When you are considering using alternative, or complementary therapies you should endeavour to be as well informed on the subject as you possibly can be. I have endeavoured to outline a number of websites that will help you with your research in the article below.
The NHS website is an excellent resource, it covers definitions of CAM (Complementary Alternative Medicine), a health A-Z, what to look for when choosing a practitioner, how CAM practitioners are regulated, how to understand evidence and CAM, how to read health claims in the media and even how to avoid online health scams promising the world and much more.
Research Council for Complementary Medicine (RCCM)
The Research Council for Complementary Medicine website is a brilliant resource. RCCM works closely with a number of CAM professional bodies and you can find information about these bodies on their website as well as about regulations being put into place for CAM practitioners.
National Centre for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM)
You would also be well placed to read this page on the US website National Centre for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, which is a great resource for pointing out what you should take into account when considering complementary and alternative health care. If you are interested in using herbal supplements the NCCAM outlines the different herbs which can be used, their properties and potential side effects. Natural medicines can have negative side effects as much as conventional medicines do.
If you wish to dig deeper into the science behind claims made for complementary and alternative health care you should read summaries from scientific studies performed involving alternative therapies, then draw your own conclusion as to the veracity of the claims made.
When considering CAM ask yourself these questions and consider the following points:
- Do you understand the definition of CAM?
- Will the CAM complement or does it have contra-indications with your conventional medication (if taking any)?
- Make sure you have looked into the science supporting the claims made by the CAM and come to your own conclusions
- Don’t believe everything you read in the media, do your own research
- Make sure you understand the regulations placed on the CAM practitioner
- Do they have the relevant training by the appropriate regulatory body (if there is one)?
- Are they on any voluntary CAM practitioner registers?
- Do they have liability insurance?
Be informed, be safe, be sensible.