and Alternative Medicine health survey, holistic treatments are most often used to treat chronic back and neck pain, anxiety and depression, joint pain and stiffness, and colds. The study also revealed that while 28% of adults used complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) because they believed conventional medicine wouldn’t work, most people use it with conventional medicine rather than in place of it.
Do your homework. Whatever treatment you are considering, research how the treatment works, the risks and benefits, possible side effects, and efficacy. Determine the therapy’s track record in treating your condition and how many treatments you will need. Also, check state regulations regarding its practice. There are a number of associations that you can contact for information (see Resources for Healing Holistically on blackenterprise.com). Also, talk to people who have used the same treatment to get their opinion.
Consider the costs. Since most procedures are not covered by health insurance, many people pay out of pocket for treatment. Check with your provider to see what coverage it allows. Some major health carriers offer discount programs for such things as acupuncture, massage therapy, and chiropractic services. Out-of-pocket fees for these treatments vary widely by location, length of treatment, and the practitioner’s training, but can cost upward of $100 per visit.
Locate providers. Finding a qualified practitioner is not difficult. It just takes some legwork. Start by asking your regular doctor for recommendations. Check professional organizations and Websites. The American Holistic Medical Association (www.holisticmedicine.org) has a physician referral directory that you can order or view online. Holistic Health Network (www.holisticnetwork.org) maintains an online community of both practitioners and patients. And Directory of Information Resources Online (http://dirline.nlm.nih.gov/) houses a variety of health organizations, including CAM associations. State licensing boards and regulatory agencies are good places to check, as they may be able to provide information regarding physicians in your area. Hospitals and medical schools also make great resources since many may have CAM practitioners on staff.
Interview the provider. Ask lots of questions. What’s his or her background, education, training, and experience? Does he or she have professional relationships with others in the field? Does he or she work at a hospital, clinic, medical school, or other healthcare facility? Is the facility clean, up-to-date, and conducive to practicing medicine? Are you comfortable and cared for when you call or visit the office? Does the practitioner appear to be healthy? What is his general philosophy about treatment and care? Most holistic practitioners use methods that are considered complementary and alternative, but their philosophies and practices may vary, so make sure your interests match those of the provider you select.
Consult your regular doctor. You don’t want CAM therapy to interfere with medications or treatment you’re getting from your primary care physician, so tell your regular doctor if you are using holistic remedies. Holistic practitioners should be willing to work with your regular doctor to ensure you receive the best and safest care possible.
Be realistic. These therapies may not be a cure-all for whatever ails you. “Results