Health Magazine

Thinking Complementary Or Alternative Medicine ?

Posted on the 15 July 2011 by Jean Campbell

supplement tablets as medicineIt’s only natural to want to avoid treatment and medicine that takes your hair, make you nauseous, scar your body, and put weight on you. It’s no wonder that there continues to be growing number of websites that offer alternatives to the standard breast cancer treatments.

Before you choose to follow an alternative medicine regime as your breast cancer treatment, or augment your current treatment with complementary medicine, please consider what National Institutes of Health National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine has to say on the subject:

  • Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) describes medical products and practices that are not part of standard care. Standard care is what medical personnel practice.
  • Alternative medicine means treatments other than the standard, accepted treatments and used instead of standard treatments
  • Complementary medicine means treatments that are not standard, and used along with standard ones.

The NIH National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine does not recommend using alternative medicines as a treatment for breast cancer and cautions considering the following before choosing to take complementary treatments in addition standard breast cancer treatments:

  • A natural product does not mean a safe product.
  • Dietary supplements such as herbs and vitamins may affect how well other medicines work in your body.
  • Herbal supplements can act like drugs in your body.
  • Vitamins can also have a strong action in your body.

Make your doctor aware of any dietary supplements you are taking, no matter how safe you think they are. The ads that promote these supplements may say that something has been used for years, but that does not prove that it is safe or effective for you to use. Supplements do not have to be approved by the Federal Government before being sold to the public. You don’t need a prescription for them, so no one is really monitoring the effectiveness or safety of these supplements for you.

While many web sites are good resources for CAM information, some may be unreliable or misleading. Be sure to check out who runs and pays for the site as well as the credentials of the person or persons giving out information on the site.

A good way you can find articles you can trust on CAM is to ask your librarian to help you look for medical journals, books, and other research done by experts on using complementary medicine during breast cancer treatment. Articles in popular magazines are usually not written by experts.

For more information about Complementary and Alternative Medicine, visit: NIH: National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, www. nccam.nih.gov.


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