Richard G. Petty, MD

Communicating About Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Two of the key points about Integrated Medicine are transparency and integration of different approaches.

It is true to say that all healing is ultimately self-healing, but at the heart of healing lies relationship: how we communicate with every part of ourselves, with other people and with our health care providers. At the most mundane level, there is published data that if a health care provider has a good relationship with the person coming to them for help, the chance that the person will follow through on a treatment plan is four times higher than if they meet a health care provider who just grunts at them.

There is also a magic that can happen in strong, dynamic relationships based on partnership rather than dominance: one of the themes of Healing, Meaning and Purpose.

It worried, but did not surprise me to see a study released today.

Most Americans age 50 and older use complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), such as supplements, herbal products or acupuncture. The trouble is that – according to a survey conducted by AARP and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicinethey often do not tell their doctors or nurses.

It is very much in person’s best interests to tell their doctor about the CAMs that they are taking because some unorthodox medicines may interfere with over-the-counter medications, prescription drugs, or other conventional medical approaches. See here for an example of some herbal remedies and supplements that may interact with psychotropic medicines.

As the report says, "Communication between patients and physicians about CAM and conventional therapies is vital to ensuring safe, integrated use of all health care approaches."

It goes on to say something that we have been preaching for years: an open dialog "allows patients and physicians the opportunity to identify CAM practices that might be beneficial and also minimizes risks to a patient from potential therapy interactions."

Among a total of 1,559 individuals age 50 and older surveyed in the spring of 2006, 63 percent reported having used one or more CAM therapies.

According to the survey – which can be found here – people between the ages of 50 and 59 are the most likely to report CAM use.

Forty-five percent of CAM enthusiasts used massage therapy, chiropractic manipulation or other bodywork; 42 percent used herbal or dietary supplements; 15 percent used mind/body practices, including hypnosis and meditation; 14 percent used naturopathy, acupuncture, or homeopathy; and 10 percent had tried energy therapies.

Sixty-six percent of CAM users said they did so to treat a specific health problem; 65 percent for overall wellness; 45 percent to supplement conventional medicine; and 42 percent to prevent illness.

Sixty-nine percent of those who reported using CAM had not discussed it with a doctor.

The intersting qustion is, "Why?"

Forty-two percent said because their doctor never asked; 30 percent said they did not know they should; 19 percent felt there was not enough time during the office visit; 17 percent didn’t think the doctor would know about the topic; and 12 percent thought the doctor would be dismissive or tell them not to use CAM.

Women were more likely than men to have discussed CAM use with their doctor (26 percent vs 16 percent) and those younger than age 65 were more likely to discuss CAM use than were older individuals.

The report concludes that "patients need to mention CAM use to their physicians and physicians need to ask about it."

About Richard G. Petty, MD
Dr. Richard G. Petty, MD is a world-renowned authority on the brain, and his revolutionary work on human energy systems has been acclaimed around the globe. He is also an accredited specialist in internal and metabolic medicine, endocrinology, psychiatry, acupuncture and homeopathy. He has been an innovator and leader of the human potential movement for over thirty years and is also an active researcher, teacher, writer, professional speaker and broadcaster. He is the author of five books, including the groundbreaking and best selling CD series Healing, Meaning and Purpose. He has taught in over 45 countries and 48 states in the last ten years, but spends as much time as possible on his horse farm in Georgia.


One Response to “Communicating About Complementary and Alternative Medicine”
  1. Aromatic says:

    People nowadays are more health conscious than ever. We value our health so much that we coudnt afford to risk taking uncertain medications.

    But there a current fad that spreads acress the western countries, the Homeopathy. These alternative medical practices are considered safe just like aromatheraphy. Aside from those mentioned drinking tea and gensing are also considered effective as it has been practiced by the asian for centuries.

Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!

logo logo logo logo logo logo