Understanding the Risks
Are there any risks to using CAM treatments?
Yes, there can be risks, as with any medical therapy. These
risks depend upon the specific CAM treatment. The following are general
suggestions to help you learn about or minimize the risks.
Discuss with your health care practitioner any CAM treatment
that you are considering or are using; it is important for your safety and for
a comprehensive treatment plan. For example, herbal or botanical products and
other dietary supplements may interact with medications (prescription or
non-prescription). They may also have negative, even dangerous, effects on
their own. Research has shown that the herb St. John's wort, which is used by
some people to treat depression, may cause certain drugs to become less
effective. And kava, an herb that has been used for insomnia, stress, and
anxiety, has been linked to liver damage.
If you have more than one health care provider, let all of them
know about CAM and conventional therapies you are using. This will help each
provider make sure that all aspects of your health care work together.
Take charge of your health by being an informed consumer. Find
out what the scientific evidence is about any treatment's safety and whether it
If you decide to use a CAM treatment that would be given by a
practitioner, choose the practitioner carefully to help minimize any possible