Fresh Living

Thumbnail image for Secret.jpgLast week, CNN published a list of “secrets” we shouldn’t keep from our doctors. Among them:

  • If you feel depressed or anxious
  • If you did not follow instructions the doc had previously given you
  • If you have problems peeing or pooping

These are good, helpful tips.  We have so little time with our doctors when we finally get in to see them (I just called to make my annual physical appointment–late October is the next opening!), and all 3 of those are areas we might skip because, well, we’re embarrassed to admit feeling depressed, we feel like slackers for ignoring doctor’s orders, or we just can’t say the word “poop” in front of another adult.

The CNN article also said that we shouldn’t keep from our doctors the “secret” that we take herbs or see alternative health practitioners (acupuncturists, chiropractors, energy healers, homeopaths, et. al.). The article says,

“You might feel like your doctor looks down on herbs and other forms of
alternative medicine, and there’s a good chance you’re right; many
M.D.’s are dismissive of alternative medicine. But even if you fear
seeing your doctor’s eyes roll back in her head, tell her about the
supplements you’re taking. Certain herbs don’t mix well with certain
medications, so she needs to know.”

Ain’t it the truth about the eye-rolling? I’ve found that when I mention herbs etc. to my doctor, I get one of two responses. 

First is the “Chinese herbs might contain heavy metals” lecture. And it’s true that many herbs that you can get from Chinatown or in unmarked packages from your acupuncturist or herbalist are not regulated and might contain dangerous materials. But when I take herbs, I only accept those that come from companies that are GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) certified and are distributed through a reputable U.S. importer, like  Mayway. By the time my doctor and I finish going around that mulberry bush, though, my appointment time is up, and I’m still not quite sure she believes me.

The second response is the “well, if it’s helping you, then that’s super” line.  It’s not said unkindly, but there are rarely any follow-up questions asked, which leaves me with the impression that the doc just jotted it down in my chart and moved on. It really highlights for me the unfortunate chasm that exists between conventional and alternative medicine–perhaps making the case for all of us, myself included, to seek out integrative physicians.

Our health shouldn’t feel so either-or, don’t you think?  What’s been your experience when you’ve “confessed” alternative healing practices to your doctor?  Are you lucky enough to  have tuned-in docs on your team, or are you familiar with the eye-roll?  What secrets do you keep off the exam table that you know you shouldn’t?


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