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Patients rarely discuss alternative medicine with doctors, study finds

By M.T. Whitney Article From News Target

A majority of Americans age 50 and older use alternative medicines, but don't tell their doctors. That's what a survey by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine found.

Health experts say that informing your doctor is important to prevent any conflicts between the use of complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) versus over-the-counter, prescription drugs and traditional medical methods.

The report said discussing everything with a doctor "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."

In a survey of 1,559 people age 50 and older, 63 percent have used a CAM.

Among that group, 69 percent did not discuss their use of CAMs with their doctor. The most popular CAMs among those surveyed were utilizing massage therapy or chiropractic manipulation, and herbal or dietary supplements. Each type of CAM represented more than 40 percent of what CAMs are used, totaling 87 percent of the whole. Other types of CAMs used included hypnosis, acupuncture and naturopathy.

The most common reason responders said talking about using a CAM never happens with a doctor is simply because doctors never ask. Other reasons include many people not knowing they should tell their doctor (30 percent), believing the doctor wouldn't be knowledgeable about the subject (17 percent) and believing the doctor would try to discourage them from using CAMs (12 percent).

"The fact is, most American adults use complementary medicine. Why? Because it's safer, less expensive and more effective than conventional medicine's drugs-and-surgery approach," said consumer health advocate Mike Adams, author of numerous books on natural health. "One reason patients don't discuss these therapies with their doctors is, frankly, that many doctors are egotistical, closed to new ideas and even downright hostile when they learn that patients are educating themselves about health, nutrition and disease prevention. Doctors are being taken out of the loop because more and more people are seeing them as irrelevant to their health."

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