Complementary and Alternative Treatments:

Knowledge is the Best Medicine


Complementary and alternative medicines

Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) treatments are surging in popularity these days as they gain acceptance for the treatment and prevention of disease. It’s estimated
that about one-third of Americans use CAM techniques to treat pain, improve health, and support the body’s ability to heal itself.

Some of the most popular therapies include acupuncture, aromatherapy, biofeedback, chiropractic, massage, meditation, music therapy and yoga. Many alternative treatments
are not covered by insurance so check with your plan to see if coverage or discounts are offered.

Make sure your doctor is aware of any alternative medicines or therapies you may be using. He or she can tell you if the treatment is appropriate for you based on your health, medical conditions and prescription medications.

Do your homework when considering alternative approaches. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health is a government agency which explores complementary and alternative medicine and thus is a trustworthy source of information.

Their website provides research-based information on everything from acupuncture to zinc. You can learn about herbs and other botanicals, find out how to select a practitioner and brush up on the latest news and research.

The National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine provides a database of licensed practitioners on their website, and the American Massage Therapy Association maintains a database of certified massage therapists.

With your doctor’s assistance, careful research and proper knowledge, the integrative approach of supplementing traditional western medicine with alternative therapies can lead to optimal physical and emotional health.

Herbal remedies, vitamins and supplements

Remember when it comes to these supplements, “natural” doesn’t always mean safe. Some products may have serious side effects, especially when taken in excessive amounts. And, their use could potentially interfere with prescribed medications, treatments or surgeries.

Talk to your doctor before taking dietary supplements, especially if you have a serious medical condition like diabetes, heart disease or a bleeding disorder.

When shopping for herbs and supplements, look for red flags such as wild promises to cure diseases like diabetes, dementia, cancer or arthritis. Avoid “miracle cures,” “scientific breakthroughs,” and “secret ingredients.”

Don’t fall for testimonials but instead look for claims backed up by large, scientific research studies.

Source: Mayo Clinic

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