Chances are, if you have a good relationship with your doctor, you trust him/her as well as your treatment plan for your ailments or for your general health. However, in most cases, you can help your doctor’s treatment plan work even better when you supplement it at home. Of course, it’s important to discuss your home healthcare plan with your doctor to make sure what you’re doing is helpful. (For example, many people extol the virtues of St. John’s Wort for treating depression, but this herbal supplement has a negative impact on estrogen supplements and hormone-based birth control.)
Supplementing Your Doctor’s Care
Sometimes, little lifestyle remedies can go a long way toward improving a health condition, or at least side effects related to that condition or its treatment. For instance, most cancer patients who undergo chemotherapy suffer debilitating nausea that lasts long after they’ve returned home from treatment. One study found that, for cancer patients undergoing chemo, taking ginger supplements could reduce nausea by up to 40 percent.
Sometimes, home care can help along your medical condition itself. If you’ve suffered a broken bone, for instance, it’s well-known that calcium and vitamin D support bone health. If you up your intake of both of these during your healing, your bone will likely heal dramatically faster than it would without supplementation. However, it’s a good idea to consult with your doctor regarding what dosage would be most useful.
When you’re healing a bone, some very light weight-bearing exercise can be helpful as well once the bone has largely healed but isn’t necessarily ready for high-impact exercise. One bone specialist prescribes “water walking,” which involves the patient walking on a healing leg in neck-deep water. The buoyancy afforded by the water makes it so the bone bears dramatically less weight. The patient can gradually increase weight by walking in shallower water.
One other example of a condition that can be helped along by at-home supplementation is polycystic ovarian syndrome, or PCOS. PCOS can often be better managed with DHA (which also helps to control insulin and reduce your risk of fatty liver disease). Many women with PCOS will also take cinnamon supplements (to help control insulin levels) and may take supplements for fertility if they are concerned about getting pregnant.
Things to Keep in Mind
With the advent of big data in medicine and with the rise of VNA technology, doctors have more access than ever before to medical images and medical data. Thus, if you’re considering a supplement for your health condition, talk to your doctor first. Even if he or she has no previous experience with a given supplement, chances are that he or she can search databases, talk to colleagues, and dig into new medical research to try to find whether this supplement is safe and effective, and if there have been any adverse effects.
Most of all, in your relationship with your doctor, transparency is important for both of you. You want your doctor to discuss all treatment options with you before helping you decide which is best, and it’s only safe (and fair) for you to discuss supplements you’re considering with your doctor. He or she may be able to recommend particular brands of a given supplement that you’re interested in.
Doctors can’t possibly know everything, so if you find a supplement your doctor hasn’t used before and he or she determines it’s safe, you’ve likely just helped out someone with your health condition. Make sure you do your research in picking a supplement – message boards are good for initial research, but remember to read medical journals and studies if available – these can help confirm what many supplement-takers already know to be true.
If you proceed with caution and care, chances are that you’re on your way to helping your doctor’s treatment plan be even more effective for treating your injury, illness, or chronic condition. Remember to be transparent with your doctor – and to always do your own research, too.