Why You Should Discuss Alternative Medicine With Your Doctor
You don’t have to choose between conventional and alternative medicine’or hide your herbal remedies from your doctor. Here’s how to work together
Source: Vitamins, Minerals and Supplements (Reader’s Digest)
You, your doctor and your alternative healthcare providers all need to be on the same page about the mainstream and alternative medicine you are taking’here are some tips to make that go smoothly.
An interest in alternative medicine doesn’t mean you’re dismissing conventional medicine. Likewise, listening to your doctor’s orders doesn’t discount adding natural medicine to your treatment plan. However, there are some risks you want to avoid when mixing the treatments. To keep yourself safe, make sure you keep the following guidelines in mind.
1. Talk to your doctor
Traditionally, medical schools teach their students very little about nutritional and herbal therapies. Because professional journals and postgraduate courses for doctors are giving these forms of treatment increasing attention, however, many doctors are now becoming better acquainted with them. It is imperative that you talk to your doctor when considering various treatment options, so you can work together.
Make sure you report all of your symptoms; never hide anything from your doctor. Also, make sure you tell your doctor about any supplements that you are now taking, because some of them might not interact well with conventional drugs that you may be asked to try. Even if your doctor isn’t receptive to nutritional remedies, you should discuss any supplements you are already taking or thinking of using, particularly if you have a chronic condition such as asthma, diabetes, migraine, heart disease or high blood pressure.
2. Talk to your alternative healthcare practitioner
While your alternative healthcare practitioner is likely to have a bias toward the type of medicine they practice, he or she also has your best interest in mind. If you see a herbalist, naturopath, homeopath, Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner or other alternative or complementary health professional’it is important that he or she knows what mainstream medications you are taking. This way everyone on your healthcare team is working together to make sure you avoid risky supplement-drug interactions.
3. Don’t stop treatment
Some supplements may complement, or even replace, your conventional drugs. You should never discontinue or alter the dosage of any prescribed medication without first consulting your doctor.
4. Recognize when conventional methods are best
It can be foolish, and sometimes even dangerous, to seek alternative options for medical conditions that Western-trained doctors excel in treating or preventing. These include medical and surgical emergencies, physical injuries, acute infections, sexually transmitted infections, kidney infections, reconstructive surgery and serious illnesses, such as polio and diphtheria, which can be prevented with immunizations. If you have cancer, discuss complementary therapies with your cancer specialist before trying them’you may be wasting time, effort and money.