"This book is incredibly complete and easy-to-understand for anybody. I certainly recommend it for patients who want to know more about atrial fibrillation than what they will learn from doctors...."

Pierre Jaïs, M.D. Professor of Cardiology, Haut-Lévêque Hospital, Bordeaux, France

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Dr. Wilber Su Cavanaugh Heart Center, Phoenix, AZ

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Jane-Alexandra Krehbiel, nurse, blogger and author "Rational Preparedness: A Primer to Preparedness"


"Steve Ryan's summaries of the Boston A-Fib Symposium are terrific. Steve has the ability to synthesize and communicate accurately in clear and simple terms the essence of complex subjects. This is an exceptional skill and a great service to patients with atrial fibrillation."

Dr. Jeremy Ruskin of Mass. General Hospital and Harvard Medical School

"I love your [A-fib.com] website, Patti and Steve! An excellent resource for anybody seeking credible science on atrial fibrillation plus compelling real-life stories from others living with A-Fib. Congratulations…"

Carolyn Thomas, blogger and heart attack survivor; MyHeartSisters.org

"Steve, your website was so helpful. Thank you! After two ablations I am now A-fib free. You are a great help to a lot of people, keep up the good work."

Terry Traver, former A-Fib patient

"If you want to do some research on AF go to A-Fib.com by Steve Ryan, this site was a big help to me, and helped me be free of AF."

Roy Salmon Patient, A-Fib Free; pacemakerclub.com, Sept. 2013

 FAQs Natural Therapies: Complementary Medicine

Complementary & Natural Therapies

Complementary & Natural Therapies

2. “I’ve read that yoga and acupuncture are considered ‘Complementary Medicine’. What is that? How does it relate to conventional medicine?

The word “complementary” means “in addition to.” “Complementary” medicine generally refers to using a non-mainstream approach together with conventional medicine, that is, treatment and medicine that you use in addition to your doctor’s standard care.

[By contrast the term “Alternative” medicine refers to using a non-mainstream approach in place of conventional medicine.]

You’ve probably heard of ‘complementary’ treatments and perhaps even used one or more. Common examples are:

♠  Acupuncture
♠  Yoga
♠  Massage therapy
♠  Herbal remedies
♠  Naturopathic medicine

Should You Use Complementary Medicine?

Before you decide to use this type of treatment, think about these questions:

•  Why are you considering this treatment? People often use complementary medicine to treat long-term health problems or to stay healthy. But if you are looking for a “cure-all,” you may be disappointed. Before you begin to use it, make sure that you learn how well it is likely to work.

•  What are you comfortable with? Part of the philosophy of some forms of complementary medicine is to listen to and touch people in a healing way. Some people find great comfort in this. Others may be bothered by it.

What are the Risks?

The greatest risk is that you may use these treatments instead of going to your regular doctor. Complementary medicine should be in addition to treatment from your doctor. Otherwise you may miss important treatment that could save your life.

Always talk to your doctor before you use any new medicines. Some herbs or supplements, for example, an be dangerous when they are combined with a prescription medicine you are taking.

What are the Benefits?

One benefit is that many people who practice complementary medicine take a “whole person,” or holistic, approach to treatment. They may take an hour or more to ask you questions about your lifestyle, habits, and background. This makes many people feel better about the treatment and the person giving the treatment itself. Some people feel more of a sense of control because they are more involved in their own health.

Beware of a practitioner who is critical of your traditional care or suggests ending it. Most ‘complementary’ practitioners also value conventional medicine.

If Considering a Complementary Healthcare Practitioner

The U.S. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), part of the U.S. Institutes of Health, offers this advice if you are considering going to a complementary health practitioner:

 •  Select a complementary practitioner with the same care you would use in choosing a conventional medical provider.
•  Understand your state and local government’s requirements for licensing and certification of practitioners, and the limitations of those requirements.
•  Do not use an unproven product or practice to replace proven conventional care or as a reason to postpone seeing a health care provider about a medical problem.
•  Tell all your health care providers about any complementary health approaches you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care.

Some insurance companies cover the costs of complementary treatments, while others may not. Check to see what your plan covers, and refer the NCCAM fact sheet Paying for Complementary Health Approaches.

For tips about talking with your health care providers about complementary health approaches, see NCCAM’s Time to Talk campaign.

Last updated: Wednesday, August 26, 2015 

Return to FAQ Natural Therapies

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