Nine rules for alternative therapy patients

When it comes to alternative treatments, the first rule is do yourself no harm.

By Patricia B. Gray, Money Magazine contributing writer

1. Tell your doctor about any therapy you're using

Even if you think he'll disapprove. Some herbal remedies lessen the effectiveness of prescription drugs. Others can cause excessive bleeding after injuries or during surgery.

2. Beware of gurus pushing their remedies...

Including physicians selling products out of their offices.

3. ...especially on the Internet

The Web is a bazaar teeming with quacks. Most reputable medical sites don't sell remedies.

4. Avoid megadoses of anything

Follow the federal government's recommended dietary allowances (RDA). Remember that supplements are not regulated as carefully as pharmaceuticals and that many health claims are unproved.

5. Be wary of treatments that leave you feeling worse

Monitor your reactions to all new medications, alternative or otherwise. Contact your local poisoncontrol center or your doctor if you have concerns.

6. Choose a practitioner with care

Don't put your faith in advertising or marketing materials. Contact a nearby hospital or medical school and ask if they maintain a list of recommended alternative practitioners.

7. Check with your insurer

Treatments can be expensive. Acupuncture, for instance, typically costs $50 to $100 for the initial visit, a bit less for follow-up sessions.

8. Do your own research - but on reputable sites

One good source of information is CAM on PubMed. Developed by NCCAM and the National Library of Medicine, the site gives brief summaries of the results of scientific studies on a wide variety of therapies.

9. Take a pass on "secret formulas" or "new discoveries."

News about valid new treatments isn't disseminated via 30-second radio ads. It's widely reported in the medical press and then makes its way to your doctor's office. Top of page

Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer LIBOR Warning: Neither BBA Enterprises Limited, nor the BBA LIBOR Contributor Banks, nor Reuters, can be held liable for any irregularity or inaccuracy of BBA LIBOR. Disclaimer. Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.
Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer LIBOR Warning: Neither BBA Enterprises Limited, nor the BBA LIBOR Contributor Banks, nor Reuters, can be held liable for any irregularity or inaccuracy of BBA LIBOR. Disclaimer. Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.