How to Talk to Your Doctor About Complementary and Alternative Medicine
by Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
There are many complementary and alternative therapies from which to choose. If you are thinking of trying one, you may be wondering how to talk to your doctor about it. Read on to learn more.
A Look at CAM
Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is a range of products and therapies. Complementary therapies uses untraditional methods with standard ones. Alternative therapies only use untraditional methods.
You may find it easy to find a doctor who is open to CAM. Over time, many treatments that were once not traditional like massage are now widely used. In contrast, you may have a hard time finding a doctor who will use alternative therapies without standard ones. They are rarely supported by doctors. There is also not much data to support their use.
Some popular CAM therapies in the US are:
Reasons to Talk About CAM
You may think that CAM is less likely to cause harm, but it can have side effects. You will want to talk to your doctor about CAM because:
Here are some tips to get you ready to talk about CAM:
Your care team relies on you to share details with them. If you are planning to try a new CAM treatment or have been using one, do not keep this to yourself. Speak up!
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health
The College of Family Physicians of Canada
Complementary, alternative, or integrative health: What's in a name? National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health website. Available at: https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/complementary-alternative-or-integrative-health-whats-in-a-name. Accessed October 26, 2021.
Talking about complementary and alternative medicine with health care providers: a workbook and tips. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: https://cam.cancer.gov/health_information/talking_about_cam.htm. Accessed October 26, 2021.
Last reviewed October 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board
Last Updated: 10/25/2021
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