Counseling Patients Who Use Alternative Medicines
Natural or alternative medicines are nothing new to healthcare. People have been testing and investigating how the gifts of nature can be used to treat illnesses and improve health since the dawn of humanity. There seems to be a shift in recent years that has stoked a new interest in alternative medicines, which has produced positive outcomes for many. The use of alternative medicines, however, can create some issues when coupled with prescribed medications.
In order to assure the health and safety of your patients, understanding what types of therapies they are using and how those interact with medications, then communicating that information clearly can prevent dangerous side effects. Always assume that you are the first line of defense against potential issues and tread carefully when counseling your patients. Being thorough and knowledgeable about a wide variety of therapies and medications will help your patients and make your job easier.
Expand your knowledge of alternative medications and supplements, including diet trends, supplement and vitamin treatments, essential oils, and physical alternative treatments like chiropractic and massage therapies. Seek out resources that will help you to learn how those can be effective with and work against pharmaceutical treatments. Keep an open mind as you learn, as you may find that some of these treatments can work hand-in-hand to enhance and improve the lives of your patients, even if it is a psychological benefit.
Ask the Right Questions
Ensure that you have the big picture when it comes to the range of vitamins, supplements, and alternative treatments that your patient is participating in. Many wrongly assume that when you ask if they are taking other medications or supplements, you only are interested in the prescription medications they are taking. If you are aware of dangerous interactions with particular supplements, bring them up specifically.
When talking with your patients about the alternate forms of treatment, be respectful of their choices and beliefs. If there are contraindications, explain the dangers and what causes those reactions. Your patients will respond in a positive manner when you talk to them on an even level, rather than talking down to them. Present information in an informative manner that gives them confidence in your knowledge and helps to establish trust.
Offer Suggestions and Solutions
Use your own knowledge to help your patients find different methods that are appropriate and safe while using prescription medications. When you are able to assist them with finding therapies that work with their beliefs and goals, they are more likely to comply with the prescribed treatments that are necessary to manage their medical conditions.
Though it may seem like alternative medications and treatments are in competition with the pharmaceutical industry, they can often work to improve the overall well-being of patients which is your ultimate goal. By properly counseling your patients on the use of alternative medications, you will provide the care they need and your patients will have better outcomes from the prescription treatments their doctor has requested for them.
Pharmacists can be a