No matter how strongly you believe in the use of complementary and alternative medicine (or CAM), it’s always important to have a family physician. And just as important is committing yourself to sharing your treatments etc. with both your physician and your CAM providers. Let’s just say you have some serious back pain. You have a family doctor who gives you a pain killer prescription and occasional cortisone shots, you have a chiropractor who makes adjustments to your back, and maybe you have an herbalist in there who recommends certain herbs to help promote healing in your back while reducing the pain. If your herbalist doesn’t know what your doctor is doing, and your doctor doesn’t have a clue you’re going to a chiropractor – well, you may just find yourself in more knots than you can handle. So what do you do? Since communication is key, you may consider getting yourself The ACP Evidence-Based Guide to Complementary & Alternative Medicine.
This guide, written by Bradly P. Jacobs, MD, MPH and Katherine Gundling, MD, is actually written with physicians as the intended audience, but I’ve found it to be a pretty great guide to have around. If you take part in CAM therapy at all and you want the best way to explain it to your doctor, then keeping a copy of this book at home can be quite helpful. I’d recommend taking it along with you to your appointments if you plan on discussing with your doctor an alternative therapy. Your doctor will be able to get a good idea of just what kind of therapy you’re using.
Another great use for the guide: As a family reference when you want to discover new possibilities for alternative treatments. Say, for instance, your child has asthma and although you want to go a more natural route for treatment, you’re not sure of the options. The ACP Evidence-Based Guide offers 17 pages of info on possible complementary and alternative treatments to consider, such as herbs, homeopathy, acupuncture and more, along with information on whether or not these treatments have been scientifically proven. This isn’t to be used as a self-diagnosis guide, but it will help steer you in the directions you may want to consider.
If you’re an allopathic physician, a book such as The ACP Evidence-Based Guide to Complementary & Alternative Medicine may prove invaluable. As more than 1/3 of Americans use some sort of CAM therapy, and as that number grows yearly, it will become more and more important for physicians to have a good understanding of the treatments their patients are seeking when they’re not visiting their family doctor. Even more importantly, keeping lines of communication open between patients and their caregivers means better, safer healthcare in the end.