Between 40 percent and 60 percent of Americans use some form of complementary/alternative medicine (CAM) -- such as supplements or acupuncture -- and/or see a naturopathic doctor (ND) who specializes in these therapies. Yet many of these patients conceal this information from their "regular" doctors.
Reason: Conventional medical doctors (MDs) tended to be dismissive of CAM in the past, so some patients worry that they will be judged or even criticized. Today, however, medical schools routinely include information on CAM, and most doctors assume that many patients seek these therapies.
But patients must be honest. Example: An ND might advise an elderly patient to take ginkgo biloba for memory problems. At the same time, an MD might prescribe coumadin (Warfarin) for a clotting disorder. If each doctor is unaware of what the other is doing, the patient could wind up taking both treatments -- a dangerous combination that may result in hemorrhage, explains Jane Guiltinan, ND, a clinical professor at Bastyr University in Seattle.
Dr. Guiltinan's advice...
Make sure the MD and ND are willing to work with each other. This includes sharing medical records, consulting on the telephone, etc. If the doctors are not enthusiastic about working with one another, find ones who are.
Bottom Line/Health interviewed Jane Guiltinan, ND, a clinical professor at Bastyr University in Seattle.