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How to Talk to Your Doctor About Complementary and Alternative Medicine
A Look at CAM
Reasons for Starting the Discussion
- Some dietary supplements and herbal remedies can adversely affect the medications you are taking.
- CAM treatments may have unintended effects on chronic conditions you may have.
- You and your doctor share the responsibility for making sure you receive the best care possible. This means providing all information that can potentially influence your health.
- Your research may provide you with a sense that complementary medicine is more effective than conventional care. Your doctor will be able to clarify any information you find.
- Create a list and share it with your doctor and other healthcare providers. Your list should include:
- Any conditions you have
- Over-the-counter and prescription medications that you take
- Herbs and other dietary supplements that you take
- CAM treatments you use or are thinking of trying
- Learn as much as you can about the CAM treatment that interests you. Reliable websites, like the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, provide background information on a range of therapies and, in some cases, research results.
- As you learn more about the CAM treatment, you are sure to have many questions. Write them down and share them with your doctor. For example, you will want to find out if the treatment is safe considering your:
- Overall health
- Medical history
- Medications and supplements
- If you still feel unsure about whether CAM is a good choice for you, ask your doctor. Do not be concerned that they will treat you any differently. The best healthcare providers are eager to discuss any promising strategy intended to improve the health of their patients.
American Academy of Family Physicians http://www.aafp.org
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine http://nccam.nih.gov
The College of Family Physicians of Canada http://www.cfpc.ca
Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca
Are you considering complementary and alternative medicine? National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine website. Available at: http://nccam.nih.gov/health/decisions/consideringcam.htm. Updated March 2013. Accessed October 18, 2013.
Tips for talking to your provider about CAM. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: http://cam.cancer.gov/cam/attachments/workbook/tips%5Ffor%5Ftalking%5Fto%5Fprovider.pdf. Accessed October 18, 2013.
Tips for talking with your health care providers about CAM. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine website. Available at: http://nccam.nih.gov/timetotalk/forpatients.htm. Updated July 31, 2012. Accessed October 18, 2013.
What is complementary and alternative medicine? National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine website. Available at: http://nccam.nih.gov/health/whatiscam. Updated May 2013. Accessed October 18, 2013.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 10/2013
- Update Date: 10/18/2013