How to Talk to Your Doctor about Alternative Medicine (and why you should) – Part One

By AltMed1-Peggy  


Have you ever talked to your doctor or primary care provider about alternative medicine?

Do you know what your doctor thinks about alternative medicine in general, and specific remedies in particular?

Have you ever discussed the supplements you’ve decided to take or asked your doctor what supplements he or she recommends?

Do you know if your physician would recommend that you try massage therapy or take a Tai Chi class or send you to an acupuncturist? 

If you asked for a referral for massage therapy, Tai Chi, acupuncture, or another AltMed practice, would your doctor okay it? 

Don’t know?  Now is the time to find out, and the best way to do that is to ask simple, direct, and straightforward questions.


Sounds easy, doesn’t it?  “Just Ask.”  All you have to do is just do it, right?

And yet, somehow the prospect of actually taking this step – actually asking your doctor what he or she thinks about AltMed – turns many people into stammering excuse-generators who justify inaction with comments such as:

Sure, I’d like to but he’ll be mad at me

I wouldn’t dare – he’ll think I’m stupid… or, worse, crazy…

She’ll say only quacks go in for woo-woo world stuff…

If I did that, she’d never take me seriously again… 

He wouldn’t know anything about that, I’m sure, so why bother?

 … And a gazillion or two other I-can’t-because reasons for avoiding the issue.


If that’s you, here’s a News Flash:  You may be pleasantly surprised to discover your doctor is more open-minded than you thought and DOES have a working knowledge of alternative practices such as acupuncture, vitamins, herbs, meditation, chiropractic, and recent research findings about their safety and effectiveness. Having The Talk could lead to you getting better and more well-rounded care.

Many of the tools and resources doctors use do include information about herbal therapies, vitamins and minerals, and other AltMed treatments. Devices such as smartphones, instant Internet access laptops and tablet computers, and other communication tools help keep doctors up to speed on topics they might otherwise miss, including AltMed topics.


There’s a good chance your doctor will be in the open-to-the-idea camp. After all, acceptance of alternative medicine practices is growing rapidly as research provides more and more evidence of effectiveness for many AltMed treatments.


But, suppose your worst fear comes true. Suppose your doctor does get mad. Suppose she does say anyone interested in alternative medicine is stupid or bonkers? Suppose he dismisses all alternative medicine as snake-oil and quackery? Suppose she simply doesn’t know a thing about it. Suppose…well, fill in the blank with whatever negative reaction is behind your hesitation to ask.

If that really is how your doctor would react, you have to ask yourself if you really want this person to be taking care of your health. Is this the type of person you really want to be your doctor? 

If he or she is unwilling to discuss alternative medicine with you, how can you discuss other sensitive issues that need to be discussed? 


Do you really want to put your health in the hands of someone who can’t or won’t take your questions and concerns seriously enough to discuss them with you in a fair, frank, adult manner?

Can you put your trust in a doctor who doesn’t know as much as you do about the type of care you’d like to receive?

You can easily guess what my answer would be, but what is your answer?

Tomorrow we’ll talk about what questions to ask (when you have “The Talk”). 

Questions, anyone? Comments?

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