Be Wary When Choosing Alternative Treatments

By Floria, Barbara 
March 21, 2017

Be Wary When Choosing Alternative Treatments

Today, as many as 71 percent of American adults have used some kind of alternative health treatment. Even so, the decision to use complementary or alternative medicine (CAM) shouldn’t be taken lightly.

People use CAM therapies, such as acupuncture, chiropractic, massage and homeopathy, in a variety of ways. When used alone, these therapies are referred to as “alternative.” When used in addition to conventional medicine, they’re referred to as “complementary.”

Before you use any CAM therapy, the National Institutes of Health suggests you follow through on the following recommendations.

Determine the cost

Cost is an important factor to consider because your health insurance may not reimburse many CAM treatments. Before agreeing to treatment, ask your health insurer if any of the ones you want are reimbursable. Knowing this ahead of time can help you budget for those expenses you’ll need to pay directly.

You also should learn what several alternative practitioners charge for the same treatment because costs can vary greatly.

How safe is it?

Investigate the safety and effectiveness of the alternative therapy. A safe product or practice is one that does not cause harm when used as intended. Effectiveness is the likelihood of receiving a benefit from a treatment.

You can assess the safety and effectiveness of a particular CAM treatment by speaking with the alternative practitioner and people who have undergone the treatment, or by researching it on the Internet.

You also should ask your regular physician if he or she would recommend you try the proposed therapy.

Look at the logistics

Evaluate how the service will be delivered. This refers to how the treatment or therapy is given and under what conditions. By visiting the practitioner’s office or clinic, you can determine if it’s neat, clean and well-organized.

In addition, evaluate the practitioner’s expertise by asking for details regarding his or her background, education, training and qualifications.

Talk to your doctor

Discuss all issues concerning CAM treatments with your doctor. Optimum health care requires your physician be aware of all alternative therapies you’re using because these treatments could impact or interact with the conventional medicines you take or treatments you receive.


March 21, 2017


Vitality magazine/December 2006

Reviewed By:  

Chris O'BrienChris O'Brien RN MPH,Godsey, Cynthia M.S., M.S.N., APRN,Lambert, J.G. M.D.