Should I Tell My Health Care Provider I Want Complementary Therapies?

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You should always discuss any additional therapies or self-care strategies that you want to initiate with your health care provider (e.g., doctor, nurse practitioner, physician assistant). Many complementary therapies may be helpful when done along with traditional medical care. Some complementary therapies can decrease negative side effects from medical treatments (e.g., pain, nausea, vomiting) or decrease anxiety and depression or provide an overall sense of well-being. It is important to discuss any additional herbs, vitamins, over the counter medicines, and complementary therapies with your health care providers because some of these therapies have created severe side effects when combined with traditional medicine. Other therapies may not cause any side effects, but also may not have any proof to support they provide a benefit.

There are many different complementary therapies you may want to consider. They are listed below. Be sure to get referrals and only work with licensed certified individuals who provide the complementary therapy.

Acupuncture (painless needles placed in certain points on the body – used in China for 2000 years)
Aromatherapy (use of highly concentrated oils to treat a variety of conditions)
Chinese medicine
Herbal remedies (come as capsules, tablets, liquids, teas, ointments, and creams – they come from plants and are natural, but this does not mean they are safe for you)
Homeopathy (small amounts of substances are used in liquids to treat illness)
Magnetherapy (controversial – used for muscle, nerve and joint pain)
Massage therapy (apply pressure and movement to soft tissue to help many symptoms)
Meditation (a way to quieting your mind – it can help deal with cancer)
Therapeutic Touch (a process where a practitioner moves his/her hands a few inches above the patient to redirect energy for healing)
Vitamins and minerals (absorbed from what we eat but sometimes need to get extra in pill form)
Yoga (helps relaxation, breathing, flexibility, and over-all well-being)

Resources:

National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (202) 232-1404
American Alliance of Aromatherapy, PO Box 750428 Petaluma, CA 94975-0428 (707) 778-6762
American Aromatherapy Association, PO Box 3679, South Pasadena CA 91031 (818) 457-1742 www.aromaweb.com
American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (610) 266-1433 www.acupuncture.com
National Center for Homeotherapy, 801 North Fairfax 81, Suite 306, Alexandria, VA 22314 www.homeopathic.org
Bioethics-Magnetics Institution, 2490 West Moana Lane, Reno, NV 89509-2936 (702) 827-9099
American Massage Therapists Association, 820 Davis Street, Suite 100, Evanston, IL 60201 (847) 864-0123
Insight Meditation Society, 1230 Pleasant Street, Baire, MA 01005 (308) 355-4378 www.dharma.org
Mine Healers Professional Association, 1211 Locus Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107 (212) 454-8079 www.therapeutics-touch.org
American Yoga Association, PO Box 19986, Sarasota, FL 34276 (941) 927-4977 www.members@aol.com/ami/oggasn

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About the Author


BA, MPH

Steve shares what he learned from his personal experience with cancer.

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