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Olwen Anderson's Blog

Staying safe with natural therapies

Monday, February 28, 2011

I love it when my clients arrive for their consultation with an armful of research they’ve done on the internet about their health problem. It demonstrates that they want to be an active participant, not expecting me to provide them with a magic pill to solve their issue.

Now that we have access to a wealth of information on the internet, and many over-the-counter remedies to choose from, it can be tempting to try to diagnose and treat yourself, particularly with natural remedies. But ‘natural’ does not always mean ‘safe’ – here are some of the pitfalls of do-it-yourself health care, and some of the safe ways to be more informed about your own health.

  • Make the most of your health practitioner’s training and experience

One of the most effective health care tools you can have is a good relationship with your health practitioner – whether it’s your naturopath, your nurse practitioner or your GP. You should feel comfortable asking them about that information you found on the internet, about that remedy that you heard was a good thing for your condition. A good practitioner will listen to what you have to say. Then they’ll glean what you want to achieve, utilise their knowledge and training to help you understand what you sourced, apply critical analysis to the information, and discern whether the remedy is right for you.

Deliberately withholding information from your health practitioner about what you’re taking can be dangerous, but it also demonstrates an unhealthy therapeutic relationship. If you feel that your health practitioner “just doesn’t listen”, or dismisses your suggestions disrespectfully, maybe it’s time to find another.

  • Learn how to research effectively.

Knowing how to apply critical analysis is one of the most useful health research skills you can have. When you locate new information, apply these tests before you decide whether the information might be worthwhile:

-          What are the qualifications of the person who supplied the information? Do you think they’re adequate?  If you can’t see appropriate qualifications on the web site, assume that the information is purely opinion.

-          Does the web site sell the remedies that they propose to solve your problem? If they do, assume that the information they provide is biased towards prompting you to buy.

-          If you’re in a shop, remember that the sales assistant’s job is to sell you product; so they have a bias too.

Next time you have a health problem do your research and empower yourself – but also utilise the knowledge and experience of your health practitioner. We love to help you!

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