A recent survey by AARP and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) has found that adults over the age of 50 are not disclosing the use of alternative medicine to their healthcare providers.
The survey they found that 37 percent of respondents have used an herbal product or dietary supplement in the past 12 months. Josephine P. Briggs, M. D., director of NCCAM, ” As we’ve learned from NCCAM funded research into herbal and dietary supplements, natural does not always mean safe. Thus, an open dialogue about Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) use, particularly herbals and dietary supplements, is vital to ensuring safe and coordinated care.”
” CAM includes natural products such as herbal supplements, and manual therapies and mind/body practices such as chiropractic care, massage, acupuncture, and meditation.” It is important to note that while these therapies can be a part of health and wellness, some CAM products can interact with conventional medicine.” according to AARP Vice President Elinor Ginzler “Older Americans want to lead healthy, active lives, and that means using health care safely. For many people, CAM is an important part of staying healthy, but some CAM products may make conventional medicines less effective or lead to potentially dangerous interactions. Health care providers and patients need to start talking together to ensure you get the full benefit of both CAM and your medications.”
NCCAM’s Time to Talk campaign encourages open communication between patient and health care provider. Visit the site at http://nccam.nih.gov/timetotalk/ for free tools and resources – such as wallet cards, posters, and tip sheets.
To ensure that you receive coordinated and safe care it’s important that you discuss information on CAM with your health care provider before making any decision about treatment. Tell your provider about CAM practices you use, so that you can give a full picture of what you do to manage your health.