the universe; or healing being channelled from an external force through the medium of the therapist's hands as in Reichi; or the transmission of a psychic healing power handed down from generation to generation as is the case with the French 'coupeurs de feu', then every spiritual alarm bell should be sounding a warning of imminent enemy attack!

Even if the therapy itself seems innocuous, we still need to ask about the therapist's beliefs. You might feel slightly uncomfortable asking personal questions. However, if we ask in a non-aggressive way, the answers should be revealing! If they talk about energy, ask where their energy comes from. If they talk about peace of mind, ask how they find peace of mind themselves. Do they use any particular method? Do they pray, and to whom? Do they meditate, and how? What spiritual techniques do they incorporate into their therapeutic practice? Would they use them on me?

Don't let embarrassment stop you. It is vital to be informed. The Bible says we are to be as wise as serpents and as gentle as doves…  If you ask politely, most therapists will be only too happy to tell you what they do and why they think it’s so wonderful!                                                                                                                                                           

As long as you’re careful not to swallow all the hype (remember these people are basically selling a product) this approach should help you decide whether it’s safe to go ahead with any treatment, Don’t forget that it's important to avoid all therapies involving any form of alternative ‘energy’, and be very wary of those therapists who use them personally, especially when the proposed treatment requires physical contact, or the ‘laying on of hands’.

Does it really matter?

If you are still not convinced that it matters, as long as you ‘feel’ better, let me assure you it does! When you go for radio-therapy, you may not see the x-rays with your eyes but they still have a real effect on your body, both in the short and the long term.  Equally when you expose yourself to an ungodly spiritual energy, this also has an effect, both in the short-term and in the long-term.                                                                                                                                                          

Some of these therapies and techniques do appear to have short term beneficial effects, it’s true. After a soothing massage with pleasant smelling oils and gentle background music, who wouldn't feel less stressed, be in less pain, or even find it easier to give up an addictive habit? When we hear about these benefits, we can be tempted to try them too, after all the hype is very seductive, they are very ‘cool’, everyone seems to be doing them, even some Christians.

Sometimes when you enter a waiting room (or indeed when you click on a website) it's clear as the nose on your face that it's not a good place to go to for help or even for information. There may be 'healing' crystals on the table with the magazines and a 'dream-catcher' on the wall among the posters for Tai-chi classes, hypnotherapy and 'Tapping', which is the latest 'State-side' trend in self administered acupressure.

But it's not always so obvious. If we aren't alert, we can get caught with our guard down, as I did shortly after moving to France. Not speaking the language very well, when an acquaintance recommended that I see a micro-kinésiologue, I naively thought this meant a sort of kinésiethérapeut or state qualified physical therapist. When I arrived for my treatment, the practitioner had me lie on an examining table (nothing too strange there) but then he began passing his hands just a few centimetres above my body. As he did so he started diagnosing past illnesses as a result of what he ‘sensed’ were energy blockages in my muscles. My blood froze. I stopped the session, and after paying him, quickly left the consulting room. Driving back home in the car, I sincerely repented before the Lord, and determined not to make the same mistake again.

As I have already said, the real problem is that, by using occult-based therapies, we allow Satan an opening through which he can sink his hooks into our lives. Repeated exposure sows doubt in our minds, dulls our witness, weakens our faith and can even completely derail our Christian walk.

Another aspect is the disturbing effect that this can have on the local Church, not just on individuals. If the gift of discernment is not being exercised because key people are using occult based therapies like homeopathy, this can allow controlling spirits to enter a Church, with devastating effects. So many people have touched occult based therapies these days that it is vital to teach the necessity of repentance, renunciation and, in some cases, actual deliverance from these things, for all new Christians.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

Why are these therapies on the increase?

The rise of these alternative therapies is just one aspect of the huge changes that are currently shaking the cultural, political and spiritual foundations of the world, and it really is on a global scale. It’s a reminder that we are living in end times.

Things are moving so quickly that it's hard to keep track of what’s going on. As far as alternative medicine is concerned, there are almost as many therapies as there are therapists, and new ones seem to spring up overnight. You can end up chasing your tail simply trying to list them all.

One can no longer assume that an osteopath will only practice osteopathy or, as I’ve already said, that a Medical Doctor will only practice standard medicine.

It’s now highly fashionable to string together a bit of this and a bit of that from any number of different occult based systems. The current 'buzz' word for this is 'integrative' medicine, nutrition, or whatever. Each practitioner has his or her own take. For example, one naturopath (doctor of alternative medicine) might use a combination of Indian Ayurvedic medicine mixed with North American shamanism,  while another might use Shiatsu based massage with Tibetan monks chanting in the background, followed by ‘healing’ stones and some 're-birthing’ exercises to wrap things up.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

These ‘made to measure’ therapies are usually derived from a ‘made to measure’ religion AND a ‘made to measure’ god.

