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How do I Discuss Alternative Medicine with my Doctor?


When you are considering to have yourself treated with a complementary or an alternative medicine treatment, it is really very important to see your family doctor and talk about the options. This may not be easy because your doctor may be very skeptical about complementary or alternative medicine, but nevertheless your doctor has an obligation to discuss any treatments with you from which you may benefit.

The reason why it is important to talk to your family doctor is because there are some kinds of treatments in complementary or alternative medicine that have an effect on conventional medical treatments and can cause some side effects which are of course unintended, but still need to be prevented. Also your family doctor can be very helpful in providing you with information. It may be information about treatments and/or possibly giving you a referral to a good alternative medicine practitioner. Next to these reasons it is also important for your family doctor to have a clear picture about what is going on with you. If you leave some information out of the discussion, your family doctor may make a wrong diagnosis or prescribe the wrong type of medicine, not understanding what may be adding to your patient picture.

If you are dealing with more doctors than just your own family doctor, like specialists of some kind, you have to remember to take a complete list of the treatments which you have been undergoing, with you. This includes regular treatments from conventionally practised medicine, as well as treatments from the alternative field. Even over the counter provided medicine should be on your list. When it comes to real medication, it is even better to take the actual medications with your prescriptions with you.

A lot of physicians are very careful with complementary or alternative medicine, because of the little scientific evidence. Because they have very little experience and a lack of knowledge about these types of treatments they often won’t be very helpful on their own. You need to be very pro-active about this. It is very important that you bring the topic up yourself and you tell the healthcare provider you are speaking with exactly why you want to use a certain treatment, how you found this treatment and ask if it is safe, if it will interact with your conventional treatment, if it is likely to help you, if there is any more information and ask if you should try it. If the answer is no, ask why not and ask for alternatives.

Before you go into a discussion with your family doctor or other healthcare provider you have to have all the information present and printed out. This so that your doctor can take a look at everything before giving you the advice. Maybe your doctor is not familiar with the treatment and your information can help to make a judgment.



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