Education Forum: You and Your Doctor
Part 1: Supplements
You know the importance of following your doctor’s guidelines about medication, exercise, and rest; reducing stress; and eating a healthy diet. But if you’re like many people with lupus, at one time or another you’ve come across a dietary or herbal supplement that really sounds as though it could help you. So, what do you do?
A. Try it out without saying anything to your doctor, since you don’t think he or she will approve.
B. Try it and tell your doctor at your next appointment.
C. Ask a few friends with lupus if they know anything about it before you try it.
D. Take the information to your doctor before you try it.
Ideally you will choose “D” because you have a doctor who values your input—one who knows how to listen to your concerns and how to respond helpfully. But your relationship may become a bit rocky when you start talking about therapies that have not been tested in scientific studies. Why? Because your doctor is looking out for you!
Think about it this way: Your doctor has spent many years studying and training to give you the best care possible, based on the most up-to-date research. How a product will interact with your prescribed medications and how it will affect you, as an individual, are potentially dangerous unknowns. And don’t forget that the quality and potency of the ingredients in dietary and herbal supplements are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
So the next time you read about the benefits of certain herbs or dietary supplements, go to this Web site first: http://nccam.nih.gov/health/decisions/talkingaboutcam.htm. Then arm yourself with the information and talk to your doctor. Both of you will be glad you did.
In the next issue of Lupus Now we’ll look at another educational topic: how to convince your doctor that it’s not “all in your head.”
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