Many Americans are using complementary and alternative medicine, but how many are actually talking to their MDs about it?

To help get the conversation started, I asked Hyla Cass, MD, author of Supplement Your Prescription: What Your Doctor Doesn't know About Nutrition ( for her advice. Dr. Cass, who uses an integrated approach in her practice in Pacific Palisades, California, suggests the following…

  • Good starting point. Tell your MD about any vitamins or supplements you are taking—because harmful interactions with prescription medications may occur. Then let your doctor know that you believe natural medicine to be an important part of your health care.
  • Have realistic expectations. Most MDs are not trained in integrative medicine and will not be able to give you advice about natural treatments. Common response from supportive MDs: "I have no problem with that if it's working for you."
  • How to deal with a negative response. If your MD refuses to talk to you about this or is abrupt or dismisses your comments, ask him/her to reconsider. Suggest that he speak directly to your naturopathic physician, if you have one.
  • Find a doctor open to natural treatments. Consider an MD who practices functional medicine, a form of integrative medicine in which the functioning of the entire body is taken into account rather than just the symptoms. To find a doctor who specializes in functional medicine, contact the Institute for Functional Medicine (800-228-0622,

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