Evidence-based complementary therapies need to be part of the health-care system, a University of Newcastle nursing academic says.
"The importance of complementary therapies cannot be ignored," Associate Professor Pamela Van Der Riet said.
Such therapies cover a broad domain of "healing resources that concentrate on wellbeing and holistic practice".
"There is growing testimony that complementary therapies can make a significant cost-effective contribution to the health of the community, especially in relation to chronic disease management, wellbeing and prevention of disease," she said.
The Australian Skeptics page has nominated University of Newcastle's Complementary Therapies in Healthcare course for its 2019 "Bent Spoon" award.
The award is presented annually to the "perpetrator of the most preposterous piece of paranormal or pseudo-scientific piffle".
Dr Van Der Riet, who runs the course, rejected the website's insinuation, saying complementary therapies were backed by evidence and research.
"People are seeking a more holistic approach to their care. One-in-four are now using complementary therapies," she said.
"People want more control of their health and wellbeing - complementary therapies give greater self-determination.
"We have a wonderful healthcare system in Australia, however, Western medicine does not necessarily have all the answers in healthcare."
The university's course includes "meditation, massage, aromatherapy, reiki, guided imagery, naturopathy, iridology, acupuncture, reflexology, kinesiology and homeopathy".
Dr Van Der Riet said the course "takes account of the growing community interest in complementary therapies for wellbeing and as an adjunct to healthcare".
"The course examines the history and philosophical approaches to complementary therapies, professional and legal issues, indications and contraindications, as well some of the practical techniques of complementary therapies.
"Given the keen interest within the community, we want our future nurses to understand the scope and practice of such therapies."
She said there was a burgeoning industry in community-based therapies such as yoga, meditation and massage that were designed to help people maintain health and extend lifespan.
"Our future nurses and others in allied health should be aware of what is available and be knowledgeable of the benefits or otherwise of various therapies," she said.
The course presents an overview of some therapies, so health-care students understand what they are "purported to provide" for health and wellbeing.
Others therapies are examined in-depth, based on research into their efficacy for "better health or caring for those with a chronic illness".
"The course is a third-year elective offered to nurses and midwives, along with other healthcare students in podiatry, physiotherapy, pharmacy and occupational health students."
Dr Van Der Riet led an integrated literature review into the effectiveness of mindfulness meditation for nurses and nursing students. The review found this type of meditation had a positive effect on stress, anxiety and depression, and helped prevent and manage workplace stress and burnout.
She also published a paper on a stress-management and mindfulness program for undergraduate nursing students.
The data indicated a positive effect on sleep, concentration and clarity of thought, along with reduced "negative cognitions".
She said there was lots of other research that highlighted the benefits of mindfulness meditation, including reduced fatigue, stress, anxiety and depression.
Further, it improved compassion, empathy, mood, concentration, clarity of thought, sleep and wellbeing.
She added that research showed hatha yoga increased the efficiency of the cardiovascular system, while reducing blood pressure, adrenocortical activity and serum cholesterol.
It increased the flexibility of muscles, joints and connective tissue.
As for the other therapies in the course, she said there was "expanding evidence in the research literature that points to the value of certain complementary therapies".
This particularly applied to areas such as childbirth, palliative care, chronic illness and ageing.