Can we really believe that this is the God of the Bible? We have to say a definitive NO! Jesus said ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except by me.’ John 14:6.

If there is no room for Jesus Christ in the philosophies behind these therapies, be warned! The risk from involvement in these alternative systems is that they will, little by little, exclude Jesus from your life.

A deeper danger

In John 16:8 Jesus himself said that the work of the Holy Spirit is to convict the world of sin.

One of the greatest dangers for Christians and non-Christians alike who get caught up in ‘holistic’ health systems, is the promise of ‘wellbeing’. In other words, they are being offered a physical, emotional and spiritual healing which conveniently sidesteps the uncomfortable issue of sin.

These therapies are designed to soothe away the anguish of a guilty conscience: we can let go of our guilt and shame; we don’t need repentance; we don’t need anyone else's pardon, we can pardon ourselves. All is well… Or is it?

As it says in Jeremiah 6:14 They offer superficial treatments for my people's mortal wound. They give assurances of peace when there is no peace.

When Adam and Eve were tempted by the serpent to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they were told that they would become like God. In the just same way, many of these therapies promise that they'll enable us to realise the ‘god within’.

The mass of therapies that surround us are indeed the fruit of the tree of knowledge. Remember, it’s the knowledge of good and evil, and many of them really are evil.

One can only wonder how many souls are being lost for eternity as their involvement with occult based alternative medicine blinds them to their need for repentance and salvation.

What does the Bible say?

Even when these alternative ‘energy’ therapies appear to result in miraculous healing, we need to remember that if these are not due to the placebo effect, they may well be due to the intervention of evil spirits, and that Christians who regularly use these therapies are getting involved with demons. In Ephesians 6:12 Paul warns us about the very real danger of the 'spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.                                                                                                                                                          

In Deuteronomy 18: 9-14 we are clearly told to avoid all contact with evil, 'with those who use divination or witchcraft, with those who interpret omens, with sorcerers, mediums, or spiritists... For whoever does these things is detestable to the LORD.'

In 2 Corinthians 6:14-17 Paul writes: ‘what partnership can righteousness have with wickedness? What fellowship does light have with darkness? What agreement can exist between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be My people. Therefore come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you”.’

The Bible does not mince it's words and God has certainly NOT changed his mind!


In our search for healing, do we really want to risk our salvation for some short term pain relief ? My own answer is a definite ‘NO’, even after over 50 years of living with chronic pain. Not when I've been promised a glorious eternity with Jesus Christ. Not when I know that once with him, my Lord will wipe away every tear, and that there'll be no more pain and suffering.

Sarah Beazley Cunnington

Biographical notes

Sarah Beazley Cunnington trained as a massage therapist while studying Fine Art in London in the early 1970's. She practiced yoga, spiritism, divination and spiritual healing for seven years. Her thesis for her Bachelor of Arts degree was a study of homeopathy and acupuncture.

After becoming a Christian, and burning all her books on occultism, she trained as a chiropodist (podiatrist) and worked in the UK National Health Service as a community chiropodist. During this period she designed and wrote health education material, some of which was used nationally. Later she ran a specialist hospital clinic for acute diabetic foot-care and was involved in a multidisciplinary team training health practitioners in diabetic care.

Since moving to France she has studied and written about Alternative Medicine and has been a speaker at a number of Christian conferences on the subject.


A Christian introduction to Alternative Medicine Rev. Paul HARRIS, Evangelical Alliance UK

An Overview to Alternative Medicine Donal P. O’MATHUA, M.D. The Centre for Bioethics and Human Dignity.

Compromised Christianity Donal P O’MathuaPhD. MD. Mission America

Les médecines en parallèle Olivier SCHMITZ

Les Charlatans de la Santé Jean-Marie Abgrall

Histoires parallèles de la médecine Thomas Sandoz

The Independent, 01.12.1998 Professeur Edzard ERNST (Professsor of Alternative Medicine at the University of Exeter, UK) 

Trick or Treatment ? Alternative Medicine on trial 7 May 2009 by Simon Singh and Edzard Ernst

The Sceptics Dictionary R T Carroll

Dorlands Medical Dictionary for Health Consumers, © 2007 SAUNDERS

Alternative Medicine, Monarch. Dr Robina COKER

Homeopathie Wikipedia

Herbal Philosophy Wikipedia

© Martyn Cunnington revised 2021