Mind & Body

What are you hiding from your doctor?

What your physician doesn't know about the alternative therapies you use could harm your health.

What are you hiding from your doctor?
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Three out of four Americans use some sort of complementary-health therapy, whether it's supplements for sleep, herbs for digestion, or acupuncture for chronic pain. Yet less than one-third of those people pass that information on to their general physicians. (Some stats put it at one in five.) Unfortunately, doctors are just as tight-lipped when it comes to asking patients about their alternative-medicine use, according to an American Heart Association report. Such critical information can prevent an inaccurate diagnosis, ineffective treatment, harmful drug interactions, or other dangerous side effects. If you've been shy about revealing this information, it's time to speak up. No need to wait for your physician to ask first. Get the ball rolling with these guidelines.

Open a dialogue
If your physician is adamantly opposed to your exploration of complementary therapies, find out why. There may be a valid, fact-based reason that an alternative course may be in conflict with your traditional treatment.

Keep a therapy diary
In your quest for a remedy, you may try out several different complementary therapies; a health journal can help you keep track.