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Deciding About Using Complementary Medicine

How can you decide about using complementary medicine?

What is complementary medicine?

Complementary medicine is any treatment that you use along with your doctor's standard care. This may include treatments such as diet supplements, massage, or yoga.

You may choose to add complementary medicine to your treatment or wellness plan. Or you may choose to use only standard treatment.

If you choose to use complementary medicine, it should be in addition to treatment from your doctor. Otherwise you may miss vital treatment that could save your life.

What are key points about this decision?

  • Many forms of complementary medicine have been around for hundreds or thousands of years. But not much is known about how safe they are or how well they work. Always talk to your doctor before you use any kind of treatment.
  • People often use complementary medicine to treat long-term health problems. Or they may use it to stay healthy. But if you are looking for a "cure-all," you probably won't find it. Make sure you learn how well a treatment is likely to work before you use it.
  • Part of the approach of some forms of complementary medicine is to listen to and touch people in a healing way. Some people find great comfort in this. Others may be bothered by it.
  • Your health plan or private insurance may not cover the cost of some treatments.

Why might you choose complementary medicine?

  • You may feel more in control of your health.
  • You may feel better if you are working toward overall wellness instead of just relief from one problem.
  • Some complementary treatments work as well as standard treatments and have fewer side effects.

Why might you choose not to use complementary medicine?

  • Some diet supplements may cause harm if you take them while you are taking certain medicines. Always talk to your doctor before you use any herbal medicines or other natural health products.
  • Some treatments cost a lot. And they may not be covered by your health plan or private insurance.
  • Complementary medicine does not have the same rules as standard medicine. So what's on the label may not be what's in the bottle. This means you could be a victim of fraud.
  • Standard medicines are tested and are controlled by laws. What's on the label is what you get.
  • Standard treatment is based on research with proven results.

Your decision

Thinking about the facts and your feelings can help you make a decision that is right for you. Be sure you understand the benefits and risks of your options. Think about what else you need to do before you make the decision.

Where can you learn more?

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