May 23, 2011

Communication About Alternative Medications Lacking

This subject just won't go away. And I can understand why. Too many people feel that the doctors and other medical occupations, including pharmacists have no reason to know about what natural remedies they use. Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is prevalent in most countries and under reported by patients.

This is dangerous because some can have deadly effects when taken with prescribed medications. While this was a survey, it still indicates the people over the age of 50 often do not inform their healthcare providers of the CAM supplements they are taking. One question apparently not asked is whether they are doing this on their own or from recommendation of homeopaths. Either way, many are putting themselves at risk of fatal combinations of medications.

CAM is a diverse group of medical and healthcare interventions, practices, products, plus disciplines that are not generally part of conventional medicine. While older Americans wish to lead healthy and active lives, the CAM, which includes herbal supplements, manual therapies, and mind/body practices such as chiropractic care, massage, acupuncture, and meditation are sometimes counter productive with medical interventions.

Mainly it is the herbal supplements, but any of them can cause problems depending on the medical treatment a patient is receiving. I do use chiropractic care, but there have been times the chiropractic doctor has wisely refused treatments as they would have interfered with the medical treatment I was receiving. So communication is important with all concerned, not only to prevent problems, but for your own medical safety.

CAM can be an important factor in staying healthy, but care needs to be taken as some CAM products will make certain conventional medications less effective and lead to potentially deadly interactions. Patients need to communicate with their doctors and vice versa.

The AARP/NCCAM survey also found that it was the patients that brought up the topic of CAM most frequently. The two main reasons respondents gave for not discussing it was that the doctor never asked (42 percent) and the patients did not know they should bring it up (30 percent).

AARP is the American Association of Retired Persons which I do not belong to for personal reasons, and NCCAM is the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

The article about the study can be read here.

No comments: